Sunday, November 13, 2011

Better late than never...

The title is in reference to this very late Ironman Canada race report, but it also nicely sums up my result: I did finish my first Ironman race on 28-Aug-2011 in 12 hours and 42 minutes.

Am I happy with this result?

Good question - one I have asked myself quite a bit over the last few months. I know I ought to be. In all reality a sub-13 hour first time Ironman finish is a respectable result. Also, it was incredibly hot that day; in Penticton the forecast was for a high of 33°C and that makes it way hotter in the Similkameen Valley and to about 7-gazillion degrees running along Skaha lake in the mid afternoon with nowhere to hide.

And yes, in many ways I am really happy. I finished reasonably healthy and in good spirits. And after all, sub-13 was my "B" goal. With my "C" goal being to simply finish. The "A" goal was to finish in sub-12 hours.

One can, and perhaps should, argue though that I set my goals too soft. The A-goal should be nearly unattainable. That is, only if everything goes absolutely perfect should I be able to reach that goal. And with that said, it should have been 11 hours, with a B-goal of 12 or 12.5 hours.

But I am getting older, "of a certain age" per se, and I want to enjoy this sport still for a very long time to come. At the Oliver Half Iron race this year I promised myself to stop creating these kinds of goal-pressures for myself and just race for the fun of it. This promise, as it turns out, seems to be a work in progress...

So in all honesty, I am a little disappointed in the final time and know that I could, and should, have done better. Sub-12 is totally attainable for me. I know where I made the mistakes and ended up falling short. And with that I take comfort that this was a great learning experience and will serve me well in my next iron distance race.

Heck, it wasn’t just a great learning experience, it was a great experience - period!

Here now how it all played out.

Lawrence and I arrived in Penticton on Tuesday evening to be there nice and early before the race to acclimatize and get all the pre-race stuff done without any stress. On Wednesday we met up with our training buddy Gen and went to listen to Jordan Rapp speak at the Penticton Wholefoods. Thursday was race registration, Friday the athletes meeting, and Saturday bike check-in. Doesn't sound like much, but add in a little bit of training, cooking, and numerous trips to the local Starbucks and we were constantly on the go it seemed.

With Esther (not my wife Esther, but my training buddy Esther Lee) in the suite next to us at the Rochester Motel on Lakeshore Drive, there was naturally a lot of tri-geeking going on with all the meals we usually had together. Good times all in all and helpful to calm the re-race jitters.

Although Esthi (my wife this time) initially didn't plan on coming to Penticton for the race because of work, she found a way to make it happen in the last minute: take the Greyhound bus from Vancouver to Penticton on Saturday and fly home super early on Monday from Kelowna. That was a totallysuperwickedawesome surprise!

On Saturday evening, after a nice dinner, it was all about triple-checking the special-needs bags (the transition bags were dropped off the day before together with the bikes) and some more tri-geeking. My nerves were seriously out of control by that time.

Sunday morning the alarm got us up at 3:45 am. Holy F...! Really?! It sure felt like I had no sleep whatsoever. But there was a lot to be done: get the coffee and the oatmeal ready, slather on capacious amounts of SPF50, and make sure to put on the right gear including the timing chip. "Will I need long sleeve/leg morning gear? Ah, screw it... it'll be warm enough" (it wasn't).

Just before 5 am Esther (training one, the wife was still in bed), Lawrence, and I make our way to the body marking area. Just as we were walking down Lakeshore, Esther noticed that she was missing something... The wetsuit! Oops, that could be a problem. So we wait while she gets it and in then Eric who is another client of our coach Lara joined us as well.

Next up was the special needs bag drop off and after body marking it was on the way to the transition area we met up with Lara, who gave us final words of encouragement and advise. Especially with this heat we are to make sure to keep cool by dousing ourselves with water wherever possible and drink more water than usual.

In transition the first order of business was to make sure the bike is all set: pump the tires, put the first load of drink in the aero bottle, put the concentrate bottle in the down tube cage, turn on the Garmin 310XT and put it on the bike all set up for multi-sport starting with the bike, put the valve cover on my aero jackets (wheel covers for the rear wheel), and bring the bike pump over to Lawrence. When he was done I found Lara one more time as she was kind enough to look after it for us.

Finally time for chillin' out before we were allowed on the beach for the swim warm-up. I used this time to drink a bottle of Powerbar Perform (the official Ironman sports drink) and go over my race plan in my head another time.

It was actually quite simple:
  • Quick warm-up in the lake
  • Start the swim somewhere in the middle, relax and try not to get bothered by the vast number of people
  • Try to move through the swim to bike transition quickly but without rushing.
  • The goal for the swim and T1 was to be 1:30 or better.
  • Take the bike easy - really easy due to the heat and to save myself for the run. For nutrition I planned on consuming 6x roughly 750ml of my Infinit Nutrition formula in a slightly higher concentration plus lots of extra water from the course. My aero bottle had the first load ready to go and I had a triple concentrate for the following 3 hours on the bike which I would dilute with water from the aid stations. At special needs I had another bottle with a double concentrate for the final hopefully less than 2 hours. Should I fall behind in time and need more nutrition I would take Perform from the aid stations.
  • Again, move quickly through T2 without getting flustered by rushing it too much.
  • My goal for the bike and 2nd transition was 6 hours or better.
  • The plan for the run was simple: run only one mile! Well, 26 times that is. I was going to run - ideally at a 6 min/km pace - from aid station to aid station and walk along the aid stations while taking on Perform, cola, water, and sponges and ice as needed. In the end I planned to finish the run in 4:30 and thus the overall race in less than 12 hours.

Simple, right? Ahh how wonderful plans are! Here is what actually happened:

Bumped into Gen and after a big hug we were off for a short swim. Back on the beach it was waiting around for the pros to go at 6:45 and then, finally, after about a year of training and waiting and anticipating, I was lining up at the start of my first iron distance race: Ironman Canada 2011.

Lessons learned: other than some slight training modifications and attitude adjustments in the immediate pre-race prep I wouldn't change a thing.

3.8 km Swim
Utter madness! Swimming with nearly 3,000 other people is quite something that is hard to put into words. The expectation would be that it thins out over the course and while technically it does, it really doesn't. Look at successive areal pictures of the swim start and you'll notice that everyone is spread out over hundred some-odd yards along the beach and is than aiming for and swimming towards the first sighting buoy. It actually started out with decent space but soon turned into a totally annoying washing machine. Whenever I wanted to swim faster to get out of a tight spot, I seemed to get into more trouble. So in the end I mostly just relaxed and slowed which seemed to get me in a better swim position. I really cannot say that I expanded much energy swimming. Instead the energy that I did use was to fight off people that got a little too aggressive.

Result: 1:16:42

Lessons learned: different from race to race, but at IMC I would start further to the right and in general I need to become a (much) better swimmer. I believe there is a huge advantage coming out of the water in less than 1:10 hours that goes well beyond the few minutes saved.

There was no way I could have run out of the water and through transition. It was complete gridlock and just walking was slow going. I did find a pair of volunteers to strip off my wetsuit rather quickly and was on the way to get my swim-to-bike gear bag and into the change tent. The tent too was super busy and I actually had to look around to find an open chair. Then I got a bit discombobulated and things slowed some. But I got all the right gear on eventually and was off to my bike. Saw Lara and the Right Shoe gang cheering at the bike exit and felt happy and good to be on my bike.

Result: 0:05:40 so swim and T1 well within plan

Lessons learned: be much more methodical in the steps involved and pack the gear back accordingly in sequence.

180 km Bike
I could go on writing up all the gory little details of the bike ride but have come to the conclusion that summarizing is a better way to go.

I took the bike ride easy. With the temperatures of the day and all good advice received, this was probably not a terrible idea… except I took it WAY too easy. My goal was to race at an average of about 180-190 watts and that would have been plenty conservative. I ended up averaging only 169 watts. Doesn’t seem like much, but it would have made all the difference in the world. This was really dumb too as I had the read-out right in front of me on my Garmin 310XT.

The other interesting thing was that the arch of my left foot started to get really tight at about 90k and kept hurting more and more. I thought I’d be fine carrying on until the Special Needs at 120k where I planned to get off the bike briefly anyway. On the way there I was already not pushing much with my left foot anymore and instead pulled on the pedals to make up for it. Not the smartest thing to do in general – and especially not if you plan on running a marathon after the bike ride. When I tried getting off the bike at Special Needs, I almost fell over as I couldn’t stand on the left foot. So I took some time to try and massage the pain out of the foot and when I put the shoe back on I didn’t tighten the strap as much.

The remaining 60k were much better but the pain was not going to go away completely so I carried on pulling up when it got too bad and that kept me going alright. When the right arch started feeling tight as well I immediately loosened the strap a bit. Hey, I am not completely stupid, right?

The pain and foot issues aside, the bike ride was awesome! Really awesome! Keith from North Shore Athletics, loads of people from SpeedTheory, Darryl at one of the aid stations, and of course Lara was on the course as well cheering. I know that Esthi was out there as well, but I don’t remember seeing her on the bike – just knowing she was there was great though.

Result: 6:16:02

Lessons learned: Hey numb-nuts! This is a race – not a casual-weekend-club recovery-ride! Look at your power output and if you feel way too relaxed you may want to think about picking it up. And another thing, numb-nuts… when it hurts, it’s not likely to magically stop hurting over the next 30-90km. Do something! And do it now!

Got off the bike remarkable well but could not run or even walk properly. My left foot hurt like hell. So I hobbled to the gear bags, got mine, and continued to hobble to the change tent. Before putting on running shoes I had to try to massage some of the pain out again. Eventually I got impatient and just kept going. Had a porta potty pee stop and walked more than ran to the volunteers with the sunscreen. All lathered up I finally started actually running out of T2 and onto the run course.

Result: 0:06:30 – between bike and T2 almost 30 min slower than I had hoped for.

Lessons learned: be much more self-reliant as far as sunscreen is concerned. Not sure if I ever get to the point where I would forgo the porta potty for time savings…? Other than that, same lessons as T1.

The first 5k of the run I was doing really well. Perhaps even too well as my average pace was slightly faster than then planned-for 6min/km. This quickly corrected itself in the next 5k. Even though, at the 10k mark I was bang-on at just over an hour. From here on things started to unravel. My foot was killing me and that not enough, now also my hamstring started to object – really no surprise there. Add in the no-shade-heat along Skaha Lake and I was just not in a good way at all.

As mentioned earlier, I was planning to walk through all the aid stations, but after some 20k (now I was at 2:16 hours and clearly bleeding time) I walked all the uphills as well – the real and the perceived ones. At 30k I was at 3:33 hours and already nearly a half hour behind schedule on the account of walking just randomly. At 40k I was at 4:43 hours but now with the end near something resembling a second wind had kicked in and I was pushing it again. Or whatever passes at this time for ‘pushing it’.

Although I finished the run in a time that I would rather not advertise and the various pains were really annoying, in retrospect, there were so many great moments too:
  • Esther passing me at … I don’t know where – maybe at 15k in? And I knew that that was coming and well deserved for her.
  • Seeing most of my training and racing buddies along the way; even tough didn’t have the energy to properly acknowledge them.
  • All the people cheering – the ones that knew me, including Amanda and Ben on their bikes and Keith on his scooter, the assorted Right Shoe athletes not racing that day, the ones I didn’t recognize because my brain blanked out.
  • The ones that so enthusiastically cheered for everyone. Like the one with the sign saying “Looking Good! Got Stamina? Call Me! ###-####” which made me smile every time I came by it.
  • Then with less than 2k to go, Esthi was on the side of the road and started to run with me. And all I could think of was “Hey! I could get DQ’d for that!” And I actually told her to not run with me. Clearly I am claiming brain-fart on that one.
  • Along the finishing stretch was Murray from Speed Theory and cheered his lung out! That was awesome
  • Then, just before the finish chute, was Lawrence (who finished nearly two hours ahead of me) yelling out “Klaus Schoenwandt, you are an Ironman!

See, the one thing I really wanted, was to hear the incomparable Steve King announcing exactly those words when I cross the finish line. Except when I came in Steve was on break and that iconic line was not being used as much as it used to be in previous years. Lawrence did a great job making up for it though!

Result: 4:57:22 – Ouch!

Lessons learned: hmm not sure. I think that much of this falling apart can be blamed on all the events preceding it. Clearly the one thing that I could and should improve in is mental toughness. And overall I need to do a much better job at weight management. I started the race with just under 190 lbs or so and I should really be at least 10 lbs less than that for an event like this.

In a nutshell: can’t wait to do another one! Challenge Roth 2013!

Special Thanks:
First and foremost, I owe a huge thanks and debt of gratitude to my wife Esthi for her infinite patience and generosity – both with my time and financially the way I emptied money into the black hole that is first-time-Ironman-racing. Love you lots!

Naming all the others that so much contributed to this awesome experience would be way too much so I just use short form here.

Coach Lara, Rand, Danny, Leigh, Heather, Eric, Vittoria, Lorena, Amanda, Ben and all other Right Shoe athletes, Keith from NSA, Jeremy, Doug, Murray, Mike and all other Speed Theory Vancouver peeps, Shaun fromPacific Rim Multisport, KC and Janka and the other coaches from Fastlanes, Peter “Seahiker”, Jason, Darryl, Sarah and Matthew and all the other athletes who have made training so much fun, Timberly and Laura for keeping me well aligned, and all my friends who had to listen to me tri-geeking way too often and still kept a smile on – thank you all! I could have done it without you and I wouldn’t have wanted to in any case.

Notably absent from the list above are my good friends and training partners Gen, Lawrence, and Esther. A very special thanks goes to you for sticking with me through all my random complaints and for not giving up on me but pushing me on instead. I am very happy and honoured that you trained with me and shared your experiences and advice along the way. You guys are awesome.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

IMC Training By The Numbers

This must be the tapering slump... all of a sudden I have too much time on my hands!

The bike has been serviced by the folks at SpeedTheory and I took it out for a good spin. This, then, also is my "longest" workout for now until the race itself. A whopping 2 hours! 1:30 on the bike followed by a 30 min run. Tomorrow I'll swim a bit and next week - Race Week! - all the workouts are fairly short.

Well, Sunday won't be that short, but that is not a workout per se but The Race.

With a mere week until Ironman Canada I was wondering how much training I actually have done. And more importantly... Was it enough?? Surely it cannot have been enough??!! OMG! I am freaking out! Maybe I should be cramming in another 7-hour ride and a 36k run?! Maybe start it with a 4k swim to be sure?!?

STOP! Breathe.... Relax! In-and-out-and-in-and-out. Phuuu OK, that's better.

Maybe it wasn't enough - I don't know. But it is what it is now.

And here is what it was and is:

  • Weeks trained: 36 -- from about mid-December last year
  • Out of the 36 weeks I had 20 weeks where I completed at least 30 min less training than was on my plan... not good! Well over half. But in the end it all comes out pretty even with 471 planned hours and 449 completed.
  • Days off: 55 or about 1.5 per week but that includes those due to injury or being sick
  • Total number of workouts: 341 - just about 9.5 per week or 1.7 per day
  • Races as part of training: 3 - First Half (half marathon), Delta Tri (sprint), and Oliver (Half IM)
  • 88 Swims for 84 hours (and maybe something like 250 km but that is just calculated)
  • 104 Bike sessions for 207 hours and some 5,650 km
  • 26 of those were followed by Brick Runs for 9.75 hours and 108 km
  • Stand-alone Runs I did 90 in 98 hours and covered some 1,030 km
  • I also completed 42 strength training sessions for about an hour each
  • Not counting the three races that is about 450 hours of training -- and all of those numbers include the taper training that I am planning to do until next week Saturday. 

My goal for Sunday is to have a ton of fun and ideally don't hurt too much on the run. If I can also get away without any mechanical issues on the bike ride and no GI problems throughout the race that would be super splendid! It would also be nice if I don't get kicked around too much in the swim and come out of the water with my goggles still on.

But if pressed for a time answer, I would have to say that I would LOVE to come in under 12 hours. That is not entirely unrealistic, but a lot of things will also have to click and go well.

  • Swim and T1... maybe about 1:30
  • Ride and T2... hopefully 6:00 for a total of 7:30
  • Run... oh the run... I'd have to do it in 4:30 to make the magical 12 hours. 

We'll see. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I just got back from a two day stint in Pentiction with Lawrence and Gen where we rode the IMC course almost two more times before the taper starts. And I am so ready for the taper too! 

Anyway on Saturday we rode the full course right after we arrived, starting at around 12:30 PM. Initially I had also planned a 45 min brick run but bailed on that due to some minor hamstring issue that was acting up.

On Sunday the plan was to swim for 30 min in the morning and both Gen and Lawrence did just that while I rested some more :-)

Then we rode the course again. Or rather I rode the majority of the course, cutting out the bit from Barcelo Road to Becks Road and the "Out" from the Out-and-Back. Essentially turning from Highway 3 onto Barcelo Road and riding the Back to the turn off by The Bear. This made it about 160 instead of the 180 km.

Below are some of the riding stats. And it was hot both days. Very hot! Great training and riding in prep for the IMC in 3 weeks.

Where was I? Oh yea... DOMS and DOGS.

Clearly after a weekend like that I am suffering a bit from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

And in addition to that I am also suffering from DOGS: Delayed Onset Grumpiness Syndrome...

I just went to buy stuff for dinner at the local IGA. I decided to make Brown Rice Pasta with Pancetta, Peppers, and Spinach sauteed in Garlic Olive Oil.

So I need some Pancetta and should have been forewarned that I am in for a treat when the guy in front of me asked for some nicer Prosciutto than the dried out piece in the show case and the 15-year-old behind the counter offered him some of the Prosciutto Salami... "No thanks" the wise man said and it was my turn. "I'll have about 120 gram of the Pancetta please; thank you." The piece they had in the show case was still wrapped in plastic. The kid grabbed some shit-arse salami next to the Pancetta and I corrected him before he could cut something I (or anyone else in the their right mind) could possibly want.

Off he goes "cutting" my order of Pancetta. Or so I thought. When I looked again and saw what he was putting on the scale I nearly lost it. I looked like he tore it off with an old cheese grater and to make things worse he piled it on squishing it as he goes. That was it... I told him to stop but despite being completely at loss for words I layed into him. Not sure exactly what I stammered together in my shock and frustration. In the end I think I said something about having the courtesy and decency to treat the food like food and not like some dog-food. He asked me if it was the presentation I objected to. WTF??? No! I asked him what his thoughts were on how I would possibly cook with that. He shrugged and tried to pull a slice up that was just a shred. Case in point, thanks!

He went back at it and actually managed to cut decent slices that were also not too thick. Why not do the right thing in the first place?

Infuriating! Not so much the kid's behavior - although that too - but much more the store management who clearly doesn't care enough about their product, customers, or employees to give them at least a minimum of training and then holds them to a certain standard.

Anyway. DOGS. Dinner Time.
Peace! One Love! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Or at least I hope so... still coughing a bit and the nose hasn't quite stopped running either.

After last Friday's 4k Canada Day Swim Challenge I went down like a ton of bricks. Got really sick and stayed the rest of the beautiful long weekend in bed. The thing is that I sort of felt it coming on for quite some time, but it was never really here or gone. As of Friday afternoon it was here alright!

On Monday I went to work only to attend one meeting and pick up my laptop. Then I worked from home the rest of the week except Thursday and generally feeling quite lousy.

Obviously I missed a lot of workouts. Specifically a 6 hour ride with 30 min brick run on Saturday and a 2:45 hour run on Sunday. I did every day at least one session more or less well but that barely kept me from getting completely rusty.

The good thing is I suppose my body recovered rather well then. Today I embarked on the missed 6 hour ride instead of doing the recovery 3 hour ride. Going more or less all easy I did 180 km in the 6 hours! NICE! I am very pleased with that. I was also pleased with the 30 min brick run at the end of it as I managed to keep a 5:30 min/km pace.

Interesting was that I ended riding all by myself - albeit in perfect riding weather. A bit boring, but good practice for IMC and super efficient time management. Only about 20 min add-on time over the 6 hours for pit-stops and traffic lights and such.

Now I am quiet knackered though... Just wolfed down a few slices of left-over pizza and am now ready for a shower and a coffee.

Tonight: enjoy the weather on a patio for dinner with Esther and a glass of vino tinto (or two).
Tomorrow: 2:45 run after a good sleep-in.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Canada Day 4k Swim Challenge at Sasamat Lake

Two days ago, Friday, July 1st, Canada Day, I participated in the Canada Day 4k Swim Challenge at Sasamat Lake in Port Moody. This was the 20th anniversary of an annual event put on by the Vancouver Open Water Swim Association (VOWSA).

I normally do not take part in this as July 1st is also Esther and my wedding anniversary and I prefer to spend a nice day with my wife.

This year however I am also training for Ironman Canada and the 4k would be a good test of my swim abilities over that distance -- the Ironman swim distance is 3.8k. 

As we had all year unseasonably (and IMHO unreasonably!) cold temperatures, the water temperature at Sasamat Lake was only about 16 degrees. Not unbearable but a little cold. 

It is a two loop course and on the first loop I felt pretty good with the exception that I had some difficulties sighting on the last bit just before the second loop starts. The second loop on the other hand was not that good... I kept getting off track and started cramping in my left leg and right foot quite a bit. 

In the end I came out of the water in 1:21:03 (2:02 pace per 100m). By far not spectacular or what I was hoping for, but good enough. 

Seeing that this is also Esther and my wedding anniversary we had planned to go to dinner to the new Hawksworth Restaurant at the re-build Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Esther was still fighting a cold with a nasty cough and now I was coming down hard as well. In the end it would have been a waste for us to go to a nice dinner the way we felt and we reconsidered in favour of rest.

Not only that, but I also missed two huge workouts due to this annoying cold: yesterday a 6 hour ride with a 30 min brick run and today a 2:45 hour run. I will take this week as an early recovery week and make up for the lost long workouts next weekend.

It's all good!
Now where are my pills??

Thanks for stopping by.

2011 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7

Esther and I watched Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Canucks and the Bruins at Jimmys Taphouse just across the street from us. Jimmys is a bit like our Cheers. It is close by with a generally friendly crowd, nice wait staff and bartenders, and the manager is a nice guy too; and like Cheers we have come to known many of the other regulars as well.

Due to Jimmys location they are always packed on Game nights and on Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals of course even more so. Ruben, the manager, promised that he'll try to keep us a seat available for when we come after work. This of course is nearly an impossible task with the amount of people streaming through on a day and night like that. The game was on a Wednesday and I decided to start work really early to be able to leave early as well. So I managed to be at Jimmys in the early afternoon and get myself a nice spot at the bar. There I had a late lunch (I worked through lunch to make sure I get everything done in time) and generally passed time to read the various news paper takes on the game today.

Just before the game started at 5:00 PM, I managed to get another seat next to me for Esther who was on the way from her shop. She made it just in time for national anthems and the start of the game. The atmosphere was amazing! Everyone was so into it and we all were - of course - feverishly hoping for a strong Canucks performance. While it was a really good Game, the Bruins well outplayed Vancouver which in the end was reflected in the score of 4-0 for the Boston.

At the end of the game we watched the Boston victory celebrations and the post game interviews as we finished our drinks. The next thing we hear is a few loud bangs as something outside exploded. Looking out the windows we saw riot police slowly moving rioters down Homer Street toward Robson. Clearly there was no going out of Jimmys now as we had not the slightest appetite to be wrapped up in that chaos. So we stayed inside and watched it. Friends of our who were watching the game at a home further down Homer Street texted us that we should come to meet them or they would come to meet us for some last drinks of the night. We told them that this would probably not be such a good idea (or even possible) and this is when they too noticed what was going on.

There is really no need for me to go further into the details of the riot as it has been covered in great detail by all the new media already. As soon as feasible we just went home and to bed as it was a "school night" after all and we both had to work the next day.

I do however want to post here the account from one person on the inside of it. A friend of mine works for the VPD and obviously was on shift that night. The next day I sent him an email to ask if he is alright and this is what he responded with: (re-published here with his permission)
Wow what a night! I have seen many clips of things on the news now and it was just as bad as it looked. We were seriously outnumbered, as a huge number of people had come into Vancouver with the intent of having a riot.
Before the game was over we kept encountering roaming groups of people who were unaware of what the score was in the game, and openly admitted they had come to town for the riot that would follow.  It's shocking that there is an idiot subculture that exists only to cause damage, pain and suffering to others. Almost as bad are those who stand and watch, unknowingly provide shelter behind which vandals can run and hide. A number of police officers were injured, but thankfully none seriously. Several police cars were set on fire, others overturned, and many with all the windows smashed out – likely a couple of dozen no longer driveable as a result. Close to 2 dozen privately owned vehicles were set on fire, and countless damaged from hooligans smashing windows and jumping on the vehicles. The windows of many stores were smashed and the store looted.

As most Vancouver members were already working, we called for reinforcements and got busloads of police coming in from Surrey and other RCMP detachments, as well as Port Moody, New Westminster, West Vancouver, Delta and Abbotsford.

Our group of 4 saw one [city name removed] resident carrying a street barricade up the stairs to the library and smash the window. We quickly moved in and caught him, only to then the surrounded by the crowds jeering that we should let him go. Moments later a metal piece of the same barricade (with sharp edges and weighing 15+ lbs) came flying through the air, striking a woman (who had moments earlier was shouting at us for police brutality) in the head. In the confusion we managed to get ourselves, the prisoner and the injured woman out of the crowd to safety. She went off to the hospital but is lucky to be alive.

What followed were several hours of tactics and tear gas trying to reclaim the downtown core. With squads in full riot gear with shields blocking the side streets, we would fire tear gas at the crowds and charge towards them to drive them out of the downtown core. Eventually they all dispersed, and then the challenge was to keep looting to a minimum until the store fronts could be boarded up.

I was exhausted when I got home but glad to have been there to experience things first hand. It was a honour to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my brothers and sisters in blue tonight trying to keep our city safe.
The public backlash against the rioters in the following days and weeks was nothing short of astounding either. With pretty much everyone now carrying some form photo or video camera, there is just not as much hiding - or forgetting. Except that the criminals rioting and looting seemed to have not been aware of that.

I also don't want to go into a great discourse on how these criminals where treated in the aftermath, but my point of view is this:

  • Yes, they fully deserve to be publicly named and shamed for what they have done
  • Yes, these "normally good kids" that "wouldn't condone looting on any other day" and have jobs, careers, and volunteer etc should lose their jobs and face the full punishment of the law
  • No, I do not think that it is OK (or in any way appropriate) to contact and harass them directly (leaving a comment on their public blog is IMHO not contacting them directly) and even send threats and hate mails. 
  • It is even less appropriate to contact and harass their employers, friends, parents, or anyone else they are or have been affiliated with

I hope that this form of online mob behavior has now largely stopped as well!

What I found truly amazing though is how the city and the true Canucks and hockey fans came together over the next few days, starting on the very next day after the riot, to help clean up the city and leave friendly notes on the boarded up windows. That showed the true spirit of the people of Vancouver - not that of a handful of professional rioters and lots of drunken idiots.

Some impressions from my way to work on Thursday:

Then over the next few days, this started to emerge:

The last picture is one of a police cruiser that initially was parked on the street the next day and someone placed a post-it note of thanks on it. In no time lots of other people did the same. When the cop/s came back to the vehicle they did not want to drive it away for fear of losing the notes. Eventually it was moved to the plaza in front of Sears for a a few days and covered in notes. When I took this picture I asked the cops who were nearby how long this would stay there. He told me that they would need to move it that night "as you can imagine we are a little short on drivable cars..."

The boards that covered up the windows at The Bay will be preserved by the city and the police made sure that they photographed this cruiser in a lot of detail and they will preserve all the notes as well.

As for the Stanley Cup... let's do it next year!!

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2011 Oliver Half Iron Race Report

Let's start by saying that the weather in the early part of the season here in Vancouver, well... sucked! Low teens for temperatures and rain more often than not was the norm. Before Oliver, my training buddy Gen and I managed to go to Lake Sasamat twice. The first time we lasted 20 min in the water and had other people telling us how impressed they were with that as they went out of it after 5 minutes! I know my eyeballs were frozen after that and I was drained of all energy. Nonetheless we ran 2.5 (or so) hours in the Balcarra region afterwards and this was the suckiest run of my life! The second time we went with peeps from the North Shore Tri Club and  SpeedTheory in Vancouver and while the waters were far from warm, it was bearable for some real swimming.

OK, back to Oliver. So the one nice weekend in BC happened to be on race day. 30+ degrees! Great as IMC practice, but still a bit of shock to the system as we haven't had a chance to train in anything close to this.

I carpooled with my buddy Esther (no, not my WIFE Esther who has seen all of triathlon she ever wanted to see and then some) and we planned to leave on Friday at around 1:00 PM. On Thursday night I got my bike ready and noticed to my absolute shock that the crack was somehow stuck. Not so much that it would not move, but enough that it was really (!) hard to move. So on Friday I got myself a ZIP car and made sure to be at SpeedTheory by 10 AM on the dot. Ever helpful Jeremy opened the door and looked after my bike. He did the best he could for the few minutes we had, but at the end the crank was still moving much harder than it should do or did normally. OK, this has got to be good enough. Drove home and finished packing.

Esther picked me up pretty much on time and we headed off to Oliver. We arrived in the early evening at the Cactus Tree Inn in Oliver. Since I tried to get a hotel room late, I ended up with the only room they had left: the "Romance Suite. No kitchenette, no fridge, no nothing -- not really: big bed and a large jet tub in the room - all to myself. Whooheee. Oh well. I made due with ice and the fridge in Gen and Eric's suite.

Saturday was all about the mini-tri to get through the motions, picking up the race package, getting the bike sorted and into transition, and attend the pre-race meeting. The crank was still a bit stuck but there was nothing I could do about that now.
Lesson: Check these things well before travel day.

What I should have done is go through the gears one more time before storing it in transition as the bike was in the car again after the mini-tri. As it turned out, they were quite a bit off. Nothing unmanageable, but annoying during the race for sure.
Lesson: After the last bike assembly always give a test tun through all the gears.

Saturday evening was Game #2 between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks and Esther, Gen, Eric and I met in Gen and Eric's suite for dinner. I brought white elbow pasta with a bolognese style sauce I made with little veal and lots of assorted vegetables and spiced it up some with chipotles. Yummi but as it turns out, just because it is all ground up, it is still full of fiber... more on that later. We stayed until the game was over early in OT when Vancouver scored the game winning goal.Time for some sleep now.
Lesson: Really constrain all fiber intake days before a long race.

I got up at some ridiculous early time on Sunday to have breakfast and get ready. The transition and body-marking opened at 5:30 AM which is when Esther and I left the Motel and headed over to the race site.

Setting up transition and going through the usual pre-race motions and also tried to get all the Right Shoe athletes together for a group pic. Gen and Eric were already down by the lake already so we took the picture without Gen. Doug from SpeedTheory found us a photographer. I still don't know where those pictures ended up.

Thankfully they changed the cut-off for the "geezer" category for this year and so despite being in the 45-49 category, I got to start with the first group, men under 50, and didn't have to wait around. So very punctual at 7:00 AM the race got underway.

Swim: as we all know, swimming is my nemesis discipline, but despite this I was hoping to swim the 2k in about 35min. I listened to all the good advise for weak swimmers to position yourself away from the front. So I did and ended up in the washing machine of swimmers how sucked at this almost as bad as I did or even worse. Couldn't get any rhythm going the entire time and exited the water in 39:32 - boo!

T1: pretty long run from the lake to the transition area but everything worked out pretty well and I was pleased with my time 4:44.

Bike: I felt good on the bike right off the get-go and try to keep it to my planned power output of 220 watts and ended up with 215 watts average. I also think that I negatively splitted, but have no proof for that. Another thing I don't have proof for is that the fact that I am certain that although my power reading was 215 watts, I outputted probably much closer to 230 or 240 watts  with the remainder being chewed up by the crank. As my power is measured in the rear hub, anything that gets chewed up by the drive train is not actually measured. Not a big deal normally as it is always roughly the same, but in this case it was not the same due to the crank issue. Anyway, it was what it was and I still enjoyed the bike ride tremendously. Not too hot (yet) and not too cool and really beautiful scenery. With the time of 2:41:47  I was very pleased too.
Lesson: none really, just need to look better and sooner after bike maintenance.

T2: really pleased with this transition too - for once: 1:32. And I was really surprised to run out of the transition with Paul at the exact same time.

Run: It is now right around 10:30 AM on the hottest day we have experienced this year. With Paul running ahead of me I just motored along when at the 2k mark Gen came shooting past me. The first 4k felt quite good and I made sure to keep the pace easy as I knew this was going to get tough soon enough. And it sure did. The sun was starting to get to me and I went from feeling really good to really crappy within a matter of seconds. I also noticed that I seemed to be closing up to Paul... Paul is a much faster runner than I am and closing up to him is was only possible if he was really suffering. Sure enough, right around 5k I passed him and he was not having a good time.

As I kept trudging along I noticed that the funky feeling in my tummy did not just seem to be temporary and started bothering me quite a bit. I tend to get slight tummy issues in long races that require me to go to the bathroom. That is why I started to take Immodium AD in the morning of a race and another one at just before race start. I had a third Immodium in my fuel belt "just in case" -- this one I took earlier in the run when I first noticed that the rumbling didn't want to go away. Now at about 7 or 8k in I had to stop at a porta potty despite the three Immodiums.

The porta potty was cooking all day in the sun but was thankfully not used much and/or the chemicals used really work well. So I was siting there in this shit-house sauna, hardly being able to breathe, and I was thinking "I am too old for this shit!" from now on I'll race for the fun of it and don't care about being competitive with anyone else or myself anymore.

From there on I continued the run much more relaxed and perhaps a bit slower. But it was still hot as hell and what got me through were cola, water, and sponges at every aid station. At 19k or so I saw Paul again up ahead who passed me while I had my nature break. I picked up the pace to catch up and even thought I run it in with him. Boy oh boy, he was really suffering and I there was no way that I would slow down to his pace. So I just kept going and finished the run in an abysmal 2:03:36 (with the potty stop being about 4 min)

Final Race Time: 5:31:08. A little faster than in 2009, but slower than last year.
Summary: So-so swim, good transitions, great ride, and totally crappy run (pun intended).

Yes, I know it is now almost a month after the race... I just came down with a nasty bout of a cold and wasn't able to do much of anything today - least of all a 6 hour ride followed by a 45 min brick. So I guess I had some time to finally write this up.

Thanks for checking in.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spring Training Camp

Spring Training Camp with Shaun and his gang from Pacific Rim Multisport was really great!

Gen, Jason, Lawrence and I rented a mini van (actually they didn't have the booked mini van for us so we got a fair sized SUV instead) and headed out to Osoyoos early (really early!) on Friday 13-May and arrived well before noon at the Sandy Beach Motel. There the three guys got to share a suite and Gen was with two other girls in the suite below ours. The suites were great! They had everything we needed to cook and make breakfast and whatnot. A very well run and not at all expensive place to stay. I can highly recommend it.

After a quick introduction and going over riding and camp rules, we headed out for our first ride for about 3 hours up and over Richter Pass and a few of the rollers and back to Osoyoos, only to go up Anarchist Mountain for some 8k before heading back to the Motel. This was then immediately followed by a 30 minute brick run along the shores of Osoyoos Lake.

In the evening we had pasta dinner outside where Shaun went over some more camp details, some trivia and draw prizes, and we all got out camp swag bag. All the bags had printed and laminated name tags on them. I thought that was a nice touch but really didn't get the point... Until Sunday that is when we went on our longest ride and used those bags as our "special needs" bags. Clever!

Saturday morning started with an hour and a half run. After that a lot of milling around before we had a talk about wetsuits with a TYR rep who also had a line of wetsuits to try. I didn't bother with trying a new suit as I have a good one and am not in the market. The swim as extremely short as the water was really (really!) cold still. The afternoon brought us a 2-hour ride to Oliver where we stopped at the transition area and swim start for the Oliver Half in a few weeks to review some of those details and then rode home via the Black Sage Road stretch of the Oliver Half bike course.

The most important part about Saturday though was that it was my birthday of course! So in the evening we went to a nearby pub for dinner and a few pints. By now tiredness came creeping in and we decided to make it a somewhat early night. When us boys got to our suite we still had to have another quick drink... And sure enough, all of a sudden there was a knock on the door. Of course we thought that Gen found a second wind and decided to have another drink as well. But this was not so! It was Shaun to come and see what we thought of the camp so far. Then we proceeded to geek out on nutrition, power based training, and triathlon in general. Shaun sure knows his triathlon and it is fun chatting with him about that. So much to learn!!

Sunday was the Big Ride Day: up and over Richter Pass, all of the rollers, Barcelo and Upper Bench Roads, and up Yellow Lake. From there we turned around and went back home the same way for a ride of about 5 hours and 130k and, more importantly, some 1,600m combined elevation gain. This, then, was followed by another 30 min brick - the same as Friday.

The evening held Margaritas sponsored by the fine ladies from and some general socializing and BBQ-ing and more prizes. Good times!

Monday was departure day. Some - like Lawrence - went a bit toward Oliver and then turned around to go back up the Anarchist, while others - like Gen and myself - opted for the more sensible ride out to Oliver and back via the Oliver Half course again; making it a short 2-ish hour recovery ride. This was also the only day where we really had rain plus we had to check out in time. So that ride was perfect for me.

Back on the road to Vancouver we decided to stop for proper breakfast at some Greasy Spoon Diner in Keremeos (I think it may have been the K-Cafe? Good breakfast!) and generally mellowed out in the car back home.

Can't wait for Summer Camp!! :-)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

7 Weeks? Really??

Holy Cow! Has it really been seven weeks since I last posted...? Yes it has!

That is simply pretty lame and quite inexcusable. Well, maybe it is excusable... After all, I have been training hard, and working hard, and last but not least, supporting the Vancouver Canucks hard. There just wasn't a heck of a lot of time to blog.

As far as my training goes, working hard and supporting the Canucks hard has certainly NOT been beneficial to my training.

The working bit resulted in my losing quite a bit of structure in the workouts and even missing some.

As for supporting the Canucks, this has taken a serious toll on my weight. With all the beer and pub-grub.

I don't even know my current weight and am not terribly likely to stand on the scale anytime soon. Let's just say that it is painfully obvious that it is much higher than it should be.

So what were some of the highlights since April 30?

Some of the above I still have to blog about and will do that! Really!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ten By Ten

SpeedTheory in Vancouver has this annual bike ride called "10 by 10". Ten loops of Stanley Park before 10 AM.

We met this morning near Second Beach at 6:30 AM and started off. Each loop is about 9.2 km.

I have never done more than 4 loops of Stanley Park before but was really looking forward to it. I finished in 3:12 hours with the best lap in about 17.5 minutes, and the worst in about 20 minutes. My average power was 225 watts and the average speed was 27 km/h.

It was a great ride!

Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kick Ass Delta Tri

Raced a really nice sprint distance triathlon in Ladner (Delta, BC) today: 700 meter pool swim, 20k mostly flat bike, and 5k pancake flat run.

I finished in 1:11:23 and overall this could be considered a personal best for sprint triathlons for me. Although with sprint distance tri's this is always such a thing... you cannot really compare the different races as they never really are the same -- except of course the same race from one year to the next as long as the race course hasn't changed. Other than that you have pool vs. open water swims, different distances in the swim and bike and sometimes even the run, and completely different distances from the water to the transition area, and so on.

For instance I had a slightly faster run at the Subaru Vancouver Tri one 2 years ago and most likely a faster bike at the North Shore Spring Tri also in 2009 -- although it might have been faster transitions.

But overall timing wise this was my fastest posted time -- and I finished 2nd in my age group. See there is an advantage sliding into the geezer category... :-)

Anyway, my times today were 0:12:29 for the Swim | 0:03:41 in T1 | 0:31:51 on the Bike | 0:01:29 in T2 | 0:21:53 on the Run for a 1:11:23 Final Time.

All of the Right Shoe athletes did really well and four of us ended up in the top 3 of our respective age group categories!

Myself, Leigh, Esther, Danny

Thanks for checking in! 

PS: Yea, I know I haven't posted any week in reviews recently... have honestly been too lazy. I am sure I'll post one again some time soon. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Starbucks Rant

[Rant Alert! No specific value to this post other than me griping.] 

Hey Starbucks! 
I now have two issues with you... well, probably much more, but two that are big enough to make me want to take the effort to write them up. 

First: Don't advertise "Your Coffee, Your Way" if you really can't or won't be able to make it! 
My coffee of choice could very simply be called a "Café au lait". That of course would be too simple for Starbucks and so I need to order it in the Starbucks equivalent: no-foam coffee misto (or my specific version: venti, non-fat, no-foam, Pike Place, coffee misto). See the problem is that in less than 1 out of 10 cases I actually get it without foam! I don't want the milk foamed or frothed or any of this. I actually had one "barista" (calling this coffee slinger a barista is akin to calling the line cook at "Bud's Halibut & Chips" a chef) telling me that not foaming/frothing the milk is not possible. Idiot! Clearly it is possible! Every now and so often - and as rare as this may be - I get the perfectly heated milk. Just that: heated milk. I don't like the foam/froth, I don't want it, need it, or should have it. One of my favourite scenarios is this: the barista/coffee-slinger puts the finished coffee on the counter and calls out what it is "venti, non-fat, no-ohhh, errr, no-foam, coffee misto". Clearly they now know that they have not done the no-foam bit but are trying to push it out anyway - de facto making a liar of themselves and clearly insulting the customer's (my!) intelligence. When then asked to please make it no-foam as it was ordered, I get in at least half the cases an annoyed frown as they take it back and try to scoop out the foam. Hello! Dumbo... about 40% of the cup's contents are foam and you'll be scooping for 5 minutes and still not get the all the foam out. So they scoop and scoop and scoop and with every scoop they put in a little more of the over-frothed milk they still have left in the container. Now they are not only engaging in an utterly pointless activity, they are also diluting the coffee more and more with milk. 

Phuuu! Done with this, now onto the next one. 

Second: What is with the pastries getting more and more junkier? 
Everyone knows that we have a serious obesity crisis in North America and many establishments are trying to come up with ways to even make "treats" somewhat healthier. Not Starbucks - oh no! They are removing every item that has the slightest appearance of maybe-not-that-bad-for-you and are replacing it with highly refined, processed, and icing lathered crap! All one can possibly taste in these things is... well, sugar sweet. Case in point: they used to have a whole wheat raspberry scone without icing. Gone! Replaced by little balls on a stick that are something like cake dough with a good 3 millimetre of icing caked around it. YUK! And yes, I realize that even the whole wheat scone was not "health food" -- all of that stuff is strictly speaking junk. But that said, there is better and worse junk. Now all the Starbucks has left is the worst possible kind of junk. 

I used to like Starbucks. Now I only go there because of convenience. But even their ubiquity cannot, over the long term, sustain my loyalty. 

[end Rant]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Neat Nuggets

Here are a few neat nuggets I came across recently.

This one made me laugh. Well, I know it really shouldn't - in fact it should make me cringe and that it did a little bit too. My training buddy Esther (as in Esther Lee - not to be confused with my wife Esther who really isn't all that much into triathlon stuff) posted some of her experiences at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre pool on her blog.  Go ahead, read all about "weirdos" at the pool

Swimming being my nemesis, I am always on the lookout for information on how to get better at it. Usually hoping for a Silver Bullet and then settling for any good tip. This video is great! Five Essential Swim Drills

Via Stewart on Twitter: "The actual dataviz of that German MP who got Deutsche Telekom to hand over his GPS data: Fascinating (and a bit scary)."

Via my physio Timberly on Twitter: "#Run today? Or a good 'ole dose of heroin? I'll chose the run thanks. RT: @BMOVanMarathon @CardeaHealth #don'tdodrugs"

I am a bit of a fan of the sitcom "Outsourced" and know that a lot of people find this show not politically correct enough - to say the least. I am OK if you don't like it because it is not well enough acted or the jokes are not funny or whatnot. But please don't say that we can not make a little fun of any specific group of people in a kind and well-meaning way. In its own way every sitcom does exactly that. So, please Don't Hate Outsourced!

One of my training buddies with The Right Shoe tri club is Amanda. She and her fiancée Mike just did the ultimate crazy thing: they run 45km in Yellowknife - the Frostbite 45. An adventure that apparently included "Icicles On My Eyelashes" (well, hers - not mine thankyouverymuch)

One of our other training buddies is Kelli. And I just found out that Kelli made the "Athlete Video" for the 2009 Oliver Half Iron. 2009 was also my first time participating in that event. Great video and great event!

That's all for now. Have a great week all!

Week 12/34 in Review

And now it is only 10 weeks left to Oliver. And I tweaked my calf in a bad way. Not what I needed but I hope that I can get it sorted in week 13 - a recovery week.

We also have the Pacific Rim Multisport Spring Training Camp in Osoyoos coming up from May 13 until May 16. Now this is less than 7 weeks away. Ohlalalala! But I am totally looking forward to it! Should be hard work but a lot of fun.

Theme of this week: I am pissed with my calf! Aarrgh!

Monday: Rest day as usual and nothing exciting to report. As mentioned, I did OK in the Harry's Spring Run Off the day before so I thoroughly enjoyed the rest day.

Tuesday: Had to work early again and and went swimming at the Y in the afternoon just before going to meet The Right Shoe group for a Beach Circuit workout.

Wednesday: Again went to work early and hit the Y for my strength training over lunch. And just like the previous week I did 90 min on the trainer in the evening followed by a 20 min run on the treadmill. Since it was reasonably warm that day I went for the first time this year on the trainer in a tri-suit. I can tell you that my backside is not ready for 90 min with just a hint of a chamois yet! (ouch!)

Thursday: The Wednesday strength followed by the brick tends to leave me pretty sore. Combine that with a very much sub-optimal sleep and you can imagine where my intentions to go swimming with the Dolphins went... yep, not happening. Decided to do the Friday run instead in the afternoon before going to The Right Shoe spin class. The run included drills and strides and two sets of 2 lateral drills after a good warm up. I ran from our place along the seawall to sunset beach nice and easy - a good 20 minutes. Already during that warm-up I felt really sluggish and sore. Did the D+S as well as the first set of lateral cross-overs and side-shuffles OK. Just when I took the first few steps of the second cross-overs I got a sharp pain in my right calf. At first I thought it was the Achilles tendon but then I noticed that it was a bit higher. Just on the inner and lower part of the calf muscle. Really painful! So I kinda hobble-jogged home and started icing it right away and took some ibuprofen. In the evening I took my bike to the spin class but took both the commute and the spin super easy.

Friday: Strongly modified strength session with no legs but a lot of foam rolling instead. Naturally also more icing (not the sweet kind mind you!) and ibuprofen. And did an hour swim. Evening was off as Esther and I went to La Terrazza for dinner. That dinner plus an already heavy Dim Sum lunch at Imperial Restaurant may also account for the less than stellar weight and body fat percentage numbers below... well along with another week of lacking dietary discipline in general.

Saturday: 4+ hour bike ride that was mostly dry. A real treat and a great ride. Calf felt excellent throughout the entire ride. Even saw an eagle at the pit stop at Iona Beach:
Although my buddies did not appreciate my photographic skills and my needs to immediately tweet the picture as much as I did. 

Sunday: Went to the Y at 9:00 AM for an hour swim and met up with my buddy Gen at 10:00 AM for 1.5 hours of water running. Read that again: 1.5 hours of water running. Thank god I had company! No way I would have been able to do that on my own. About as mind numbing as 4.5 hours on the trainer (not that I have ever done that!).

Upcoming week, as mentioned, is recovery week. I plan on doing my calf some good and going really easy and treating it just right so that next week I am back on normal training.

Week 12 Stats:

  • 15 hours completed out of 17:40. 30 min of this is in a substituted Dolphin swim and the rest in the running that had to be eliminated after Thursday. 
  • Average weight was 0.2 pounds higher than then week before at 201.1
  • Average body fat percentage held pace and went up by 0.1% to 21.2%

Hey, thanks as always for checking in. I'll promise that in the coming week I'll try a little harder to come up with some more interesting posts than these fairly lame WIRs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 11/34 in Review

23 training weeks until IMC and 11 until Oliver. Tic Toc Tic Toc Tic Toc...

Overall this week can be summed up in one word: sore! 

Monday: Rest Day. Still somewhat sore form the TT the previous Saturday I think. So I was happy that today was a rest day.

Tuesday: Swim at the Y in the afternoon and then off to The Right Shoe for a 20 min sustained tempo wedged between a good warm-up and cool-down. Managed a good average 4:20 min/km for the tempo set and was very happy with that. But the legs got a little sorer...

Wednesday: Due to early morning meetings I did my strength session at the Y over lunch making sure the legs keep their solid soreness levels. In the evening I spend 90 min in zone 1 on the trainer followed by 20 min on the treadmill. I was wondering why the run felt so darn easy... I forgot to elevate the treadmill to 2%. Doh!

Thursday: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Made my guest appearance at the Dolphins early in the morning. And to do one extra green thing for the day I took my bike to the Riley Park Community Centre instead of taking the car. It did help that the weather was nice tho. The spin was - yep, you guessed it - more tempo. For some reason I had 20 min of tempo in mind - broken into 4 consecutive 5 min segments of high Z3, low Z3, high Z3, and low Z3. But after the third segment Lara mentioned that we are now over 50% done. Say what? Oh Sh**! It was actually 30 minutes total. The legs are surely not getting any less tired or sore with that.

Friday: With Harry's 8K run on Sunday I did not have to do any weights. Good thing too as I had early AM meetings again and just managed to get my 50 min run in before I had to go to work. But that was it for the day and I could rest in the evening. Desperately needed too. I was overall really fatigued.

Saturday: 2.5 hour bike ride in mostly nice weather. The first time my Cervelo P2 has seen the outside. I love this bike!! I postponed my swim to the next day in favour of more rest. I actually postponed the bike cleaning as well...

Sunday: Harry's 8k Spring Run-off Race Day -- with a very decent 10:00 AM start time. 20 min warm-up with drill and strides and off we were. My goal was to come in under 35 min by holding roughly a 4:20 min/km pace. I did come in at 34:37 by averaging 4:12 min/km. The course - at least how I ran it - was a good 250 meters long! In any case, I was very pleased with the result and know that if I would have gone 2km (or 1.75km as the case may be) longer I would have PB'd over the 10k. After the mandatory post race mingling and coffee there was still the outstanding hour of swimming at the Y.

Pretty darn good week all in all and I was really happily surprised that the rest on Friday evening and the bike ride on Saturday were enough to take the soreness out of my legs enough for a good race on Sunday. Allowing me of course to pour some more fresh soreness in...

Next week promises to be a bit of a whopper with just shy of 18 hours on the schedule including a 4:20 bike ride on Saturday and a 3:10 run Sunday.

Week 11 Stats: 

  • Pretty much completed the planned 12.5 hours of training without any notable changes or misses 
  • Average weight was 200.9 lbs and while this is still 1.2 lbs less than the week prior, it is still not back to the week 7 / 8 level.   
  • Average body fat was at 21.2% and thus down by 0.1% from the week prior but also not quite where I was on week 7 or 8.   

Thanks for checking in! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thank You Garmin!

A while ago I posted about a Garmin product (HR strap) failure and the subsequent poor customer service I received at that time. 

It probably wasn't so much the product failure (that happens) or the poor customer service (unfortunately one cannot expect excellent customer service 100% of the time) in isolation. It was the two combined with the fact that in the process I was made to feel distinctly second class as Canadian customer of a US company after my call with them. 

That said, Garmin sure made right by me! 

Since I posted my gripe I got one of the Garmin executives to read the entry. He then immediately emailed me with an apology and a promise to pass this on to someone who can look into this further. I thought that was pretty decent but at that time didn't really expect much more to come from it. 

However, a few days later I received a phone call from a lady from Garmin who called to first and foremost apologize again for the service I have received. She then said that they will send me a new HR soft strap and to please email her my address - in Canada. I did and received a package from their Canadian service partner (RayTech in Laval, QC) with a new strap. 

Yes, I only got what I should have gotten to begin with: a replacement HR strap. But I am very happy with that! In fact if I had not posted about it and then emailed Garmin about the entry, I wouldn't have gotten anything. But I wasn't out to get all sorts of compensation for my troubles. In fact, I wasn't out to get anything. All I wanted is to voice my frustration and let a US company know that as long as they are happy to sell me their wares in Canada and thus increase their business, they cannot make up all sort of cockamamie reasons for not supporting us here up north as well as they do any of their other customers. 

There are a lot of US companies that seem to have extraordinary trouble to see the need to properly serve Canada - frankly, bigwigs like Google are among them! Sure, most of them will find quickly a way to sell up here but too often this is where it stops. 

Garmin has a Canadian service centre in Laval, Quebec (Raytech Electronique) and they are quiet good. I had to deal once with them directly and was really impressed with their service! But in the end, they are not Garmin and if Garmin is losing a customer it is not the same as Raytech losing one. But at least it is a start and Garmin does realize that they need to improve their Canadian customer service. 

In the end, I am happy that Garmin send me a replacement in the end and hope that next time it will be easier. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting my new passport

I went to the passport office today at around 12:15 PM (the worst time to go based on what my friend Paul told me) and the first lineup was not very long - waited maybe 5+ minutes. This was just to collect all the pieces required, making sure that all is there and in order.

I got back a plastic pouch with all my stuff in it and a ticket with my real waiting number: D632. So I start to sit down and stare at the numbers board: there were F's and A's and a B showed up after a while too. Having no patience whatsoever, after about 2 minutes I asked the security/info guy if he would be able to estimate the wait. He looked at my ticket and said "about 40-45 min". OK, so enough to hop down to the food court and grab a quick bite for lunch?!

"Well, if you come out of the elevator and go straight into the food court and then turn left, you'll see a monitor with the most recently called numbers. Just come back up when your number gets close."

Neat! So down I go and I see that the D-number is already at D630... oh crap! I quickly wolf down some less-than-healthy Chinese food as this was closest and by the time I was done it had changed already to D631.

Quickly back upstairs I take a seat and start playing round with my awesome new Samsung Galaxy S (that drains battery way too quickly) and within less than 10 minutes I was at the wicket.

This dude was super focused and simply motored through my stuff with most of the validations centering around my request for expedited processing as I may have to go to Buffalo for a few days of meetings. Much like boarder guards, the questions seemed to be designed to ascertain if you just made up the request of if your *really* have a travel date. "When are you travelling?" "Where are you going?" "Why are you going?" "When do you plan to travel?" "Is this for business?" and-so-on-and-so-forth... but no all in a row.

Then it was just paying the fee and I got my receipt and pickup notice for Friday, March 25. Holy Cow! All in all a super quick, painless, efficient, and impressive service.

Well done Government of Canada!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What is wrong with this picture?

Week 10/34 in Review


Great recovery week - too bad it is over.

Although weight wise I have not been doing well over the last three weeks and especially not this last week. While in the other two weeks I didn't really lose any weight, in this past week I actually gained some. I am not going to whine about it as I know the root cause quite well: simply lack of dietary discipline. Not more or less than that. So when it comes to nutrition and weight management I am more often than not my own worst enemy.

Training wise I only missed one swim with the Dolphins but made up for it (a tiny bit in any case) with riding my bike in absolutely shit conditions to the spin class on Thursday night.

Monday: Rest Day!

Tuesday: Had to work really early and decided to leave work early as well and went swimming for an hour just before the run with the Right Shoe. For the run we had intervals on the program: warm up followed by ABC's and two sets of 75 meter strides. Then 8 x 1 minute in zone 5 with 2 minute recoveries.

Wednesday: A great day to become a Canadian Citizen! I took the day off from work and went to the Y for an easy weight session. Then off to the citizenship ceremony followed by an easy one hour spinning. The evening reserved for celebrating my new Canadianess.

Thursday: No way that I could have gone swimming in the morning after the amount of celebrating the night before. Just enough time to make it to my early morning meetings at work. In the evening I rode my bike in gale force winds and pouring rain to the Riley Park Community Centre for the Right Shoe spin class. I figured that riding the bike there and back in those conditions just made up a little for the missed swim. Actually Esther was too busy at work and stood me up with the car so I had no choice, but I still took the bike :-)

Friday: I was supposed to take the morning off or just do some stretching but nob that I am, I did not read my training program properly and ended up doing light strength work. Doh! Oh well. I also ran to the Y beforehand but that actually was on the program.

Saturday: Indoor TT at the Peak Centre. Danny kicked my arse over the 15.75 km -hilly!- course by one minute. But I improved my previous time by 1.5 minutes and finished in something like 27.5 minutes. 33.3 km/h and ~ 260 watts average. In the afternoon I met again with Janka for another swim lesson. This time focusing on a timely roll and earlier breath while still keeping it nice and long and relaxed and completing a full circle with the shoulders in the recovery. Eventually I will nail this swimming thing!
Update on TT data: I forgot to hit the lap button at the start so I have to guess-timate it somewhat on the graph, but based on that I averaged 272 watts and 34.4 km/h and 89 RPM with an 7.19% HR decoupling over the 27:30 minutes and 15.75 km distance. 
Sunday: Lost an hour sleep due to the daylight savings time thingy. Not Happy! But we only had an easy Zone 1 1:50 hour run without any hills or tempos. After the run we met with Lawrence to catch up on his recovery progress and all sort of other things. And we also dropped by the Pacific Centre Mall where the Ride2Survive gang had a spin-a-thon set up to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. My buddy Alex was on his second 4-hr shift over the weekend. Great work guys!!

Weekly Stats: 

  • Planned: 11 hours - Actuals: a little over 9.5 hours with the missing swim on Thursday being the culprit. 
  • Average weight was 202.1 lbs and with that 1.4 lbs higher than the previous week. 
  • Average body fat %-age went in sync with the wight and at 21.3% was 0.2% higher.