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.