Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Holidays 2009

(...the blog post I probably should have made about a month ago...opps!)

With the very first UBCTC Fall Classic Race Series all wrapped up, it’s finally nice to have some time off from racing. And by time off from racing, I really mean more time spent towards training. I’ll clue you in later why this is the case.

Coming into this race series, I would have no doubt chuckled if someone were to consider me as a ‘big gun’, let alone a podium finisher in the male division. This petite-figured Asian guy, often underestimated, surely wouldn’t attract the attention that other pre-series favourites would have, especially since there were many to choose from, trust me. You may go as far as to compare this analogy to the Team Canada Men’s Hockey team selection for the Olympics and I will probably be one of the guys that are good, but not good enough to make the team. Nevertheless this friendly scoring system of the race series became my best of friends, when it rewards bonus participation points for showing up and does a uniform distribution of points spread among the first to last finisher, meaning the system levelled the playing field for everybody. All of a sudden, winning the race series really came down to attendance to all the events, consistency to place well (not necessary well in terms of time as I have learned in the 500m swim test set), and malleability to the often challenging and sometimes unfamiliar events (like tire-changing and underwater distance swim).

I think I’ve poked fun at Nathaniel Janzen enough times during this race series, and by now he probably realizes this and doesn’t want to admit it on the record, but I think my level of competitive spirited smacktalk must had (yes must had!) inspired him to do wonderful things in the pool and the run courses, which he can tell you all about.

One thing memorable about the race series was Vincent Lavallee’s continued commentary throughout the series events and perhaps he may be most famous, if he isn't already, for his long-winded (21 minutes?) speech at the awards presentation. I don’t think I’ve heard anything longer and vividly delivered speech by a more-sober person. When stacked on paper against Matt Reeve, the eventual winner of the Vincent Lavallee’s Cup and race series overall leader, the numbers don’t look quite so impressive for my camp. To Matt Reeve's credit, he did beat me in all of the 12 events possible. I was not shutout though, the one competition he did not beat me in was the swim relay (since he was on my team, and hence it was not possible). Also, ahem...that famous bi-annual beer mile event.

After all this racing and training and yes school, I noticed my training log had significantly more hours than it did last year. In fact I was very close to the centennial markers for each of swim, bike, and run which I had not achieved in any previous years. Here’s a look at what I had.

Now flashback back to today.

I’m glad to officially announce that I have achieved this feat for 2009! I’ve also noticed an improvement in the swim department, which likely means for 2010 I’ll need to hit the pool at least 3 times a week to reap the gains. Maybe my numbers are still relatively miniscule compared to any professional tri-athlete, but hey it’s the personal success that counts.

It’s nice to reflect upon what I have done this year. Here’s a final look at my totals from 2008 and 2009 years.

Thanks for reading, I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hurry, Hurry Hard! Curling Cross Training I call it.

Last Saturday evening, 19 more or less civil engineering students cleverly dropped their pencils and calculators for a moment and ‘hurried hard’ their way onto the curling sheet at Marpole Curling Club to throw some stones and to sweep like a madman.

A bunch of super cool curlers!

Brian and I had arrived there a few minutes fashionably late due to a small oversight – initially heading in the opposite direction...opps. This curling rink certainly was well hidden from civilization, which was located inside a mysterious gloomy, windowless warehouse.

Eventually, with practice for nearly an hour, we were ready to rock and roll and started playing a game.

Brian and I were on the cool red team, thus for justification of sporting this awesome red toque.

Brian whipping out the big guns and big take-outs.

My first two shots came shortly after my teammate, Marcel who had just missed both of his shots. The pressure was on me to put something or anything in play with 3 blue stones looming the house. My first shot, heavy! My second, light! Having mastered the draw weight and launch from the hack in practice, I totally choked with everybody watching me. Man, the pressure. Luckily our girl Skip bailed us out and made an awesome takeout to prevent the blue team from scoring more than one point after the first end.

Me blowing the shot.

Money shot, oh I mean the photograph!

Joel Atwater showing us how it's suppose to be done.

I got to call the shots in the second end as Skip. It was fun playing the Skip, as I had no idea what my hand signals really meant, and I got some funny looks for my gesturing too. When it was my turn to shoot, the left side was wide opened. My nerves settled from the first end and I curled my stone behind a guard. Perhaps it was the magic of sweeping? Jeff, the blue Skip, hits one of our stone out, however we still had one closest to the button. This was my chance to score two points and redeem myself for the first end. With barely a 3mm gap, my second shot stuck around a centre guard and was enough to take two points for second end (granted I actually had the entire left side open to make the shot). Success!

Sweeping was harder than scrubbing grime off concrete. Joel was yelling "hard" and "off" unexpectedly, and at one point Liliana on the blue team jumped to all the excitement (left)!

We ended up exchanging one point for the remaining third and fourth ends. All in all, it was a lot of fun! Not too bad, considering this was my first time curling.

Final Score: Red 3 - Blue 2

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NB Fall Classic Half Marathon Race Report

Coming into this race, I had my hopes high especially coming off from a pb time in Victoria. I believed I was capable of a sub 1:28.

It turns out I was ‘CLOSE’-ish with a gun time of 1:32:39 [just maybe twist palm of hand back and forth a few times].

Here’s the story. The weather for the race morning was not exactly the prettiest of conditions: cold (6°C) , wet (20-30mm) and windy (39km/hr E, 50km/hr gusts). Despite having suited up well with four layers and having proper taper and rest, as well as having my pre-ritual breakfast (a bagel and banana and orange juice no less), I couldn’t escape from whipping out the weak excuses. I had overlooked one detail - ample time for warm-up.

It’s my own fault really. Oh man, how EMBARRASSING!!! The morning was chaotic, I had totally lost track of time after waiting in the long line-up to pickup my chip and race bib. Ideally I would have warmed up for 10-15 minutes prior to starting. So I just smiled it off and started.

My smile and warm-up run :)

On hindsight, I probably would have only shaved off one or two minutes given the harsh conditions. Still two full days after, my legs are in a world of hurt and I guess I have to be impressed with my time for doing the half marathon on literally cold feet.

Despite the lack of a proper feel-good warm-up and the tough conditions, this race was actually a lot of fun. A few friends were doing the race with cold feet as well, so I wasn’t alone.

My attempt to round up the troops and get Chris Scott, Nathaniel Janzen, and Ceilidh Curtis to smile at the camera.

Eric Suess and I met up around the 3km mark and just after the first turn around at 5km, Liam Harrap had caught up. I could only hold their pace until 7km mark when I had to slow down and hover around the 4:20 pace. I tried to keep up but my legs had given up at that point.

My second lap felt a little faster, running it more aggressively. I managed to reel in a handful of runners whom had passed me late on the first lap.

Liam braved the conditions with only the coveted UBCTC Tech Tee! He really could handle it, since he has experience with extreme training in Iceland from doing a year of study-exchange there.

Chris Scott making it look easy.

Vincent Lavallee pulling away from everybody...

...and him finishing.

Liam Harrap went on to having a stellar first half pb of sub 1:28! Check out his souvenir on his left knee.

Nathaniel sporting a sleek toque.

Scott finishing in a pb time!

I have to thank my dad for these great action shots he took.
Congrats to everyone who did the Fall Classic, check out our club's results here.

My Splits (min/km)
1km 4:14
2km 4:07
3km 4:08
4km 4:07
5km 4:14
6km 4:01
7km 4:21
8km 4:40
9km 4:34
10km 4:46
11km 4:21
12km 4:21
13km 4:40
14km 4:14
15km 4:08
16km 4:20
17km 4:33
18km 4:28
19km 4:28
20km 4:26
21.1km 4:26 (4:53)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NB Fall Classic Half-Marathon Prerace Report

Alright for Sunday’s half marathon run, sub 1:28 bring it on.

One thing that could be stopping me is that I’ve been battling a scratchy throat since last Wednesday 5km run. All these competitions in the UBCTC Fall Classic races series and midterms have been taking a great toll. To describe the sore throat, it feels like a funny bone caught against my throat only when swallowing. My dad has provided me some amoxicillin pills and my sister has also provided some vitamin C tablets. There has been no symptoms of a running nose nor coughing. Today I had it checked out, and my doctor told me it’s just a common viral infection (no case of H1N1 luckily). Training wise, I haven’t skipped a beat with my routine being normal.

I have found this relevant section on Antioxidants in the latest Canadian Running Magazine (Vol2.Issue8.Pg56).

Running causes extensive oxidative damage, potentially leading to upper respiratory tract infections, muscle soreness and stiffness. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E are essential components of recovery. Vitamin C is imperative for a strong immune system and increases iron uptake, aiding oxygen delivery to muscles...

So it turns out my little sister was right on insisting I take these Vitamin C tablets. Who knew?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

5K Run Rematch results in Roles Reversal.

The running gods certainly have a way of flipping the tables around.

Flashback to the mile event from two weeks ago, I was leading out the chase group on lap 2. I was the official pace bunny, that is until the group had other ideas heading into the final laps. Nathaniel Flipper Janzen was one of the few who managed to reel me in and steamed passed me on final lap to decisively take fourth place, while I was breathing heavily to claim fifth place just a couple seconds back.

Now to the 5K event. Prior to the run I came across a random running forum online for tips on running my fastest 5K, which suggested taking the first half mile (800m) with an easier effort. Then at least in theory, I would be trying to ‘finish strong’ rather than trying to ‘hold on’ for the remaining distance. I’d decided that distinguishing the two was going to be based on level of effort rather than on time. This of course is always easier said than done, especially if you have to keep eyes on your closest rivals (i.e. in my situation Flipper and Scotty-Doo). Although I was wearing my GPS watch for the entire time, I didn’t get to see my time until I uploaded the data into my computer because of the dark/wet conditions.

The graph below is a rare peak at my heart rate during the run, which shows a distinct jump in heart rate at the first half mile (For my dedicated and loyal structural engineering readers, this graph is not to be confused with a load test for a stress-strain relationship...although one can say I’m quite a ductile material if that was the case).

At about the first km mark, Flipper was impatient of my pace setting and started to book it with madfish-like intentions. Liam Harrap and I was hanging on to Flipper’s pace, who seem to have borrowed the pace bunny page from my books. I was impressed with Flipper and Liam’s running abilities and thought this group was going to pull away like how it did in the mile. Even up to the fourth lap of the 5.5 laps run, I thought Flipper was very close to dropping me. Like a true competitor, I kept onto him matching him stride for stride and taking longer breath slowly one by one. Slowly but surely, a gap opened between Flipper and I as we approached the 1km to go mark. My watch started to beep from this point onwards which was telling me to slow down (heart rate reached 189 max bpm see graph above). Ironically, this time I finished fourth place and Flipper just edged out Liam for fifth place. My final time was 18:35 (much faster than expected). Surely this rivalry is starting to heat up.

Pace times:

Lap 1 3:12 (3:33 min/km)
Lap 2 3:14 (3:36 min/km)
Lap 3 3:22 (3:44 min/km)
Lap 4 3:31 (3:54 min/km)
Lap 5 3:26 (3:48 min/km)
Lap 5.5 1:47 (3:34 min/km)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5K Run Rematch!

I have a funny feeling today’s 5 km Event is likely the rematch of the exciting Miracle Mile witnessed last week. However, this time the finish will be more favoured for the distance runners rather than the sprinters.

Beside the favourites such as Barry Claman and Vincent Lavallee, I anticipate Andrew Wight to break out of his shell and run a solid sub 19 minute 5K time. He has been relatively quiet in the series of late and has been looking for ‘lunch meat’ for a while now.

In short, it was brutally fast how the mile unfolded last week. I can relate to Vince’s experience of the mile. I averaged 3:08min/km pace for the mile with an impressive result of 5:11 but was out kicked by Nathaniel Janzen and Jared Penner on the final lap, despite running a 76 seconds final lap. It turns out my role as the pace bunny virtually had little effect on pushing the pace.

I hope to run a little more conservatively today and a closer even split.

Now, I may be only a few points behind Flipper in the overall standings, and some points over Scotty-Doo, but that may be deceiving since there are still two major pool events left in the series. For those events, I’ll just be trying to finish for the bonus participation points, whereas Flipper and Scotty-Doo are expected to obtain maximum points. Currently, I’m still fighting for a podium position in the men’s division and I am excited to see how it all unfolds in the next few events.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mile Showdown

For tomorrow’s much anticipated showdown of the Mile Event after a week-long delay, competitive spirits are at an all time high.

Competitors have deemed me as their pace bunny since I am not known for having a world-class finishing kick but rather a fast start. I will be trying to improve upon my previous time of 5:41. That means a strong run from start to finish, gracefully dropping competitors one by one hopefully. A few dark horses are expected to win the event; however, the race within the race is the true battleground for the overall contenders group.

That group includes the likes of current golden-cape holder and uphill run event winner Matt Reeve (the coolest brace face I know), two-time events winner Nathaniel Flipper Janzen, speedy negative–split Scotty-Doo, and Mr. Modest Andrew Wight. As to date, all but Mr. Modest have made their claims on beating me to the finish line. Is that so? Little did they know...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Royal Victoria Half-Marathon Report

My adventure to the island over the weekend went well; I even managed to cap it off with a new pb with a gun time of 1:28:35! The weather was beautiful and the ocean side view on the run course was just fantastic.

A new PB finish!

The weekend started smoothly, Vincent Lavallee and I met up at Bridgeport station and were able to catch all of our transfers on time to Victoria, despite the fire incident on one of the ferry on Friday. There were also long line-ups spilling onto our ferry, since the noon ferry was taken out of service. Once the line kept moving, it wasn’t so bad and everybody got on.

Vincent and I checked into the International Hostel in Victoria which was just within 1-2 km from the race site. It was my first stay at a hostel, and I must admit, there’s not much privacy sharing a room full of complete strangers. One of my roommates, Michael who was doing the full marathon, offered ear plugs to everybody, which was considerate of him. I also have to thank him for waking me up at 5:30am in the morning because my watch alarm just too minuscule of a beep.

Race morning was breezy and dark. Temperature didn’t rise until the sun came out just after 7am. My calf-high Sugoi R/R compression socks were great calf-warmers and jel holders I’ve learned. People were complimenting my extra cargo space.

7:30am the gun went. I started 3 seconds behind the elites. Vincent had said earlier that he would attempt doing a blistering 37min for the first 10km, so I figured my best bet was not to keep pace with him. He was within sighting distance for the first three kilometres. Between us was a guy dressed in black spandex jammers and long socks with a neon-yellow cape that ran to his knees. This guy attracted quite the scene.

My heart rate started beeping at about the 2km marker when it peaked at 191 bpm. At about 3km that’s when I backed off my pace a little bit and lost sighting distance of the Vincent and superman pace group.

I was running rock steady with the group behind. At the turn around at 12km, I managed to see Vincent doing well going in the other direction and knew he was about 2 minutes ahead of me.
At about the 14km, Melanie Van Soeren, who was also doing the half, was looking very strong giving me a solid high-five as we passed each other.

Along the way at about 16km, a random guy yells, “great job super asian guy!” with lots of enthusiasm, which I thought was quite amusing.

The final three kilometres were a grind, and I managed to reel in a few more runners that I’ve been tail-gating for most of the race. For the final kilometre, I was surrounded by some more-or-less older dudes so I just moderately increased my pace hovering just above the 4 min/km pace to ensure I finished strong without the need for a final kick.

Final race thoughts.

It was a huge confidence booster doing this half; perhaps I can shoot for sub 1:28 in the Fall Classic. Congrats to all the UBCTC members for their impressive times. Vincent for his impressive pb time of sub 1:24 (by more than 6 minutes) and Melanie for her pb time of 1:44:48 (by 12 minutes 50 seconds). I also want to congratulate Ceilidh Curtis for his full marathon.

My average pacing (min/km)
1km 3:44
2km 4:09
3km 4:13
4km 3:57
5km 4:07
6km 4:17
7km 4:11
8km 4:02
9km 4:18
10km 4:01
11km 4:17
12km 4:11
13km 4:19
14km 4:08
15km 4:12
16km 4:18
17km 4:30
18km 4:11
19km 4:04
20km 4:04
21.1km 4:04

The complete results: overall, age group.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Scotty-Doo Where Are You?

Everybody loves cheering for the underdog.

Scotty-Doo Chris Sebastian Russell Scott made huge gains in the pool over the past summer. Had he improved earlier in the school term, he would have been absolutely robbed if the highly-coveted UBCTC Most Improved Swimmer Award was not handed to him. He also solved the mystery to riding, keeping par with his rivals.

He may have lost the ghost in the creepy cabin, but one mystery that still keeps him spooked and puzzled is the dreaded run. Will he be able to find a clue before it haunts him in the mile run event? Shaggy and friends will be expecting him at the finish line hopefully sooner rather than later.

Monday, September 28, 2009

UBCTC Opening Day!

Last Saturday was UBC Tri-club’s welcome-back BBQ.

Group Picture at Iona Beach

The nice, breezy morning started with a 9am ride to Iona Beach from UBC. A total of 23 amazing riders showed up to negotiate the gusty winds, especially leading up to Iona Beach. This must had been one of the bigger group rides I’ve been in awhile, which was a load of fun - just imagine all of us crossing the entire mainspan of the Arthur Lang Bridge. The strong headwinds forced us to average about 20-25 km/hr heading west to Iona, and we averaged about 45-50 km/hr on the same stretch of pavement heading east with the tailwinds. I managed to record my maximum instantaneous speed at 50.3 km/hr.

Ride to Iona Beach

Next up was our Triathlon 101 clinic at 11am just outside the club’s office at the SUB. Vince, our club’s president, was demonstrating on how to change a flat tire. We must have had a lot of funny looks from ordinary people just walking by and seeing many spandex-clad athletes, oblivious to the bike clinic going on. It must have been another one of those publicity stunts on campus. Haha jeez.

Triathlon 101 Clinic

Before you know it, it was noon, which meant that the burgers and dogs were ready. The food suppliers crew, Andrew and Lauren, did a great job getting the food behind the scenes. Also, Iron chef Matt was our designated beef cooker, while Nathaniel mostly made sure that Matt was doing his job properly. It should also be noted that Brittany helped out with security, ensuring that only members of the UBCTC got to eat the food. All in all, the event was popularly attended and people had a good time.

BBQ at the SUB

The complete photo album can be found here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

One more year.

I’m stoked about my first post.

In preparation for the UBC Triathlon Club (UBCTC) Fall Classic Racing Series, I’ve decided to jump onto the Blog bandwagon along with my closest rivals in the club including Andrew Wight, Chris Scott and others. Sporadic coverage of yours truly pre and post-event thoughts will be posted here.

This summer was great! I got a chance to completely get away from engineering and become a free-spirit. I also achieved a few personal best times at the two half irons (Victoria and Vancouver) and quarter ironman (Nelson) races I did over the summer. In brief, I explored many new places to swim/bike/run with the help of my gps watch and mentored a bunch of friends (also recent grads turned free-spirits) who wanted to pick up running and swimming from scratch. By the end of this summer, I am proud to declare that they learned to suck it in (those side stitches) on the running track and learned the basics to front crawl in the pool, which was great to see. In doing so, I had some serious down time to reflect on the helms of my own techniques and training regime. I was enlightened to go on countless epic adventures along the way, including trips to Saturna Island, Eastern Canada, Victoria, Nelson, and Seattle, and I have many more memories that will last a lifetime. World domination as a free-spirit never felt so good. Alas, some good things do come to an end, shucks.

Going back to school this year, my family, friends, and even bullies are scratching their heads over the fact that I am here. Somebody’s going tell me that I really should be on a warm beach somewhere far and exotic. But perhaps as much as I want to embark the ‘real’ world after graduation, I figured holding off one more year to let the job market recover is a smart thing to do.

So here I am, a student at UBC doing a master’s in engineering and specializing into structures. It’s a professional degree – like shopping for those buy-one-get-one-half-off deals, except in this case, it’s one-more-year-at-UBC-get-another-degree deal. Hopefully, this is what I had bargained for. More importantly, that already means one more exciting year with the UBCTC!