Thursday, July 29, 2010

T minus 10 weeks to 10/10/10

So my countdown officially begins this Sunday!
The specs to this quest: 10 weeks training plan, 42.2 kilometres of awesomeness, 3:10:59 goal time.

Watch out world, I’m going for a Boston Qualifier time!

...I have a dream we were running from some blazing arrows yesterday...

I absolutely love this song! It shall be my official tune for my marathon training (even though I am quite the stickler and don’t run with tunes).

No matter how EVIL, talk about global domination is no substance without a long term plan. How to become one step closer to making global domination a reality, STEP No. 10: Always plan ahead!

It certainly wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

Here’s a tentative plan. I have a superb cardio base from cross-training, so I figured I should jump right into the Build phase. I haven’t done a long run since Vancouver, so yes, I’m fully intending on using Sooke as my mileage training.

My bulletproof plan

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Garibaldi and Black Tusk Hike

Panorama from Black Tusk

Over the weekend, I ditched my running flats and bikes in favour of my old worn-out sneakers and headed out with a few friends for a scenic hike in the backcountry. We went to the Squamish area to camp overnight, and then next day, we did the beautiful and unique hike to the Black Tusk at Garibaldi Provincial Park.
the cast: Me, Vince, Claire, Matt 

I’ve done a handful of hikes on the North Shore and some other not-so-advance ones. So to do a hike in the middle of backcountry BC is completely new territory. This past weekend trip was the perfect escape opportunity from the heat and from the norms of city life. Also it was a chance for this outdoorsy F/T triathlete to experience the wilderness of beautiful BC and just enjoy the scenery for a change.

Yep, so you’ve guessed it, this nature-business-adventure trip is just up my back alley. How to become one step closer to discovering global domination, STEP No. 15: Rejuvenate your sense of wonder.

Until I figure out the recipe for elixir of life, I think it would be safe to say these are the next best ways of rejuvenating my senses.

• Part 1 Go Camping!
• Part 2 Summit a Mountain!
• Part 3 Plunge like a Polar Bear!

Part 1 Go Camping!

Panorama of Campsite

I am no purist, so real camping to me does not necessary involves a moose waking me up in the morning. My curiosity was like a little kid, there was a lot to learn about going to a campsite. I do have tenting experience though. I’ve tented inside a backyard neighbour’s house as a kid, (also loosely known as a sleepover I’m being informed). I’ve also tented at Andrew dad’s backyard for the Victoria Half Iron, which was a lot of fun!

After a few tries of searching for available campgrounds, we managed to eventually luck out and crash a campground. The only catch was that there was a private event going on. We were told it was a family event and they could be a little noisy until 3am. Getting a little late, we welcomed the potential noise pollution thinking it would be just friendly folk music.

Matt building the headquarters

Claire's headquarters looked more like the tent for Cirque du Soleil

Little did we know, they were pumping sweet beats...all night long until 6:30am. “Burn in the forest”, it was called, which followed 10 principles of Burning Man, (for those who don’t know is a popular event held in the Nevada desert). I struggled to get a decent sleep in for the night, not because of the sweet beats which no doubt scared the poor moose away, but mainly because this was my first time sleeping on a thin foam mattress. I felt like a rotisserie turkey, turning every 10 minutes because my bum was sore from the rocky ground. Lesson learned – invest in a decent mattress!

Although we only crashed the night, my first real camping experience was a nice way to share camaraderie between friends, enjoy the bright stars, and listen to friendly beat music of course.

Part 2 Summit a Mountain!

Who knew there was still snow in mid July? I least expected it. It was one of the many very humbling surprises. We ended up hiking close to 30km (27km on Garmin) with about 1600m in elevation gain.

Vince, well being Vince

At about 11km into the hike towards Black Tusk, we followed the visible footprints eventually leading us to a challenging detour. By the time Matt, our experienced trustworthy leader, figured out the orange ribbons route markers were actually further down towards our far right, we had already done a lot of work getting to our elevation.
Take a sneak peak behind, absolutely stunning!

We also saw a grandma cruising down our paths, so we figured it couldn’t be as bad. She inspired us to continue on, not knowing much more about the steepness of the route.

It was very rewarding by the time we reach the summit. I couldn’t resist but feel the thoughts of global domination running in my mind.

2120m above sea level later
Shoe surfing!

Luckily we ran into some fellow hikers and we followed their descent on a much friendlier route on the intended path. It was humbling to know we didn’t have to go back down on the route we came up. I was relieved!

Part 3 Plunge like a Polar Bear!

Just when you thought seeing snow was a breath of fresh air, dipping into the glacier lake water at Garibaldi Lake was the ultimate highlight of the trip. I was delighted with the dip. If time had permitted, I would have certainly gone back in a few more times. Sooo soothing.
I've been in warmer waters.

Overall, I thought this hiking trip by far exceeded my expectations. It was a very humbling experience - the gratification of camping outdoors, reaching a summit, dipping into glacier waters, and sharing camaraderie between friends.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Full-Time Triathlete =)

Since summer school finished about three weeks ago, I am enjoying the time of my life. Less than two months later I will be committed to working for the long haul. Dun dun dunnnn...please help me!

Okay maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds. I wonder if there is a book for dummies on how to transition to the real world? Instead of T1 or T2, but TRealWorld. Last year was simple; two words that could postpone the inevitable – GRAD SCHOOL!

Some Most will argue my current lifestyle is very much like being a F/T triathlete. All I do really is really quite obvious if you’ve been following my blog. I wake up 5:30am, watch the TdF. Rest, eat, nap, train and do some housework, snack, eat, ETC. At 7pm I will still be in denial thinking that OLN had made a huge mistake of not airing primetime coverage of TdF in Canada.

While some may choose to travel the world and/or visit exotic beach destinations, I made it quite obvious my mission is Global Domination for some time now. And on a budget too (you know?) because it can get quite expensive. At least for me, it’s particularly difficult to roll out more than a grand piano espeically if you’re not racing there.

Yep one of the early steps to reaching global domination in a sustainable fashion, How to become one step closer to reaching global domination while still on a budget, STEP No. 3: think globally, act locally.

So far I’m on the right track. I broke 40 minutes for the 10km Vancouver Sun Run, and only recently broke 5 hours for the Subaru Vancouver Half IM. This has been a breakout season for me. In previous years, getting one PB would have been somewhat awesome, this year I have 5 already! Oh crap, sorry I don’t mean to brag.

I finished Vancouver Half IM with the feeling I could still hold the pace and didn’t want to stop. I need to work on speed. That is to swim faster, T1 faster, bike faster, T2 faster, and run faster. This is a lot to ask for Sooke Half IM in a little over three weeks.

I’m still nursing the foot injury and haven’t been putting as much running in as I like.

My sources are telling me that it is also about a 10minute longer course. Realistically, I probably won’t pb this race, but it will be a great learning experience on the scenic course. I’m keen on improving my swimming time at the very least.

Those are my thoughts of the day. Happy training my friends!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Triple Crown!

the "Triple Crown" challenge!

...nobody said that global domination was going to be easy. Last Saturday, Vincent Lavallee organized an epic ride that included the three mountain climbs on the north shore aka the Triple Crown: Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour. He considerately wrote a survivour guide to assist those who may be ill-advised of the challenge (like me). Many showed up for the event, but not many survived/conquered all three of the challenging climbs.

It may not have been very pretty, but I was the legendary last survivour to endure the epic three mountains challenge.

How to become one step closer to achieving utter global domination, STEP No. 7: survive the Triple Crown.

I packed as much food as I could on this ride. Among the edible items include Gatorade powder enough to make 3 litres worth, candy, bagels and power bars! I armed myself with my trusty profile design slurpee bottle with the eye-popping straw and SPF 100 Ultra Sheer Neutrogena Sunscreen. I also tried freezing the water bottles, however that technique didn't pan out so well, as I was consuming warm gatorade all day.

One of my big highlights of the day was just surviving the last 1km stretch of climbing at Mount Seymour. Thinking 'HTFU Winstorm', I was nearly bonking and I tried gathering as much strength I could in the legs and back.

Some (I call keeners) were chasing time and others were chasing each other, while I was left chasing cheeseburgers and pain killers. Luckily I still had two power bars and there was a hot dog vendor at the top. Like when a snowboarder gracefully pulls off swiffer “S”-turns (see Snowboarding Dictionary), I was using nearly the entire 3-lane width of the road to make it up during the final kilometre. Ah yes, the path of least resistance. It wasn’t pretty, but eventually I got the job done.
Something I call reverse "Swiffers" on the final km

On top of that challenge, probably not the smartest decision albeit, was to get a 200+km ride in, because everybody knows that coming a few kilometres shy of double century is not as sweet. However due to battery power saving efforts, I lost 13km of the descent from Mount Cypress. So my final on-the-grid ride was 190km. My final result was an impressive feat, clocking 8.5 hours for 203km, and climbing over 2600m!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Race report: Subaru Vancouver Half-Iron

Date/Time: July 4, 2010, 6:30 am
Weather: 10ish cool and cloud cover
Distance: Half IM
Gun time: 4:57:40 <--sub 5 milestone pb
Swim: 41:03 (2:10 per 100m pace)
T1: 2:51
Bike: 2:43:23 (33.4km/hr)
T2: 1:21
Run: 1:29:04 (4:28 per km pace)
Age Group: 4/9
Overall: 50/241

Not very often do you get to pass more than half (137/241) of the entire field after the swim leg. Here’s a perspective of what unfolded.

Heading into this race, I was on schedule to crack that prestigious sub 5 hours mark for the first time in the half-ironman distance.

In short, this was a pretty big deal. Racing on home turf and finally debuting on my new bike and then spreading the word to virtually everyone I knew, I wanted to PB and put on a show for the home crowd. Using the home turf to my advantage, that tactic seems to work to my favour. Here’s a breakdown of the results for the Vancouver Half-iron course and the time gained from 2009.

Yes, the casual observer would say my swimming still hit the crapshoot, but overall I was quite pleased with the result. Notice that the percentage improvement from 2009 is greater for the swim than bike and run, (or at least that's what I like to think). ;)

Being a smaller athlete, I always struggled with the open water swimming component. I knew that it wasn’t going to be pretty based on last year’s less-than-stellar result. I was hoping for a time between 39 to 41 minutes to stay on pace for sub 5 hours. My strokes felt smooth and I did a lot of zigzagging every time somebody came into contact with me. I think had I gone more aggressively into the linear moving bodies’ draft and get wacked silly a few times, probably would had save about 2 minutes based on my 1:55 per 100m pace I was holding in Kits pool earlier in the week. NTS: this is something to work on in the future. I placed 187th after the swim leg, EKKK. Mayday, mayday, I had no BUBBLES action. I got the feeling I finished last, so the chase begins.

T1 was great; I finally mastered the art of mounting with the shoes clipped in. I spent an hour practicing on the previous Tuesday. This was probably more show, then anything else. And besides, I felt cool doing it – the confidence booster was huge. In effect, it probably didn’t save me much time in T1, but it did make me feel more confident on the bike leg. I was ranked 154th heading into the bike leg, winstormying 33 more positions.

Biking was an extraordinary feeling. The new time trial bike fit wasn’t giving me as much discomfort as originally anticipated. I was flying. I had practiced the course and got about 38 minutes per lap in training. These are the splits of what my Garmin Forerunner 305 had read.

I took the last lap at an easier effort while spinning at a higher cadence to prepare for the run as usual. In perspective with last year’s splits, this year’s fourth lap split nearly beat last year’s fastest first lap of 39:37.

This was a lot of fun course because so many UBC Tri-club members were doing the half-iron distance. Chasing people on the bike was a lot like being Mantracker, however, instead of being located in the wilderness, this was in an urban triathlon. I can get time splits of the escapees as they loop back. Sometimes the preys saw me, sometimes I saw them. Also a female relay team from the club humbly made it no secret that they would beat all the boys. This definitely motivated me to bring my A-plus game as they brought theirs too.

With exceptions to relay teams and people doing the sprint distance, nobody could sustain a bike pass on me heading into T2. I was ranked 73rd, and passing another whopping 81 positions! A pretty staggering result, I wasn’t that far off from my predicted bike time of 2:42:00.

All superheroes have super action shots!

The dismount at T2 with shoes remaining on pedals, similar to the mount in T1, was 96% for show and 4% in actual time gained. I haven’t really practiced running barefoot or running barefooted with a bike. I winstormied 6 more positions in T2.

Finally I reached the run component. Surprisingly with the help of unseasonably cooler weather this year, I found my running rhythm pretty quick after a washroom break and was running 4:20s per km pace. I was feeling great and even skipped some aid stations.

At about 7km into the run, the female leader Magali Tisseyre was nearly going to lap me on the two laps run course, so I had to step up the pace slightly to about 4:15s per km pace to not get chick lapped. The cheers grew louder for the female champion finishing sprint as I ran further to do another lap. You could feel a turbo boost with the energy from the crowd.

During the second lap, a nagging injury became apparent on my right foot which I had had earlier in the week. I ran through it (and knew the pain wouldn’t go away) because finishing was worth the PB. I winstormied 17 more positions on the run, finishing in the top 50! Again, despite a few challenges, I bridged all the gaps and nobody could sustain a pass on my run to the finish line. I was more stoked that my time had read 4:57:40 and felt like a champ. My predicted run time was 1:28:00 and was also only a little over a minute off from that pace.

Overall this race was a milestone achievement. I’ll admit most of the credit goes out to the bike. In the end, I was beat by the female team, but there’s absolutely no shame when you are beat by the best while giving your best effort.

I have to thank my dad for these awesome action shots. A special congrats to all the participants from the club in both the half and sprint distances for achieving pbs and new distances. Also a special thanks goes to all the volunteers, there were many from the club.

 My sister and I have yearly tanning competition for being the darker one. I usually lose late into the summer when the midsummer sun blasts out. But this year it looks promising.