Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Declaration – Three Hundred Sixty One

I’ve been feverously talking about it for some time now.

What I am about to say may not mean much to the casual spectator (the ones who think I'm crazy already), and it won't stop me from saying it.  But I definitely believe this is the one step that will cannon bolt me to the big leagues!

I started the sport of triathlon from scratch only six years ago, back in first year; those were the days of swimming with bulky board shorts, riding a ridiculous hulking mountain bike onto the streets, and running with heavily worn-down sneakers without any proper sense of pacing. Back in those dino-years, I thought to myself, how cool would it be to swim in open waters, bike along mountain sides with spectacular views, and run with the crowds cheering you on the entire way.

Having taken as many baby steps as I did to get to today, I believe the only next logical step is coming baby!

OMG! OMG! OMG! Yep, it’s official! OMG! OMG! OMG! 

Volunteered for 2010, camped out, entered 7th in line, had credit card and driver’s licence in hand, signed the next year of my life away...and secured my spot for the 2011 Ironman Canada!

On August 28th, 2011, three hundred and sixty one days from today, I vow to cross that finish line for the very first time and say “I freaking did it!” That is all.

How to become one step closer to global domination, STEP No. 11: believe in yourself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

100 years of Fun at the Fair at the PNE

As a little kid, I loved going to the fair at the PNE every year. The popular annual fair only comes during the last two weeks of summer and did I mention it’s near my backyard?

For those who are still clueless, (ehem man with a million names), the Fair at the PNE is basically your last chance to complete all your summer’s to do list before school starts again. For adults, it was a chance to “WIN A HOUSE! WIN A CAR!” It was a pretty big deal for my dad over the years.

Hard to forget those little yummy (but dangerous for waistlines) donuts!

Yepzers, those ones! A summer’s must do.

Slowly as the years wandered by, the fair and I grew apart – tears T.T. As buildings were being torn down, the park was being restored into greener space. At one point, threats even came for moving the fair elsewhere, maybe Surrey? And despite key attractions getting smaller in scale by each year, the fair has still managed to survive all 100 years of it in a little piece of land known as Hastings Park.

I guess this is one of main reasons I felt so compelled as my civic duty to crash its 100th year anniversary. What I soon realized is that it was a lot of fun, you’ll see why in a moment. No regrets.

Of course this is a training blog, so opinions expressed on this post may have an unusual high-level of favouritism towards anything-cardio related (there, you are forewarned). =)

There was a lot to see and do, like watching heated track competitions especially. Racing, although its most basic form is in the form of distance running, can be quite a popular (entertainment attractions for people) fitness lifestyle for many farm animals too as witnessed at the park.

I was quite impressed with the calibre of competition, and could learn a few tricks from our furry friends. How to become one step closer to global domination, STEP No. 6 take in the spectacle.

First item on the list was Superdogs at Pacific Coliseum. They even had a very fitting titled sponsor, President’s Choice. I was just connecting the dots, i.e. the real Canadian SUPERstore sports the no-name brand PC, so hence SUPERdogs.

This show was called “BFF-LOL-WOW”, no joke. The show started with a few dancing routines and groovy theatrics before the exciting team grand prix event.

Apologies for the less-than-amazing action shots. These dogs were flying like superheroes out there. They never seemed to fail at impressing me.

They were graceful speed demons ripping up the fake grass. A greyhound’s top speed is 39mph, or better known as 0:57 min/km pace! A Whippet isn’t far behind at 35mph, 1:05 min/km pace. Great leg turnover speeds, and excellent stride lengths and superb cardio!

WHOLY SMOKES, if only I can run like that!

Next up was the duck and pig races at the Farm Country barn.

My guessimate the ducks were probably going at 8min/km pace.

These undeniably adorable ducks were all show as they take the plunge. 

The pink squeaking oinking herd was next up. They hug the final bend without any sign of slowing down at about 10mph, at 3:30 min/km pace (my kind of pace bunny).

The final event featured live horse racing at the Hasting Racecourse. Despite the potential dangers for both jockey and horse, doping, and gambling in this sport, a casual viewer like me was certainly impressed by the utter speeds these horses can generate. I’ve learned the track length is 6-1/2 furlongs (8 furlongs is equivalent to a mile). I can certainly appreciate the top speed of a horse – 47.5 mph or 76 kph and this works out to be a ridiculous 0:47 min/km pace. That’s faster than what I can bike going downhill with a tail wind!

Another must see event is the Peking Acrobats, very impressive and actioned packed. I'll try not to give any spoilers, but this one takes the cake. ^^

Ten on a bicycle!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Running is cheaper than therapy!

You know that reaction, patting your loose pockets to make sure your wallet is still hanging there? Well, reality really hits hard when you pat again, only realizing it’s not hanging there anymore.

Aw dangit. Not cool Winstorm! Instantly, I knew my helpless wallet was stranded on the 135 bus while heading westbound towards the sketchiest part of town – the downtown eastside. Like a true roadrunner, I was calculating the pace of the bus and even flirted with the idea of chasing the bus down.

Instead my better judgement took over; I tried asking every bus driver heading in the opposite direction if they had seen anything, but nothing. Eventually a kind lady bus driver helped me to get the message out to dispatch. I spent most of the remaining Friday making frantic phone calls and creating new duplicates and unfortunately having to bail on a run with Eddy.

Yep, let bygones be bygones. I try to remind myself that I can still do amazing things without my wallet.

No ID, no money, no problem! How to become one step closer to global domination, STEP No. 12: Stay humble.

That doesn’t necessary mean no fun. No need to dwell on the pain of my own stupidity!

So, running is cheaper than my therapy. Having no wallet, my decision was a no brainer. I accepted Scott’s invitation to do some late afternoon track intervals. We held 3 by mile + recovery lap @ 90sec rest at under 4 min/km pace in the heat. It ended up being a solid 11km run, surely a good way to let off some steam.

EPIC therapy session No. 1 - Friday 11k interval run

I didn’t stop there. Due to a combination of convenience and perfect timing, I got in an equivalent Ironman distance in 4 days.

EPIC therapy session No. 2 – Saturday 3.9k swim

Next morning, we hit up Allouette Lake at Golden Ears park for our traditional Guo family big bbq boating trip. The seven of us had to share 26 lbs of bbq meat. If you mix the summer heat with the weekend, the lake was infested with all sorts of boating vessels making it somewhat sketchy to swim in. Nevertheless, I swam across with the constant fear of getting run over by a sea-doo (canoes, I can handle) to the other shore near the earth-dam 3 times. Scott’s Garmin said it was about 650m-700m each way.

EPIC therapy session No.3 – Sunday 184k ride

Next morning, I had trouble getting up 6am for the 8am ride as originally organized by Vince. Truth be told, the thing that allured me to this ride was the thought of seeing Matt’s brand new Argon 18 E-112 TT bike. It ended being a pretty fun, chilled ride; we explored a lot of new territory in Delta and Richmond.

GoogleEarth was delighted with giddiness.

EPIC therapy session No. 4 – Monday 32k long run

It’s week 2 to my 10 week marathon program. That means I must run 25k. Realizing the inconveniences of not having a credit card and bus pass, I started from home. I took it easy at 5:30ish pace for the first 25k. Had a chilled break, and then sluggishly survived the remaining 7k home.

GoogleEarth realizing what a nut job I was.

EPIC therapy session No. 5 – Tuesday 11k recovery run

I enjoyed my long run so much, I felt the need to go for a recovery run. Maybe my better judgement would have consulted my training log first, but I didn’t. Ekk, I’ve done 97km of running in the past 14 days! Crazy, miles sure fly by when you're enjoying so much therapy!

There you have it, the M-Dot challenge in 4 days and in sequence (guess that officially makes me an Ironman wannabee),

“Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life,”

claims the now registered trademark of Ironman.

I made an effort to check the lost and found today. After a short wait, the guy at the counter asked for my middle name, and I figured it had to be good news! Just like my “bolt” moment in Victoria on race morning!

Found! Guess all that therapy paid off.

Massive sigh of relief!! Despite a missing twenty dollar bill which I will gladly give up, all my personal items, including three (two expired) TriBC cards, were still there. I was impressed, the person whom found my wallet must had handled it with great care to not drop any of the loose change inside (a buck fifty worth in coins). I wasn’t expecting any of these items back! But thanks world, I really appreciated it. =)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Race report: Subaru Sooke Half-Iron

Date/Time: August 8, 2010, 7:30 am
Weather: 10ish partly sunny and slight winds
Distance: Half IM
Gun time: 5:04:53
Swim: 40:39 (2:09 per 100m pace)
T1: 1:59
Bike: 2:45:32 (31.2km/hr)
T2: 1:08
Run: 1:35:37 (4:34 per km pace)
Age Group: 2/4
Overall: 17/88

Recently, as many already know, I purchased a noble human-pedaling machine that can turn even the flabbiest page into a knight or dame of regal conditioning.

However, before formally introducing this spiffy-aero-sexy carbon-fibre engineering masterpiece onto the regular racing scene (and hence absolutely pulverizing the competition as previously witnessed), I’ve decided to not risk scratching it up just for the time being and put some adequate effort to see what kind of damage my old mechanical monstrosity ‘baby-blue opus’ could still do at Sooke Triathlon this past weekend.

Of course this sparked outrage. Minutes in and hatemail/fanmail were already burgeoning on Facebook.

All superstars receive their fair share of fanmail and hatemail. No need to discriminate here, I embrace all comments. Everybody matters to me, because we are all connected on this tiny world.

I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say some weren’t as pretty and involved a question of man-cards.

There weren’t as many of us competing in Sooke. Ceilidh tried the sprint in prep for IM Canada, Melanie and Derrick geared up for the Olympic distance, while Vince, Andrew and I suited up for the half-iron distance.

So, no pb this time as anticipated with the hillier bike and longer run courses, but it was surprisingly a blazing flash of fun and excitement with both the run and bike courses in the heart of the community of Sooke.

This race was my first race with two different locations for the transition zones. This would be a great dry run for the race in Banff in less than 5 weeks also with two transitions and dubbed the tri-season ending showdown among the big contenders from the club. More on this race later!

Hopping onto the shuttle with Andrew, I had a short moment. Did I forget anything, my tri-top? [Looked inside blue bag] okay thank goodness [phew]. I bet this was going on for many others on the bus shuttle into the T1 area.

We didn’t have much time setting up. Vince hurried down the green carpet near the start, as Andrew and I followed a few steps further back as the last ones getting to the lake.

Canon started. I swam as hard as I could, but my lean runner’s arms started to give per usual. Realizing that my swim wasn’t going to improve for this race which was a bummer, I soon made it my mission to catch everyone that passed me on the swim. Similar to the race in Vancouver, this became a game of real-life PacMan.

T1 was uneventful, however I did somehow managed to get the fastest half-iron split on the record at least.

The bike was a fascinating 4-1/3 loop system. I made most of my ground on the competition climbing up the hills between kilometre 15 and 20 of the course. It did feel like I was soft-pedaling on top gear going downhill at times. I had my nutrition shortly before the climbs and recovered my heart rate shortly after summiting. This proved to be a good strategy. Not bad, baby-blue opus fought well with the big guns.

Lap 6 (4th lap on the bike) also includes T2 time.

T2 was a little bit more hectic than T1. Everybody had their stuff strategically scattered in my way (courtesy of my rack neighbours Vince and Sheldon) and I had to gingerly make room for my MECHANICAL MONSTROSITY. Yep you heard me, I said those words again, haha LOVE it. =)

The run was the reason why we compete in triathlons. The community support was unreal, kids with “GO GO” signs and trying to give you the high fives, and aid stations well distributed and packed with dozens of fans cheering phrases like “you’re our favourite”. The hilliness of the run course was distracted by the people cheering me on, heck even random runners on route were cheering my number and said “You’re flying no. 1-3-2-9!!” Thank you, you guys are awesome! I felt like I was Craig Alexander in Kona out there.

Winstorming away! (Blue gust added for dramatization)

I was trying to chase down my companion Andrew during the entire day who at this point converted more than 8 minutes up on me. He had about 7 minutes on me from the swim and about another minute from the bike. Andrew had a solid first 5km and was up 10 minutes by the time I got to kilometre 6.

Mark Shorter, a respected veteran in the sport of triathlon (now a lifesport coach) and my formal intervals coach at NSA, was looking really strong and cheering me on. I guess it’s the beauty of our sport, great to see older guys can still handily beat younger guys like me.

Half marathon run splits

My final run time was 1:35:37 (7th fastest run split of the day, only beaten by two fellow age-groupies!). I’m pretty stoked about the steadiness of my run pace, which will bold well for my current marathon training.

It ended up being a really close race; I didn’t catch Andrew until the 18km mark, even though he humbly claims he wasn’t racing me. This was his best race of the season, great to see Andrew earning himself a spot on the podium with less than a minute advantage over 4th place in his AG.

Vince had a solid race too, despite destroying his goggles before the start, and then smoothly recovering to finish on top of the podium with the 8th fastest run split.

UBCTC takes 1st and 3rd. Congrats guys!

 2nd in my AG!

Despite competing in a competitive 10 year category age group, both Derrick and Mel had very solid times in the Olympic distance. I’ll need to keep an eagle-eye out for them in Banff, with all the extra practice they have on me over the shorter distances.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Iona Park – Bald Eagle sighting on the Jetty

Panorama at the tip of the Jetty

Last Friday, a few friends (Brian, Maca, Lional) was just starting to pick up running again and so what better way to (secretly) break them in than by exploring the scenic ocean view on the Jetty at Iona for an afternoon run. The goal of the run was to figure out their long run paces with the assistance of the distance markers on the jetty (because not everyone has GPS watches, which is simply wrong!). Conditions were hot and strong headwinds on the way out.

Q: What's the difference between 'see' and 'sea'?
A: I can see the sea but the sea doesn’t see me.

My left eye had been a little foggy of late so I figured after 8 years I should book an appointment with the optometrist to do a regular check-up earlier in the morning.

As expected, my optometrist confirmed that my left eye was inflamed and I was given the choice to go on antibiotics or let it heal itself in two weeks. I choose the latter greener option; however I’m now banned from wearing contact lenses until I fully recover.

This is not exactly good news if you have global domination on your agenda. Regardless, How to become one step closer to global domination with very keen sightedness, STEP No. 4: have eagle-eye vision.

Unfortunately for me, recently being banned from the use of contacts, I couldn't wear both my prescription glasses and polarized sunglasses (without some clever engineering as recommended by Scott - duct tape).

Apparently from what I learned after the visit with the optometrist, an unscientific explanation on the polarized lenses is that they can filter out polarized rays, unwanted glare, (rays that have been reflected from the ground) so that your brain do not need to delete them afterwards if absorbed, thereby allowing you to see more. NEAT-O!!

So the trade-off is do I want squinty vision limited by unwanted bright glare and sunlight, or polarized vision with blurry far peripheral vision? I went with the latter.

Honestly, the first thought that came to mind was “Andrew will beat me in Sooke!” I’m just a competitor by nature; these thoughts just kick in by instinct. The optometrist was very understanding and offered me a couple pairs of daily contacts for Sooke. Sorry Andrew!

Running back on the jetty with my blurry left eye vision and holding onto my camera like a quarterback, I managed to see this big brown fluffy thing sitting on the rock just 3 metres away.

I halted to a grinding stop from my blistering 4:30 min/km pace (with tail wind) and shot these sweet pictures.

Ironically, I don’t need eagle-eyes to see a bald eagle.

My sister screams CUTE!! Not sure I would agree.

Not bad for an ordinary day of training.