Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Yes it's that time of year again, time to relax and enjoy family. Amber and I have had such a wonderful year and we both feel incredibly blessed to have some terrific family, friends, and careers we both love. We're both excited about 2011 and I know it will be a fantastic year for my business, Amber's business and our 2011 Ironman goals.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thinking of 2011

Yes it's that time of year again, the weather is cold and snowy out there and all of us who live for the summer are left to wait it out. Christmas is a great time to just be a normal person again and not feel like you HAVE to train for something. That being said, this is probably the longest I've gone without training for something specific in many, many years. I feel a little lost without a big goal to shoot for but I'm learning patience is probably the most important aspect of the off season. It is nice to just swim, bike and run when I want to and not feel pressure to get in a specific workout. However having that specific goal keeps me driven and focused not only in the physical aspect of my life but also the emotional one.

Last night I decided to just jump on the treadmill and do a little run and when I was finished I felt like the world made sense again. All the pressure I was dealing with all week with work stress, and an exam I have to write next week just went away. All of the sudden I realized how much training adds to my emotional well being. I can't imagine how people that don't train deal with everyday life? I was ready to throw in the towel and move to Costa Rica with some of the crap I was handed this week but none of it seems important now, and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't.

So I'm very excited about 2011 and I've posted my race schedule. Nothing terribly new other than Ironman 70.3 San Juan in March, I don't know if it's a good idea to do a 1/2 IM in March but I'm going to just go and have fun. It's a wonderful excuse for a holiday and by March Amber and I will definitely want to get away from the cold for a while. Also we're doing Tour BC again!! I'm very excited about that week and the route looks awesome, 760kms of biking and I feel like a rock star on my bike leading up to IMC, I can't wait. I might sneak in a couple other races but last year taught me to pick the important races and peak and recover. I've found a good balance between build up and recovery and 2011 is going to be a very good year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Congrats Skyloft

It's been open a couple weeks now and I haven't had a chance to say congratulations to Amber and her new partner, Leslie. Their new studio is open and business is going well, the place is absolutely beautiful and I hope everyone in Grande Prairie has a chance to take a class or use the facility in some way. I had the privilege of taking one of Richard's spin classes and the new Livestrong bikes are fantastic. Here's some incredible pictures of the place.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


It's hard to imagine how different life was only 110 years ago but for a young black man in Indianapolis life was full of daily challenges and prejudice that he was willing to overcome. During the turn of the 20th century the most popular sport in the world was bike racing, countless velodromes were built all over the world and tens of thousands of fans flocked to the stadiums to watch the fastest way a human could move. Before the car, before motorcycles, before the plane these spinters reached speeds of 50-60kms/hr, previously unattainable through any other way.

Bike racing was a solely white sport and in most southern states black athletes were banned from competeing. However that didn't stop Major Taylor, an up and coming star of the sport that turned everyone's head he had a talent for racing that made everyone else look like an amature. He faced countless challenges, groups of racers cheating and conspiring against him but he always advocated fair competion and respect for his fellow racers. He refused to race on Sundays which kept him from winning more than one US and world title but he won nearly every event he competed in and was the most feared man in bike racing.

What draws me to the story of Major was his steadfast morals and respect for everyone he competed against. He definitely was the most revered athlete of his time and was the highest paid one, back in the early 20th century bike racers demanded the highest salaries before the baseball, football, tennis, hockey, and basketball stars of today. He was the victim of many crooked promoters who would sometimes refuse to pay him but there was no question he was a crowd favorite and he could bolt past anyone in a final sprint to the line.

I loved learning about his training and the fact that he didn't train the traditional way, by logging hundreds of miles a week, and he focused his training on sprinting and recovery. Major was well ahead of his time and although he faced challanges I couldn't imagine I think the world is a better, more tolerant place because of him. Not many people remember him anymore but he definitely left an impression on me as a reminder to live my life with respect for others and myself, no matter what life throws at you face it with strength and perform to your very best, thanks Major.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This is Dinner?

I know Amber is working extremely hard when I came home last night and found this on the kitchen counter;

It was a nice of her to think of me but I was thinking, "this is dinner?" My God Amber must be working hard. She's been putting in 12-14hr days trying to get the Skyloft up and running and I can tell it's been stressful but it's getting very close and I think in a couple more weeks the doors should be open.

She came home and found me on the trainer and said she had a gift for me! A gift, wow, when did you have time to get me a gift! I must be getting old because this is a gift for your husband in his late 30's;

Thanks babe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Couldn't Go Too Long Without a "Big Goal"

I did the best I could to take as much down-time as possible, but it wasn't going to last too long. This year was frustrating with some of the health issues I've had (overtraining leading to burnout) but I'm feeling a lot better. Although I feel ready to start full-on training again I know the "smart" athlete will take this time to fully regenerate and get back to feeling 100% and then rest more and feel 110% for the spring season. I've decided that the winter Coach Troy workouts are not the best way for me to spend my training time and I'm going to focus more on strength and core development. I'm noticing (especially this year) that it's taking me a lot longer to recover from workouts and I need to pay very close attention to my diet and recovery to keep my body going. I've started supplementing my diet with vitamins (B complex, magnesium, and immunity supplement) and I've noticed I'm feeling so much better when I wake up and that I have more energy throughout the day. I've always thought that I could get enough vitamins and minerals through my food but obviously I'm missing something because the vitamin regimen seems to be working.

I think it's also helped that I've scaled back the training intensity 100%, only doing steady state or low intensity workouts. I'm about 10lbs heavier than my race weight but that's okay, this is the time of year to gain a little weight and I know that my body cannot be 164lbs all year round without sacrificing some muscle mass. Part of being a healthy athlete is knowing how to utilize my body's ability to gain weight (muscle & fat) in the off-season and work towards a peak for 1 or 2 races. Being afraid of gaining weight is the mindset of the "obsessed athlete" not the "healthy athlete." I think I spent too much time in the obsessed athlete's frame of reference and now my body is telling me if I want to continue I need to change. So I'm learning little by little and I have to credit my friends and family for giving me the well-rounded perspective I need to bounce back. Amber always gives me a friendly reminder when see thinks I'm pushing a little too hard on the bike or in the pool and I appreciate it. Also Robert brings me back to earth with his off-season attitude and keeps me focused on not trying to peak in January.

So I needed a "Big Goal" to keep me training and fit throughout the winter and Amber and I have decided on IM 70.3 San Juan, Puerto Rico!! It's a beautiful location for a 1/2 IM and it'll be a fantastic way to say good bye to winter and see an incredible island. It's March 19th and we are sending out an invite to everyone to join us, come spend a week or two on a wonderful tropical island. If you don't feel like doing the race don't worry about it just come for the get away. Hope to see you there, Amber and I are sooooo excited last year we didn't get away at all so we need this trip this year.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary Babe

Images from our second year of marriage

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. I feel very fortunate to be healthy, happy and have an incredible family.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

IM Kona

Yesterday was a perfect day I had a great time watching the start of the IM World Championships the only thing that was missing was Amber. She and I always enjoy watching the pros race and determining who is going to have the best day. This year however she was in Victoria with her 1/2 marathon training group and I was left to watch the action with Harley. He didn't seem as excited about the action as I was but I'm sure he was questioning what I was so excited about when I saw the end of the race. What an incredible finish, I've never really been a big fan of Chis McCormack (he's always seemed a bit too cocky for me) but when he hung with Andreas Realert in the final three miles of the run and then started to pull away from him in the final mile, wow I was impressed. You can't imagine how aweful you feel at the end of an Ironman race (especially in 40'c) but to put together an 8:10 Ironman is absolutely incredible. I have to give credit to Macca, he is a true IM champion. I saw Andreas run with Craig Alexander last year stride for stride and I immediately thought he was going to win this race one day but Macca proved that it takes a lot more than just a great run. Great action and I was just sorry that most of my friends were in Victoria or Kelowna running in their own races.

I was inspired by the racers and decided to go out for a little ride, just 90k out to the Smoky River and back. It was a fantastic ride, I cruised through the first 45kms in 1:07 and was feeling pretty good about myself but when I turned around reality started to set in. I struggled up the back half of the hill and never really had the same legs after that. It didn't seem like there was much of a wind but I was definitely moving a lot slower than I was on the way out. I ran out of water in the final 15kms but hobbled back into town in 2:32. Fat and out of shape and I can still pull off a 2:32, 90k ride in October. I know I still need to rest a while but I'm looking forward to meeting Lance again, this time in Kona (he was watching the action yesterday too). I had the upper hand in the 2008 Boston Marathon but I think I have my work cut out for me if I want to beat him in Kona next year. We'll see how the year develops, I'm looking forward to our next meeting see you in Kona Lance.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2010 GP Fall Classic 10k

I decided the New York Marathon is not really feasible with all the things happening with Amber's business so we'll save that for another year, but the GP Fall Classic 10k was a great way to finish off the racing season. This is a fantastic race put on by two really great people, Robert Carroll and Lorna McNeil. I can't say enough about how much I appreciate having Robert and Lorna in our community, Robert is in charge of keeping the GP streets and pathways maintained and I love the fact that he makes the pathways a priority in the winter. It helps that he's a runner and he knows that while most people are staying indoors in -20'c others out there are battling the elements and running on the pathways. Thanks so much for having your guys keep those pathways clear and keeping us crazy runners fit during those cold winter days. Lorna is a fantastic race director and official and she knows all of the ins and outs of triathlon and race organization. It's so nice to have someone like her who is an Ironman veteran organizing our local races, thanks you both. This year I was a little concerned how I would perform, I have been having health issues all year and running 6 days a week over the last three weeks has not helped. Last year I set a PR in the 10k in this race, 34:24; I wasn't expecting to get anywhere close to that result this year but I surprised myself and only ran 18 seconds slower, 34:42. I tried to start off conservatively I knew the climb out of the park would kill you if you started off too fast but my competitive nature took over and I was red-lined from the first km. The first lap (5kms) I was hurting but I kept a good pace and got to the turn around in 17 minutes, really, really fast considering I hadn't trained for a 10k leading up to this event. The second half I knew I was not going to be able to hold the same pace and when I reached the turn on to the pathway and into a strong headwind, I knew I was going to REALLY suffer. I remember thinking "it's only 3kms you can't stop and walk now!" but that was all I wanted to do. Just stop and walk, just for a few seconds.
Thanks to Ross for being the lead biker because if he wasn't there I would have stopped. I was incredibly inspired by Ross during one of the last long rides he did with Robert S. and myself. He was struggling to stay on our wheel for hours but he was so tough, he told us to just go our own pace and he would catch up with us at the turn around. True to his word when we saw him at the turn around, he had a big smile on his face and was happy as hell to be out there riding his bike with us. We were happy to have him out there with us and when I heard that he had a fantastic time at IMC I was inspired to keep pushing as hard as I possibly could. This wasn't nearly as difficult as IMC and if he could get through that, I could get through the next 5kms.

The final 4kms I knew I was slowing down but I was absolutely giving everything I had in me to keep my legs turning over at a resonable pace. I hit the final stretch and I remember Duncan (another fantastic GP athlete) telling me that I had a great pace and I just gave it everything I had down the final stretch back into the park. I looked like I was going to collapse at the finish line and the picture Amber took is very indicative of how I felt, I actually had my arms raised but she caught them on the way down and that is probably a more true picture of how I felt. A big thanks to my biggest fan Amber, I love you more than you'll ever know. This win and every win is for you and H-dog thanks for being there.

Friday, September 24, 2010

One Last Hurrah

I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that this year didn't quite exactly turn out how I planned. I was so excited to have a wonderful racing season and I worked my butt off all winter to be ready for that first outdoor ride. However my body had a different agenda and decided that I've been pushing it too hard for too long and didn't co-operate with my heavy schedule of racing. I had a great race in Grimshaw to start the year off and had an opportunity to see the Shaftesbury trail, an historic sight that I've been meaning to see but never seemed to have the time to. This was even better I could run along the trail, little did I know that the race proceeds up Bricks Hill which is a 5km climb out of the river valley- that hurt. But both Amber and I won the race and set new course records so I was off to a great start.

The rest of the year looked like this;
Grande Prairie Brian Harms Memorial 10 Mile- 1st
Blackfoot Ultra- DNS
Hinton Olympic Triathlon- 1st
Grande Prairie Triathlon- DNS
Great White North 1/2 IM- DNS
Penticton Peach Classic Olympic Triathlon- 20th
Ironman Canada- DNS
Peace River Sprint Triathlon- 1st
Banff Triathlon- DNS
Don't Get Lost in the Woods 21k- DNS
New York Marathon- DNS

7 races that I was planning on doing I did not start, that's a tough year and for an athlete like me who loves to race, devistating. I'll be a little smarter next year when planning my schedule but I have one more race this weekend to hopefully finish off with a bang. The GP Fall Classic road race, it's only 10k but if I'm going to be racing less next year I want to make every effort count.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thinking of NYC

I think after finishing 10 marathons I would feel like running a marathon is no big deal but there is something about that distance that still scares me. It's not as daunting to imagine running that long any more but there is still the thought of all the training and preparation that is required to feel like you are ready to race 42.2kms. The last three marathons my preparation has been right on, I set a PR in Kelowna running 2:48 in 2008, another PR in Boston running 2:46 in 2009, and another PR in Vegas running 2:36 last year. All of them were break through years and I set myself up very well to have great running and tri seasons following them (with the run being my strong point of course). This year I'm not sure I have another PR in me, training has been tough and running 6:30/miles has been difficult. It's still early in the training schedule and I'm not resigning myself to going slow but after 3 amazing years of marathon running I'm not sure my body can continually improve year after year.

I'm going to have fun over the next couple months, I'll be running 6 days a week and it's an activity I can do with Amber and Harley so I'll be able to do something I love with my family as fall turns into winter. I do really enjoy running in the fall and it's great to be able to watch the vibrant colors change on the trails, I'm just not going to go into the NY marathon with an expectation that I'm going to set a new PR. It's supposed to be an incredible race and I'm going to go there and enjoy every minute of it. I'll run to the best of my ability and whatever the day brings will be just fine with me. Happy training everyone.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh How Far We've Come

I stole this picture from Chuckie V's blog from one of his posts, "The Shape of Things To Come" he talks about our de-evolution as a society and it's a great reminder of how technology has both helped us and hurt us. I find it unbelievable that two generations ago (my grandparents time) it was just a daily struggle to survive. My grandfather worked 16hr days just to put food on the table for his family, he had no retirement savings, no time to play with his kids, nor did he complain about it. He just woke up every morning ate when he can and broke his back as a farmer just like all the other farmers around him. Right now French transit workers are striking because the government wants to raise the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 62. Are you kidding me? A full time worker in France only works 32hrs a week anyway.

I guess I shouldn't sound so self righteous I do love technology and all the advances it has given me but I definitely do not take it for granted. If I could go back 60 years and tell my grandfather that in one day I would be able to go for an hour swim in the morning, work all day, come home and run for another hour, get groceries, make dinner, do all the laundry, clean all the dishes, study for an hour, relax and watch TV for a couple hours and then read for another hour before bed he would have never believed me. We are as a society at a place where we have to actually ration out how much of what we eat as opposed to his time when you ate if you were lucky. It's hilarious that half the planet suffers from starvation while the other half pays for weight loss programs. I'm very grateful that the sacrifices he made allow me to have a better life and I hope that the kids of this generation realize that their lives will be better too but it takes a lot of hard work.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Peace River Sprint

Well it's not quite Ironman Canada but it was nice to be there 'in spirit' and compete in the Peace River Triathlon while my friends were doing IMC. A big congrats to all those who finished the race in Penticton under some of the most brutal conditions I've ever heard of there. I've never heard of it hailing during the bike in Penticton, my buddy Robert said he's never gone so slow during the last hour of the bike and this was his 10th Ironman. Let's just say I'm glad I sat this one out.

It was tough to feel motivated to complete even a sprint distance race on Sunday when Amber and I woke up to 3'C and some very, very foggy conditions. It was so cold I was thinking of calling it off and then Amber reminded me it's only a sprint race and I could go out and suffer for an hour. There were a couple strong competitors out there, my buddy Richard who runs a tri group here in GP and who we had a good conversation with about the future of "Speed Revolution." Come January we are going to have things a little more formalized and really start developing the brand. Also a local kid, Stephan Naskedin who is an absolutely unbelievable swimmer and killed everyone else by at least 3 minutes in 750m.

I felt comfortable with my biking and running although I've been doing a lot of IM training which probably doesn't help much during a sprint. It's been my swimming I've been a little anxious about over the past few weeks. Every time I seem to get into a good training routine in the pool, I get sick! It's very frustrating but I'll have a good couple weeks in the water and then I'm forced to rest. Fortunately leading up to this race I was relatively healthy so I was hoping to at least swim 12 minutes. I guess I did alright because Amber said I was 3rd out of the water and finished in 11:59.

The bike was a lot of fun but difficult with all the technical turns and rough road conditions. There was a lot of slowing down and accelerating and if you're doing that for 32 minutes straight it will really knock the stuffing out of your legs. Combine that with the very cold conditions and you have the perfect way to cause a lot of muscle damage. Thank God I decided to wear gloves on the bike because it seemed to lock-in the heat in my upper body and I was able to stay a little warm, I'm definitely doing that for Banff. Passed the two guys in front of me early on the bike and I was able to hold off Richard for the rest of the ride.

When I started the run I looked down at my legs wondering what was wrong. I was taking short little choppy steps and I couldn't figure out what was happening. At the 1km mark my stride started to stretch out more and I realized that my legs and feet were just freezing cold from the bike. The rest of the run went well and I was able to catch a lot of people in the heat before mine. Everyone was very encouraging and I did my best to cheer on the other competitors but it was tough when you are pushing that hard. I finished in 1:02.17 and set a new PR for the sprint distance, first one I've done since U of A back in 2008.

I seem to be a little run down now (a couple days later) and I'm hoping I don't get sick again. I have one more tri before I call it a year and although I feel a little disappointed at how this year turned out, I'm really happy I was able to be there for Amber to help her reach her goal of finishing the Death Race. This fall and winter I'm going to train a lot smarter and scale back the intensity and I may even hire a coach. I've done fairly well just training myself but I'm starting to realize that its not just the training that is important anymore, it's the recovery. I'll go back to running after finishing Banff in a couple weeks leading up to the New York marathon, I'll take a really good rest and then come January I'll look at what I need to do to be successful this season. I think it's going to mean racing less which I hate to do but I'm not going to miss another Ironman because I've pushed myself too hard. IMC 2011 here I come.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Colder Nights

I can always feel when the race season is coming to an end, the days become shorter and nights a lot colder, the long-hard training sessions are over and the taper for IMC is well underway. Well this year I don't have to taper because I'm not doing IMC but I can definitely 'feel' what it's like as the race approaches. I've had some great training swim-rides-runs with a lot of the athletes in town and I'm really going to miss the suffering we've shared together, somehow it makes you feel a lot closer. Sound strange? It is, unless you've done Ironman and you know what it feels like to cross that line. There are a few moments in your life where you will truly be put to the test and Ironman is one of those.

You spend months or in some cases years preparing for one day and sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn't, what matters more is how you battle those inner voices that tell you to stop. Ironman is a great proxy for life, do you keep battling when things get rough, or do you stop. I'm not saying that you should keep trying to finish when a reasonable athlete would stop amid some long term health consequences. But everyone from pro to last age grouper will go through some tough times, the key is (just like in life) to just keep going. Good luck to all those doing IMC this year, this is the first year since 2004 I won't be doing an Ironman at the end of August but I'll be with you in spirit cheering you on to that blue carpet where you will definitely understand.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back In the Water

I admit, it's always been a struggle for me to get in the pool, that isn't a secret but when I do swim consistently I absolutely love the feeling. Swimming is an incredible way to feel weightless and free to fly through the water. However it's much nicer when you've been swimming for a while and your muscles have adapted to the training stress. I've been trying to get back that feeling and I know it's going to take some time but I am enjoying swimming again. After an open water fiasico when I went to Musearu Lake with Robert and couldn't even hold on to his feet I decided I needed to concentrate more on my swimming. I know Robert is preparing for IMC but he hasn't been swimming that much more that I have and there was no reason we shouldn't have been swimming at least the same pace. I was in the pool three times the following week and I've been trying to get in as much as possible this week. It seems like three times a week is a lot for me, mainly because the running and biking don't leave me with enough energy to swim more. I know I could scale back on the other two and for the most part I have but swimming is such an effort some days; 1. you can only go to the pool at desiginated lane swim times, 2. it takes a while to get to and from the pool, and 3. sometimes finding lane space is next to impossible if you don't go at 'off-peak' times.

I left for Whitecourt yesterday and they have such a beautiful facility that I really look forward to swimming when I'm here. The new Allan and Jean Miller Centre is fantastic and going during lane swim times always means you will have a lane all to yourself. Yesterday I was done work a little early so I headed to the pool and spent an hour working on technique and some speed work. I was surprised how slow I am but I know it'll just take a couple of weeks of dedicated time in the water to come right back. I finished with some 200's unable to hit the 3:00 mark I was aiming for but I was close, some 100's not quite hitting the 1:30 mark, and some 50's where I was able to at least maintain 45sec for four of them. I'm really looking forward to racing again in Peace River, it's just a little sprint but the distances are correct and I'm hoping to have a sub-hr race. The plan is to try to be under 12mins swimming, under 30mins biking, and under 18mins running, doable but very, very tough. I've never done this race and I'm not sure how difficult it will be but it will be a nice tune-up before the final tri of the year, and a race I would like to perform very well at, Banff.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Death Race Weekend

What an incredible event! Last weekend was Amber's "big goal" for the year and she participated in one of the hardest events I've ever heard of- The Canadian Death Race. It's a 125km ultra marathon over 3 major mountain passes, 17000' of climbing and 17000' of descending= a lot of pounding on the legs. I was a little flabbergasted when Amber told me she was going to sign up for this race solo, I did my best to try and convince her to do it as a team with me but to no avail, she was determined to get through it on her own.

Amber and I have some great friends in our lives and we were very fortunate that Jason and Dionne lent us their RV for the long weekend, it was a tremendous help at all the stages. We drove down to Grande Cache on Friday and got all the preliminary work done and hung out for the pre-race meeting and dinner. There was a great energy in the air, all the athletes were ready to go and just wanted to get the race started. Unfortunately we picked a bad spot to park the first night and the "Death Fest" organizers thought it would be a great idea to have a rock concert the night before a 24hr event! Amber and I both could not sleep and the music was just getting louder and louder. Finally at 11:20 I decided to drive us across town and park on some side street which was a major relief, although we could still hear the concert at least the speakers were not rocking and echoing through the RV.

The start was a lot of fun, there was a lot of nervous energy and racers getting ready for one of the most difficult experiences of their lives. Amber handled it all really well and I was quite surprised to see she wasn't as jittery as she normally is before a major event, although a last minute pole issue almost had her in a panic. The race started off through town and it gave all the spectators a chance to see everyone determine their order in the pack. I was a little surprised Amber started at the back and was comfortable there but she obviously knew what she was doing, she had a race plan and was not going to deviate from it.

The first leg is a 19km run through some fairly hilly terrain, I did part of this leg with Amber the first time we went out to Grande Cache and I was surprised how tough it was. I was absolutely exhausted after 3hrs on the first 10kms and back but I have since been told this leg is nothing compared to the rest. It was definitely going to be the fastest and easiest leg of the day and there were a ton of runners that blazed through it (mainly teams). It made it difficult to find Amber in transition but we did end up hooking up and she was a little behind her race goal time of 2hrs and ended up finishing the first leg in 2:14. No problem but no time to hang around and chit chat, I filled up her camel back gave her a little more food and she was off on the second leg.

The second leg of the race is an absolutely brutal 27km double mountain climb that will absolutely kill your race and end your day if you are not smart. A lot of athletes try and run this part of the course and end up pulling out after leg 3. Only the top 2-3% of ultra marathoners are capable of running this leg and still finish the race so unless you have a goal time of under 15hrs it's probably wise to hike the uphills and take it easy on the downhills. It's actually the downhill pounding that will turn your legs to jello at the end of this stage. Amber was doing great, she was moving with purpose and not dilly dallying like a lot of other racers out there. I was told that a lot of people were having a picnic at the top of Grande mountain, she was having none of that, this is a race people! The end of the second leg was back in town and I was able to park fairly close to the transition so when she arrived she was able to change clothes, shoes, eat a little something and fill up her camel back again. At this stage she had already drank about 4 litres of water but she had been racing for 7 & 1/2 hrs and she finished the second leg in 5:15 feeling fairly fresh and looking a lot better than most people. 46kms done and she had only completed 2 legs of the 5 but I was confident that if she could get through this leg and not feel completely destroyed then she was going to make it.

Leg 3 is another 19kms of rolling terrain but looking at the profile there is still quite a lot of climbing and descending. Amber said this leg is easy but after 46kms of racing and another 79 to go, nothing is 'easy.' She was on the outside of her predicted times but the goal of the day was to get to the finish not set any speed records and she was being very smart by expending her energy slowly. I was waiting at the end of leg 3 for quite some time and I was starting to worry that she was getting very close to the cut off time, if you are not finished leg 3 by 7:00pm then your day is done. She arrived at 6:30 and she said that she was still running and there were a lot of people behind her that were not going to make the cutoff. She was right, 85 people either dropped out on leg 4 or didn't make the 7:00 cutoff for the end of leg 3.

Leg 4 is an absolute monster! 38kms and 7000' of climbing and descending. We drove out to Grande Cache one weekend and did this leg of the race together and I couldn't believe how this climb just never seemed to end, I was absolutely spent at the end and I didn't complete 65kms before that. The heat of the day was really starting to affect a lot of racers and you could see so many of them with stomach issues, or cramping, or some sort of dehydration problem. This is where a lot of the soloists started to drop out, it's really heartbreaking to get this far in the race and have to drop out, but it's what makes this race so incredibly hard only 1 out of every 3 soloists actually get to the end. At the end of leg 3 Amber did another clothes change, shoe change and I told her that after she goes over the top she is going to be in the dark so be prepared for bad footing and cold temperatures. She was ready.

The wait for her at the stage 5 start seemed like an eternity, I couldn't sleep because I just kept thinking that she is still out there running and I'm in a comfortable RV laying down. I did everything I could to try and keep busy but my mind just kept wondering to where she was and how she was doing. I waited in the cold and dark for quite a while trying to spot her as the racers came through the night with their head lamps guiding them through the 4 feet in front of them. She predicted that she could finish Hamel (leg 4) somewhere between 5:45 and 6hrs, she came through at 7:05, 2:30am and looking absolutely exhausted. Her feet were blistered, legs were so sore, she was dehydrated, calorie depleted and so incredibly tired. Fortunately she didn't have any major physiological issues, her knee and hip that always bothered her in training were holding up just fine. I popped the blisters on her two pinkie toes and did my best to bandage them but she was screaming in pain and wanted this race to be over. I gave her a little soup broth, she wasn't in the mood to eat anything, and encouraged her to get back out there. She didn't have any intention of stopping but after putting on her third pair of shoes for the day I was a bit concerned that she couldn't continue because every step hurt after popping those blisters. To my surprise she sucked it up and started out on the last leg.

Leg 5 is probably the toughest leg of the day, not because the 23kms is the hardest but because after racing 102kms you still have to face some major climbing and descending and you're running through the dead of night. Amber said her toes started to go a little numb after a short while running and the pain from her blisters started to subside. However in the dark she kept stubbing her toes on the rocks and that sent a shock wave of pain right through her body. At the start of leg 5 she had been racing for 17hrs and 36mins and I couldn't believe she was still conscious. I was ready to call it a day long ago but she just kept chugging along like a little bulldozer that was outlasting everyone else out there.

I went to the finish to wait for her and I didn't sleep a wink, I just couldn't imagine that she was still out there running and I was trying to sleep. Maybe if she was an ultra marathon veteran it would be a little different but this was her first race over 50kms. I waited and waited in the cold and finally at 6:30am I could see her running up the street towards the finish, yes she was still running and looking great. I was so happy to see her and felt incredibly proud that she didn't give up on herself out there, 22:05.09. What a day, over 22hrs of racing and she had just become one of the 148 solo finishers out of the 418 that started and she did it on her first attempt. Great job babe!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Time for a Break

Yes it was finally time to take a week off work and relax. This year Amber and I decided to spend a week in Penticton given that we weren't able to ride in the Tour BC due to scheduling issues (Bon Jovi- which Amber said was totally worth it).We love Penticton and spending a week out there in the beautiful weather relaxing on the beach and riding our bikes was a perfect way to enjoy our holiday. I left for Jasper on Thursday night with Harley and we waited for Amber to meet us the following day. It was nice to have the morning in Jasper and Harley and I went for a great 80 minute trail run up to Pyramid Lake and back. If you've never done that trail I would highly recommend it, one of my favorite runs that overlooks the town.
Amber arrived at noon and we started the long journey down to the mecca. Other than a little air conditioning issue with Amber's vehicle the drive was perfect, gorgeous scenery and warm weather... finally. We spent the next day picking up our race packets, walking Harley, laying on the beach and riding the bike course. We were both racing the Peach Classic, I was doing the Olympic and Amber the Sprint. It was a great race although I wished I had done less training during the week leading up to the event and I really wished I had swam more. It was a struggle to get through the 1500m swim but and I didn't post any blazing fast times out there but it was a lot of fun to not have one person pass me on the bike or run. I ended up finishing a very ordinary 20th but I was shocked to hear that it was good enough for 2nd in my age group, cool.

The rest of the week we spent a lot of time on our bikes riding, 80kms Monday, 165kms Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off and 90kms Friday. It was great to do the IMC course and we saw a lot of other athletes out there, if I'm not doing Ironman this year it was such a great feeling to fly down to Osoyoos, struggle up Richter and over the rollers, feel a little better on the way to Karameos, hurt up Yellow Lake and coast back into town. I will miss doing the race but I had my run up Lakeshore Drive during the Peach Classic and it didn't take 10hrs to get there. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with Amber she has been so busy lately that it's been tough for us to connect but I really felt relaxed and happy all week to have her and Harley there. We capped off the week with a hilarous float down the canal with Harley and I in the same boat and Amber in a floaty tied to us. It was hilarous because Harley wouldn't sit still for long and we spent half the time trying to calm him down. Back home now and although we always feel an incredible affinity with Penticton, GP is home and we are both happy to be here.