Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Friday, 12 December 2008
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
I am now on my 5th set of University exams, after these....only 3 more sets to go. They are still hard, still stressful and you are still convinced you will fail before you enter the examination room! I have studied hard, done the homeworks, sat the mid terms, gone over the past exams ... yet each time I enter that exam hall a thought crosses my mind ... "have I done enough".
This got me thinking about racing. As a swimmer I would proudly march over to the blocks at nationals, get my goggles correctly positioned for my 1500m, check to see that my fastskins were tightly tied, look over at my coach one last time, stand up on the blocks then one thought would always cross my mind ... "have I done enough to win..."
As it turned out, sometimes I had and sometimes I hadn't but that wasn't the point. The point was as an athlete you shouldn't be worrying about the things in the past when it comes to race day. I know they are the things that got you there and the training you have done is what will bring you across the line BUT the race isn't set in stone, the race is yet to happen. You have full control over what you do in that space of time and regardless of what is flying through your mind you need to remember why you are there and why you are doing it. Your mind shouldn't be filled with fear that you "might not win" but more filled with excitment that "you might". It is that "lets give this 100% and see what we can do" energy that is important to hold on to...
...even in exams
Monday, 1 December 2008
24 days to Christmas
30 days to New Year
The "completely obsessed with any and every holiday" thing that seems to be oh so popular over here is rubbing off. Christmas lights and a mini tree have been up in my room for the last few weeks and now that American thanksgiving is over and done with the entire province of BC is lit up with lights and christmas trees, tis the season to be merry etc.
Unfortunately there is no rest for the wicked and training goes on as usual. Last week was pretty good, spent Thursday - Sunday in Whistler for the opening of the 2008/9 Ski season, snow was good on the Friday but got increasingly slushy as the weekend went on. Managed to get in some great, snow covered, trail runs and a decent amount of swimming also. This week is another hard one, decent chunk of time spent on the saddle today, swim/run/core tomorrow and then more hard work continuing through Friday when I head up to Whistler once more.
Being only 2 hours (at most - depending on traffic) away, Whistler is a definite temptation to anyone living here. Even though cycling is almost impossible at this time of year the cross training possibilities are endless. XC Skiing, downhill skiing, running, swimming, endless gyms (with indoor bikes etc), snow shoeing...
It is also just a great place to hang out, very much a bubble up there, once you're in you never want to leave.
Anyway I have returned to Vancouver for a few days mainly to study...so that's really what I should be doing!
Check out this link if you get a chance, my buddy Collin (film production student) put together some clips of me on my turbo for a film of his, he's put it together with some footage from my recent swimming races...
Back to school work :(
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Spent most of this week recovering from my hardest three weeks yet that finished last Sunday. Lots of steady pool work and stretching along with catching up on some needed sleep made for a fun week of light work.
Really fun day out and it's nice to mix up the work a bit, lots of slipping and obstical jumping made it an all over body workout!
As you can see from the picutres the girls were leaving me in their dust...
Sunday, 16 November 2008
just back from the pool and my first days racing in over 22 months. Was UBC's annual meet here at the University and I had 100m fly, 200m fly, 200m freestyle and 400m freestyle on my plate for the day.
Pretty anxious actually heading into this morning, didn't know what I would have forgotten and what I would have let slip over the last year and half. Racing in the pool is a different story completely to running/cycling races or triathlons. A triathlon is a long slog where tactics, energy conservation and serious endurance all come into play...a swim race however is an all out blast where the smaller things like your dive, turns and breathing are the things that win and lose you the race. This is what I was nervous about...would I have lost my edge in the water.
The day went really well though hitting times in all my races I didn't think I would be close to at this time of year. Picked up first place overall in all 4 races even the 100m fly which was only 1 heat after my 200m free.
100m fly : 1.03.80
200m fly : 2.18.14
200m f/c : 2.01.60
400m f/c : 4.16.21 (59/2.04/3.11/4.16)
Great to get back into the pool and race some fast guys in a pretty relaxed meet. Some of those times are not too far off what I was hitting right before I stopped (that said my motivation wasn't at it's highest during that point of my swimming career!) and will definitely be working hard in the pool through 2009 to get those times further down near where they should be. Think you'll be seeing me back in the pool more often,
Time for an easy week I say!
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Last week had just under 400km on the bike, 60km running and a little over 25km in the pool. A relaxing few days in Whistler to clear the lingering fatigue on Monday and Tuesday then back to Vancouver for another hard couple of days before my last midterm tomorrow.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Have a big 4 hour + ride starting at 2 so was going to reflect on that along with the week past but I couldn't wait any longer...
Just finished watching Great Britain's Lewis Hamilton win the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship in ultimate style. It was without doubt the most nail biting sporting finish I have EVER seen and easily the best sporting moment I have been witness to.
He kept his cool throughout the whole race staying in position to win the championship until the final 5 laps when rain started and he slipped to 6th (needing 5th to win). It wasn't until the final corner where he managed to pass the Toyota in 5th (who had lost 18 seconds in the final lap) to clinch the title, saying after the race he didn't know whether he had won until about 5 seconds after he had crossed the line.
His journey to his world title has been 20 years coming and he deserves it more than anyone out there, I hope he enjoys the feeling!
I wrote a similar post after watching Michael Phelps clinch his 8 golds in Beijing earlier this year and I feel exactly the same way now, seeing athletes achieve their lifelong and almost impossible goals is one of the most raw inspirational things out there. There are no other ways to describe the feeling other than pure inspiration. To keep your head when others are losing theirs, to not lay down when distaster strikes and most importantly to never ever ever give up no matter what the situation, no matter what late hour in the race it may be, to keep pushing at 100% until the very end will win you your world championship one day. It may not be tomorrow, or next year but you'll get there and once you do you'll be able to celebrate that for the rest of your life.
Here is a quote I read last week;
"FAIL, it's not in my dictionary. I've got a good dictionary up there and the words "fail" and "failure" have been ruled out for years. I don't know what people who use those words are talking about. All i know is "tempoary non-success", even if I've got to wait another 20 years for what I'm after, this applies to everything and everyone no matter what their goal is in life."
I have this written above my desk in my room, so with that in mind I'm going to kit up, get my bike ready and head on out to climb a mountain,
Monday, 27 October 2008
The next race I'm meant to be doing is the UBC Fall Classic 10km on Nov 16th ... but ... it happens to be the same day as the UBC Masters swim competition. It'll be my first swim event in 18months and I'll be doing the 200m/400m Freestyle along with the 100m/200m Fly, sooo excited as I feel more than ready to get back into the pool in a racing capacity ... it's been too long.
Today I continued my punishment with a fast bike up cypress mountain. Took another 4 minutes off my "Best Climb" time and 13 off my "Best Ride" time, plus a beautiful day (15 degrees) at the end of October is hard to come by so will be my last decent fast attempt up it this year. Hopefully (if Denise gets her act together) will be shooting up Seymour mountain (biggest climb around) towards the end of the week...good weather should hold out until Halloween. On that subject Vancouver gets almost creepily excited by Halloween, have seen people dressed up for days now and the levels of excitement are building fast on campus. Should be a fun weekend ... I'll keep you posted.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
Like the winter weather a little case of "hard ass training, not enough sleeping" has crept in this week and I am currently nursing myself through a fatigued Thursday. With family visiting, school work, friends and training to fit into a week I think I pushed it a little too hard this time around and with about 18 hours sleep from 4 nights in bed it's caught up with me today.
That said I rose above the voice inside my head (telling me to stop being such a girl and keep at it) and called this mornings swim set a day at 3km followed up with 15 minutes in the hot tub - greatly needed. A short nap later I joined my Mum and sister in town for their final day in Vancouver, after a brief shopping spree, lunch and a shuttle to the airport (with an emotional goodbye) I headed back to campus to continue the recovery. Another nap...plenty of food and a shower has left me feeling back on form and ready for a steady day tomorrow.
Last week was pretty solid getting in just over 23 hours of pretty tough work so I am old enough and wise enough to know when to take it easy. Another race on Sunday but again I'll keep evaluating the situation and won't push myself over the edge just for a training race...even though racing is why I do all this.
On that note I'm going to put on a film and have an early night. I think it takes a while for anyone to become "in tune" with their body, however once you are you can tell when somethings up as you know it inside and out. There is nothing wrong with taking an easy day when you need it, the reason behind it - so you can train harder and in the right way tomorrow. DON'T feel bad about taking it easy for this reason.
...However if your taking an easy day because you "can't be bothered", "don't want to train in the rain/snow/hurricane" or "were drunk last night" FEEL BAD. Just get out there and do what you love.
I'll finish up with a quote from a running advert I saw in Triathlete mag a few months back,
RUN LIKE AN ANIMAL!
"IF YOU RAN WITHOUT SACRIFICE, CONGRATULATIONS. YOU JUST JOGGED.
Running hurts. It always has. Woolly mammoths didn't just roll over onto a plate and serve themselves to prehistoric man with fries and a shake. They had to be caught - and running down woolly mammoths was a bitch. Guess what? Running is still a bitch. But one with a purpose. It teaches us that good things do not come easy. It teaches us that we are capable of more than we think. It teaches us that hard work will be rewarded and laziness will be punished. Don't expect to learn those life lessons from running's shiftless stepchild; jogging. Next time you suffer on the roads or trails, suffer proudly. It means you run like an animal!"
Stanley Park, October 2008
Friday, 17 October 2008
After racing on Monday I took an easy afternoon to myself, midterm season over here so had plenty of studying to do. Fluid Mechanics exam went well on Wednesday followed by Materials Engineering on Thursday. Relieved that they are over!
Tuesday had 10x400m's in the pool at 0530, solid 80km on the bike with Denise that afternoon and an hour of core that night
Wednesday had a tempo 13.8km run with my running partner Gordon, a core set from 6-630 and a pool set at 7 [8x100 FC Max on 1.40]. Quick mention about Gordon, been running together now for 2 months, he's helped a lot being my buddy for the long miles and keeping a darn fast pace for almost all of them! He's going for a marathon in 2009 and I'd put some serious money on him breaking 3 hours on his first time out, we're racing together next weekend and I don't fancy my chances, will be a good race.
Thursday - more of the same. Pool at 530am, 12x200m FC building to max, 2 WET hours on the bike that afternoon.
Today was a day and a half. Denise and I had a bike planned from 6-930, UBC to Cypress Mountain and back, pretty good 85km ... when it's sunny. Was essentially a monsoon from the moment we left campus and waterproofs or no waterproofs we got wet. The climb wasn't too bad, got into a nice rhythm and chatted most of the way only pausing to ring the water from our gloves, the decent was a different story. With basically no brakes and 15km of river road to decend the prospect was a little daunting. By the bottom I was frozen solid, the shivering was enough to send my bike back and forth with the shaking...and my left hand had stopped working ... so gear shifts were being done with the right ... on both sides!
Great ride though...enough to toughen me up that little bit more and was good to see a cyclist out enjoying the rain (that was Denise, not me).
Mum and my younger sister Mel arrived in town this afternoon and we drove straight up to Whistler for the weekend, have already spent hours catching up on the last 13 weeks and will be great to have 6 days with them before we part ways again until Christmas.
Looking forward to some more rainy cycles and runs this weekend before my last hard week starts on Monday, good luck to Fraser by the way who's training hard in a much sunnier California for the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater next month.
Remember: The medals are given in the summer, but won in the winter!
Monday, 13 October 2008
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Time for another update: Mid-October already, been in Canada now for 10 weeks and on campus for 6. My mum lasted approx 7 weeks before she scheduled her first visit so along with my little sister she'll be travelling across next Friday.
Had my first midterm exam last week which I passed...phew! All of last week was an easy training week so I just put in 14 hours, 4 in the pool, 3 running and about 6 on the bike with some core. Back to full steam this week so have already racked up some miles;
7-8am Steady pool session (recovering from Sunday's race)
9-10am Tempo run (4'40/km) ~ 13km
7-8pm Core session [Normal January session - 52 minutes + stretching]
0530-7am Pool session (Main set 3 x [3x100 Steady, 2x50 Build, 500m as 1500m Race Pace])
10-1pm 85km Bike
1.40-3pm Long Run (5'00/km) ~ 16.5km
7-8pm Pool session (20 x 100m FC on 1.30 holding 66's and a 59.1 on the last rep)
Plently of stretching is keeping me ache and pain free, plus the occasional "deep heat" session on the legs. Can't wait for the snow to arrive so I can start pounding out the hours on the ski slopes! Certainly this year after coming back from April skiing I felt much stronger on the bike, hopefully in 2009 it might rub off on my running too!
Heading up to Whistler on Friday for thanksgiving, it's also their biggest sale of the year with ALL of last years stock being sold off for about 20%RRP. Spoke to one guy who got a board, bindings, boots, full snow outfit and helmet for under $800 ... that's £400! Can't wait =]
Should also say I was racing last weekend, had a team time trial with one of the local teams in the cycle series for the area. Was great fun and a shock to the system after having 6 weeks of long steady stuff, nice to get firing on all cylinders again. That said we put in a stormer and won the event by over 2 minutes, so definitely a successful Sunday morning.
One thing I did want to write today were a few thanks. 2008 has been an awesome year, so much fun and so much learned. I've been places I never thought I would go, met a whole bunch of great new friends and have become completely immersed in the exciting new world of endurance sport.
- Firstly I'd like to thank Blair (my coach) for essentially everything, he trained me up for this years world champs and all the racing I've done since, let me stay at his house (for probably over 2 months!), taught me about racing, training and tactics in a new sport and is still working with me from over 4500 miles away. He's getting a chapter in the autobiography without a doubt!
- Secondly there's my dad and family. Dad has supported me 100% financially this year no questions asked (http://www.norwellengineering.com/), I couldn't have even considered doing half of the things I have done in 2008 without that. More importantly they have all understood why I needed to do this and fully supported all my hours training and the fact that I've essentially been away from home since June.
- 3rd is Fraser. Frase (Blair's big brother - http://www.frasercartmell.com/) gave me a lot of help this year too, as he said I was essentially living full time in Stirling with him and Blair from March - July so a lot was passed on to me then and still is now. Seeing how much he had to train put into perspective what was needed on my part, he is the first athlete I've ever seen that truley took his training into every part of his life and this has given me a more professional approach to my own training.
- Team Yeoman. I met Mark and his wife Lisa while at the world championships in June. He basically became my big brother/pe teacher for the whole week looking after me and keeping me chilled out before my race. They were both then awesome enough to have me down to stay while I was racing at Windsor in June. We have stayed in touch since and he continues to pass a massive amount of knowledge my way and is one of my biggest motivators.
People continue to amaze me with their support and kindness in this sport, I meet new people everyday who surprise me with their generosity and even more people who just plain blow me away. From 25 year old cancer survivors doing their first olympic distance tri just 2 years after being given a 40% chance of living to 84 year old guys doing their 14th world championships, there is no one ordinary in this line of work!
On that note I'm going to get back to training, eating and sleeping. The three things I love the most!
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Been about a week since I last posted, been busy studying (mid terms quickly approaching), rowing (I'll explain) and training. Last week was the final hard week in my first 3 week stint of winter work, I got in ~ 70 hours of training, ~1000km on the bike, ~140km running and about 70km in the pool. Easily the most hardcore three weeks of the last 11 years I have been training, the weather, renewed focus and beautiful surroundings have all made it seem easy but I'm glad I'm on an easy week to let my body catch up.
Last weekend my floor (Mawds 3 as we're known) got a team together to race in the annual "Day of the Longboat" race that UBC puts on. Its very well attended with teams from all over entering and fighting it out in the Pacific for 2.5km of full on Longboat racing. We took an early blow as two team members pulled out and drafting someone in at that late stage would disqualify us and halt any progress into the final on Sunday. There were however, guys on the floor who wanted a spot on the team, so instead of leaving them out we drafted in an extra member that morning therefore meaning we had one chance on Saturday to make a splash. We all agreed to give it 100% and to go for glory in the heats, one of our team mates was an ex dragon boat racer so we had plenty of technical help from him, with our strategy in place we marched confidently to the start line. As team captain I was perched nervously at the front ready to shout my motivational commands at my crew! Off we went, full steam, towards the first turn buoy already opening up a lead over the other boats, we were perfectly in synch meaning our lead just opened up. The guys all worked so well together proving that 9 teenage boys from completely different sporting backgrounds (Volley ball, American football, Dragon Boating, Basketball, Mountain Biking, Swimming and Triathlon) can put in 12 minutes of hard work together and blow the other guys out of the water (by minutes). We were in no way the biggest team, no way the stongest, but we set the 2nd fastest time of the day and if we had been allowed to compete in the Sunday finals our time would have won overall. It was great to get out there and race in something completely new with all my new friends, there was a lot of shouting during the race and a lot of pats on the back afterwards. Great fun!
Later on that day as we were celebrating our win with the rest of our house over a few beers when me and my friend Gordon (running partner) were discussing how fun it was being out on the water and all the different kayak trips you can do all throughout Canada for weeks at a time. Think "Deliverence" without the Hillbillys. As we spoke about it more the more trips we thought up, starting out as a weekend trip building up to a month in the wilderness with nothing but survival gear and a rifle! Later on this got me thinking about the different endurance goals I have in my mind...
There are things out there I want to do. Everyone has their list. An Ironman, a marathon...the usual. I'm sure I'll do an Ironman and in turn a marathon but they're not particularly high up on my list of adventures. The things that get me really excited are the true tests of character, the week long races that span continents and whos finisher's list usually could be counted on one hand. The great races, where it's more about guts and determination than speed or your VO2 Max, where there is more glory in the journey than in winning.
The Great Divide Race- www.greatdividerace.com -2,500miles mountain biking across America from Canada to Mexico, if you don't finish it in 24 days your disqualified...and it's free.
The Canadian Death race- www.canadiandeathrace.com -125km across three mountains in Alberta. If you finish you can call yourself a "Death Racer"...I want that title!
Cycling. Vancouver, BC to Calgary, AB. One of the famous cycle routes, 1000km in 5 days through 2 mountain ranges and 3 national parks.
or how about around the world. Mark Beaumont did it in 195 days, 18,000 miles...
Climbing a great mountain. Denali, K2, Everest?
I think these are the things that would satisfy my sporting goals. Once you've done an Ironman you would find someone who had done two, ten ... or fifty. Or a marathon, someone would have done it faster...
These are the events that the glory in finishing is the prize, the winner maybe has a slightly bigger ego from it but the glory is still the same. No one can turn around and belittle your acomplishment, if you find someone who has done it faster or more times no one will care, "Oh I'm sorry did you just say you've only cycled 2,500 miles once?" doesn't stand in this case.
There are many things we set goals for in life.
Some bigger than others; graduating school, finding the right job, the right wife...but the goals that when we reach will define us are the truly important ones. For some these might well be getting into the best Grad school or getting the best job but for me it's going to be about seeing how far I can go, how far I can push myself physically and mentally. I don't think I'd be satisfied by an Ironman finish...or win for that matter. Too many people to stack yourself against. It would need to be something where it didn't matter how fit you were or how old but simply how tough. In completing a great endurance race of any kind you have to find something new inside yourself in order to finish. There is nothing natural in racing for 15 or 20 days straight on 2 hours sleep a night, you need to be nuts...and that's a cool ...
I WANT TO BE A DEATH RACER! =D
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Training is heavy. This week has been solid, NO aches and pains to report which is the first thing, keeping ontop of the nutrition - lots of protein, fruit and carbs and trying to get in at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Monday I headed out with Denise (World Junior Champs Cyclist) for a 90km ride including the now routine Cypress mountain, was good to have some company for a longer ride and she gave me a few tips =] That was all for Monday, 3.5 hours on the sadle was enough to get me in bed by 8! Tuesday I was in the pool early at 0530, 5km later after 16 x 100's I was out and off to class. Later on that morning I headed out with Gordon for a 15km run loop, 1 hour 8 minutes was pretty quick so again called training a day after that.
Today I was planning on a steady 2 hours on the bike but was keen to try out one of the other local ski mountains Mt. Seymour, I had been told it was the hardest climb around so wasn't sure what to expect.
First and foremost it wasn't a 2 hour ride. I thought somewhere in the region of 3 hours but that was without allowing time for the climb...and what a bloody climb! Once you treck the 37.5km through Vancouver to the base of Seymour your greeted with the one road sign you don't want to see when on a bike "Danger road steep ahead, gear down for the next 12.5 km - 12%". Boy were they not exaggerating, you turned a corner into the National Park and the road just climbed, it was granny gear stuff...and hard granny gear stuff. Then the rain came on. Time for "Eye of the tiger"...out came the iPod...on came the Montage music. I climbed and climbed and climbed. After having left campus at near enough 6am in the pitch black, it was now 0830, pouring rain and I was over 40km from home...and still climbing. The hill just doesn't give up, I was on it for just under 1 hour 10 minutes...how good did it feel at the top? Awesome. From the ski station at the peak you could see America, all of Vancouver and through to Vancouver Island, worth it!
But that was before the decent...then the climbing paid off! After over an hour going up I was at the bottom within 12 minutes. 80kmph on the straight bits, 50 on the corners and an avg of 70 for the way down, never been so fast in my life! Two dog walkers waved near the bottom laughing at the grin on my face, nothing could stop me now so I forgot all about the time and cruised on home for only my second 4 + hour ride ever. This floored me as you can imagine so I've been loading up with food all day, napped this afternoon and will have a big dinner before my swim set tonight.
This kind of training is what I love, the long hard stuff, the rain soaked, 12% gradient but "still going to give it a go" type stuff. I was told when I started the sport last year I would get hooked and never want to stop, well I'm definately hooked...and I can't see myself stopping any time soon. I am keeping tabs on my distances so don't worry I won't over do it,
but all seriousness aside ...
this is so much fun!
Friday, 19 September 2008
Back to normal.
Three weeks was too much to ask, but if the sun had stayed out today we would have had 21 days of uninterrupted sun here in Van. This kind of 25 degree + weather is unheard of for this time of year but it's been great and has given me a chance to get in some good training while the sun was out. I have topped up the sun tan for the year (with a slight jersey mark appearing on my arms) and settled into the routine (I use that phrase lightly) of student life.
Class is going well, not too busy this term so lots of time for other activities, that said last night I was in the library for 2 hours geeking up on the "Gamma function" which is far too complicated to be trying to understand after a weeks hard work so I rewarded myself with a beer afterwards! Had two big runs this week, 16.5km and 17.5 km, nice to get out and run for more than an hour, no pains to report. Bike wise I've been out for a few big (for me) rides, did the Cypress mountain 85km loop again plus another 2 60km+ rides throughout the week. Heading up to Whistler this afternoon for the weekend, my friend Collin is riding a MTB competition and we're taking up some others for support, should be good and is exciting taking some people to Whistler for the first time.
Lance is back. Bring it on I say, just wished he hadn't said he was going to win.
The rock. The rock is filming on campus next month - going to invite him over for a beer.
Whistler. The new Peak to Peak gondola opens in December and the first trial runs are this weekend. Woohoo...
...and thats about it.
I've got class in about 10 minutes so I'll round up with something I read in a Scott Tinley article. He's pretty insightful and writes very well, check out the back page in "Triathlete" mag if you get a chance,
"I sometimes wonder if all things in sport are contextually bound by how we perceive their value; a measurement relative to goals, needs, personality traits and something of the spirit that we have no control over. But other times I think I've made too much of the whole affair, that sport and living are like hard rain - loud to the ears but soft on the skin. Perhaps I ought to just relax and do them"
Friday, 12 September 2008
Thursday, 11 September 2008
I know its September, but after a mandatory week off (after my race last Monday), granted more of a training light week as there was no swimming but a few good cycles in the sun, I am ready to get going with winter work and the heavy miles speeding towards 2009.
So far this week we're on thursday and currently sitting at 14 hours of work. Three swim sessions, last nights was coached by Canadian Olympian Brian Johns, where I managed to pull out a 2.08 for my 200m Freestyle...however don't think he was particularily impressed. A few nice runs along the beach, Marine Drive and through the trails including an 11km loop on Tuesday with Gordon (Junior Olympic Volleyball Champ) on my floor who keeps a decent pace! And pushing 200km on the bike already with a monsterous 85km today from the UBC campus to the Cypress Mountain Ski resort.
The road stays pretty flat until you arrive 27km later at the base of Cypress Mountain and the Cypress Bowl Road. Here the road takes a sharp right and stays at a 7% gradient for 15km, which takes a while....about 48minutes for me but significantly longer for the two mountain bikers I past attempting the accent. Awesome fun though and I trundled back onto campus for lunch (Grilled chicked burger, fries, chicken and cheese quesadilla and 2 doughnuts) some 3 hours 26 minutes later.
It just seems easier to get yourself out of the door here. Everyone wants to know what your doing, where your going and what your training for. There is no stigma attached to kitting yourself out in spandex head to toe and heading out for 3 hours on your bike, your one of hundreds on the roads at any one time and your only joining the thousands out running, walking and enjoying the lifestyle Vancouver seems to serve up in massive portions. The landscape we are surrounded by here invites you to explore and stay out on the trails waaayy longer than you planned. DO NOT make time constraints in British Columbia as you will break them, come here for a month and stay for a year...
I'm here for a year so who knows when I'll come home!
All the best
Friday, 5 September 2008
Monday, 1 September 2008
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Until yesterday I had never lived on campus, let alone a north American one. The movies don't lie. People really do play frisbee all the time, play american football on every piece of grass there is, drink out of kegs and have dorm parties every night. Its AWESOME
...not that I'm enjoying myself or anything...
This last week, since my trail running weekend, I have been training up to the Vancouver Triathlon which is tomorrow (Monday) morning at about 7am. Had some pretty good sessions, was hitting 61's for my 100m's in the pool and had a decent 2.5 hour ride (be it in the rain). Looking forward to tomorrow morning, will be nice to get back and race on the World Chmps course and am feeling fast so will be a good one I hope.
Until then I'm off to chill on the grass outside my dorm with all the guys (and girls) n' enjoy the sun and the free BBQ :-)
Saturday, 23 August 2008
I never said I was born to run but you aren't born to trail run you are simply crazy enough to do it. Over 11km at 7000ft takes the PRO Salomon guys just under an hour but my goal for today was to get as close to the old course record for the under 20's of 1 hour 22 minutes.
At one point at around 5km I thought I was going to have a stroke from the alititude. Your breathing goes all funny and it feels like your just breathing half way each time so it took me a while to get over that - there was a hint of panic when it first started as I convinced myself I had overdone it and forget a stroke I might actually not finish!!! I also was a bit shocked when at some points even the pro guys in the distance started to speed hike up the craggy cliffs which didn't make me feel as bad when I had to put hands on knees and simply push myself up at walking pace on the really steep parts.
Anyways I was really pleased when I crossed the line in a new course record of 1hour 12 minutes for the under 20's with a gold medal for my age group to match. I think I'm more suited to the "hard as nails" aspect of the Endurance Peak course over a standard 10km road course - firstly as the terrain leans away from the repetative injury side of road running which seems to bother my shins a bit and secondly as its a pure, 100% suffer fest and I would be lying If I didn't say that's what I live for!
The guys out there were awesome and everyone was congratulating each other with hugs and pats on the back, there was a 79 year old who completed the Endurance race and got the biggest cheer I have ever heard. What a legend - I only hope I can be as tough as him when I'm pushing 80!
Anyway I'm off to the lake for a swim and then I guess I'd better think about next weekend which holds another race but only a triathlon this time so shouldn't be too hard ;)
"Real athletes swim, bike, run....everyone else just plays games"...except the trail runners who are simply nuts
Friday, 22 August 2008
It's the Peak Endurance race sponsored by Saab Salomon at the top of Whistler mountain here in Whistler, BC. Over 500 hill runners are flocking here from over Canada and the North-West States to jut about the rocky hillside and slippy glacier streams of Whistler's peak. Obviously to anyone who knows me I'm not exactally the 15km Peak Running Race kinda guy but this is the first race of the second half of this year which is essentially a really hard training session.
So I've just taken this week pretty easy after last weekends racing in the heat so tomorrow will be a tough little run with the top guys coming in under the hour, I'm just hoping for a decent finishing slot in my age group and no trips or falls setting me back. After tomorrow I'll be looking ahead to the Vancouver City Triathlon a week this Monday down on the same course I raced on at Worlds back in June - should be fun!
"If you run without sacrifice - congratulations, you just jogged"
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Sunday, 17 August 2008
We arrived Friday afternoon to 42 degrees and blazing sunshine, checked into the hotel and wondered down to transition to observe the circus that is pre race transition activity. With over 1000 competitors racing today (Sunday) transition was almost Royal Windsor sized so I thought it was important to get down early and check it out. Luckily I was number 502 and as one of the youngest racers had a bike slot down near the swim-bike entrance. After some dinner, serious pre bed hydration and watching the most impressive 100m Olympic fly final I have ever seen (Michael Phelps winning by 1/100th of a second!) I started resting up for Sunday.
Saturday was much the same keeping cool and topped up with water before the race.
Race morning came around and I was feeling pretty good considering the temperatures (29degrees at 6am with 24degree water) and was just trying to keep the nerves down before my heat headed off with over 110 athletes at 0715. Into the swim and I managed to quickley launch off the front with another athlete from Ontario, he was drafting off me a bit about 1m behind but he was keeping up a good pace and I wasn't grudging him a little tow. 100m out from the swim exit and I put in a kick to get a nice 5 second lead to claim the fastest swimmer prize (8.58 non-wetsuit), behind him was a good 80m to the next swimmer and at least 150m to the pack so I sprinted like mad into transition.
Onto the bike and the trailing Ontario athlete was just behind, luckily my pre-race course recce had uncovered a massive hill 2km into the first bike lap so I just let the chasing Canadian triathlete hold on until the bottom of the hill where I put in a big push, by the top I had about 40m on him so just kept my head down and smiled at some of the 1000 volunteers TriCanada had out there cheering us on! Two laps later and the lead motorbike peeled off to fire me into transition and out onto the run, unfortunately another young bike/runner had caught me and ran past about 10m out of T2. Was feeling really comfortable in my shiney new Adidas trainers but didn't quite have it in me to bridge the gap to 1st so just eased off and cruised across the line in 2nd.
All in all I'm really pleased with the weekend, the first time I've managed to hold the race lead throughout the bike and onto the run which hopefully shows all the bike work is paying off. Fastest swim split and 3rd fastest bike added to my silver made it a great weekend!
Back to training
Sunday, 10 August 2008
the Olympics are here =] Every 4 years I go mental for gymnastics, rowing, basketball, athletics, beach vollyball, water polo....just because it is the olympics. Anyone who trys to talk down the prestige and excitement behind the games should be tied up and forced to watch "So you think you can dance", it is an awesome event that brings athletes and nations together....plus the only place you'll see Georgia and Russia together in 2008 without tanks!
So far Phelps has impressed in the pool, the Americans have taken 1,2,3 in the woman's fencing and China has won it's first gold. My good friend Hannah Miley came 6th in last nights 400m I.M. final which I watched with open eyes, she looked so calm and really put in a good race. She is one of the only people out there who hands down trains harder than me, I have an enormous amount of respect for her and she deserves a lot of credit for her training and racing. We have swam together in training and racing on and off for over 10 years. Since we were 12 she has been running to training in the morining at 0530 to get in some extra land work time and she is quite often her one and only training partner for the long hours in the pool ... alone.
This got me thinking about dedication. The person who is out there all alone doing the work, when no one is screaming down their neck, when there are no training partners to impress, no coaches looking on but is still bent double in pain, exhausted, is the person who in a race when their body is saying stop will just take a minute, tell it to shut the hell up and keep on going. Being an athlete is not about impressing people, it is not about the image, the recognition, the accolade, but about the hard work, the 6 hour training days, the raining days and the 5am mornings but most of all the feeling when you know you've just done something great.
It is that moment we are all training for, we don't care if anyone else agrees with us, if anyone will put our race in the paper or on the news, it could be done alone in the middle of the mountains with no one watching but when we surpass our goals and take a step up it is a feeling that will stay with us forever. So when you see us heading out on our bikes in the rain or getting up for training just as you are coming in from a night out, don't call us crazy or stupid...we're just out there searching for our moment.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Friday, 1 August 2008
It's been a packed final week in Aberdeen, training, mountains, sun, braemar and lots of goodbyes.
The weather has played into everyones hands this week so the KUOTA had a few miles put on her before she was packed up in the new bike box for the flight. I've lowered the handle bars again and given the seat a few more degrees of downward angle so have been out on the Aberdeenshire roads getting used to the position while taking in the sun.
Tuesday I headed out to a local mountainette, Clachnaben, about 7 miles in total up and back so I donned the Salomon X country shoes and headed off for the peak at a light jog. The running lasted about 2 miles and then was bent over pushing on my knees to carry myself up to the top -49minutes to the peak. 4 jaffa cakes, half a bannana and 500mls of Nuun water later and I was sprinting back down the path to try and make it back in under 90minutes. Shins held up well and overtaking a Land Rover with a mile to go helped me speed up to make it back to the car park in 1.29:32
On Wednesday me and Pete (best friend) headed up to Braemar for a day out at Linn O'Dee (Notoriously dangerous Gorge but the most fun you'll ever have swimming). There are places to chill out in the sun, open slow moving sections, raging torrents, numerous deep water (40ft) pools and crazy jumps ranging from 2m to over 8m. We were there for 6 hours and was an awesome if tiring day, I love the fact I can still head out for a day at the river and class it as training!
And if you were wondering ... I did the 8m jump ... if only once.
Now I am zipping up my suitcase packed to the brim for my year in Vancouver, I'll be out of touch for a few days but next time I write I'll be settled into the house in Whistler for a few weeks training before the race and then...a few days later...the big move to the UBC campus =]
"Real athletes swim/bike/run...others just play games"
Monday, 28 July 2008
Was awesome being this close to the Elite guys and the speed they wen't past on the bike was amazing.
He's looking pretty relaxed though!
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Only 6 days left in Aberdeen, a lot of organising yet to do, sports kit needing washed, bikes needing packed (but we'll leave that all to the last minute) and in general goodbyes to be said as I won't return for at least another 9 months...
Am I sad to be leaving? I think it's always sad when someone leaves home for the first time but just as I am a bit sad and my family are too we are all just as excited about what the next year holds for me. Vancouver is an amazing city full of people to meet and places to go, skiing just up the road, a new campus to explore, new streets to wander and new training paths to forge.
Spent three days this week in Stirling with Blair, had a good ride with the local guys on Tuesday however as the Tour is on all the purist cyclists out there are in their element so the boys managed to drop me on the 5 mile leg back into town. I held on in a sense, was only about 90 seconds behind by the time the sprint was over and was blasting down the road at 28mph on the tri bars pretending to be Lance :-)
Wednesday had a nice interval running set in the evening + watching Alpe-d'Huez being scaled by the now Champ of the TDF Carlos Sastre (good on him), that said the run set knackered my legs but I am glad the shins held up and will be running on them tonight!
Friday after returning to Aberdeen I went out for a ride with my old friend Mike McLaren (a future GB rowing star), last time I saw him in January he was 6ft. 4......when I saw him on his bike yesterday he towered over me even more at 6ft. 8!! Built for rowing I say so watch that spot......all considered he needs to work on his cycling!! I went on out for another loop after I had dropped him home so racked up a nice 55km in the sun.
Today the sun was blaring so took advantage by getting in a fast 50km (31 km/h avg speed) followed by a steady 20km home to make it 70 for the day before sitting down to watch Cadel die in the TT and Carlos + Andy do the job for CSC. Now it's time for me to get off my ass, put on my Asics and get out for another set...
until next week
Monday, 21 July 2008
Back in Aberdeen for one day only. Arrived home from Newcastle late last night to find the taxi queue at the train station backed up out the door...after spending 5 hours in a carriage with two hen parties and a stag night this was not what I wanted. Temper flairing I strapped on my bike shoes, donned my Aero helmet and started off down the road (Speedo suitcase on my back) for the 13mile journey home. After 40minutes and 15 car horn toots later (followed by jeers - mostly rude and mostly concerning the Aero helmet) I arrived home.
Newcastle was a last minute trip to get a few days in with my new team (www.total-racing-int.com) before flying out to Vancouver in 12 days. I arrived Friday night and was whisked off to my team manager (Phil Gray)'s house for some pasta and a general chat. He's an awesome guy and we managed to talk over the next few years no problem at all and afterwards I felt much more comfortable about my future.
Saturday was a BEAST. My first use of a computrainer ... there's a silver man on the computer screen who does the same course your riding but at a constant wattage (200 in my case) so he will get away from you if you go below this. Now I was under strict instructions to ignore the silver man and concentrate on my pedal efficiency.
-At this point all those who know me well or have trained with me in the past will know what I did...
... I chased the hell out of the Silver Man!
Ended up beating him by a mile and did my 24.10 miles in 59minutes 15seconds. I followed up the bike with a 10km tempo run including 4km at race pace.
The afternoon consisted of time in the endless pool filming for the team and then a steady swim session at a local tri club later on. Got to use my brand new Kiwami Amphibian 008 (which came highly recommended from Mark Yoeman), easily the fastest tri suit I've ever worn and in a league with the Fastskins and Diana swim race suits out there ... it was just more comfortable. It's currently off at the printers getting logo'd up before I head off to Canada.
A good weekend though and now am heading back to the homeland of Stirling for a final few days of adjustments and training before I make the move.
No one ever said training was easy!
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Wind was howling today on my Tuesday ride, a steady 42 miler. Kept it easy for the first 30 - no faster than 17mph, just trying to get any of the tirdness out of my legs from the race on Saturday.
Then I got to Torphins (12 miles from home).
At some point on any ride the terrible head wind is going to become an awesome tail wind, today this point was as I turned left in Torphins for the final slog home, a slightly downhill 12 mile road taking me basically back to my front door. With the wind howling through my Carbon wheels I sped home in a little over 25 minutes (take your car out and try and do it faster!). The 201 Stagecoach bus didn't know what to do! 30mph was too slow to stay behind the whole way home but too fast to overtake, eventually I lost him when an old couple needed a lift into town...not after wondering what that whirring white and blue blob was that just sped past them!
Good ride though and was teamed up with a steady 7km run through my village this afternoon. Starting to really enjoy the bike/run days, swimming is still an important part of my training but I'm glad I'm beginning to appreciate the time spent in the saddle and on the running paths.
Also a mention must go out to my new team Total Racing International. I have steadily built up connections with this team over the last few months and now I am a fully fledged team member. This is an exciting team to be involved with, they are all very enthusiastic and very much race minded. I look forward to working with them from Vancouver next season. (see www.total-racing-int.com for details and team shop)
Monday, 14 July 2008
Thought I'd take the first step towards moving away to Vancouver by setting up my blog. As most of you know in three weeks I'll be packing up all my kit here in Aberdeen and making the jump 7000km across the pond to Vancouver, BC. This will be my first venture into the wild as a teenager you could say, having spent the last 19 years at home under the close watch of my family and coaches I will have to fend for myself in the jungle that is the UBC Vancouver Campus. So far no nerves or second thoughts, only excitement looking forward to the next year being able to focus on my training 100% (and studies) and really give Triathlon a go for next year.
Recently I have been travelling quite a bit. Spent two weeks at the end of June/beginning of July down in Stirling with my coach, Blair Cartmell, taking part in National squad training. This was in part to set me up technically for next year and also to give me a training boost after having eased off for the World Championships earlier last month. Everything seemed to pay off this weekend thankfully where I managed to pick up my first National title since 2006. In my first Non-Drafting Olympic distance triathlon I took the Scottish Junior title and fininshed top ten just infront of my new Team Manager-Phil Gray from Total Racing Int!
Must mention however the swim leg of the race, there were not hundreds but thousands of jelly fish in the sea and after my near panic attack during the sea session at the National camp I was not looking forward to racing with my jelly friends again. Luckily they were not all of the stinging variety and I only picked up a few stings on the face (5 years back 6 people had to be taken to hospital :-/ ) that said pulling through the water and feeling like your in a ball pit of jelly fish is massively un-nerving and am just glad so many of us managed to complete the freezing 1500m with the added hurdle of jelly fish attacks. (I'm sure I saw one with teeth)
On that note I am currently on a day off enjoying the sun up in Aberdeen. Open water swimming session tonight at Bert's Loch will flex the muscles a bit before heading back into training tomorrow, lets hope the sun stays out
As a Mr Mark Yoeman would call me; the man from Atlantis
Cheers for reading,