Monday, 27 October 2008

Racing update

Well my legs held up.

Had another 10km on Sunday, 2nd of the three I had lined up to do throughout the Autumn here in Vancouver. Ran another best time, 35.28, and picked up second along with the $60 prize money...a nice mornings work.

Was in Stanley Park which seems to be the favourite venue for all things sporty here in Van, my third race through the park this year and was once again an awesome place to race through. Running partner Gordon was also there as a competitor, his first 10km of the year gearing up to his target marathons next season. A little calve trouble had bothered him last week too and he had to pull back at around 3km but still managed 4th - and a quick time considering he was running injured!

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.

Train Hard


Thursday, 23 October 2008

All work and no play...

Winter seems to be creeping up on us here in Vancouver pretty quickly. Snow has been falling 90km north in Whistler for a few weeks now and on Monday before the family and I drove back down to Van there were signs of snow starting to sneak into the village. Leaves are now almost completely off the trees and my morning rides/walks to swimming have seen frost on the ground...a pretty good sign winter is on its way.

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,



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


Week 6 almost complete; second cycle of work - second hard week. DONE =D

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey guys,

Firstly Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to everyone. This is the October holiday season over here in Canada with everyone stocking up on turkey dinners and stuffing before trying to slim down for the run up to Christmas!

Last week was pretty tough, had three major test sets in the pool, a few big rides, one 17km run, two 10km tempo runs and a "triathlon" session on Friday morning with 3.5 hours of almost continuous swim/bike/running. The weekend was needed, took 48 hours of complete rest and headed up to Whistler with my friends for some shopping and chill out time. It was the annual "Turkey sale" at Whistler Blackcomb - a mad weekend of 70%-off sales "everything must go" style when all of last years stock gets sold off. I picked up a new set of skiis, boots and bindings for about 40% of what they would cost on a normal weekend so it was successful in that respect, unfortunately things didn't go well all weekend. Collin, my partner in crime when it comes to worshipping Whistler, had taken his downhill mountain bike for some serious trail pounding on the Saturday. Kitted out in his full body armour, helmet (complete with helmet camera) and downhill bike he headed up again and again to the top of Whistler for the serious extreme trails. On one of the last runs of the day he misjudged a corner and started to veer off the trail at high speed, he continued to slide and upon dropping his bike fell over 15 feet down some serious cliffs. Feeling a little shaken he proceeded to climb back up the cliffs (while in major pain) to then get back on his bike and ride to the midstation first aid centre. Here they immediately called in an ambluance and put him straight on morphene. This is when I was called, "Hey Mike, it's Collin, you'd better come to the hospital"...crap I thought.

I spent about 4 hours at the hospital before they decided he was serious enough to ambulance down to Vancouver over night to under go more detailed scans and see a specalist. I got some sleep before driving to the Lion's Gate hospital early Sunday morning, I had called the Doctor's before I left and they reassured me he would be ok. When I arrived they told me he had fractued his Pelvis and would be out of action for about 6 weeks, this is a really good diagnosis on a fracture though as some can put you out of it for years and sometimes even worse. He is hard as nails though and as I speak is doing his best to rest up and get around on his crutches. Get well soon dude!

After the drama of the weekend I thought it best to get some rest last night and prepare for my first "training" race of the winter. This morning was the 10th annual Vancouver thanksgiving 10km, a gorgeous running race starting on Granville Island just outside of downtown Vancouver taking you all around the downtown area, through the marinas before B lining it back to Granville for the finnish. There were 2,000 racers who showed up in the rain and I counted at least 20 people with Triathlon World Champs T-shirts on, myself included! Main goals for the morning were to take it out hard but to come back harder, hopefully negtive splitting it and in the process not coming last.

I took it out hard with a group of 4 in about 6th-10th places overall, this group fell apart 2.5km in when we had a nice climb over Burrard bridge where I pushed it and held pace to the 3km mark where the race entered downtown. Then, racing in and around the skyscrapers, I dropped off a little up to the 5km mark where I passed at 18:48. Back onto the water front and - pretending I was in a triathlon - started to push on the second half pretty hard. Two guys past me and I jumped straight on the back of them as they were obviously pushing it hoping I could hold on for the final 2 or 3km. Keeping a track of my times on my watch I saw I had picked up the pace and managed to hold onto my 2 pace runners, leaders in sight, to run across the line in 37:40 - PB! Did what I wanted to do, best time and really pushed on the second half...didn't kill myself in the process either. 7th out of 2000 and 1st Junior - couldn't have imagined myself doing this a year ago - can't put it in words but I'll just say it's awesome fun! Have two more races coming up, one in 2 and one in 4 weeks time, so will hopefully see my times continue to fall with more and more running in my legs.

In the mean time though I will keep working hard, studying hard and looking after crazy friends who do slightly more dangerous sports than me!

Training hard in BC,


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
6-630pm Core
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 (, 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 - 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!

Train Hard


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- -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- -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 ...