Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lake Effect...

Two words anyone living in the Great Lakes area hates to hear, right up there with freezing rain and black ice, all of which we have had in the past two days. Wikipedia even has a page for it: Lake-effect snow is produced in the winter when cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, providing energy and picking up water vapor which freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores.... This effect occurs in many locations throughout the world, but is best known in the populated areas of the Great Lakes of North America. ie my house. I did manage to drive to morning swim practice without putting my car in the ditch like I did the first snowfall of last year, but have decided that leaving it in the garage for the rest of the day is probably the best idea. Does shoveling snow count as a workout? I officially started back training last week, but I find that extreme cold weather negatively affects my motivation to train, unless I am heading out to ski but we don't have quite enough snow for that yet. I am still trying to get over a cold I picked up three weeks ago. It never got all that bad but is lingering way to long and feels like someone is sitting on my chest during my workouts. Thankfully I will be headed south to train again this year with JR in Alabama, only three weeks to go until then. A little bored since there is not much landscape architecture to do when there is snow on the ground. Might spend the rest of the day baking Christmas cookies. To those not living in warmer places (ohhh I miss Arizona on days like this) stay warm, drive save!!! You Know You're Canadian if... You've plugged a car in overnight You’ve had a Hallowe'en costume that fits over a snowsuit Driving is better in the winter because then the potholes are filled with snow You can play road hockey on skates Your municipality buys a Zamboni before it buys a bus You yell "Patio Weather!" when the temperature rises to 0. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them There are seven empty cars running in the parking lot of your neighbourhood Tim Horton's at any given time You've ever had your tongue frozen to something You have more kilometers on your snow blower than your car You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, construction You Know You're a Canadian Redneck if... You own an ice auger You have a "good" parka for formal occassions The trunk of your car has doubled as a deep freezer You have more than $20 in Canadian Tire money You owe more money on your snowmobile than your car You think the Hockey Night in Canada theme song should be the National Anthem You know several people who have hit deer more than once

Friday, November 27, 2009

Winter Cometh

I woke up to snow this morning, very sad though not unexpected. Subsequently I was sorting through stuff on my computer and found this little article I thought was appropriate... Canadian Temperature Conversion Chart 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C): Californians shiver uncontrollably. Canadians plant gardens. 35 Fahrenheit (1.6 C): Italian cars won't start. Canadians drive with the windows down. 32 Fahrenheit (0 C): American water freezes. Canadian water gets thicker. 0 Fahrenheit (-17.9 C): New York City landlords finally turn on the heat. Canadians have the last cookout of the season. -60 Fahrenheit (-51 C): Mt. St. Helens freezes. Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door. -100 Fahrenheit (-73 C): Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Canadians pull down their earflaps. -173 Fahrenheit (-114 C) Ethyl alcohol Freezes. Canadians get frustrated when they can't thaw the keg. -460 Fahrenheit (-273 C) Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops. Canadians start saying "cold, eh?" -500 Fahrenheit (-295 C): Hell freezes over. The Leafs win the Stanley Cup.

Friday, October 30, 2009

End of Season

I always feel like the season seems to last forever, then all of a sudden it is all over. The Xterra World Championships held on Sunday marked the end of another race season. A season full of great successes, frustrating injuries and mechanicals, lots of new friends, new races, new trails, new cuts, bruises and scars. My skills on the mountain bike progressed leaps and bounds, and while these skills eluded me in Maui I did finish in the top 5 at all 5 regional cup races I competed in throughout the season and finished 5th in the Xterra US Pro Tour.
I was so lucky to have incredible families host me for my winter training camps and at all the races this year. JR in Bama and Willie in Ashville, you both offered up your homes all winter to help get my season off to a great start. Your hospitality, support, and friendship was overwhelming. Iliana, Ryan and Molly, the Kummer family, Jan and Paula, Brandi, Betsy and Bill, Blake and Diana, and Allan thanks so much for hosting me at all the races this year. It makes such a difference to be able enjoy the comforts of a home while racing.
A huge big thanks also goes out to my awesome sponsors this year: Skinfit for their great racing suit and gear, Rudy for their awesome glasses and helmets, Pearl Izumi for keeping my feet happy in my cycling and running shoes, Nineteen for the fastest wetsuit in the world, Infinit for their fully customizable nutrition solutions, Extreme Endurance for their vitamins and supplements, Alto-Lab for helping me adapt to altitude, and Crocs Prepair for their great recovery footwear. Special thanks to my coach Gareth Thomas for his incredible knowledge and guidance throughout the season, allowing me to race at my best.
It has taken me a bit of time to reflect on my race on Sunday before putting down my thoughts on paper, so to speak. It definitely wasn't the race I was hoping for or know that I have in me, but it wasn't a horrible race either. I just didn't have that last little bit of snap on the bike and made little mistakes here and there that on a mountain bike translates to some substantial time lost. I got to Maui on Wednesday and got settled into the rental house with the rest of the gang. Will, Shelby, SueAnne, Ryan, Brandon, and Dave provided lots of good fun and entertainment throughout the week (pictures). I felt really good on the last couple of workouts leading up to the race and had been able to put in a great block of training between Nationals and Worlds. Race day arrived and I had the usual case of the nerves right up until the start gun. The swim start was a little rougher than last year as they forced everyone to start in a narrow roped off section of the beach instead of being able to spread out and have your own space. I still managed to get off to a clean start and rounded the first buoy ahead of the washing machine. A group of five of us managed a break and kept it through the swim. I think it was Luke MacKenzie, Eneko Llanos, Seth Wealing, another pro guy and myself.
Photo by Rich Cruse (http://www.richcruse.com/)
I was first woman out of the water but only managed less than a minute on Julie Dibens and not more than a couple on Mel and Leslie. Still I felt comfortable and ready to get on with the race.
Out on the bike I tried to get into a good rhythm but just couldn't seem to quite get there. I didn't have much traffic but still didn't manage to climb some of the hills I should have been able to and ended up off the bike a bunch. Julie flew by me early on and the others gradually reeled me in, passed me, and kept on riding away. I did manage the descents really well and got safely down the plunge and into transition in 7th.
Heading out on the run it was Julie, Mel, Shonny, Leslie, Carina, Marie-Helene, then myself with Danelle, Sara, and Rebecca hot on my heels. The weather had thankfully been overcast for most of the morning so we were spared a complete meltdown, but the big climbs right out of transition still took their toll. Four weeks of solid running leading into the race meant I definitely felt better than Nationals, but the time off throughout the season due to injuries left me feeling minus that ability to really attack the course. I caught Marie-Helene in the first couple of km's then got caught by Danelle at the top right before the descent down Cactus Alley. The long downhill provided some nice gravity assistance before the long haul across Big Beach. Running along a beautiful white sand beach sounds fun and exotic until you have to race it in the last 2km of a long, hot, punishing race. Danelle and I seemed to have hit maximum velocity a couple of yards apart from each other and had no response to Marion Lorblanchet who easily ran by us. 8th place and I left nothing out on the course.
The day wrapped up with a wonderful awards dinner and ceremony and the traditional Xterra Halloween costume party. Congratulations to all the great competitors who gave it their all on arguably the toughest triathlon course there is. Now it is time to relax, recover, enjoy some hockey and start planning all the great adventures for next year. Who knows, maybe this will be the year the Leafs remember how to win a hockey game? (or not)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Utah Pics

Thanks Nils for the great pics!!! (www.n2fotoservices.com)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Xterra USA and Fall Colours

After a week of beautiful warm sunny weather in Ogden, Utah it has been hard getting used to the typical fall weather here in Southern Ontario, rain, rain, and more rain. Riding just isn't as enjoyable when it takes you an extra half hour to gear up. On the other hand we do get to enjoy the wonderfull fall colours. Xterra Nationals, A bit late (again) with the race report but here it is. At face value 9th does feel slightly disappointing considering my results throughout the season but breaking it down it was a really good race for me. Two factors that were against me right from the start was of course the altitude, especially since all but a couple of the girls that placed ahead of me either live at altitude or were able to do an extended altitude training camp, and the unfortunate fact that I had not been able to run in seven weeks after agravating my achilles (again) at the Xterra Northeast Cup race in Vermont. I was able to do elliptical training and aquajogging and was simply hoping not to have lost to much run fitness and to be pain free during the race. I did two really short runs Tuesday and Thursday before the race with no problem so I was pretty confident I would at least be able to get through the run and finish. The race was a mass start with about 300+ age group and professional athletes. It ended up being a wetsuit swim so I was a little worried about getting roughed up at the start and lined up far right on the inside line away from most of the other pro men. Seth was lined up right beside me and right from the gun he was off to a super fast start and I jumped right on his feet. I couldn't quite believe it but we managed to gap the field before the first turn buoy and continued to put on almost a minute on the next group. Out onto the bike I tried to just get into my own pace and keep the pressure on without risking blowing up at the top. With over 3,000 ft of climbing the bike course started at about 4,800ft and climbed up to 7,800ft. Mel passed me just before the top of the first climbing section and Shonny and Sara on the descent. Leslie, Jenny and Carina all caught me near the very top of the course and I held on to 7th on the descent back into T2. While Nationals was held in Tahoe last year, we did race the Snowbasin course as the mountain cup race so I did have the chance to compare the two. Overall I took about 8mins off my bike split on a slightly longer course and closed the distance between myself and the top women's bike splits by over half. I also rode the entire course without hoping off instead of several technical problems last year. (getting there) Next the run... I had held off both Danelle and Renata on the bike but could hear the cheers for them on one of the switchbacks as I was headed out. I knew the run for me was just going to be whatever pace the legs wanted to go. I felt pretty good considering the lack of run volume and kept putting one foot in front of the other hoping I might be able to hold at least one of the off. Danelle came by me a little over half way but I couldn't pick up my pace to go with her. At the top of the last climb, with only some downhills left to go Renata came flying by me. She has the ability to run downhill on rocky terrain faster than anyone I have every met and there was nothing I could do about it, so 9th it was. The really good news is that I scored enough points to hang onto my 5th place in the overall Xterra US Pro Series. Mel McQuaid 1st, Shonny V. 2nd, Renata Bucher 3rd, Danelle Kabush 4th - not too bad company to be hanging out with. I didn't get many pictures from the race, but Nils put together a great photo gallery. (yes that's me waving to the camera before the swim start)

So, onto Maui and Xterra Worlds. With four weeks between the two races I am pretty excited about the upcoming race. My achilles seems to be holding up great with a solid week of running already since Utah and the race on Maui is much more to my liking: non-wetsuit swim, no altitude, more short power climbing rather than long spin climbs, and more people to pass for those trying to catch me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We'll have to see about that...

Xterra has publised their take on how the race this weekend is going to play out. Apparently they feel I will lead out of the water and the first section of the bike only to be passed and disappear out of contention. (see article below) We'll just have to see about that!!!! THE XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES SHOWDOWN...err, THROWDOWN! It all comes down to this. The 8-stop XTERRA Cup Series for professionals that started in early May wraps up with the ultimate showdown of XTERRA’s best on Saturday, Sept. 26 in Utah. And when we say the best, we mean it as the top 13 ranked men and women are on the start list – the lone exception being fourth-ranked Dan Hugo who just suffered through two weeks of a severe flu and painstakingly decided to stay home in South Africa to build an 8-month-base of training so he could tackle 2010 with a vengeance. There are two things to talk about … 1) the race and 2) the Series. Who’s the fastest on Saturday in the 1.5km swim, 30km mountain bike, and 10km trail run will determine the race winner, while who has the most points after this race determines the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Champion. Pros count their best five finishes in the eight regular season races plus whatever their point score is at the XTERRA USA Championship to determine final standings. THE MEN’S RACE The man to beat is Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz (pictured), the most feared XTERRA athlete on the planet. He won here last year, won four of the five Cup Series races he entered this year, and showed true grit by winning with an injury in Richmond. That said; anyone who thinks it’s a foregone conclusion that the Caveman will come out on top should consider… 1) Three different guys have won this race – Stoltz last year, Seth Wealing in ’07 and Mike Vine in ’06. 2) Last year the top four guys finished within a minute of each other. Stoltz was at 2:21:32, Vine was 14 seconds back, then Brian Smith (40 seconds) and Wealing (50 seconds). 3) In XTERRA mechanicals happen, like at this race in ’06 when Stoltz had more than two minutes on the entire field halfway through the bike before puncturing his tire going uphill at 5mph. He flatted in ’07 as well, as did Mike Vine. 4) It’s been two months since the last Cup race and it’s anybody’s guess as to which guy put together the best training plan so they’d be at their peak on race morning (and then execute!) Using the last three years of results on this course when the XTERRA Mountain Championship was contested here from 2006-2008, it’s clear that this race plays to power and strength and racers that can climb and handle the altitude. It’s 4,600-feet elevation at the swim start and 7,600-feet at the top of the bike course. It’s also clear that there are a bunch of XTERRA pros that fit the description like Stoltz, Nico Lebrun, Mike Vine, Josiah Middaugh, Seth Wealing, Brian Smith, Branden Rakita, and Cody Waite (the last five guys on this list are from Colorado where they live and train year-round in mountain riding conditions and altitudes similar to this race). Look for Wealing, Rakita and Stoltz to come out of the water first, a full-blown rumble up the mountain on the bike with Stoltz leading the charge, Wealing and Rakita hanging on, and Middaugh, Vine, and Smith gaining ground, then a pure survival of the fittest and test of courage on the run. This race will rock, and thank goodness the XTERRA TV crew is in full force on site to capture all the action and turn it into a one-hour show for the whole world to enjoy (see scenes from last year at xterra.tv). Pro Start List: '09 Rank - Name - Age, Hometown 1 - Conrad Stoltz - 35, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2 - Nicolas Lebrun - 35, Digne-les-Bains, France 3 - Josiah Middaugh - 31, Vail, Colorado 5 - Mike Vine - 36, Victoria, B.C., Canada 6 - Seth Wealing - 30, Boulder, Colorado 7 - Branden Rakita - 28, Manitou Springs, Colorado 8 - Brian Smith - 33, Gunnison, Colorado 9 - Craig Evans - 31, Spring Hill, Tennessee 10 - Cody Waite - 30, Lakewood, Colorado 11 - Will Kelsay - 28, Boulder, Colorado 12 - Matt Boobar - 36, Stratton Mountain, Vermont 13 - Ryan Ignatz - 30, Boulder, Colorado 16 - Ryan DeCook - 28, Rochester, Michigan 19 - Jeff Smith - 28, Sandpoint, Idaho 22 - Brendan Halpin - 25, Missoula, Montana 23 - Christopher Bagg - 37, Portland, Oregon 24 - Scott Gall – 35, Cedar Falls, Iowa 25 - Damian Gonzalez - 32, Stockton, California THE WOMEN’S RACE The women’s pro field is as deep as the men (18 pre-registered pros in each race) but there is a clear No. 1 and that’s Melanie McQuaid. The three-time XTERRA World Champ from Canada won the first five Cup Series races of the season then started thinking about Utah. She’s been at altitude for more than a month, has done stints in Park City and right here in Ogden, has pre-rode the course dozens of times, won this race last year and in ’06, skipped a big tradeshow in Vegas so she could fine tune, and is clearly, without a doubt, focused on the prize. The unenviable task of knocking her off the top step falls squarely on Shonny Vanlandingham, the decorated NORBA champion who switched her focus to XTERRA last year and has gotten faster by the race. She’ll likely have the best bike split (almost always does) but she’ll have to make up some ground coming out of the water a minute or two or three behind McQuaid, then have a great run if she is to succeed. Renata Bucher from Switzerland, who has won 18 XTERRA Championships in 10 different countries and four Euro Tour titles, is perhaps the most intriguing racer to watch. The XTERRA faithful have watched her climb mountains like a kid peddles through the park, nice and easy. If she can do that here and come into the bike-to-run transition with a lead she could very well run away with the win. Others to keep an eye include Danelle Kabush who historically comes on strong at the end of the year as evident in her runner-up performance at the World Champs last year (she was 4th at this race last season). Also watch for Carina Wasle (the XTERRA Czech Champ), Jenny Smith (3rd here the last two years), and Lesley Paterson (2nd at the Southeast Cup and 3rd at the West Cup this year). The women’s race could play out like this…Christine Jeffrey leads all women out of the swim, followed a couple minutes later by McQuaid, Paterson, Bucher and the others. Jeffrey holds on for as long as possible until McQuaid catches and passes her, and the chase is on. McQuaid has a lead heading out on the run but how much of a lead, and can Vanlandingham or Bucher or Wasle or Kabush or Paterson reel her in? Only one way to find out, and that’s to be at finish line at the world-class Snowbasin Resort (home to the 2002 Winter Olympics) at around 11:40 a.m. on Saturday. Pro Start List: '09 Rank (61 = #1) - Name - Age, Hometown 61 - Melanie McQuaid - 36, Victoria, B.C., Canada 62 - Shonny Vanlandingham - 40, Durango, Colorado 63 - Renata Bucher - 32, Lucerne, Switzerland 64 - Danelle Kabush - 34, Canmore, Alberta, Canada 65 - Christine Jeffrey - 36, Guelph, Ontario, Canada 66 - Jenny Smith - 36, Westport, New Zealand 67 - Rebecca Dussault - 28, Crested Butte, Colorado 68 - Emma Garrard - 27, Truckee, California 70 - Alexandra Borrelly - 33, Digne-les-Bains, France 71 - Lesley Paterson - 28, Sterling, Scotland 72 - Sari Anderson - 30, Carbondale, Colorado 73 - Tracy Thelen - 29, Colorado Springs, Colorado 75 - Jenny Tobin - 40, Boise, Idaho 76 - Sara Tarkington - 28, Boulder, Colorado 81 - Brandyn Roark Gray - 30, Aztec, New Mexico 82 - Teri Albertazzi - 27, Tucson, Arizona 83 - Cameron Randolph - 38, Ridgway, Colorado 84 - Carina Wasle - 24, Kundl, Austria

Monday, September 21, 2009

O Oxygen Where Art Thou?

Just five days until Xterra Nationals and I am up (literally) in Utah hopefully adapting quickly to the altitude. I tried arriving just a couple of days before the Mountain Cup race held here last year and it didn't work out so well so I am hoping a couple of extra days along with the use of my Altolab system will make a difference on race day. I am so lucky to be staying with a great family here, Blake and Diana Brown, who have been taking wonderful care of me while I have taken over their basement. On top of that another member of the local cycling club, Allan, has lent me a spare car for the week. I couldn't have asked for a better way to get ready to race. The support here in Utah for the race and throughout the cycling and triathlon community has been amazing and there will likely be a great turnout for the race on Saturday. The race is being held at the Snowbasin ski resort and is a point to point bike. We start with a refreshing dip in the Pineview Reservoir, then bike up to the main ski lodge where T2 is located with the run up and around the trails criss-crossing the ski runs. Now if the red blood cells would just hurry up and produce themselves.... Here is the official media guide for the race and if you live in the USA keep watch as the race is being televised in an hour long special to be aired later this fall.

Pineview Reservoir with Mount Ogden (Snowbasin) in background

Going back a bit, since my posting has been somewhat behing the times, my sister and I made the trip out to BC for my cousin Mike's wedding on the Labour Day weekend. It was a short trip but great to see all the west coast family we haven't seen in a couple of years. We stayed with my cousin Jess and her husband Jeremy and their adorable little daughter Annabelle who indulged us with lots of training schedule in between family gatherings. The wedding was held at the Burnaby Hilton and the evening was absolutely perfect for Mike and Lindsay. The flowers were beautiful bouquets of pinky white orchids and the dinner buffet was to die for. With the amount that I ate it might have been a distinct possibility. It was over far too quickly but we are already discussing a big family get together for Christmas next year in Costa Rica!!! Since I don't often post pictures other than race ones I though it would be fun to show that I do get dressed up every now and then, though after wearning heels all afternoon and evening my feet were definitely done. Enjoy the photos

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick update because that's all I have time for. Sunday was the Ontario Mountain Bike Provincial Championships and despite a couple of oopsy's and a dropped chain I managed to pull out the win in the Senior Expert Women's division. Congratulations to Holly Whitenight who finished second and took the overall series win by just a point. The weather turned out to be great for racing, a bit overcast but no rain and the course was in great condition. My sister came out to watch, take photos, and handle the feed zone. (thanks) I earned enough points this year to upgrade to elite/pro next year but will have to think pretty hard if that is what I want to do since I use these MTB races mostly for hard training.

Now I am madly trying to finish up work stuff before I get in a quick bike workout then pack for a 7:30am flight tomorrow out to Vancouver for my cousin's wedding. It's already after 7pm. Don't think I am going to get much sleep tonight. Hopefully the flight is pretty empty and quiet and I can catch a good nap on the way. Better remember the earplugs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New House Guest

Last week my sister noticed that something had been digging under the stairs to the front porch. Though we haven't actually seen what has decided to live or hide under the stairs we have a pretty good idea of what it is.
Wouldn't this be a fun surprise to run into early one morning on the way to swim practice?!!!! There have been a lot of them spotted running around the neighbourhood and digging under other people's porches. Hopefully he or she will decide to move on since we backfilled the hole.
This is about all the excitement that I have had in the past couple of weeks. Without many races leading up to Xterra National and Worlds it has simply been a whole lot of training and keeping on top of work. With both races having significant amounts of climbing (like tons) even the training has been somewhat dull. Because Southern Ontario has a complete lack of sustained climbs, hill reps have been reduced to the trainer with the front wheel propped up on a whole bunch of my old university architectural textbooks. I knew they would come in handy someday.
This weekend is the Ontario Provincial MTB Championships at Kelso Conservation Area. I am hoping I can return to my form from the first three races of the MTB season and take the win. With a ton more climbing than the last race and less technical sections it should definitely suit me better. Here's to nice sunny dry weather on Sunday. (wouldn't that be a change!!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Remembering Ron Johnson

I was saddened today to hear of the passing of former ASU head swimming coach Ron Johnson. Ron was the head men's coach my freshman year at Arizona State and I was frequently invited over to the men's side to join their distance squad for some extra competition. What always amazed me about Ron was his vast knowledge of all the swimmers around him. He was never my coach, as the women's and men's team at the time had separate coaching staff's and workouts, yet he knew my best times probably better than I did, with splits!!! I later had the opportunity to swim with the Sun Devil Masters team he coached and even worked with him and his wife Priscilla landscaping their home. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge, especially about swimming, and had more enthusiasm about the sport than anyone else I have ever met. It was an honour to have met and worked with him, he will be sorely missed.
(article below published by swimnetwork.com)
Swimming Loses Coach Ron Johnson By: Swimnetwork.com Posted: 08/08/09 Ron Johnson – swimmer and swim coach extraordinaire – died early this morning of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to informed sources. He was 77.
Johnson, described by friends as a "modern-day Renaissance man" had long suffered from bouts of depression, which had increased since a heart attack at a swim meet in 2007 and having to undergo quadruple bypass surgery. His depression deepened when his wife, Priscilla, suffered a stroke last year and since then has been undergoing rehabilitation.
Johnson was the most successful swim coach in Arizona State University history, guiding his women’s teams to national collegiate titles in 1978 and 1979, for which he was named NCAA Coach of the Year in 1979. From 1980-93 he coached the ASU men’s team, consistently finishing among the top 10 teams at the NCAA Championships. During his 14 years as the Sun Devils’ men’s coach he produced 86 All-Americans and 47 Academic All-Americans. In his full career he coached 19 national champions, 31 Olympic finalists and 14 Olympic medal winners. He also founded the Mesa Aquatic Club in 1973, placing two team members on the US Olympic team three years later. In 1968, he served as Mexico’s Olympic swim coach for the Mexico City Games, leading Mexico to its best Olympic performance ever, including its only gold medal in swimming.
Selected as the US Masters Coach of the Year in 1999, Johnson became the only coach ever to be honored as both national collegiate and national Masters coach of the year.Johnson was also a superb swimmer, earning All-American honors four times at the University of Iowa and winning a spot on the 1955 US Pan-American Games team.
It was later in life, however, that Johnson surpassed all his earlier achievements. In 1998 he became the only male Masters swimmer ever to hold world records simultaneously in all four strokes plus the individual medley. He repeated the feat two years later. Johnson set a total of 57 world records in his Masters career, was voted World Masters Swimmer of the Year three times and was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007.
An accomplished classical guitarist and artist, he recently published a book entitled “Romancing the Water,” a translation of a book he published in Spanish last year. A memorial service will be held later this week. Details will be announced on Tuesday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Refreshed and Recharged

Jeffrey Cottage
I have always felt that taking a good mid-season break is key to being able to perform well at the end of the season, so last week I did just that. I also got the chance to go watch my sister race in the Gravenhurst Triathlon and spend some time at the family cottage on Lake of Bays. Held on beautiful Lake Muskoka this triathlon race is similar to the Escape from Alcatraz race where the competitors are ferried out to the race start by two classic Muskoka steamships, the Wenonah and the Segwun (North America's oldest operating steamship). As this summer seems to be going the weather looked pretty iffy but ended up being dry and sunny throughout the race. Karen kept up the Jeffrey tradition and smoked the men and the women out of the water and finished up winning her age group. Must have been my awesome cheering.(check out all the pics)
Unable to simple do nothing for the week I decided since I was up in cottage country anyways and the weather was looking pretty good to jump in the 5th MTB race of the Ontario Cup series at Buckwallow. This course is really unique with virtually no hills but tons of bedrock and roots, big drops and tight turns. While I had a lot of fun and tested my technical skills, the lack of cardio busting hills gave advantage to the more experienced riders and I took 4th.
This week has been pretty mellow, just getting back into the training routine with next week back to the grindstone. I also finally uploaded all the pictures from the Vermont race.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Xterra Northeast Cup Vermont

After two beautiful sunny dry days the skies opened up as we were headed out to the pre-race pasta party at the Mt Ellen lodge, Sugarbush Resort and the rain poured down. Gallows humour was already in full swing as we all knew the bike course was likely a river of mud running down the mountain. It let up after a couple of hours and looked like it was going to clear but I remember waking up to lighting and thunder with pouring rain about 2am. After a rather fitful night of sleep it was up a 6am for a 9am start. In ironic fashion it was a beautiful sunny day and we were all going to get covered head to toe in mud!!! I had been trying to stay positive for the days leading up to the race and was only doing a mediocre job at it. I had aggravated my right Achilles on a running interval workout the weekend before and had come down with a cold Wednesday morning complete with sore throat and running noes. Add to that the muddy technical bike course and nothing but uphills and downhills on the run course and I was feeling rather unmotivated. I was surprised and happy that the stomach was full of butterflies and nervous energy was flowing as that meant that somewhere deep inside I truly did care about the race and just needed to get the brain on board and thinking in the right direction. As it was a two transition race Emma and I allowed a little bit extra time to get everything set up and ready to go. As it turned out one of the buses bringing racers down from T2 to the swim broke down and the race was delayed. Thankfully we decided to bike down on the road as warm-up and didn't have to deal with that extra bit of stress. The water temperature was 70deg. which caught a couple of people off-guard who were expecting a wetsuit swim and had forgotten to bring their swim skins but made me happy to have that little bit of extra advantage over the none-swimmers. Mel jokingly said before the race "just keep moving forward and you are doing good". As it would turn out this would be my motto as I slogged through the bike leg. Betsy and Bill, our homestays, even showed up to haul our gear, cheer us on and take photos. The pros got a minute head start on the amateurs and with a rather small field I got plenty of clear water to swim in. I took the lead around the first buoy with Seth and Brandon close behind me and pushed the pace as hard as I could. Again I was surprised and happy with how good I felt and within moments all doubt and negativity got put aside, the race was on and I was committed 100% to having a great race. As expected the bike course was a mess. I hiked most of the first couple of miles straight uphill and was off and on my bike the whole way, but I kept moving forward. Mel and Renata caught me early on and Shonny came by me a bit past halfway. I slide out a couple of times and hit the ground but nothing major and felt like considering the conditions and my whole 22months of mountain biking experience I rode the course to the best of my ability. I arrive in T2 still holding onto a solid 4th position with nobody in sight but knowing stellar runners Danelle and Emma were somewhere behind me. Heading out onto the run my legs felt light and ready to go and while the uphills still went on forever I kept up a good pace for the two loop course. 4th, done and covered in mud. Renata had a stellar race to pass Mel on the run for the win, and I ended up only a couple of minutes behind Shonny, having outsplit both her and Mel on the run. Danelle used her swift feet to move up into 5th with Emma right on her heels. The result moves me up into 3rd position in the overall US Pro Series, not bad, though Renata has only scored four races and will likely move ahead of me next weekend in Beaver Creek. After some quick post race food and a quick bike wash I decided to pack up and get on the road. It would make for a marathon day but would get me back home and able to do some work on Monday. I made the drive in just over 9hrs, pulling into the driveway about 1:30am exhausted. I parked the car, left everything inside except the toothbrush and crawled into bed. I had added Xterra Beaver Creek to the schedule as backup to make sure I scored the five races for the series, but after taking with coach Gareth post race and taking stock of the how the body and mind were feeling we decided to pass and take a nice mid-season break. Good thing because for the past two days I have been so sore just walking up and down the stairs has been tough and tons of bruises, cuts, scraps, and a sore wrist joint have appeared courtesy of the bike course. Up next I get to try something new and watch a triathlon as the sister, Karen, is racing the Gravenhurst Triathlon on Saturday, for now though, it is a nice week of relaxing and getting caught up on work!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vermont

Vermont is perhaps the only place that takes it's maple syrup more seriously than we do in Canada. A whole section of the grocery store aisle was dedicated to it here in Waitsfield, the small town just at the base of the Sugarbush Ski Resort. The weather here in Vermont has been even wetter than Southern Ontario which while hard to believe seems to be true. As such I had a bit of a scramble to find some mud tires to put on the bike instead of the "dry hardpack turn lethal in wet conditions" ones I have been riding all season. Thanks to Tim and Mike at Speedriver Bicycles, I even managed a few test runs on them before driving down on Tuesday. Even though it is almost a 10hr drive down I decided it was still better than the expense of a plane ticket, plus extra bike charge and rental car. I had planned to get up fairly early to try and clear Toronto traffic before it went to hell. I was about a half hour later than planned getting out the door, but it was still 6:30am so I thought it would be alright. Nope!! I got about 20mins down the road and ended up stopped dead in traffic. For those of you who know the area I didn't even make it to Guelph Line heading east on the 401 and I had to drive the whole length of the city stop and go. It took me almost two hours to go about 70miles. A pretty ominous start to the trip. Fortunately nobody seems to drive on the 401 east of Toronto and once clear of the city I pretty much had the road to myself. I had heard from many that listening to books on CD is the best way to pass a long road trip so when the radio stations whittled down to country and hard-core religious ones I put one on. What do you know they were right and the rest of the trip flew by. I rolled into Waitsfield about 4:30pm to Betsy and Bill's who are opening up their beautiful home to Emma Garrard and I for the race and after a quick unpack and grocery store run I crawled into bed for a nap. I could have called it a night but I needed to pick up Emma at the Burlington airport at 11pm. Good thing I set two alarms or she might have needed to find another ride in. Thursday morning Emma and I headed out to the race course to do a pre-ride and run. It is a point to point bike course so we parked at the top and rode easy down the road to T1. We had been warned that the course was really muddy and steep but that it was rideable. Really?!!! The elevation gain in the first mile was 700ft, most of which was hike a bike. It probably took us 30mins to ride (mostly walk) the first 3km of the course. At the rate we were going we wondered whether the rules stated that you actually had to be in possession of a bike for the bike leg of the race as running would have been much faster. Thankfully the second part of the course was quite a bit drier and more rideable. It still took about 2:10 to ride 17km and there is a 60% chance of rain forecasted for Saturday night!!! Once back at the car we met up with Seth and headed out for one loop of the two loop run course. More mud and more uphill. We reminisced about our high school days of cross country running and using duct tape to keep our shoes on as we slogged through what looked to be paths recently carved through the forest by a bulldozer between the ski runs of the resort and a stream crossing just for good measure.

Mud Bike

Today was pretty much a lazy day. A quick swim in the pond (the swim is in the ski resort's snow making pond) and a bit of running around trying to get Emma's front tire sorted out. It wasn't holding air and we had to stop about three times for her to put air in it during the pre-ride. It took three bike shops to find one that actually had a tubeless tire. Of course today the weather was absolutely beautiful and it seems all the local cyclist decided to play hooky as they were out in droves, of course the Tour always seems to increase the number of riders on the road. Race start is 9am Sunday morning and the women's field, which has been hit and miss this season, has a solid start list. Hear's hoping for good weather and enjoying lots of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream post race!!!

The Pond, uh Swim Venue

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Napping instead of blogging

That's my excuse. I have been meaning to update for a while but lately I have found myself on the couch thinking I would just relax for a moment or two and wake up several hours later. The fact that this hasn't affected how I have been sleeping at night seems to tell me that the body needs it. Since it has been such a long time since that last race I will keep the race report brief. Xterra Southcentral Cup - Little Rock, Arkansas
With the crash on the Wednesday and incredibly hot weather in the week leading up to the race, my preparation wasn't ideal but I was still feeling pretty good about having a great race. Race morning came around and Brandi dropped me off with plenty of time to get settled into transition and warm-up without spending too much time over-heating in the soon to be 100+ degree day. I hadn't been in the race venue water until warm-up on race day as the quality wasn't great and I was sporting some open cuts and when I got in it seriously felt like bath water. The race got started like usual with the pros in the first wave and Seth and I resuming are battle with each other. I was a little fustrated as this time we both lost and Craig put a couple of body lengths on us. Seth soon succumb to the heat of the water and backed off and I, despite trying really hard, couldn't shut down the short distance to Craig's feet and ended up swimming by myself the whole way. This is the first race where I felt like I really might not finish the swim. I was so hot I felt like either my head was going to explode or I was going to throw-up. I was looking forward to getting out of the water so I could cool off?!!!

Actually listening to the race briefing?

Out onto the bike I got into a pretty good rhythm, though I could tell I was being a little tentative with the crash still in the back of my mind. The bruises on my elbows were also giving me a bit of discomfort with all the jarring over the rocks and roots. Just as Mel caught me near the end of the first of two laps there was this short steep little climb and I dropped it into the small ring a little too late and made the mistake of putting too much pressure on the pedals in the middle of shifting and voila - broken chain, arrgh!!!! I had a master link and chain tool with me but had never actually repaired one before, never mind in the middle of the race, stuck on single track with rider after rider flying by me. I had no idea how long it took me, felt like forever, but I ended up back in 6th place by the time I got rolling again. I hammered the second lap as hard as I could and moved into 5th place coming into T2.

Yes, that is the run trail
The run, which we all knew was going to be brutal, didn't disappoint. It was hot, really hot, and the course had us running along the river trail, then scrambling up this steep ravine on something almost resembling a trail but not really to the top of a ridge line, across the ridge and back down the other side to the river trail again. Then right before the finish line we headed back up a road climb, down a steep shale slope and through a wooden section with absolutely no trail. After the race it seems as though most of us were thinking the same thing and hoping that miraculously they would take pity on us and omit the last hill section when we got to it, but no. I suffered like crazy through the whole run but I was too far out from 4th and far enough ahead of 6th, that I decided not to totally blow myself up and have to spend the next couple of days recovering. Another 5th and moved up into 4th overall in the series. Again not the race I was hoping for or feel like I have in me, but solid.

Rebecca Dussault, Mel McQuaid, Shonny V., Jenny Smith, CJ

Post race a bunch of us headed out for pizza and gelato. (Mel and Brandi displayed some complete lack of talent at guitar hero) Then I hooked up with the boys: Will, Dan, Craig, and Mike for some nightlife Little Rock style. We started at a duelling piano bar, not really my style, until we realized that there was a dance club in the basement. Sort of an odd combination, but tons of fun none the less. Since the race it has been a tough schedule of training. With three weeks between races it provided a good block to put in some quality miles - hence all the napping. Big congrats to the World Cup guys and girls who put on a awesome show at the Des Moines WC, Simon the big win, Lauren finally on the podium (3rd) and the relays 3rd and 5th.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

OMG

I can't think of any other appropriate title for this post as my brain is so completely fried. I think the temperature today is about 97degrees plus humidity, so it feels like well over 100degrees and the race didn't start until 10am. Add to that the swim was warmer than the air so I felt like my head was going to explode even before I got on the bike. This is the first race where I actually cooled down a bit on the bike mostly because my body seems to have an automatic shut off that doesn't let me push it to the point of a total meltdown. Then I broke my chain halfway into the first lap. I am hoping that bad luck runs in threes so the flat in Idaho, the crash on Wednesday, and the broken chain today means that I am in the clear for the rest of the season. Luckily I had a small chain breaker and master link on me and made a successful, albeit very lengthy, repair and got the bike rolling again. This is the first race that I have carried this tool and I can't decide whether is was good luck that I had it to make the repair, or bad luck since this is the only time I have ever needed it. I rallied as best I could to get back into the race, both physical and mentally and headed out onto the run in 5th place. Then the run was just survival, insanely steep scramble climbs, crazy loose footing and just plain hotter than hell. I was too far behind to challenge any of the top 4 girls and had to settle for 5th. I'll add a more detailed report and some photos later in the week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I am not superman...

...and therefore even if I stick my arms straight out in front of me I can’t fly. I can however hit the ground really hard and loose a significant amount of skin. Yesterday I made the short flight down to Little Rock, Arkansas for the South Central Xterra Cup Race. My homestay for the race Brandi picked me up at the airport and we headed over to the local bike shop, Arkansas Cycling, where she works and got my bike put together. The wall of heat that hit me walking out of the airport made it clear that this race is definitely going to be a warm one, well over ninety degrees with lots of humidity. Later in the afternoon we headed out to the race course to do a quick spin of the course. I headed out for a short twenty minute run while waiting for another rider and was dripping wet by the time I got back to the car. Local MTB rider Micah and I then headed out for a loop. The course is seriously rocky (by my standards) though nice and dry with some short climbs and descents, twists and turns. I was feeling a little off from the start and my shocks definitely weren’t working well, especially my rear one and I was constantly hitting my bottom pedal but I carried on figuring I would get a loop done and take care of it later. Then on one of the easier straight sections I was suddenly flying through the air, no warning, no OMG I shouldn’t have done that, just launched. I actually remember thinking as I was flying through the air that this really wasn’t going to end well. I thankfully landed on a relatively rock free area of the course and skidded to a stop fairly quickly. Of course I had that wonderful andreline rush that makes you nauseous and had to spend a couple of minutes collecting myself before I could take inventory of the damage. I ended up scrapping and really bruising both elbows and knees and one hip. One elbow had instantly formed a golf ball size swelling point and my other elbow and one knee definitely had some deep cuts. (insert several choice four letter words) I cruised the rest of the loop in as easy as I could, cursing myself and definitely in some pain. The rest of the evening was spent at Dan’s place, the owner of Arkansas Cycling who is hosting Mel McQuaid, getting cleaned up and helping myself to Mel’s dinner. Fortunately Micah’s wife is an RN and looks like we got most of the dirt out of the cuts. I was expecting to wake up this morning really stiff and sore but surprisingly I feel better than last night. Of course I did spend 12 hours in bed!! Today is a rest day, so I headed out on the road for a little loosen up and did a short pool swim. I know that everyone crashes at some point in mountain biking, I just wish it hadn’t happened 3 days before a race. No worries, by Saturday I should be ready to go. Keeping rubber side down, this course should really suit me, a full length 1500m no wetsuit swim, a relatively short, fast bike and well the run is going to hurt everyone in this heat.
I am now hanging out at Arkansas Cycling where the gang is doing a terrific job fixing up the bike while I hijack the computer. The shocks were running about half pressure and I completely bent the rear derailleur into the cassette during the crash. They also had a little fun with the majic marker (see below).
Best of luck to every one racing this weekend – big world cup in Washington, points race in Quebec and the sister ‘Little Fish’ is racing Guelph Lake Triathlon, GO KAREN!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Better late than never?

Yep, it's been over a week since the race and I am now just getting around to writing the race report, oh well. The fourth stop on the Xterra tour was held at Farragut State Park in Northwestern Idaho, just north of Coeur D'Alene. The site was absolutely beautiful and the course was flat and fast. In the past I have never liked wetsuit swims as they tend to help the non-swimmers much more than me but after three races in a row in cold water and my great Nineteen wetsuit I feel like I have finally mastered the wetsuit swim. The race was a noon start, so while the water was still cold the air temperature was nicely warmed-up and I wasn't as concerned about my calf being cold and tight coming off the bike and heading out on the run. Just as a precaution I decided to race in calf compression tights which although looked absolutely ridiculous I think helped keep the calf extra happy. I'm undecided whether I will continue to race with them on as I feel like they make my legs feel heavy, but for the first race back it was better safe than sorry. The pro's got our own wave start one minute ahead of the first amateur wave and we were off into what turned out to be a really rough two loop swim. This time I decided to sit in on the first lap and let someone else do the work. At the short run between laps it was Seth, Craig, Conrad and myself with a nice gap. Once back into the water the guys seemed to back off so I went to the front and pushed the pace and once again led out of the water with just Seth able to hang on. As it turned out I put nearly five minutes on Mel, the next women out of the water.
Conrad and myself at the swim lap
Finishing up the bike
Out onto the bike, what I thought was going to be a relatively easy bike course since it was so flat turned out to be very hard. As Mel put it you had to peddle hard the whole time with none of the usually breaks a more hilly course usually provides. I still had the lead going into the second lap and was getting pretty excited about the possibility of reaching T2 with Mel and having a serious foot race. Mel caught me midway through the second lap and while I wasn't quite hanging onto her wheel she was only inching away from me. That was until I took a corner and wondered why it felt like my back tire nearly washed out on me. Unbelievable, I looked down and sure enough my back tire was completely flat. I jumped off and quickly tried to fill it hoping the Stan's would seal the leak but I apparently did not pass canister quick fill 101 and only got my tire half pumped when the valved jammed. I decided to take my chances and gingerly rode in the rest of the bike on about 10 psi hoping that I hadn't lost too much time to the girls behind me. I got into T2 safely and still in 2nd place and started the run. After not much running in the three weeks since Michigan, I wasn't sure just how I was going to feel. I felt pretty sluggish and people mentionned that I looked like I was running very cautiously, but even with the long uphill climbs in the middle the calf managed with no pain or tightness. I was feeling pretty good about my 2nd place spot until Danelle 'running like a freight train' Kabush came by me just flying. Apparently after two warm-up races Danelle had found her second at worlds form and was right back in it. The rest of the run was pretty uneventful and I finished with another 3rd. I even managed to remember to smile as I crossed the finish line. Three races and three podiums, I can't really complain but I am still eyeing the next two spots on the podium. Local legend Jenny Tobin and Emma Garrard rounded out the top five.
Done!!
Women's Podium Emma, Danelle, Mel, Me
Big thanks to my awesome homestays for the weekend Jan and Paula who offered up their house to Dan, Emma, Craig and myself. We had this great apartment above their garage to stay in and except for Craig's pre-race Quinoa meal mistake (he isn't use to eating much fiber) had a fun time. Sunday after the race ended up being a marathon travel day starting with an early trip to the airport at 5am and finally rolling into home at 2:30am the next day. (ouch) When planning out my season I had decided to skip the Xterra race this weekend in Richmond as the course with a crazy short swim and very technical bike didn't suit me well so even though I had to drop the Alabama race I felt it wasn't worth adding Richmond back in. Instead I got in a good solid week of training and feel ready to go again next weekend for the Xterra South Central Cup race in Arkansas.
Emma and Dan took some great pic's of the race site which I stole and put in my gallery. Also included are Erin's crazy post-race antics which among other things included throwing her leftover morning oatmeal on Craig's rental car that I was driving back to Spokane while he enjoyed some post-race beverages. We had hoped that the freeway speed would blow it off but I ended up having to clean it up before we returned it the next morning. As for her randomly jumping out of her car and running up the hill with me yelling out my car window, I still don't know what that was all about?!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

3rd Again, Canucks sweep podium

Womens Podium Danelle Kabush 3rd, Mel McQuaid 1st, CJ 3rd (go canucks!!)
Today was my third Xterra Cup of the season and 3rd again it was. The race was held in Farragut State Park just north of Coeur D'Alene Idaho. What a beautiful setting for a race and the course which seemed pretty flat and non-technical ended up being really tough. After some sketchy training with the calf after Michigan I was just happy to be racing so although I felt a little flat especially on the run I was really happy with the end result. It is late so the full race report will have to wait for a couple of days as tomorrow is a full day of travel, but the Canadian women totally rocked with a 1,2,3 finish.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brrrr

'Bone Shaker'
We celebrated the last day of May here in Ontario with some snow flurries!!!? Fortunately for me because the MTB race on Sunday was doubling as a Canada Cup race as well as the Ontario Cup race, my start time got moved to the 1:45pm slot and I had beautiful, sunny, and almost warm weather. (Well warm enough that no arm or leg warmers were required.) It also meant that all the expert women from Junior through Masters all raced in the same wave so there was lots of great competition and the start was insanely fast. As a triathlete I don't ever have to worry about sprinting the first couple of km's of the bike and boy does it hurt especially since they start you straight uphill to spread everyone out before the singletrack starts. I settled comfortably into about 5th but hit the dirt early on the first lap on a stupid little root and lost touch with the top couple of girls. 2nd lap I moved back up to 3rd and thought I had a pretty good gap but got reeled back in on the 3rd lap. I ended up winning the Senior Expert division with four of the Master Expert women placing in front of me. Overall a great race as really all I am looking for from these mountain bike races is a great hard workout and having to use my technical skills at race pace. I rode all the technical sections really well, especially all three goes at Boneshaker, but lost concentration and hit the dirt twice on some easier sections.
Even more exciting is that my calf seems to be pretty well healed up so it is a go for the Xterra race this Saturday just outside Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. I got three solid runs in last week and besides the legs feeling a little flat, everything felt pretty good. This is another one of the new races this year so I have no idea what the course is going to be like. I do know that the water is rumored to be FREEZING, so I am desperately trying to find my thermal hood which is effectively hiding somewhere. Hopefully it turns up before wednesday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Update and Pics

It was so hard to sit home while everyone else got to go to Alabama and race the Xterra Southwest Cup. I so missed hanging out with everyone at Jerry's but I know it was the right decision. I haven't been able to run yet but I have progressed from aquajogging to the elliptical training thankfully as there is really not much I dislike more than aquajogging. The plan is one more elliptical workout and a run on Thursday. On the positive, after a bit of a training slump right after the race, I got in some serious time on the trails with a great couple of hours on Sunday with the Speedriver Cycling Club guys up at Hardwood Hills. The next O'Cup MTB race is being held there this Sunday and the course was marked so we decided to head up north and get in a couple of hard laps. The showcase of the course is the infamous 'Boneshaker'. I've heard many a tooth has been lost on this section of trail. It is a downhill switchback with stepped drops of uneven rocks. In the past I have been pretty tentative about riding it but the first three times through I nailed it no problem. Of course the fourth time I got a little overconfident, came in a little to fast with my weight too far forward and did a perfect endo. Fortunately I tucked and rolled (which I normally don't do, usually opting for the superman) and managed to get away with a bit of a stiff back this morning and a bruised ego. Here are a couple of pics from the Xterra Midwest race in Michigan. For the full gallery click here or on my pics on right. Enjoy!!

The Homestay House

Local Wildlife

Actually getting out of the wetsuit before T1

Going into the river

In the river

Calf not happy