Thursday, September 15, 2022

Pivot: Less Racing is More

Due to the COVID restrictions and race cancellations, the past two years were limited to race calendar. This is, however, not a bad thing. I think I get better quality and experiences with I focus more on a few races dispersed throughout the year rather than a whole bunch all year long. Coincidentally, I only did local races the past two years, and they are perfectly placed in the calendar to be 2-3months apart. 

The Cumby: Mid June. Local Cumberland, now legendary, 25 km trail race. A bit longer than what my body is ready for. I only run 18-20 km for my long runs through the winter months. So, I have to really step it up for this race. An amazing run with friends in the forest. This year I got lost twice! I missed out on the podium and I was 2-3minutes in the lead when I got lost. Not sure if I would have held off  my friend Theo Jankowsky, as he has more endurance and was hunting me down. It was his first win, so I was happy to see him take it!

Forbidden Gravel Experience. I sandbagged the 60km version, as the full distance was 109km with 2500m climbing and I would have bonked hard and not enjoyed the 6 hour ride. For the 60 km, it was a tour of fun riding with my pal Clay for most of the race. The last steep climb, my gravel bike gearing allowed me to stay upright and push to the win. 

Dodge City X: Off-road Triathlon. National Championships. It was a doozie of an event. I just got back from France (Therapist for Team Canada road cycling stage race) and was heading off to Australia the next day. In the race I had a good swim, but had a few mistakes in the transition (my wetsuit zipper got stuck) and was in chase mode the rest of the race. In the last 3-4km I caught my competitors, my pal Clay again and a relay team racer. 

Nationals is in Ibiza, Spain next year. I'm not sure if I'm able to make it but it would sure be fun!!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Back to Basics

The world has changed. And so have my goals.

With the cancellation of almost all running races this summer I was initially bummed out. But, after a few days I realized that it would be a selfish attitude to think that my personal fitness goals are more important than the health of my neighbors, the city, province and country, and the world I live in.

It also made me realize that I can get back to enjoying the process of just running for the pure joy of running. Getting outside and moving myself through space on my own steam (blowing off steam in the process). It brings back the thoughts about the importance of healthy self-coping mechanisms to get through life. And, right now it is one of those stressful times that out of one's control.

I've coincidentally had some small injuries accumulate over the recent marathon building phase that have limited my ability to push high intensity with volume. It's annoying to dial back training after all the work I have put into this marathon build.  But, actually, it's possibly the best time to actually recover properly and build strength correctly due to all the races being cancelled.

I'm unsure if I will compete in the Boston Marathon this September 14th (the postponed race date) and train through the summer. Possibly, I will redo this build phase next winter to start the process all over again in the fall to race next April in Boston. To be decided.

In the meantime I will be spending days with my family and building strength back up so I will be stronger next time.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Marathon Build

Trail miles with my dog Penny
This time around I will be building for a race that I have been looking at for a long time: The Boston Marathon!
It is on every runners bucket list and it is no easy feat to get qualified for it. It ends up being a qualification time with a marathon (for me under 3:05) in the previous two years. Also, it might be a lottery for the spots due to the quantity of runners applying to go. This year it was around 5 minutes below qualification time was cut-off for the lottery. I was officially coming in with 2:59:20 from the BMO Marathon in Vancouver last May where I exploded in dramatic fashion at 32km and needed 10 km of serious soul sucking miles to drag my butt to the finish line.
It's actually happening! Boston 2020

After that experience (and a few others not too different) I decided it was time to make a priority on my goals and get some guidance on what would be ideal training (for my current state in life and limited training time). With that I employed the services of Jim Finlayson, the legendary runner out of Victoria that has been and still is a top distance runner in the region and now my coach (along with the recent addition of Cam Levins as the current Canadian record holder in the marathon at 2:09:25)

The training boils down to mainly two workout sessions per week and one long run.  There are a few recovery runs between days but nothing significant. I have mostly been able to complete the training as planned.... and that is the single biggest thing I feel will contribute to my success at the marathon. Putting in the training. A non-negotiable time 2-3x/week to conplete it. I feel in the past I have easily (too-easily!) modifided or dropped a workout due to weather or other issues.

Obviously there are still some higher priority things that still moves my training workouts, like kids and work emergencies, but not all the other "things" that I used to think would need a workout changed.

The other good part of this training is my tracked training with my new Garmin smart watch Forerunner 245 that has most of the techy nerd tools to track training. Along with premium strava app that tracks fitness over time, I'm 963% better than where I was at 6 months ago training for a similar timing marathon.

I feel good. I do, however, have no idea how this big race three months from now will go. I know there is lots of work to do but I'm motivated to build towards this and see how far I can get... Isn't that the reason for most things?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Life on the Run

It's about time to get focused. I cant believe it took me this long.
In the aftermath of the debaucle of my Vancouver Marathon experience in trying to qualify for the 2020 Boston Marathon, I have realized I needed to let someone else take the reigns and give a run-specific training program.

It was a long process to get to this point. I felt like for the past 10-15 years I have made it okay with my own collection of training ideas and programs. My self-coached program was mostly tied to busy-life accessability. Maybe a speedwork session at lunch if I had 45 minutes, or maybe a hill repeat session in the evening after I put the kids to bed. Maybe I would occasionally skip the weekend long run to go for a fun bike ride and beers instead. I worked my training schedule around my social/family/work life. And, this mostly works except when it doesn't.

In the past four years I haven't really had a pure top-performance that I can say I was actually completely at my capacity. I would like to feel that again: the sensation that everything is clicking, the internal gauge is parallel with how I'm actually functioning.

I've gone with a serious thoughts on either just giving up the longer distances completely so there is less chance of total destruction. Or, the alternative, is to challenge my norm and give the coaching reigns up to someone else and completely do the work so I don't have any more excuses of why I don't feel at my potiental. Insead of alway wondering what I could accomplish. I want to actually make a solid effort and in good or bad, at least I made the attempt to push it (and hopefully accomplish it). Also, I need something to work towards bigger than my current work/life balance and build some motivation and momentum.

Started in December 2019, I have employed Jim Finlayson to guide me to the Boston Marathon for some more serious success at racing. It has just started to get tough but I feel the changes happening, more on this later.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Fat bikes and roadtrips

Finding the motivation to keep fitness a priority is a hard one to put my finger on. I don't know if I can say why I like to race other than I do like the fight for who can push themselves the furthest. But, a significant portion of it is just the process of training for a race that gets me through the roller coaster called life.

I rarely get the "ideal" training program completed in my mind. With picking up kids from school or daycare schedule, along with unplanned kids sicknesses or daycare closures (these both have higher priority in the grand master plan) I don't get what I set out to do. Also, I have a certain amount of responsibility at work to keep my business moving forward.

Sometimes it feels like I'm not moving forward with anything I do... just spinning my wheels and going about everything mediocre (or worse!). Possibly, however, this is just how it's going to have to be with where my life is at right now. And maybe it is the best training I will get for the next few years. I think sometimes that just the ability to train is a special gift.

This year I was put together a plan after my disappointing marathon this spring, the BMO Vancouver marathon. I exploded at 32km (of 42km!) and dragged my sorry (albeit cramping) ass around Stanley park to finish 20minutes off my goal. I did snag my Boston qualifier spot but not in a very exciting way and leaves me wanting more.

This summer has transitioned into the off-road triathlon race season. With the inaugural Whistler X, in chilly early June. I was able to hammer a great race, where finally everything was clicking, and nab the first Amateur spot and 10 minutes ahead of the next competitor.

Portland Xterra was on Aug. 8th and it turned into a summer road trip to let loose with a bunch of local guys. I had a stellar day and came away with 3rd overall amateur and I beat a few elites along the way. I did build some confidence from this even  and I even had my heavy plus sized tire bike to race.

Next up was the Provincials for Cross-triathlon at the Dodge City X, in Cumberland, BC which also happens to be the 2020 World Championships qualifier in Netherlands, my hinterland. The race went well, better than planned after a hiccup the week before injuring by hip/hamstring in a freak waterskiing accident (read dumbass move). I took the qualifier spot and the top step of the podium, with the unfortunate mechanical of my closest competitor and friend Clay.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Early 2019 Training and Racing

This year so far I have had more on the run-focus training program. Though, to be honest, I still always keep up with biking and strength training for injury prevention and variation to keeps things fresh.

Comox Valley 1/2 Marathon Recap
I went into this race with the idea of some marathon pace specific training before the Vancouver Marathon. I was going to run just faster than my marathon pace (3:45/km approx) then, if all felt good, going to push the last 3-5km. It was a perfect day with a good group of fast runners showed up for the day. I ran out to the turn-around point with a youngster to pace with plans to catch the top two guys in the last few km. I did not feel great at 18km so I cruised it in for a 1:16. The 18 year old I ran with, Anton, was a local who set a 6 min PR in the race and finished strong!  I was actually quite happy with my results but was wondering where my legs were later in the race. I had done more road miles than in a long time but it did not seem to translate to road race speed (this should have been an early warning signs for the marathon).

Vancouver Marathon
 In an amazing stroke of luck, I was selected as an "elite athlete" for the race and was able to meet the other elites and professional athletes at the meeting and dinner before the race. I really enjoyed this evening and was able to feel myself and have good conversations with top athletes. Everything in preparation went as plans; nutrition, hydration, and sleep was good compared to previous experiences. Getting to the race and my warm-up was normal and better than usual. Though, my performance leaves more to be desired. I was aiming for a 2:45 finish time (3:48/km pace) till 30km and then see how I felt and try to push it. I turns out, I got to 30km on pace.... and then rapidly blew up. Most muscles in my lower extremity took turns cramping, usually both legs AND at the same time. First hamstrings, then groin, then quads and followed by calves. I had to alternate between altered side-stepping gait and stopping to stretch out the spasm. I could run in 500m portions before muscular lock-down would occur. I finished in 2:59:11, I got my Boston Marathon Qualifier but not the way I wanted it.
At 25km & still smiling. Photo W. Crowe

I still don't really know what happened but it mostly has to do with my training leading up to this and not doing much intensity with volume. I would do long runs of 30km+ multiple times but not with any intensity and I would also do speed workouts with only 8-10km of actual "work". Possibly some dehydration or overheating was at play with this but I cant really say it was really that bad.

I'd like to redeem this in the future. Possibly the Victoria Marathon in October or something similar. I will keep the training moving forward with some more volume and intensity.

Cumby Trail Race

What a day! Perfect weather and awesome conditions for just an amazing day on the trails. I had an epiphany that I really enjoy running on trails and I feel I'm fairly good at it. I would like to explore the longer distances in the near future and test out a few 50km Ultramarathons. I'm not sure what will be first on the plan but a trip to cool places for these races might be in order.

It was hot and hilly but I didn't run into any cramping issues, even though it was only a week after the Vancouver Marathon where I exploded fantastically and dragged myself to the finish line. I will explore this further in the near future.

Moving into Summer months I would like to still do some triathlons to keep connected and hit some destination races in Whistler and Portland.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Run Specific Training

I'm back after a summer hiatus from focused training and racing. There were some big family things and professional projects that needed my attention. I still ran, biked, and swam most weeks but not in a training program designed to peak for a specific race.

I realize now that I feel more fulfilled when I'm focused on executing a training plan. Not only physically or mentally but within my business or personal life I like to be challenged and work through the steps to get to the goal. Is this goal-oriented? Possibly. I'd like to think that I just like to be productive. I really enjoy the journey to get to my best.

I've gone back to basics with my running training. It took some time to get the motivation going for the longer runs increased intensity. My body has been sore! I forgot how it felt. Most days, I'm very sore and stuff. I'm constantly working on flexibility and muscle release. I also have to train my brain to handle pushing through the discomfort for longer than my brain wants too!

I recently ran on the track (WHAT!?) for mile repeats. It was only four of them, after all, but I felt like I ripped myself new calfs, hammy's and glutes. For more than 2 days also!!  Hopefully, this is adaptation and next time it will be easier. It already has.

I did my first running race in five months last weekend. The Fernie half-marathon & 10k (formerly the Fernie Run-around). It was hard. It was cold and snowy, -1C actually, and I wore thermal long-johns to not freeze. Turns out that was a bit overkill when in a race. I took the win and I was fun to run in my hometown, the trails of my childhood. It was slow though, 1:19:22. I felt like I was running fast, but it was only 3:44 min/km splits, I should be around 3:30-3:35 min/km.

My goal is to run a sub 2:30 marathon. Some day before I get to that age of diminishing returns. Is that 40? is that 38? or is that even 42? All of these ages are just around the corner. So, I feel the time is now to accomplish these lifetime goals. Since I'm on goals the other one is a sub 1:10 half marathon. I feel this is significantly harder to accomplish but the half marathon is my favorite race and better suited for a busy family life & managing a business. I just can't get the volume of training for longer races at this point in time.

Rough Plan:

Dec. 3rd: Sacramento Marathon
Jan. 13th - Pioneer 8km North Saanich
Feb 10th: First Half Marathon Vancouver
March 24th - CV half marathon

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Cross Triathlon World Championships

Holy Shit- it worked! My barely-organized chaos of random training with juggling family life and responsibilities got me where I wanted to be.

The 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships was held in Penticton, BC from Aug. 17-27th. I qualified for the Cross-Triathlon (off-road) at last years Nationals event on the same course. For most of the past 6 months, this was my "A-Race" and the focus of early season workouts and races. I was trying to focus my energy on being more well-rounded this year in regards to keeping up with my family, spending quality time with the kids as they learn and grow and to help my wife now that we have two munchkins and she is back working part-time.  
A part of this balance is being able to take off some responsibility at work. We lucked out by hiring a sensational new associate (Simon rocks, seriously!). For this, I am most happy about because it gives me a few extra hours each week to duck out for solo training sessions that got me to the fitness for this race. 

In recap for the race, I was quite shocked to be given a Canadian flag to sprint to the finish line, because I had no idea where my placing was. I didn't know if I was 1st or 51st. I was in a bit of a mental state having to regain control after I cramped up hard on the end of the bike and early run. 

Exit the swim - TriCanada Photo

The swim was fairly straight forward: slog through 1500m and get to the first transition (to bike). I found out on race morning that it would not be a wetsuit swim because the water was too warm (22C) so I needed to get my mind in gear for a technical focused start. At the start I was able to duck-dive 16x and take the lead, with the lake being so shallow at the start. I did, however, drop back into behind the first swim group by the 500m mark. I could not get my nerves settled and get into a rhythm. I was able to slide into a draft from a fast Aussie and we cruised through the last 500 m and powered through to the beach for the transition.

The bike was fast! As I climbed the first hill up towards the Kettle Valley Railway and the 7km ride out to the trails, I caught a Kiwi and we ended up working together drafting (legally!) off each other. I had to take a slow start to the single track climb because I was maxed out and I knew we were ascending 600m+ in one shot. For some reason the more I climbed the stronger I felt and the more people I passed. I got by 5+ guys going up and even passed the speedy Kiwi before the technical steeps. My game plan was "no mistakes" on the ride and especially important was to prevent any mechanicals and flats (which de-railed my race last year). Just as I exited the trail system, two major things happened: my legs started to cramp, just a few tweaks at first, and I knew I cooked my legs on the blistering fast ride. The second thing, and more importantly, I caught up to a speedy Spaniard who towed me in TT style all the way to the second transition. I owed him big time (and I bought him a beer at the Awards ceremony that night) I would not have been able to ride out the KVR very fast if it weren't for him. 

On the transition of bike to run, luckily, I grabbed a nutrition bottle and gel because I was about to experience total cramping within 500m. I downed the bottle and gel and tried to get my legs back. Right before the hills started my body said NO, this is NOT happening. Never before have I had total quad spasm and contraction for 30sec+, I grabbed a light post and hung on so I wouldn't fall over. I couldn't believe it. Was this it- the end of my race.... why the F*&k wouldn't my quads stop seizing. After what seemed like eternity (and 5 guys passed me) I was able to start a slow shuffle, being hunched over and started to get the legs flushed out. I climbed the hills by walking with hands on knees and short strided the downs. Once I got up to the Kettle Valley Rail trail, I knew I had 4 km of flats so I just got the stride turnover sped up and I was miraculously able to pick up the pace. I shifted gears and was able to pass four guys that got by me on my earlier bonk-party. Back onto the trails I was able to take down one more guy in the water section where the trail has 1km of lakeside calf-deep water. In the last 1km of the run into the finishing straight I felt my hamstrings starting the same cramping cycle. I knew I was totally tapped out so I tried to pick it up early so I wouldn't need to sprint the finishing straights. Luckily nobody challenged me and I was able to to cruise to the finish.

It was a feeling of success, not only on the day being able to re-gain composure after near blow-up but the training from the past few months being not that bad. I still feel that I could put together a better race but I was happy with the results. The pursuit of excellence keeps me coming back for more

One last thing: I could not go this far without the support of my wife. She gets me and knows I enjoy training and racing. She is such a rockstar and I can't believe I found such an amazing woman to share this journey with. My kids make me want to do the best I can so that some day they might do the same. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Try it again...

This year has been a completely different experience right from January 1st until today. I'm currently off work with a separated shoulder (AC joint) and a newborn baby. They both arrived within a day of each other and I was totally helpless when my beautiful daughter showed up.

The beginning of the year was unseasonably cold and the Comox Valley had a foot of snow frozen for 3 months everywhere. And this being Canada it might not seem out of the ordinary. But, not here on Vancouver Island. We normally see a few days of minimal snow each year, if any. So the trails that I normally train on were plugged with snow and the roads were crappy to run or bike on. I did, however lucky, was get a Mid-Fat bike this fall. It's kinda like a cross between a normal mtn bike and fat-tire snow bike. The tires are 27.5 Plus sized, which is  anything between 2.8x to 3.2x. It means the bike floats ontop of the sand, mud or snow and doesn't get too bogged down. I was able to ride this 3-4x/week through those frozen months.
 In addition to the new snow sport of fat-biking, I have kept up with my Nordic roots in the cross-country skiing. It is a bit slower these days with hauling around a crew in the chariot. Sometimes I get a bit a help with my dog Penny by hooking her up to the leash for a lead out. 

One other sport I have been interested in for a long time. Surf-ski! A racing kayak with possibilites to surf waves or ride a wake for long distances.

Leading into this year in regards to racing, I was planning the traditional early running races (Island Series) from Jan - April, and then Mtn bike racing (Island Cup) from March - May. I was either away or sick for every running race and only make 2 back-to back Island Cup Races in early March.

The Canada Cup @ Bear Mountain was an amazing venue, as it is the location for the National Mtn Bike team training centre. Lots of trails, and some new ones from last year.

The hammerfest xc bike race in Errington (just north of Parksville) is a really fun rolling and flowy trail system. Not as many top elite riders showed up but I managed to hammer it hard.

Now, with the newborn and getting back to work soon, I don't really have any races on the calendar. Except for the Cumby, Cumberland's newest trail running race. I will be in the 23km "short course" as this year also has a 50km ultramarathon. May 13th with be a good day.

The rest of the summer with be hanging with my little family and training for the World Cross Triathlon Championships (Off-road) in Penticton mid August.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Training Modifications

2016 Off-Road Triathlon Nationals (AG Silver)
Cross Triathlon Nationals AG Silver
This year I took a different approach to training for triathlon. I experimented with shorter, more frequent sessions, and longer recovery periods. And, it worked! The aim was to have many small and short training sessions throughout the week along with an occasional major brick workout to push the limit. The goal was to balance family life/work/training (in that order) to try and be efficient with my time (a limited resource these days!).

The average week I would train 8-10 hours and this would be combining bike commuting, mtn biking, run training and a small smattering of swimming sessions, core strength and weights. The majority of my training was in shorter sessions (usually lasting 30-45 minutes) but more often. Usually two short sessions a day. Every 10 days or two weeks, when time would permit, I would do an epic brick session for 3-5hrs - this would involve mainly biking and running. On the image above and below, you can see a few times a month you can see a big spike in time spent training. I feel these epic sessions spaced farther apart gave adequate time to recover and let the adaptation occur and build endurance.
The average week run training sessions would involve 3-4 runs/week, averaging 30-40km. This is much less than I normally do, being a running specialist in the past, but for triathlon. I would make sure to do a hard session of hills or intervals and also one medium long run (60-90min or 12-18km) each week. Almost every run is on trails, for a softer uneven surface and changing directions and with hills included.

I usually cycle to work 3-4x/week and that is about 20km round trip. I use that as most of my bike time, as cycling takes up the most amount of time for training. On the commute home, I would do an extra 10-20km every other day when time permits. The change this year is that I got my single speed road bike going again that is geared really high and develops power over the hills. On the average I would get one mountain bike ride and one road bike ride a week as well (averaging 200km/week in 6 rides).

Swimming is my downfall, I straight up do not swim enough during the year. I enjoy swimming in open water (lake, ocean, river) as opposed to the pool. This year from January I spent a grand total of 3 sessions in the pool. I will try to incorporated more focus to swimming this year.

I feel the key component for me is building strength and power. I'm not a particularly strong athlete or have explosive power but if I can get better it will compliment endurance.  I do like going to the gym and feel that it is a good stress relief in a short workout. I mainly hit the squat rack for a progression of Olympic lifting (squats, lunges, and deadlifts). Along with core strength I like to do some box jumps and balance drills to finish it off.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Racing Season 2016

This year I have made a few changes to my traditional plan and I want to focus on a few different priorities. Of course, my family is the highest importance and this is where I want to spend most of my spare time. I do feel though that I need to make time for my fitness. It not only helps me clear my mind and keeps me mentally calm but it gives me a goal that I can aim towards. I feel that I can be more engaged with my family, friends, and business if I get enough exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Some exciting developments in the triathlon and trail running realm in that coming to BC this year. First, the Canada Cup Mountain Bike race was hosted here on Vancouver Island at Bear Mountain in Victoria. On March 5th, the top mountain bikers in Canada travelled to Victoria for a great early-season blast off. 

I was able to compete and ended up 3rd in my Category (masters 30-39). It was four muddy loops of a 5km course. A ton of climbing with over 800m elevation in the 20km race. 

Totally exhausted at Bear Mountain - Kevin Light Photo

My next few weeks will be taken up with some mountain biking and road running races aiming toward the next two big races.

First, the Cumby 20km Trail Running Race. Brand new this year, mapped out to have tons of hills and explore the amazing trails in Cumberland. 

Secondly, the ITU (International Triathlon Union) has jumped on board with Off-Road triathlons (like Xterra) and is hosting the 2017 World Championship qualifier in Penticton on Aug. 25th! A summer of training for swim, mtn bike, and trail run is exactly what I want to do all summer. 

Here are my seasons races (roughly)

March 5 -  Bear Mountain Canada Cup Mtn Bike Race 
March 6 - Bazan Bay 5k Run Race Sidney, BC
March 13 - Hammerfest Parksville XC mtn bike race
March 20 - CV 1/2 Marathon 
April 10 - Cobble Hill Trail Running Race
April 17 - Cumberland xc Mtn bike race
April 24 - Snow to Surf relay race
May 1 - BMO Vancouver 1/2 marathon (BC 1/2 marathon championships)
May 28 - Inagural Cumby 20km trail run Cumberland
June 11 - 12 hours of Cumberland Mt. Bike 4 Person Relay
June 26 - Lazo Road Bike Race Courtenay CVCC
July 3 - Cowichan Challenge Triathlon Almost Olympic Distance
Aug. 27th ITU Cross Triathlon Penticton - Off-road Triathlon
Sept.  24th MOMAR Adventure Race Cumberland

Rough times at Bazan Bay 5km - facebook image 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Accelerated Recovery

In Hawaii, during the preparation for the Xterra Off-Road triathlon world championships, I wrecked my ankle. I rolled over on it during a recon run of the course and slipped on the mud that turns to a skating rink with a bit if rain, hence the name "Maui Ice"!
I have spent the time to getting the recovery I need: I want to be stronger for next time. I know that an ankle sprain is not planned or expected and is truly an accident... But maybe it could have been prevented.
My left leg has been the weak link in the system for a long time. Quad weakness and tension into calf and ankle mobility. I haven't been as confident taking big drops and landing with that leg and I have mini-rolled it multiple times this past few years. It was a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off but it just happened to be the World Championships to blow.

A full two weeks after the race I utilized the expertise of the Naturopathic Physician at Fit Chiropractic and Sports Therapy, Dr. David Milanovich, to work with his speciality of prolotherapy. Basically it involves injecting a solution with a needle into the joint space to initiate a healing response and help the body lay down collagen fibres and build a stronger joint. It definitely hurts like a bitch while he was doing it and I may have cried a little bit. Afterwards it feels like I re-sprained the joint with it being all hot and swollen. I also had him work on my knee while he was set up. 

A few weeks later, and now a few months later, I'm well on my way to full recovery. I'd say I'm at 95% and my knee feels stronger as well. The next few months will determine how it actually has healed.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Xterra Worlds Recap

A few days have gone by and I have had some time to digest all the things that went down on race day. I would say I had a total Xterra experience of heat, hills, and ass-kicking.
Chaos of the swim

The few days leading up to the race are a blur now that I think back. I was focusing most of my nervous energy on trying to heal my sprained ankle (or contemplating dropping out) and trying to escape the heat. With some helpful sport therapy from my friend and training partner Clay, we decided my ankle would be alright, as long as I didn't fall on my bike or turn sharp corners on the run. A tough call when it is an extreme mountain course to maneuver! I ended up taping most of the ankle with Rock Tape to keep it rigid and limit more roll-overs.

I felt that I had a great swim arriving at the beach within the second main group and ran up the hill into the first transition. After a smooth and effortless swim-bike transition I completed a blistering 24km of the 32km mountain bike course passing people most of the way but in my mind not over-doing it. At the 24km mark, just before the second bike aid-station, my left hamstring (sprained ankle side) started giving signs that something was not right. You know that feeling like it is "going to cramp" well, that was showing up every little uphill surge. Soon after I was cramping every time I lightly pedalled uphill. And with 4000+ ft vertical, especially in the last 10km, there were some doozies to get through. Initially I had to stop and stretch out my hamstrings and I downed my last electrolyte gel and salt tab. I walked the hills and rolled the flats for the next 4km dropping approximately 15-20minutes in the process. I finally cruised into the second transition happy to have that over with. I downed a few cups of electrolyte drink and flushed myself with ice water. The first 500m of the run started alright but then the hamstrings and quads cramped again for the next 3km and I had to walk/jog or else I would seize up. I just shuffled along like a guy who couldn't lift his feet off the ground for the first 4km dropping another 10-15 minutes. After some time and 3-4 litres of electrolyte and water at the aid stations I regained composure and was able to actually run with some speed for the next 6km and ran fairly hard passing a handful of people. Until... I hit the sand section. 
Start of the 10km trail run

Think standing crabwalk with spastic pauses due to cramping. Due to the angle of the beach and my left hamstring seizing with any excessive shortening, I literally could not move forward. So, I improvised and started a left leg forward cross-over to run crab style, with all my humility, I was completely at capacity. I, however, didn't care too much, I was 300m from the finish. I just barely squeaked in before collapsing to the ground with medical aid putting ice water and towels on me. 

Official Results here. 

I always like to write down the top things I did well in the race and top things I totally need to re-think.
The good stuff:
- maximizing recovery from a bad ankle sprain five days prior
- controlling nerves before the race with excellent sleeps leading up to and including the night before
- maintaining my cool with all the hype on race morning
- having a nutrition plan that in theory was rock solid
- a solid swim and efficient transitions
- regaining muscle function mid-race after complete cramping

The not-so-good-stuff:
- not treating my tight muscles before the race from compensating for the ankle sprain
- dropping a gel mid bike and not picking up a replacement at the aid station
- not having 2 water bottles for the ride or knowing how much I would need due to sweating 

After going through these items I have a better feeling about how the race went. I certainly had a lot to learn from racing in these hot ass-kicking conditions. I'm content with my race results but I have so much more to accomplish here!

I want to give a shout out to Mike and Jordan at THE BROKEN SPOKE, my bike shop guys, who hooked me up with a light race bike and made sure it was race ready. My swim coaches Lynday and Leanne with PACE Multisport. And my shoe people at Extreme Runners in Courtenay.

Clay and I post race and after cooling down

Friday, October 30, 2015

Xterra Tapering

The taper has started - the best part of training!

The off-road triathlon World championships party has started. Four days of pre-race festivities on Maui at the Xterra Expo with all the sponsors and vendors showing the latest and greatest gear or technical clothing. It is all with a crowd of 1000+ athletes super anxious and happy to be here. It's funny to see some athletes scrambling to get a race advantage with a "lighter water bottle holder" or "less rolling resistance tire tread" and arguing which is best. I know I have the best so I don't need to argue... Haha kidding. Or maybe not.

I was able to scope out the beach where the swimming portion of the race happens. There was a big storm that was pushing 8-10 foot waves crashing on shore and it looked quite dangerous to try and "practice" a running entry & exit without doing some personal damage or getting sucked out by a riptide. The water is forecasted to calm in the next few days. I rode the bike course, well the first 5km and the last 8km, today and enjoyed it. It has tons of climbing and a bunch of quick switchbacks and narrow zigzags to get through. The mud is slimy and very slick - it is called "Maui ice" and I can see why.
The big reason why I wanted to get on the bike course today was because I unfortunately severely sprained my ankle two days ago... I was out on a very easy run finishing up a course Recon and on a mini downhill and a slippery root I ripped myself a new one and crashed head-first into the thick forest. I instantly felt nauseous with that body grip of pain, I checked my ankle and it had immediate swelling and throbbing with pain. The scary thought was that I felt and heard a snap or pop. Is it broken? Are the ligaments torn? My mind was racing and not sure what to do. After a few minutes I was able to hobble out the last kilometre and put my ankle in the ocean to cool off a bit.

Bruising and swelling showed up the first day, as expected. After ruling out a full fracture or worse- a ligament tear, I have hit the full gamut of Sports-Med protocols for fast recovery: P.R.I.C.E. Protect, rest, ice, compress, and elevate is the topic of the last few days and my wife is tired of hearing about it, I'm sure! I've also done some light effleurage massage and graston therapy to flush the swelling out. I've been heavily supplementing with Fish oils, Vit. B's and tons of veggies. My last approach is with hydration: Water...and some ice cold brew. The last item might be the best for my mind- I have to realize I'm here on vacation. On a side note my new favourite beer is the Maui Brewing coconut porter! 

Two more days and it's go time! It's all just tapering now and enjoying the experience. I'm going to test out my ankle running tomorrow to see if it's even possible. For now, I'm enjoying time with my family here.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Off Road triathalon Worlds

The Xterra Off-Road triathlon World Championships will be in Maui on Sunday, Nov. 1st, 2015. For the past few years I have been hoping to qualify and attend. This year has come together and I have booked my ticket. I have spent most of the spring and summer getting out for a few rides and runs but now it is time to get serious about putting it all together for the 1500m Ocean swim, 32km mtn bike, and 10km Trail Run. In training for this race a few important items need to be addressed. The first, being the possibility of excessive heat and humidity:
Not that 26-27C is that hot, it is with the 72% humidity that I'm a bit worried about. Trying to train for this has been including the regular Mtn bike, and running sessions, along with some swimming and strength training, all while wearing too many layers. I want to train my body deal with sweating excessively - and being able replenish lost fluids with hydration.

I can hardly contain my excitement for this trip. I want to train all the time... however, I do have other priorities including family and a recent newborn son (that likes to party all night, and sleep all day) and a business, Fit Chiropractic, to keep moving forward. Luckily my amazing and supportive wife has given me the thumbs up to compete and train for this big race (as long as she can join me in Hawaii).

A recent hill working in Cumberland I spend shredding my legs trying to get used to accelerating uphill constantly.

I have been trying to lighten the load with regards to biking (instead of actually loosing weight) I purchased a very light weight bike, a 29" tire hardtail for specifically cross country riding from Mike at The Broken Spoke in Courtenay
In the swimming side of things, I try to get to the pool a few times a week but I feel the open water swimming would be better. It is, though, getting quite cold in the lake or River, and tough to force myself for a workout. Hopefully the week of acclimatization I have given myself in Hawaii to practice open water will suffice.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fall Seasonal

The rest of the summer was a bit of a tornado with playing with my new baby boy Leo and tons of visitors to hang out with. I was able to compete in a few local events.

1. Comox Nautical Days 4 Miler. Which is BC's oldest road race. I was able to sneak this one in and enjoyed participating in the local CV running club's race. I was only a bit off my time from the year before but I was nipped by the local barefoot legend Robin Poirier. A must do event! During the BC Day Long weekend.

2. Campbell River (Snowden Forest) 50km Challenge. It was a beautiful rolling forest trails with beams of sunshine breaking through the forest. I did the "relay" component but doing both 25km legs of mountain biking and trail running. I will definitely do it again next year.

3. I missed the Waverly Dirt Crit - a bike race through the Waverly pub in Cumberland! Also, the Coal Cross, a cyclocross race at Comox Lake was a legendary tough race in early September.

I have qualified for the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii on November 1st. I'm very excited to be going and have modified my training plan accordingly. The Xterra event is an Off-road triathlon consisting of a 1500m swim in the ocean, 30km mountain bike ride, and a 12 km hilly trail run.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer Cap

Summer is here! The days are long and hot. Dust is rising from the trails and there isn't much water in the rivers. I was able to hit a few local races this early summer with some success.

The training this spring and early summer hasn't had the quantity or quality. My recovery from these short, sporatic training sessions is almost non existence. And I'm okay with this... My wife and I had a new baby born mid June! Super happy baby boy with a big appetite.
This creates a huge change in time spent with focussed training but I'm happy with how everything has been so far.
The little Lion man 

Because the baby was a week late being born I was able to sneak in an active weekend winning both the 12hrs of Cumberland Mtb race with a 4 person team and the Country Roads 1/2 Marathon the following day. It was an extra bonus because I really felt I would be in Dad-mode that early June weekend.
Descending in the 12hrs of Cumberland 

The "A" Race of the summer was definately the Victoria Xterra on July 5th. It is a regional qualifier for Xterra World Championships in Hawaii in November. I really wanted to win my category to get the ticket for Worlds. My wife gave me the thumbs up that we could go (if I qualified).b

A few unknown athletes were in the starting gates setting up their bike when I arrived (late). As with any race, I want to size up the competition and see what my they look like. Are they fit, what gear are they using, what does there facial expression say... Everything adds to the picture and motivates me to convince myself I can match them, if not beat them!

The swim was not wet-suit legal, meaning the water temperature was above 22 C and we couldn't wear our efficient wetsuits. I felt that I had practised enough without a wetsuit for it to not bother me - but it did. I was  3.5 minutes slower than last year and it felt sloppy and ugly out there. I now needed to make up some time on the bike and run. I tuned my bike with lighter gear for efficiency but it is hard to make up 4 minutes in a race.

In the end, after the dusty technical ride and run, I ended up third overall. But, the first two athletes were considered "Elites" and I was given the first spot. I barely pulled it off because I was having leg cramping for the last climb on the bike and most of the run. It was a "damage control" type of finish.  I think it was due to the heat and humidity but it also could be that I pushed it too hard at the beginning of the bike to catch-up.

I'm happy to say that I was able to give it my all. But, I have lots of work to do if I want to be competitive in extra hot Maui for the Xterra World Championships in November.

The next race in the calendar is possibly the Campbell River 50k Challenge - 25km of Mountain Biking and 25km of Running (or any combo of that solo or with a relay team). Would it be better to bike 25km first or run? Hard to say.

After that, the classic Cumberland MOMAR Adventure Race is happening on Sept. 26th this year. I'm on a two person team and ready to hammer it.

Follow along on Strava:

Lets get out for a run or a bike together! Get in touch  Fit Chiropractic and Sport Therapy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2015 Races

The summer race season is just around the corner and much work has been done to get to this point. It does, however, never seem like I have not done enough - I always feel like I should have put a few extra long runs in or got a few more strength sessions at the gym to build power. Alas, it is here. I just finished my 2015 Island Race series cap during the Merville 15k on April 12th. I had a wonderful set of races except for one complete "BLOW UP" at the Comox Valley Half which had dropped my points just below the overall series win. It is a bit of a burn but it is what keeps me coming back for more and motivated to get better. I feel that I bounced back fairly quickly and was able to come out the end of the series at the same or better fitness level than last year. I will be at ready for the rest of the summer events, in the following order: (if you see something that is cool, send it my way!)

Apr. 25th - Tsolum River Race (Cycling) 60 or 80km race around the country roads of Merville.
Apr. 26th - Snow to Surf (9 Stage relay race from Mt. Washingtin through Comox Lake to paddling across the Comox Bay. My team is the "Thor's Hammer'd" and we hope to put some work on the old guard in town.
May 3rd - Nanimo XC race (Mtn Biking) Mid-island cross country.
May 10th - 6 hrs of Maple (Mtn Biking) A endurance feast! In Duncan and along the amazing trails.
May 24th Tri -K (Triathlon) Comox Valley fun race starting at the Sports Centre Pool and finishing on the track.
May 24th 12hrs of Cumberland Marathon (Mtn Biking) - In teams of 4, 2 or solo. A festival of fun.
May 31st - XC Championships Campbell River (Mtn Biking) - The finals in the Snowden trail network.
June 14th - Country Roads Marathon (Comox Valley 1/2 and full Marathon) A revisit of an old race right here in the beautiful Comox Valley.

July 5th - XTERRA Victoria - (Off-road Triathlon) The classic and my "A" Race.

Sept. 26th - MOMAR (Adventure Race) Kayaking, orienteering, mtn biking, running etc. A day of fun!

Follow along on Strava:

Call my office Fit Chiropractic and Sport Therapy at 250.871.3674 or email

Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 Early Race Season

The 2015 edition of the Island Race Series us underway and some friendly and fierce competition has been seen. I truly enjoy getting out and seeing familiar faces and meeting new people at each race. The Comox Valley Road Runners have represented well. We are currently in 2nd place standings as a club on the Island.

Vancouver Half Marathon - Photo Pacific Road Runners

My next running races are:

Bazan Bay 5km March 8th
Comox Valley RV Half Marathon March 22nd
Merville River Runners 15km - April 5th
Series Finale Sooke River 10km - April 18th

Also, upcoming is the Island Cup mountain bike races!

Fit Chiropractic is Moving.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Long Steady Distance

LSD - The term that I have used for years with tongue-in-cheek approach to base training. You know, the psychedelic drug well known for its psychological effect on spiritual experiences and altered sense of time.  It is a way, maybe, to create excitement about going for an extended length run at a slow pace.

In a sense, it is a relief to just go out and not worry about pace or lap times. No need to push the limit each interval faster than the last. No split times because there are no intervals! Often, the destination is the focal point - finish an entire trail network, loop around a lake, or summit a mountain.

I was encouraged by getting out with a few friends for an entire day jogging around the backcountry and reaching the summit of no less than three peaks; Mt. Castlecrag, Mt. Frink, and Mt. Albert Edward. The last of which has been a goal for a handful of years. Luckily the temperature was low and below freezing so the snow that had fallen weeks prior was now frozen solid but yet had some good grip. A good eight hours of steady running. It was getting close to that psychedelic LSD I was speaking of earlier.

For the next few months the long steady distance runs (not LSD!) are still going to persist in my training plan - not only because they are important for long term adaptation but because I truly enjoy them! The next step is starting to get intensity ramped up without over doing it OR getting injured. I have been shown a new tool in guiding my training to get to the next level. WHAT IS THE PROPER RECOVERY TIME?
More on this soon... Hint: heart rate variability.

The 2015 Race Calendar:

Jan. 8 - Saanichton 8km #1 Island Race Series/BC Champs/Timex Series
Jan. 25 - Cobble Hill 10km
Feb. 8 - Cedar 12km?
Feb. 15 - First Half - Vancouver 1/2 marathon
Feb. 22 - Hatley 8km?
Mar. 8 - Bazan Bay 8km
Mar. 22 - Comox Valley Half Marathon
Apr. 12 - Merville 15km
Jun. 14 - Country Roads Half Marathon - Comox Valley Marathon