Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mount Washington (Trip 1)

A truly amazing trip to Mount Washington this past weekend has set expectations for the next skiing adventure. We arrived on Friday night to 4m snowbanks lining the road up to the Alpine Village. We needed to transport our gear by sled to reach the Lodge. And, our lodgings were literally out the front door to the Cross-country ski trails. 
We stated at the Vancouver Island Mountain Centre (VIMC), a new beautiful building that is across the parking lot from Raven Lodge.  The group we stayed with had connections to the organization that runs the building. What a great place! I can't say enough about it. 

On the first morning I was able to go for a cross-country skate at sunrise, followed by a hot breakfast and hot coffee & baileys. We hit the downhill slopes at 9am and skied hard all day till 3:30pm closing. It had snowed 57cm in the past 24hrs, and was still dumping!  That evening I got another cross-country ski in and we went snowshoeing after dinner up the ridge behind the lodge. 

The next day was the same, but the sun showed its face, and we got powder runs with glorious blue skies. It really set something off in me, realizing that I need to get to more of this outdoor mountainous adventure. I have been trying to figure how I can get myself closer or more often to this environment ever since. 

VI Mountain Centre @ Mount Washington 
Powder fields on the steeps near the Boomerang Quad
VI Mountain Centre on a powder day. Amber is on the xc ski trails heading towards the lodge. 
My lovely wife getting ready to shred.
The sun trying to break though on snow covered trees.
Powder everywhere 
Richard and Amber on the abyss 
My car on the last day, time to dig out!
On our way home, we were sad to leave but excited for next time. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Alpine and Nordic

This weekend, after the end of the world a full week of work, I will be spending few days in the sub-alpine at Mount Washington Alpine Resort.  Time for some altitude training and to tune up my skills before I head with my wonderful wife to the alpine and nordic skiing wonderland of the Interior BC.  I'm only joking about the altitude training, 12+days are needed at 1500m+ to have significant physiological effect.

 I have been getting very excited for xc skiing by following Devon Kershaw the past few years as he has climbed through the ranks. Please watch the video below... just an amazing sprint finish.

I have pieced together a set of skate skis, boots, and poles just last year but was unable to get out on them due to my commitment to another endurance sport we will not speak about. To tell you the truth, I'm more excited to get on the groomed xc track than the slopes this winter. I don't know why I would rather propel myself on the flats vs. dropping chutes and open glades with my snowboard. Maybe I'm trying to get back to my Norwegian roots and get back to traditional forms.  Maybe I'm getting old and not such an adrenaline junkie anymore. Or maybe my tastes have changed.  More on this soon! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Wonderland

The only city in Canada today that it did not snow at some time was..... Victoria, BC. This is where I live. It make it a good place for training for road-running.  It has been getting the same precipitation as Whistler or Banff, but it is all  in the wet, grey and muddy form.  The past two weeks of training has been saturated and sopping wet to some degree or another. I think it would be fine to layer up a few extra items to hit the snowy outdoors. The best part of snow is that you don't get wet, just brush off the snow! As you can tell I'm itching to get away from the wet coast and find my way to the mountains.I feel that a change in seasons is a good variety in life; I want some snow! I recently had a snowy trip to the Kootenays for a mountain adventure and it was a perfect time to test out my new winter kicks. 

My winter cross-country runners are the new NB 1010's the minimalist version of the grippy trail shoe. In a recent wintery visit to Fernie I got a great run on the fresh trails with lots of traction.

I'm ready to get out in the snow and use something other than a pair of shoes to plod my way around.... Time for cross country skiing. More on this soon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Minimal shoes, One sock

I went for a run during a break I had at work today. Not too far, just an easy 10k around the Victoria Gorge neighborhoods. I got changed into my running kit and realized I only brought one sock for the workout. I had to make the decision; do I wear my long black dress socks or only one athletic sock. I chose the latter, and felt I could manage to easy run without too many problems.  More on this later. But first I want to chat about shoes.

I have been mostly running in New Balance minimalist shoes as of recently while rotating in a day or two of my racing flats per week. I have transitioned to these minimalist shoes over the past  six months with some break-in period to allow a buffer time to prevent injury (read plantar fascitis). Also, coming from a low-impact sport like rowing, I was feeling my lower extremity was going to take some time to get used to everything.
Many shoe companies are putting out a minimalist shoe and there are now many on the marked. I like New Balance due to it being a Canadian company and they were (one) of the first on the market the past few years pushing the R&D forward.

Speed and Injury Prevention

The big important point is how the foot strikes the ground on heel-strike during the stance phase of running. I literally mean, what part of your foot hit the ground first when you take a running stride. There are many different, functional, and fast styles of running gait. The more more heel strike you have, the longer the stride length you can maintain. With running speed determined by stride length x stride rate a lower turnover pace is needed to maintain the same speed. But, there is more chance for stress fractures with all that repetitive high impact. 

My theory is that the most efficient stride length is a much shorter distance with little to no heel strike. I want my foot to land mid-foot during the stance phase of running. This forces me to utilize my own ergonomics (foot arch, achilles tendon, calf & hamstring muscles) to absorb utilize the impact of the foot strike with elastic energy and turn it into forward power and motion. 

Yes, I will need to have higher rates of turn-over of my legs to maintain the same speed, but I utilize less energy overall due to the elastic energy gained by "winding up" my own structures to rebound during to toe-off stage. The image above depicts the difference between the two styles. 

So, at the halfway point in my run today I realized I was getting a small blister on the medial plantar surface of my foot, the foot that had no sock. I stopped on a dry-ish spot of sidewalk with nobody around, took both my shoes off and removed my sock and put it on the other foot. When I looked up before I put on my shoes, a middle aged man was walking towards me looking completely confused by what I was trying to do. I was standing in the December rain changing sock. I just smiled and put on my shoes and ran back to the office.  I hope to never to forget socks again (probably not).  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New direction(s)

As you have all have known for a while there is a new direction in my athletic focus.  It has come along way for me to admit that I will have moved on, for now, in a different direction.   I have now been training with a motion towards run, cycling, swimming in that order. Ideally, I want to focus on all three sports evenly, if I were going to pursue that multisport specifically.  I have decided to get out and train for these sports over this winter months with an option in February-March to start and specialize in the distance/sport(s) of choice.  For now, it will be definitely heavy in running with getting back to speedwork and high(er) mileage. I will be running in the Island Race Series from Jan-May. Also, with pool time to work on technique and the benefits of low-impact activity for recovery.  Bring on some hard work!  I'm ready to test myself again and get back into being competitive.

Today was the official release of the November RADAR from Rowing Canada.  It was exciting to watch and track the progression of certain individuals through the growth and development as athletes. I also can't avoid the comparison of where I would be at "hypothetically" this time round.  It is a selfish and dangerous act and I'm happy where I'm at and the choices I have made to phase out this session of "The Pursuit of Rowing".

 End of and Era: The narrow focus is now over

The rowing pursuits blog has been transitioned into a more all-encompassing Outdoor Pursuits subtitle. I enjoy posting my journeys in the all outdoor activities and I want to experience more.  
One difficult point I have been stuck on for a long time: It is hard to be at the top performance level in one sport if you want to do everything just a little bit. Or is it possible? 

Friday, November 23, 2012

XC National championships

This weekend is the 2012 Canadian Cross Country (running) National Championships. I cannot predict the outcome because I have been out of the scene for too long. But, I do know that an athlete that I have been following, literally he was always ahead of me in races, is Chris Winter. He ran XC and track at the legendary U of Oregon in Eugene and also competed for Canada at this summers Olympics in the 3000m steeplechase. It looks like he will be running this Nov. 24th 10km course on Jericho Beach in Vancouver.  I wish I was there to watch, and better yet, in running shape to even be close to competing.  Good luck.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yes, you are right! It turns out most of my predictions were incorrect. But, that is what the top level competition is; always exciting never expected. Congratulations to all the competitors. Even just making it into the B or C final is a good position for further advancement next year.   Now, it is time to go back to the training programs and look how to change it for next year. The most important thing is to take a break from  one-sport one-action and do some cross-training outside of your indoor erg work.

By: Mike Joos

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 National Rowing Championships PREDICTIONS

The entry list is out:  The 2012 NRC's list of elite athletes making the trip to Victoria, BC for the best in Canada! It is time to make the researched and peer-reviewed list about the details of the 1-2-3 prediction in each category.  These names below are the opinion of me, and me alone. It is not a judge of character or popularity. Just straight performance based on the entry list of Nov. 1st at Regatta Central.

Entry List online here

Women: A more difficult-to-predict section, due to not coming in contact with many females rowers (they exist?) other than the lwt's based out of Victoria.
  • Lwt F 1x: Due to the fact that the two Olympians, Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee, are out of the entry list it has made for an even more difficult choice.  I'm surprised that Lindsay is representing BC, but I like it.  Possibly a BC sweep! 
  1. Lindsay Sferrazza
  2. Teresa Berkholtz
  3. Erin Snelgrove/Trish Mara 
  • Hwt F 1x:  Difficult, I do know know many of these talented and powerful women. The ones I do are impressive! A late addition, I had missed that Carling was in the mix. 
  1. Kerry Shaffer 
  2. Emily Cameron
  3. Alyssa Weninger / (Carling Zeeman!)
  • Hwt F 2-: Who really knows these, I have to say I do not know the stats. I read a certain M.McCabe on the entry for the start. Is this swimming Olympian, Martha, cousin to Conlin!? But, this is my prediction:
  1. Black/Ganes
  2. DeBoef/Roper
  3. Goodfellow/Martins
  • Lwt 1x: This would have been my category if I was around to race. I, however, will unfortunately not be in a boat. I have a strong connection to these guys and I have been keeping a keen eye on the guys out west.  And yes, I think a Mexican will be the Canadian National Champion. Bold prediction - yes. 
  1. Saul Garcia
  2. Nick Pratt* (possible injury!?)  Mark Henry
  3. Taylor Pluzak
  • Lwt 2-: This is the category I raced in last year with Eric Woelfl. I enjoyed it immensely but feel the competition has increased in the past year. I got to see the U23 lwt men through the summer training at VTC and watched with shock how fast these boys men got within a short period of time. But, with years of rowing together Rares and Matt will pull through ahead. John and Eric have a year of rowing together and performing well at Sr. Worlds in Bulgaria this August! Eric also has the super-human hulk style strength that can show up with the right combination of stress and fatigue. Watch out! 
  1. Sasi/Woelfl
  2. Crisan/Jensen
  3. Schenck/Addison  or (Lattimer/Cheng) if they get bumped into lwt again. 
  • Hwt 1x: Some guys have been training steadily through the summer, others took a few months off. Hard to predict. I'm quite torn on the 2nd place and 3rd place (runner-up) Very difficult. Who knows! 
  1. SNV Van Knotsenburg
  2. Jamie Abbass
  3.  David Wakulich (Buie)
  •  Hwt 2-: I feel this will be a large gap between 1st and everyone else. I'm also torn on the 2nd and 3rd place (runner-up). But, that's it. Also, I posted up the former lwts Max and Evan, due to my view of lwt's taking over the world someday. Go get 'em boys. 
  1. Dean/Crowley
  2. Brazeau/Schudlo 
  3. Alm/Schrijver - (Lattimer/Cheng)

The opinions in the above predictions are my own. This is in no way binding or a judge of character.   Send me a message if you think otherwise.


Monday, October 29, 2012


The past weekend was the "Cross on the Rock" #5 race in Ladysmith at the Transfer Beach park. It was wet and muddy for most of the morning, with saturated mud puddles and slick grass. I enjoyed the race, but flatted in the first (of 4) laps and had to run the lap and trade up bikes. Luckily, a friend Jamie lent me his slick carbon TREK bike , for the remaining 2 laps. I enjoyed myself immensely. My pal warmed up my bike in the Beginners race and ended up 2nd overall - while falling 6-7times and getting back up every time ready for more. See the video by Pelle Gustavs at the bottom!

My favorite costume; the bush-man. 

Hartland Sessions

Keeping variability in my outdoor activities has been the theme of the past two months.  It seems as if I don't want to do repetitive actions or activities, even close as between two successive workouts.  For example, if I go for a run in the morning I definitely don't want to go for a run that evening and even the next day really have an urge to do something different.  This may be the exact shift that I needed for multi-sport enjoyment (and performance).  I think that I'm going to an early morning swim workout (let's see if I wake-up for it!)

Just the other day I had a great run with my pal Clay around Elk Lake. The classic 10km loop is a good one to push the pace on and test out what the legs are feeling like. We followed the run up with a 2hour loop of Hartland Mtn Bike trails with GPS to track it.

Hartland trails system 15min N of Victoria. 
Follow along with the link:

Rowing has been on the backburner as of recently. I find that I get myself thinking about rowing and its quality as a full body workout. But, yet I find myself not scheduling in the time to get at it. 
Why Is This?

The 2012 Canadian National Rowing Championships are in two weeks (Nov. 10 - 11) at Elk Lake. I notice the excitement building and athletes peaking for this while also trying to complete RADAR testing at the same time.  Good Luck!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Next Adventure: Cyclocross

My wife (the best) surprised me with a wonderful gift that I never thought I would ever see... A new cyclo-cross bike! This is something I have been bitching talking about for a long time. I looked at this exact bike in mid August just as I was finishing full-time rowing and was excited to get into a new sport.  But, as a recent change from serious athlete I felt I couldn't go and buy something new after I just took a year off full-time work.  So, I held off an decided to stick with my 1994 GT Force road bike for the time being.  Little did I know, that she would surprise me with the bike for my 30th birthday!

Cross on the Rock is a local series all over the South Vancouver Island. Check out the website for more detailed description and schedule of races. It is a traditional Belgium race the occurs in the fall at the end of the serious summer road cycling racing. It involves an off-road circuit usually in the rain around a park with many obstacles along the way including sand traps, mud, stairs, and barriers to hurdle over. Any way to get through the course the fastest wins.  this includes dismounting and running with the bike over the shoulder. I enjoy it because of the relaxed atmosphere and the multitude of activities to occur in one race.   Technical off-road skills, power hill climbs, steep drops, and running with the bike are all part of the race.  Also, most importantly, it involves drinking brews and heckling from the sidelines. Many spills and tumbles occur but it is on sand, grass, mud and trail so rarely are serious injuries occurring.  The photos below are from the COTR Kona Kup in Nanaimo, Oct. 8th.  The video is by a friend Pelle Gustavs!

Barrier to dismount and carry bike over.

Hill climbs through trees
steep descents on bumpy contours 
Sand trap to run or ride through

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RCA - Changing of the Guard

I have read 10+ different newspaper articles and blogs posts (not to mention the passive-aggressive twitter fight) about the recent Rowing Canada news release.  It has to do with the hiring of a new line of High Performance Coaches for the next quadrennial (think Rio 2016).  Mike Spracklen was NOT re-hired back and effectively fired from the position. It brought heavy criticism from the current and former members of Mike's core Olympic group. I thought it was a dramatic finish that needed to happen such as the microcosm of Mike's career relationship with Rowing Canada. He will be missed by some and the party has just begun for others.

One more note; the lightweight men's program is being moved from Victoria, BC to London, Ontario to train through the frozen winter indoors. I don't have much more to add to this conversation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cyclical Adventures

 Originally, I assumed, it was going to be for the month of August. Then,  August turned into September. Now, it's already half way through October and it looks like it is going to continue long into the future.    The next adventure is about to begin.
I have been enjoying the break from serious training and getting to spend quality time with my wife Amber.  Since we got married on Sept. 1st of this year we have been able to go on some great outdoor adventures together. This would not have been possible trying to maintain a 2-3x/day six days a week training schedule I had with rowing. In my mind, it is has been the healthiest thing I have done for myself in along time... and it involves NOT heavy training.  I feel really good and actually have been feeling more motivated  and confident for racing/training in the future. But, in what sport(s)?  

I have decided to make the commitment to not commit to one sport.  I know I said that "I'm Back" recently, but I will only be rowing recreationally for cross-training in the next few months. I love the other things in life too much to focus only on one activity.  Turns out, I live for those days that multiple activities can be enjoyed while not worrying if I'm going to break an arm or injury myself.  I have a feeling that I will still push myself at something in the future (cycling, running, triathlon, or rowing...) But, it will involve a creative (read exciting & non-traditional) training program.   As of recently I have been racing bikes in a local circuit of Cyclocross.  I would like to (running) race in the Island running series: Frontrunners Island Race Series.

It may be time to change this blog to Outdoor Pursuits. Lets see how soon that happens. 

Hill repeats on our local Mt. Tolmie in Victoria. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back at it!

Elk Lake Boathouse where the Olympic rings have arrived

Today, for the first time in a long while I spent the morning out on the lake. It has been a good break being away, I had a few things I had to take care of ( you know getting married and going on a honeymoon...etc etc) and it has been since late July when I last made the trip down to the Elk Lake boathouse.  I had some nervous energy, but it was the good kind, the stuff made of motivation and drive. I'm ready to be back, I'm ready to get out there and put some work into it.  But, this time, it is on my own timeline, my training schedule and I get to decide when I need to push harder or when I need to have a day off and spend time with my wife.  I'm excited for the next step. I hope to see you out there.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

I was able to catch the play-by-play from the Non-Olympic world championships this past week. It was, however, a bitter sweet moment watching the results stream in. I felt and still feel that I should have been at this event, but that is how life goes.   Eric Woelfl, my previous pairs partner for the NRC's (2011) had joined forces with a long standing member of National team, John Sasi. They raced in the lwt pairs event, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and made it through with decent results.

It seemed like some great competition, and they ended up in 2nd in the B final, or 8th overall. I would like to think that I would be in that same position, but I'm not sure, because those guys are great rowers and in excellent shape. I feel that if they had some competition at home to train with it could have pushed them to the next level, but there is no way to know.

The next step in Rowing Canada's calendar is the August RADAR testing sessions. It will be a challenge, as it always is, but there are some easier targets to hit this time around.  Prior to this session, it was 480points that were needed to reach Development carding "D-card" but they have dropped it to 450points!  This is very exciting for a large number of athletes that were right on the cusp of getting some support.

I'm excited to see the results. Good Luck!

I have some important prior engagements to take care of this upcoming week.

TimeLapse Olympic Rowing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Post London Olympics

Ethan and Jerry Brown, Malcolm and Prince Harry at Canada House watching the women's 8+ silver medal race. 

The London 2012 Olympics have come and gone. It was a wonderful time, each and every day for over two weeks filled with sports action.  I feel like I'm on Olympic withdrawal and there is a feeling of quietness all around. This may also be a good thing.

I have gone to revisit some photos from Kevin Light.  A rower-turned-photographer with a keen eye on sports and lifestyle.  Some from his portfolio are great too.

I have been spending less time rowing and more time on other sports as of recently. There are so many exciting outdoor pursuits all around Victoria and I feel they can be used as a training for life! I will post some details of my plans for the future soon but for now, just get out and enjoy it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Black & White Recap

Terry and Rares with Kenny Wu in Welland for NRC's (2011)
Warm-up @ 2011 NRC's 
Recovery in the Erg Centre @ PISE - Travis, Eric, John, Kenny, Cam, Rares, Merlynn
Erg Test Mike & Kenny 
Long hours of grinding it out in the PISE Erg Centre
The joys of winter training

Rares and Mike heading out for a morning workout
Shawnigan Lake Boathouse set-up
Spracklen's armada heading out 
Most recent shot of the lake