Friday, May 25, 2012

Portland Rock and Roll Half Marathon

A couple months ago, I was asked if I wanted to do a half marathon and I said, sure, what the heck. Its only 13.1 miles, how hard could it be? I mean, I'm an Ironman, twice over, I should be able to knock out a few less miles, right? Unfortunately, I had been training for sprint distance triathlons so my run volume was a little lacking. I managed to slip in a few longer runs during my training week but the longest was 8 miles and that included many potty stops for my dog; he has a big bladder. Race day came up quicker than I anticipated and before I knew it, I was picking up my race packet. I met with the folks from Team Refuel they gave me my running shirt....."What's your after?" was on the front. The first thing that comes to mind for after a race is a burger. My body craves protein after a hard effort and all the latest research has shown that chocolate milk is one of the best recovery foods out there and that is what Team Refuel is all about. I learned a little more about the combination of protein and carbohydrates that chocolate mile offers and how it helps to replenish the glycogen your body uses for energy. Sounds easy, its tasty and refreshing, so from my view point, its a slam dunk. During my trek through the expo, I met another athlete wearing a similar brace to mine. I recognized her from the home page of my brace manufacturer, Allard USA. She has foot drop like I do but she runs a lot faster. Anyway, she was very excited to meet me as she is on a US tour of 20 Rock'n Roll Half Marathons to raise awareness for people with our disability. I immediately identified with her and her plight and offered to help in any way I can. Here is a link to her blog: Sunday at oh-dark-thirty, I was up and at 'em, ready to rock (and roll). I parked at Lloyd Center (joking I could always bail in the last two miles and drive to the finish) then rode the Max with a bunch of other athletes. I was wearing my Challenged Athletes Foundation sweatshirt and hat and with my massive blue brace, I had a few people looking at me. One guy asked what the brace was for and being the smart ass I am, I said it was a shin guard because people always kick me...... I did tell him the truth after the look on his face said he actually believed my answer. Sometimes explaining my injury gets old so I will just say I have an ankle injury or something simple. At the 9 mile mark, a guy asked if I had "bad shin splints" and I said, no, I'm disabled and the brace helps me from falling on my face. He said "you don't look disabled" to which I replied, "yeah, I get that a lot", then I upped my pace so I didn't have to answer more questions. At that point in the race, around the 2 hour mark, I had no desire to explain anymore. Its not that I was trying to be a jerk to him but sometimes I get emotional when I talk about it, particularly when I'm two hours into a race with a ways to go. Things went very well. I was pacing myself to run at least 10K before I walked at all, however, the long, gradual hill on Hawthorne was a little much so I walked sooner than I wanted. I had a salt packet and foolishly (oxygen debt?) I ingested some before I got to the next water station. I won't do that again. I probably didn't need it but I did not want to cramp as I had a goal to meet. The bands along the way were great, although the DJ at the top of Hawthorne probably didn't need to have his music that loud, my ears still hurt. It was a great course and running along the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges was very cool. The finishing straight was LONG. I walked for a minute or so after getting off the bridge because I wanted to save some energy for running the final 1K. I looked at my watch and figured I had time to make my goal but I think the world starting spinning faster because before I knew it, my goal time was there. I upped my pace, ignoring the pain in my big toe and my shin (my AFO brace rubs on it), and crossed the line. I forgot to stop my watch right away but when I did, it read 2:47. My goal for the race was 2:45. I was with the pace guy for the 2:30 group for 6 miles but with the long trek up Hawthorne, I lost him. I came in at 2:46.10 but I am going to say I had 2:44 and change due to the fact that I was stopped twice by the PD while they let some cars go across the course and the minute or so I talked to the paramedics, trying to get some Vaseline for my sensitive, chafed non-runner nipples. Either way, my time was a PR for me. Although I had never done the distance as a stand alone run, but I had done 3 half iron distance events in the past, the fastest 13.1 being 3:10, the slowest was 4:06 which was 2 years to the day after my injury, so I was very happy with the time.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Triathlon Canada High Performance Paratri Training Camp, 2012

I was lucky enough to be invited to the first training camp of its kind for Tri Canada, the winter paratriathlon training camp in Clermont FL. We were sent the schedule a couple of weeks prior to the camp and the volume was huge. Approximately 33 hours of training for me, over 7.5 days, including 30,000 yards of swimming, 15+ hours of riding, and 4.5 hours of running. I was very excited about attending the camp and spending my time doing all the training with no other distractions.
I arrived at the Orlando airport the night before camp was to start and after a night at the Kissimmee FL Ho Jo's, I was picked up by our coach Vince, and a representative from Tri Canada, Larry McMahon. Larry's son, Brent, is one of Canada's elite triathletes and may be representing Canada at the London games this year.
We stopped at Panda Express because the boys were hungry. We had a run scheduled later in the day and I needed some calories so I joined in. I shouldn't have. We stopped at Walmart, shopped for the basics of food, got to our rental, unloaded then suited up for a run.
We were only scheduled for 30-40 minutes easy but we got talking and I ended up going out a lot faster than I was used to and as I said earlier, I shouldn't have eaten at Panda. My gut started acting up about 2 miles in and I stopped a couple of times because I thought I was going to barf..... TMI? Anyway, our time was about 35 minutes but that included a little walking to shake the feeling I had.
After the run, we had dinner, talked a little about the camp, and then headed to bed. Another athlete came in later that night, Grant, an above the knee amputee, who I have known since my first World Championships in 2008.
Day 2 was a late start due to Grant's late arrival. We were on the slate to swim in the morning and ride in the afternoon. We checked into the National Training Center in Clermont and did a 3000m long course swim. I had not been in a 50m pool for many years and I was really looking forward to it. At least I was until mid way through the swim when I started getting very fatigued. My longest swim in a couple of years was 2000m and usually I do a main set of 3-4x250m with a warm up and cool down. This swim was 800m warm up, 800m drills (I learned a few things about my stroke that were very helpful), 8x100m, and 400m cool down. Arms were BEAT! Shoulders a little sore but nothing really bad.
After swim we had lunch, loaded up our bikes, and headed to Lake Lousia State park. The roads there are very quiet and we were able to do 45km doing 5 laps. It has a couple of hills but very short and not very steep but it was a good first time out for Grant and Vince, neither of who had an out door ride for a while.
We had a great dinner courtesy of Vince and a glass of wine to celebrate the first full day of camp. Afterwards I regretted having the wine because I did not sleep very well considering the workouts we had for the day.
Day 3 was an early start as we had 3 workouts scheduled. We were on our bikes at the NTC by 845am and headed to Lake Minneola. We had about 35 minutes on the road before we started our intervals. 10 x 1 minute with 1 minute rest. After that, we had about a 10 minute rest and did 6 more intervals. That took a lot out of me and we had a steady 5-7 minute climb to finish off to get back to the NTC. As soon as we were off the bikes, we headed in for another 3000m swim. This one was painful for me. It took the entire warm up for my shoulders to loosen up. I do not ever recall feeling this bad from swimming. Our swim set today, 800m warm up with 300m easy, 100m hard times 2. Our main set today, 40x50m. 16x50m on 55 seconds, 3 easy, 1 hard. 12x50m on 60 seconds, 2 easy, 1 hard. 8x50m 1 easy 1 hard. 4x50m all hard. Ouch. My 200m cool down was almost entirely on my back kicking as my arms had nothing left. After an extra long shower we went home for lunch and waited for the arrival of our last athlete, Jenny, from Ottawa. We had a couple hours off before our run which was an easy 40 min with 6x100m strides at the end.
I made it through day 3 and am looking forward to tomorrow: Swim in the morning, 3500m, a track run session for 55 minutes, then an hour on the bike to cool down. I have never done a track workout before so this should be fun.
As my boy Vince says, 'a demain'. Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Canadian Para-Cycling Nationals 2011

Every year I say I will update more often.....It doesn't happen so here is one from last season.

My first experience in Paracycling at the national level was an eye opener. There are some very good cyclists out there with varying disabilities and it was an honour to compete with them.

The time trial was a new experience. I looked at the course before I registered and I knew I was in for a hilly course. I opted not to bring my TT bike and figured I would fair better with my road bike and clip on aero bars. I knew I was going to have a different seat position for the TT as there are UCI standards with regards to seat/bottom bracket measurements but I did not know about aero bar standards. Lesson number 1 was learning that the aero bars had to be lower than the saddle. When I arrived at the TT area, the CCA referees were available to do a bike check. My saddle was within the rules but my aero bars were quite far above the saddle level. They are the hockey stick bend type and stuck up at least 3 inches beyond the legal limit. Thankfully I had almost 2 hours before I was off so I tried flipping my stem and went back for another measurement. They were still about an inch above the legal limit. I was running out of time so I just yanked them off and did my warm up. I talked to Steve Burke, a coach out of Calgary, and he said with what I had, I should be about as aero as I could be in the drops versus the aero bars the way I had it set up anyway. I rolled up to the start line and found out I was going to have at least 20 minutes as they were behind. I could have used that time to work out the aero bar situation but I used it instead to warm up.

I felt good, I felt ready, I had an aero helmet, a disk, and an aero front wheel so I had all I needed minus the aero bars. They juggled the order and before I knew it I was off. They had a start house with a ramp. Something I had not used before but as a mountain biker, coming down a hill wasn’t a problem. Seconds before I started I realized I was in my small ring but it was too late. I hit the ramp, rubber met the road, and I was off. 10 meters from the ramp, a guy walked in front of me, looking up the road, and I screamed at him, “coming through, move, move”. He didn’t even flinch, just went about his business. I went past him and went about the task at hand.

After the start, it’s at least a 2km climb, stair stepping up between 2-4%. I saw my 1 minute guy and said, “That’s my carrot”. I hit a big bump in the road and felt the nose of my saddle tilt down. Since I was still climbing, it was not bad enough to distract me so I left it.

After the first climb, it was rolling downhill, not very steep but I managed to maintain a decent speed. I had to stop pedaling a couple of times to pull the front of the saddle up but each time I leaned forward to try and get more aero, it would tilt down again.. As I hit the first turn, I was concentrating on catching the next rider in front of me. Around half way to the next turn (it was a rectangle), I was passed by the guy that started a minute behind me. I tried to chase him down but on the rolling terrain, I was unable to maintain the same speed as him and he pulled away. I managed to catch and pass my minute guy just before the second turn. As soon as I made that turn, the course went up and seemed to go up for a long time.

I heard a disk wheel coming up behind me, nothing else that sounds like that. A Quebec rider went past me like I was standing still. I didn’t know him but he had all his limbs so I figured he was their one C5 rider, not in my category. The climb kicked up and my pace slowed down and the rider I had passed came around me. I upped my pace again and went to go around him but he seemed to speed up and I was unable to pass him on the climb. I didn’t want to get a drafting penalty so I backed off and settled in 5 meters behind, off to the side.

The saddle kept moving and seemed to be tilting down easier. I finally gave up on pulling it back to level. I wanted to up my cadence so I shifted from my big chain ring to the small on one of the steeper pitches and my chain locked up. I still had momentum so I was able to try and work the cranks but I quickly had to stop and unclick from the pedals and get my chain back on. When you’re in the middle of a race and you have stopped for a mechanical, time seems to go faster. I don’t know how much time I lost but at the end of the day/race, I don’t know that it would have moved me up to 3rd.

I got going again and up over the last part of the steepest section of the climb and spotted my carrot again. He was on a flat section and I upped my pace again to make the pass. With about 2 km to go, I went by and kept my speed high all the way through the finish line.

By the finish line, my saddle was pointing so far down I wasn’t able to sit on it. I heard the race announcer say my time, 28:55. I was pleased with it but knew I would have been faster without mechanicals but that’s racing. Anything can happen and well, to me, it did. No sense crying over spilled milk, I had another race to get ready for. The road race was two days away.

Road Race

The day after the TT I went out for a couple of laps on the road course and do some openers. The course was a rectangle like the TT course but flat for the most part. On the back straight it was a false flat but it was very slight.

On race day, I went out a couple of hours early and went for a few miles with some others from Team BC. We talked a little strategy since it was us three against the three from Quebec. No other provinces were represented. It was going to be tough. Two of the three QC riders were already on the national team and had done this dance before at World Cup events and the World Championships. We were supposed to get matching jersey’s for our BC riders but the jersey was too small for me so I was able to wear my Project London kit.

The race was started late because the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) hadn’t shown up yet. This seemed to be the way things were going with the event so far. I wondered if the elites and U23’s had issues the week before.

The tandems were off five minutes or so before us, then it was our turn to start our 72km. Right away, the pace was pretty high. One of my BC teammates was pushing the pace til he realized no one else was behind him then he slowed. About half way through the first lap, one of the QC riders tried a break but I think it was just a test to see the reaction. Each QC rider was sitting on one of us. If they saw no reaction, the rest would take off. This is how it went for about 20km.

Just before the start/finish line, the pace went up to the 27-28mph range. I tried to get on the last guy’s wheel but I wasn’t able to hold it and I got gapped. It wasn’t substantial at first but it was enough, into the headwind, that I slowly fell further behind. I waved the referee and neutral cars past me. When the neutral car got alongside, it was the CCA development coach, and he told me I would catch back on, so I tried to swing around behind him for a draft but he wasn’t having any of that, and I was again caught out in the wind.

We turned the corner and I could see them slowing. We rounded corner two, and I was sure I was going to get back on but luck was having a laugh that day and it was not meant to be. My steering felt kind of funny and I looked down to find a flat front tire. I got off, quickly removed the wheel and held it up (saw that on the Tour de France, I thought I was so pro) as the next set of riders, the men’s tandems, went by me. I didn’t even get a second look from their neutral support, they went flying by. The second group of tandems, the women’s field, went by and I got a shoulder shrug from their neutral support guy. Finally, at least 7 minutes after I had stopped, the C1-3 group went by and my old buddy, Steve Burke from Calgary went by as the neutral driver. He went by but realized it was me and he jammed on his brakes and reversed, ran out and got me a wheel. I looked at my watch and figured I was about 13 minutes down and I would get lapped within a short time and be pulled anyway, so I threw my bike in the back and got in the van.

Sure enough, after I was dropped at the start/finish, my group rolled through only a few minutes later. I felt lousy for my DNF but it was a learning experience. Yes, I could have taken the wheel and stayed out there, likely on my own for 53km but my reason for being there was to try and take home a win or at least podium and that wasn’t going to happen after my flat. I still have a lot to learn about bike racing. There are times when I think that if I had to swim before a bike race, I would do better (that’s the tri-geek in me). You can’t prevent mechanical problems and sometimes stuff just happens but I’m going to make sure I do all I can to ensure it happens less often or not at all in the future.

Thank you to Project London, Rubicon Orbea, Speedplay Pedals, Chamois Butt’r, First Endurance, 2XU, and Challenged Athletes Foundation, for helping me get to Toronto so I could compete at Nationals. Without you, this journey would be a whole lot tougher.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Defi Sportif 2011

In the weeks before my first UCI race, I went from nervous to calm and back to nervous again. I knew that some of the athletes I would be competing against race Cat 2 on the road. I knew there were some National and World Champs in the mix. After reassuring myself, knowing I had a great coach who had prepared me well, and the fact that I have a decent pedigree in triathlon, I felt better.

TT Race day: I arrived at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal about 5 hours before my race. I wanted to get an idea of what I was in for. I took a few easy laps and felt great. The course had a long straight section with a wicked headwind. As race time got closer, the butterflies came back. I chatted with a few people as they arrived, ate my lunch, and checked in for the race. As I wandered around, I ran into a few familiar faces. Two of the guys I knew are paratriathletes from Quebec that I went to Budapest with. They were also doing the TT but on their handcycles. I saw one of the few UCI classifiers in the world who happens to be from my home province of BC. She was going to do my technical evaluation while I did my TT. I also met a couple of the US National Paracycling Team that I knew via Twitter. Social media is awesome!

I was hanging out by the registration tent and a guy rolls up in a Guinness kit. The only place I had seen that kit was Portland, so I introduced myself. Turns out Mark Gyulafia is from Portland, is a Cat 2, and works at River City Bicycles. I had no idea there was another paracyclist in Portland. Looks like we might be doing some rides together.

Anyway, race time rolls around, with riders off every minute. I started right behind a Colombian, an above the elbow amputee, and right in front of a fellow Canuck. My two minute guy was US National Team member, Sam Kavanagh. He is in my paracycling category, C4, but he's a Cat 2 (I'm a Cat 5). I had two goals, not to get passed by my one minute guy, and catch the guy in front of me. I achieved both goals, however, I was passed by Sam towards the end of my last lap. The headwind on the long straight had turned into a tailwind which made my first lap approximately 7 minutes. The headwind caught up with us at the only elevation on the course. My speed never dropped below 20mph which was another small goal of mine. It turns out, during my first lap, I took the wrong lane, and it might have been a little longer than it should have been since my second lap was 6:30.

I was very happy with my performance. I finished the 17.6 KM in 26:53, averaging 39.27 kph, which is 97.68% of the national standard. All of the times were compared to the national standard and listed on the results in the order of highest percentage instead of the time. I finished 6th in my category, 18th overall, which was not where I wanted to be but not much I could do, I had the road race to think about. The winner was Sam, who started two minutes behind me. He's a fast kid.

The road race was a little more stressful for me as I had not done many prior to this. All 23 riders, regardless of classification, were racing together. The C1, 2, and 3's were doing 11 laps and the 4's and 5's had to do 15 laps. The first lap was pretty slow and we only hit 20 mph because of a tail wind. The next five laps were like a typical Tuesday night 4/5 race at PIR. Every time someone took a flyer, everyone would chase it down. The peleton yo-yo'd every time but I hung on. The advice from Coach Abers was to stay at the front so when the accelerations came, i could drift back but still have wheels to follow, then make my way closer to the front again. The US National team worked well together and every time I tried to grab a wheel belonging to a red, white, and blue jersey, i would lose it because they would open up a spot for that person to come in. At the end of lap 8, after going around the 180 degree turn near the start finish, the speed went from 15 mph up to 32 mph. I was caught without a wheel to follow and was quickly gapped. I tried to chase but even at 30mph, I couldn't get back on. I slowed to a more manageable speed and was able to catch another rider that was dropped and we worked together for the next two laps. Since he was a C2, he had to do less laps than I did but I did get him for one extra lap as the officials forgot to pull him after his 11th lap. I did the last two laps on my own and finished with an average of 23 mph.

Overall, I was happy with my performances on the weekend. I had a PR for my TT average speed and I felt that I did well in the road race, considering I had not done any road races other than PIR. I had a good chat with the National Team Development Coach, and I know what I need to do to achieve my goal of being a team member. With the coach I have and my desire to succeed, I think my chances are good.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The first-a rule of Italian driving........

.........what's-a behind me, is not important". My favourite line from the movie, The Gumball Rally (1976). Right as he is saying that, the driver rips the rear-view mirror off and tosses it out the window.

I was-a thinking about that as I was taking my first ride with my new coach, Brian. We were talking about training, his philosophies, power meters, etc, and he said, you can have all that data (ie looking in the rear-view mirror) but the only important thing is when you cross the finish line. It's not whats on the computer on your bars or stem. It's not how many watts you're putting out. It's not how many beats per minute your heart is pumping. It is only about when you cross the finish line compared to the other guys.

It is not that he is against having that data, actually, he would like as much input as possible, its just that he feels there are more important things on race day. Having said that, I cannot wait to get a power meter. I'm anxious to find out how many watts I actually put out during a 20k TT or triathlon. I feel like I'm hammering, putting out huge numbers but I am betting that its not as big as I think. I am working on a product sponsorship or pro deal from one of the companies that makes power meters but as of yet, no answer. Worst case scenario, I borrow one for a few rides to find out what my 1.5 legs are capable of.

We are working on some strength training ideas too. When I did my initial evaluation with the strength coach, my leg strength and balance were not that great. I'm a little worried about lifting on my own without a spotter, especially with the squat. The overhead press and dead-lifts should not be too bad though.

I'm in for a wild ride for the next few months. I know I will make some positive changes in my riding. The first TT of the season will be Jack Frost in February, somewhere between 20-24KM. This will give me an idea of how well my training is going. Usually when I do Jack Frost TT, I am not as prepared as I plan on being for the 2011 edition. After that, my next test will be at the end of April in Montreal, at Defi Sportif. There will be a road race, a TT, and a crit, and this will be my first time competing in paracycling and my first opportunity to obtain UCI points.

I'm very excited and nervous about the upcoming season. I know I'm not getting any younger but I'm determined to work hard. Although I have represented Canada in international competition, my goal is to be fitter, stronger, and faster as a paracyclist than I have been as a paratriathlete, and proudly represent the red and white in London in 2012.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Budapest World Championships Race Report

Budapest World Championships Race Report

After a short training camp with some very cool and inspirational people, all with different stories, I was very ready to race on Sept. 11, 2010.
My alarm was set for 0400 but I was awake at 0300. I lay in bed thinking about what I had to do. I was pretty much finished my preparation and only needed to mix my morning breakfast drink and get my kit on.
We met in the lobby at 0445 and had cabs waiting for us. When we got outside, it was drizzling a little. Enough to be called rain I suppose but what could we do, it was race day and as I have been saying, “it is what it is”. We were dropped off right at the entrance to the Expo/transition area and had a 200m walk to the main transition area.
Wandering through massive puddles and muddy grass, we finally arrived at our bikes and began the prep to get our T1 and T2 gear ready. I brought two large bags from the hotel and they were very handy. I asked the nearest ITU person if my ‘handler’ would be able to get my gear out of my bag for me after I finished each leg of my race and was told normally no, but today, yes. By this time it was full on pouring too, making our wet transition area even soupier.
I could not find my handler, MC, who said she would be at the TZ by 0530. I was getting antsy so I asked our coach, Carly, to help me find someone. I feel bad that I cannot remember his name but he was an ex-pat Brit. I told him my needs and everything was in order. I only needed him to yank off my wetsuit and then pull my gear out of the plastic bag so I could transition with somewhat drier gear. There’s nothing like pulling on wet shoes.
I was already soaked so I just got my wetsuit on and put my jacket and shirt into a plastic bag and began the 100m trek to the start of the swim. My helper was right next to me the whole way. I looked at my watch to see that I had only 15 minutes to the start and I debated making a short trip to the porta-potty. I quickly decided that it was probably a good idea and I ran over, unzipped my wetsuit, and did what I needed. As I was walking back toward the start, I pulled my wetsuit zipper up on my own (before, my helper did it for me). This would come back to bite me as I exited the water.
I went down to the pontoon for the start. We would have a deep water start so I was kind of bummed that we couldn’t dive in but I guess some of the para’s wouldn't be able to. I sat down next to my team mate, Kimberly, gave her a hug, wished her luck, and slipped into the water……DAMN it was cold! I only had a short sleeve suit. I had been in colder water with that suit but I knew it was going to be a torturous 13-15 minutes.
They counted us down from 2 minutes every 30 seconds or so and before I knew it, 87 paratriathletes were off. Man, there are some fast swimmers in the paratriathlete division. A couple times I felt someone pulling on my thigh and hitting my feet, probably trying to draft me, but either they went around me or I dropped them. Either way, after the first turn, I had free water.
I finished the swim in under 14 minutes but by the time I cleared the water and hit the timing mat, it was an even 14. I was happy with that but not ecstatic. I sort of “gorilla hopped” (to me, somewhat sideways with my weak leg to the back) to T1. As I was running, I was attempting to undo my wetsuit zipper. Apparently, my tri-top zipper lanyard was stuck in my wetsuit zipper and it was not going well and my transition time was slower than I would have liked.
By the time I got to my bike, I had undone the zipper and had it off my hips just in time for my helper to yank it off me. I quickly dried my feet and put my shoes and helmet on and I was running out of the TZ.
Running in the wet grass with road shoes wasn’t too bad however, we also had a 50m run on pavement. With the grass and mud plus the pebbles on the pavement it made for a difficult time clipping into my pedals. On the way out, I almost got hit by a handcycle and while I was trying to get started, two others passed me, one guy in my category.
By the time I was clipped in and up to speed, I had caught one of the guys and was gaining on the other. Within five minutes, we were at the first 180 degree turn. I got to the turn immediately after the guy directly in front of me and I stood up and powered out of the turn, passing him and never looking back. My next mission was the handcycle but man, those guys are FAST!!!
I picked off him and 5 other handcycles before the next U-turn and passed numerous others. I got passed by two tandems but otherwise, held my own. Coaches Carly and Vincent later told me I looked great on the bike and was flying which made me feel pretty good.
On my last lap, with about 2km to go, my buddy Joel from Portland passed me and I didn’t see him again til the finish. He did well but there were a lot of fast guys in the arm injury/TRI4 category. He said he was happy with his bike and run but said his swim and transition put him back a bit.
By T2 the rain had all but stopped. I got to my chair and my helper had all my run gear out, ready for me to have a fast transition. I'm not sure how long it took but I felt that I had a quick transition. As I left T2, I was passed by 2-3 others, one I know was in my category. Charles and Jody passed me around 2km and Pierre rolled by at 3km. A few others passed me, mostly people in other categories but there were at least two TRI5’s as well. I felt great for the first 3.5km or so then I started to fade but after I got on to the bridge leading to the finish, I upped my pace and had a very good last 750m.
As I was on the downhill portion of the bridge, I looked back and saw a few age groupers coming up behind me. I wanted to beat them to the line so I picked up my pace again. There was a 180 degree turn around 75m from the finish and when I made the turn I all but sprinted as only a 1.6 legged man can sprint, very awkwardly.
I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I was too exhausted to look at it. I was given my finisher medal and wandered out of the finish area to find my friends that had already finished. I found Joel, Craig, Jody, and Devin. No one knew where they had placed but most people were happy with their performance. Devin said he cramped on the bike but he felt good overall.
I finally looked at my watch…..1:27:20. Wow. I had started my watch around 20 seconds before the swim so I figured I was sub 1:27. I had never gone that fast before, even before my injury. I beat my Nationals time from 3 weeks before by 8 minutes and my previous PR was 1:31:58 at Blue Lake in 2002.
Overall: 1:27:01
Swim – 14:00
T1 – 2:19
Bike – 34:22
T2 – 3:45
Run – 32:36
I cannot complain too much. I had a good race and even if I was classified as a TRI3/Les Autre, I would have come in 6th. I need to re-read the rules and see if I can get classed as a TRI3 for next time. While I might have quicker transitions than most of the BK amputees, I surely cannot keep up with them on the run as most of them (warning, stereotype ahead) have strength all the way to their stump, including their knee and hip muscles while I have some weakness there.
The description of the lower limb categories are not those of amputations but rather “moderate” or “severe” leg impairment. Given that I have weakness in my hip flexors, knee flexors, and knee extensors, I feel I fit in with the AK’s more so than the BK athletes. My run and bike seems to be more on par with those guys.
Anyway, as I said, I'm happy with myself and my performance, I believe I did my best and represented my country well.
I hope to post some pics later so if you are reading this and want to see some, check back at a later date.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Budapest 2010 ITU World Championships

After a long flight and then a 6hr wait in Heathrow but I made it to Budapest Hungary around midnight. I got a very expensive cab ride to the hotel where all the other Canadian paratriathletes were staying. I was pretty wired so I unpacked all my gear. I thought I was going to be sharing a room with another athlete but when I got to my room, I was the only one in it. After unpacking, I realized I had forgotten my pedals and my swim goggles in my other back pack. I frantically searched twitter and facebook for people that I knew were coming to Budapest and messaged them. I received a message from a friend from Portland and he was already en route but he had an extra set. Whew, one thing already fixed. I went to sleep happy after that.

We had a meeting at 9am to head out to swim. The pool was very interesting. It was not very obvious what we were supposed to do. Most people don’t speak any English and none of us speak any Hungarian. When we finally got to go inside, the change room was co-ed but with individual stalls. Our pool was outside and the place was so huge that we had a difficult time finding a 50m pool, hard to believe I know. We had rented 4 lanes plus had to pay for each of us and the bill was somewhere around 20,000HuF which is around $100. Nothing is cheap here, especially food. Afterwards, myself and a team old timer went walking around. I got a few pics of some of the old buildings and some of the scenery. Lunch consisted of a bun, some yogurt, some almonds and some water. We were supposed to have a meeting to talk about some mental skills but I got a message from a friend about lending me his spare pedals. I figured that was much more important.

I asked my hotel front desk where the Marriott was and they gave me directions and I decided to walk. It was a little longer than I expected and my hip was starting to bug me. I got to the Marriott and found out it was the wrong one. I got directions to the next one but I decided to cab it. I was able to run in, grab the pedals, and get in the same cab, and get back to my hotel, right around the tune of 5000HuF. That was one less thing I had to worry about.

In the later PM, we had a one on one session with our coaches, Vincent and Carlie. We talked about our goals for this event and our camp. We also discussed any help I might need in transition or any motivational cheering along the race course. I am pretty self-sufficient so I really don’t need anything but I always love a little cheering.

We had a great team dinner that night and it was nice to get to know my fellow team mates. Towards the end of dinner I was starting to fade due to the face that I just arrived at 1am and had 6hr of sleep in the past 48hr. When I got to my room, however, I turned on my computer and watched some videos til almost midnight.

Wednesday was supposed to be an 8AM bike to run transition practice but at dinner the night before, we decided to ride at 6AM as there are fewer cars on the road at that time. We rescheduled the T2 practice to mid afternoon. The ride down to the TZ took a little longer than normal due to the hand cyclists and some of the obstacles we had to go around to get there.

Three of us went on our own way mostly due to the fact that we lost the others. We met up again at the TZ and looked around. We rode part of the bike course but the traffic was starting to pick up so we headed back.

After breakfast, a group of us went back to the event expo. I found everything to be much more than I was willing to spend on an event tee shirt so I went home empty handed. We were able to watch the men’s 40+ Aquathon and one of the competitors took almost 45 minutes to do the 1000m swim so we stayed at the swim exit to cheer him on as he exited the water. I think all of us knew what it was like to finish dead last at least one time since our prospective challenged athletic career so it meant a lot to us to be there for him. He was an Aussie and he made a point of smiling and thanking us as he went to his run transition.

Afterwards, I went back to the hotel for nap time and a 6PM mental skills session.

Most of the others had eaten before that but I wasn’t hungry so I went afterwards. The mental skills session included visualization practice. I had not done this since I attended UVIC in 1987 and I remember how well it worked.

I went back to dinner at the same place as Tuesday night. I brought my lap top but it was for not as they had no wireless. I ate a great dinner called “paprikash” which was veal in a spicy sauce and what looked and tasted like the German pasta type dish, spatzle. The dinner was great but it seems that everyone in this town smokes. Two ladies next to me at the restaurant lit up as soon as they sat down and continued to do so all throughout my meal. It was kind of disgusting but I guess we are lucky at home where it is not allowed in bars and restaurants anymore.

When I was done, it was pouring out. Luckily there were many overhanging ledges that offered a little protection from the rain but I was essentially soaked when I walked the 3 blocks back to the hotel. I watched more videos and then had a great sleep.

More to come.....