Category Archives: Race Reports

A Mere 6.5km… of Crap!

Alright, I’d like to file a formal complaint with Mother Nature. What’s up with this frickin’ freezing rain when I’m trying to run? All week, Jody has been lamenting that I’d be spoiled at the end of the week by a nice warm run before diving back into cold weather. All I can say is … I’ve been had! Yes, the temperature has gone up, and is at this exact moment sitting at a mere -2 degrees. However, why don’t we just throw in a little rain into the air. What’s that? Oh yeah, it’ll obviously freeze in this temperature, a seldom-enjoyed meteorological occurrence known as freezing rain. The result has got to be one of the most miserable runs in my training this year thus far.

Of course, being the tough guy that I am, I do everything in my power to not skip any training activities, so this rain wasn’t going to stop me from completing my lunch-time run. It might as well have though. Progress on my short 6.5km route was hampered at every step by the compounded misery of slush, puddles, and a huge helping of slick, wet, ice on the sidewalks. More than once I nearly fell, catching myself only with Herculean efforts and contortions that I wouldn’t even contemplate in a hot yoga class! My body got quite a work-out, and all the sore muscles from last week are now angry at me!

Of course that nice 20km/h wind didn’t make me smile much either. The rain was actually freezing on my jacket as I ran. I had to laugh at that. Then I had to worry. Flashbacks of last year, and spending a month pretty much laid up with pneumonia danced in my mind. This is the year that I’m really hoping to have a full training season free from illness and injury. So far so good, but more of this crap, and I could be in trouble. Oh well, I guess I can just grimace and bear it, right? I finished off my run, and took a nice warm shower, stretching out my sore spots. Now I’m back at my desk enjoying my lunch. Now just a few more hours to kill before heading off to my Thursday spinning class!

Podium Finish at Raid Pulse!

Breaking news… Jim Doucette and I managed to get a podium finish at the March 4th, 2006 Raid Pulse Winter Adventure race this past weekend. Yay bronze medal! I’ll update this post with a picture and full stats as they are added on to the main Raid Pulse website. We were third overall in the duo male category with a time of 6hrs. 20 mins. on the 5-8 hour, 45-50km course. The funniest (or not so funny) part of this win is that the race was 90% skiing, which was definitely not our strong suit. Just ask Jim what he thinks of cross-country skiing. The course wasn’t super-hard or anything, and I handled the navigation for the whole race. We did quite well on a certain portion of the course where other must have had problems. We were actually 3rd to cross the finish line as well. However, 6 other teams managed to get on to the ‘advanced’ course section, meaning the automatically place higher than ‘standard’ course finishers. I think that as a result, our overall placement was 8th. Either way, we were pretty stoked by the placing. Jim even informed me that this was his highest finish in a sprint race. He’s won before, but generally, that’s on multi-day races, which are his specialty (and where I’d like to become a specialist as well!).

The day itself started out a bit chilly, but turned into a gorgeous sunny winter day, warming up the snow, and causing a few problems for us with mushy snow, and me losing all my grip wax in the course of the race, resulting in a difficult last few kilometers on the skis (basically, I couldn’t ‘kick’, so I ended up trying to skate-ski to get up hills!). I even fell through the ice on one of the lakes on the course while wearing my snowshoes. Luckily, it was more like a marsh, so I was able to easly get myself out and keep going. The other thing we got to learn was that the snow this year HURTS! When you fall through it full force, there is a nice thick layer of ice buried, so for example, your arm goes through, then your forward motion is stopped dead by ice. The result: lots of little bruises all over my body from the various falls on hills.

By the time we got to the bike transition, we were more than happy to get off the ‘death sticks’ and put away the additonal dead weight we had to carry throughout the course (snowshoes, used for about 20 minutes in total!). The bike leg itself ended up being dead easy as well. We plowed through the 20-25k of biking, which was all on cleared roads, to the finish line. No mistakes were made, so we had a good ride. We actually regretted dropping the pressure in our tires. Usually, in winter, you’ll lower tire pressure to get better traction, but in this case, we mainly had to deal with water, so in fact the higher pressure would have given us more speed. Not that it really mattered, we weren’t that close to anyone else. I guess the spinning I’ve been doing has helped out as well. I felt good through the whole ride, and Jim and I traded off pulls at the front, breaking the icy wind. At the end, my feet were thoroughly frozen, I couldn’t feel them, but didn’t really care. No obvious frostbite, so it was time for a quick warm shower at the finish, then a nice little Heineken beer to celebrate.

All in all, it was a great day, and now I’ll get back to training. I don’t think I have any other races till May now. Good thing, since I’ve already polished off 5 races this year! I also ended up 4th overall in the Mad Trapper snowshoe race series, so my year is off to a good start!

Weekend Racing / Training Fun

So.. did everyone get outside and play this weekend? I made sure to get out and freeze my extremities a few times over the course of this weekend. First off was the finale for the Mad Trapper Snowshoe Race series held out at Mike Caldwells ‘Ark’. I had to go to it solo this time around, as Kev was otherwise tied up, and Jim was helping a friend carry out a last-minute move. The pending snow had me a little worried when I went to bed Friday night, but when I was leaving Saturday morning, the roads were still clear. I arrived about 30 minutes early, in time to weasel my way into scoring a set of Atlas DTSL snowshoes for the race. These are the ultra-light racing version of what I use. I’ll compare it to going from running in construction boots to slapping on a pair of running shoes! Not to mention that I didn’t whack my ankles repeatedly. As a result, I was able to boot it for most of the course. As my reward, I wound up finishing in 7th place(hmm..results actually have my in 8th, oh well)! Yay me. Funny thing is, my time was comparable to the other 2 races. I can only assume the course was a little slower than last race. Even better than that is the fact that I wound up in 4th place over the series for males. Yippee. Have a look at the full results.I still ended up pretty pooped, and soaked. I kind of blew up on the second lap (hilly course), since I went a bit too hard on the first lap (flat course). As usual however, it was a great time. I’ll have to return next year.

Having gotten the snowshoeing out of the way, I turned my focus to race training for the Raid Pulse Winter Race that Jim and I are doing this coming weekend. The race is only 5-8 hours, and will consist of Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Mountain Biking. I’m pretty comfortable in the latter 2, but I was still concerned with skiing, after having done the winterlude Duathlon. So, yesterday, I set my sights on going out skiing, and not stopping until I felt I could do it properly. Before heading out, I did some further research on how to properly set up my ‘wax pocket’ on my skis. That’s the area under your feet that helps you propel yourself on waxable skis. The result of my reading lead me to stretch out my kick zone both further forward and backward from what I had been using. One coat of base binder, and three coats of Green kick wax (green was the color of the day for the really cold conditions), and off I went. Well, what a difference that made! In no time at all, after setting off from Bell Arena by Bruce Pit, and I felt like I could ski. All I had to do was wax differently. I even tried out the double-pole, kick technique that I saw on the Olympics. It worked! I tried skiing up small hills (instead of ‘walking’). It worked! I tried skiing without using poles at all. It worked! What a relief. Now at least I think I’ll be able to semi-efficiently take part in the race. Good thing too, given that I’m hoping we can pull off a podium finish. I traded off a long run to do this skiing, but it was the right choice. Now I can ski! I was out in the -20 cold for over two hours, working up a sweat, so I’m pretty sure I got the physical benefits anyway. One missed run won’t kill me!

I also dragged along my backpack full of the mandatory gear that I would need next week, and my GPS receiver as well. As a result, I was able to track the course that I skiied, and you can see it to the right here. The yellow trail is where I skiied. It came up to about 14km. I wasn’t always going flat out, as a result of my little ‘tests’ and exercises, but I’m guessing we can finish the 15km worth of skiing in about 2 hours, provided we can stay on course. The other lesson I learned (again), is that liquids freeze fast in -20 with wind. Even when I blew my Eload back into my water back, the nozzle would freeze. I’ve really gotta come up with a fix before next weekend. Hopefully MEC has the neoprene insulating sleeves for the drink hoses. I’m sold on it at this point. Especially after going through 2 races having problems!

I even managed to get in some quality bar-time this weekend, having finished 1.5 coats of varnish on the bar pieces that I stained last week. Yay me! That’s all for now.

Gettin’ it Done, the Long Run of 21….

Whew! Well, that was a fun time! First off, sorry that the site was done for a while there. It turns out that someone hacked Kev’s server while it was on vacation at our place. They were trying to hijack it to use to send spam. Luckily, Kev didn’t have a mail server configured on it, so instead, they just deleted a few files so that the thing would not boot properly. That’s all been cleaned up now, and Kev and Dave put on a new Linux OS which should improve a few things.

Anyway, on to the story of the day. That would be my painful 21.2km run from Kev’s new house in Stittsville to our house. Strictly speaking, 21.2km isn’t really all that bad, the problem was more a result of alcohol consumption the night before. Kev invited the boys out for the first Poker tourney at his new place, and it ended up being a sleep-over party too, so that we could properly enjoy the night. Well, yours truly made sure to partake, and that resulted in some rather not nice feelings in the morning.

However, never the quitter (in spite of several people offering drives and such), I made the run home anyway, not cutting any distance from my route. You can have a look at the route I used on Gmaps as well. I really didn’t plan on having a fast run, so at a very pedestrian speed, I finished the run in just over 2 hours. A far cry from the speed I’m hoping to get for the marathon this year. That speed would have had me finish the 21k in about 1h 40mins. The slow pace made it not all that bad, in spite of me having missed my first turn, and losing the directions I had written up at Kev’s. Luckily I was able to run the route from memory. Good nav / concentration training 😉 I also did the whole thing without any gels or food. Just Eload, my favorite new sports drink. It has a ton of extra sodium, which helps me with my cramping issues on long races.

The day before, I managed to also squeeze in a 1.8km swim, and a blistering 10k run, which I completed in 45mins. That was my fastest 10k yet. Coming up this weekend – the Mad Trapper finale race, the 3rd and final snowshoe race I’m doing. Hopefully both Kev and Jim will make it out to this one. That’s it for me, have a great week, and I’ll try to get posting more again.

Fast Run… Slow Ski!

Well, the Winterlude Duathlon (ne Triathlon) has come and gone, and I guess I might as well tell you all a little about my race. As the title suggests I had a great run, but my skiing (as predicted) was somewhat slower. I’ll say this however, I’m plenty pleased with how it ended for me, I did better than I expected. Also, off the top, I’d like to say thanks to Jody for yet again being my number one supporter / paparazzi for this event. Have a look at all the pretty pictures she took. It’s nice to have someone there for you, and take photographic evidence (good and bad – stupid balding spot!!). As mentioned previously, they had to make significant changes to the course, as a result of recent warm temperatures. In the end, we ran 8km, all along the Queen Elizabeth Parkway (which was nice), then skied 5km windng through the arboretum. The run was flat and fast, with only water, no ice to contend with. When the smoke cleared from my shoes, I had ran the 8k in just over 35 min. Great! At that pace, I’d theoretically finish the marathon in 3hr. 8min. 30sec. Hmmm, that would qualify me for the Boston Marathon! Yeah, right, I won’t hold my breath. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t keep that up for another 34km! Regardless, it was my fastest 8k ever.

From there, I did a quick transition, grabbing a moutful of Gatorade and headed out with my skis. The course was quite slushy, and it seemed as though people might have a slower ski than they hoped. In the end, it took me 31 minutes to ski the 5km. Without knowing what to expect, I was satisfied. Of course, to get that time, I pretty much ended up double-poling the entire course. That’s when you just use your arms to propel you to glide in classic skis. Most other people were skate skiing, which is considerably faster. John Storey Bishoff was in the race too. Although he finished the run a few minutes behind, he was able to pass me on the ski course without any trouble. Oh well, I wasn’t trying to win anyway. My final time was just over 1:06, and put me in 94th (out of >200) overall, and 35th (out of 50) in my age category, which I’ll point out included ALL the elite type guys. If you’re interested, check out all the results. See the first place guy? He did the ski in 16:45!!!! Crazy eh?

Overall, I sort of walked away with the impression that the race wasn’t all that great value for my money. With parking, I ended up spending like $64 for a 1 hour race. Had it been the entire original Triathlon, I probably wouldn’t feel that way. All we got was a basic shoe bag, no shirt, water bottle or anything like that. The post-race food was pretty low brow as well, with the promise of chips and salsa and hot chocolate and such vanishing. There were plain bagels, bananas, and soup (don’t get me started on the soup, it was terrible). There didn’t really seem to be any prizing other than the top finisher awards either. This is nothing against Rick Hellard of Zone 3 Sports or anything, it’s just that I’ve had far better race experiences for less money in other events. By far, the best has got to be the Mad Trapper Snowshoe races, hosted by Mike Caldwell. I’ll be doing the second race this weekend, which will cost me $30, and includes a huge spread of chili, chips, fruits, cookies, drinks, etc. Not to mention huge prizing (last time I won free race entry worth $140 to a SAC race!). Of course the difference is that Mike hosts these on his property, whereas I’m sure Rick had to pay heavily for security, insurance, hall usage, road closures, etc. So it’s not a fair comparison, just my observation. And the best part? I followed up the race with a nice 2k swim at 5pm, and a 19km run on Sunday. Whew! Training is fun. BTW, a shout out to Grant, Kev and Dave, who managed to get their run out in time to coincide with the race. I passed them on the race course, and then they popped into the finish area to chat with Jody and I after the race. It was great to have you guys there supporting me too!

Horrible Technique – 6 Days to Race

Oh humble reader, feast your eyes on the figure to the right. If you have any experience in classic technique of XC skiing, you’ll note that my technique is horrible, perhaps you may even say absent! That didn’t stop me from pushing for 1hr 40mins in the cold yesterday in preparation for the Winterlude Triathlon this weekend. Yup, I had those skis for 2 weeks now, and that was the first time I took them out. The reason why it took a while was that I had to take a ski waxing course, and buy all the supplies to get them tuned up for the snow. To do that, I took a clinic (free) at Fresh Air Experience where they took us through all the steps in waxing the glide and kick zones of skis for classic style. Looks like I’m in over my head again in a new hobby, although I’ll just call it an addition to my existing hobbies. I spent Saturday afternoon hot waxing my skis, and selecting the right grip wax for the skis. It was kind of fun, but also rather time-consuming. Oh well. I’ve also decided that I’ll have to be okay with coming in last place at the triathlon this weekend. If any of you are interested in witnessing this spectacle, drop by Dow’s Lake Pavillion Saturday around 9am. That’s the start time of the race, which will consist of about 5km of skating, then 5km of skiing, and finished off with 5km of running. Not what I’d call an epic course, but it should be fun. Most participants will likely be much faster than me, but I’ve never tried anything like it. Even the skating has got me down a bit. All I’ve got are some pretty old Bauer Charger skates, which are apparently not the right thing to use. As such, I’ve got my eyes on renting a pair of Nordic Skates to try out. These babies use the same boots as my skis (same binding system), and have really long, narrow blades that easily glide over all the imperfections of ice like the canal. They were designed in the Scandinavian countries, where people do lots of skating on frozen rivers and lakes. They look pretty cool, and would solve my dilemma about uncomfortable skates on the canal as well. Here’s hoping!