Thursday, May 28, 2009

Operation BATMAN

After the Austin ITU my homestay, John, took me back down to the race site. We had some dinner and then walked over to Congress Bridge before dusk. People were gathered watching a performer who was quite good. Funny and talented, he had a great one liner when a runner jogged by right in front of him. "You can't run from your problems" he says. I found it funny.

Quite a crowd had gathered near the end of his show, but they were here for another see the bats!

COngress bridge houses the largest Urban Bat Colony in the World from March to October. THe bats roost underneath the 300m span bridge. How many bats do you think can fit in 300m....try 7 million!

As dusk hit, the chirping increased and a couple bats started to fly out. Then came the masses, it looked like about 4 or 5 steady streams of bats coming out to hunt in the night. THese streams of bats went on for, no exaggeration, 25-30 minutes!

Taking photos under the bridge I could feel some rain hitting me...wait it can't rain under a bridge? Bat piss! Wow you can't even see it, but you can feel it.

Here is what I collected from the endeavour:

A Tex Mex Burrito bigger than yo Face

Many Bats...Many

Monday, May 25, 2009

CapTex ITU Pan-Am CUp Report

Back home from the race site and about to head out for some Comfort TexMex for dinner, but before I dash out and quick synopsis of what went down today:

Before I start I need to congradulate Stevo Kilshaw on a FANTASTIC performance at the LifeSport Shawnigan Half this weekend. What a race man, you are the man of men. How does that feel baby?

Ok, on to my race today in southern Texas yip yip. Temp was 33 i think for the start. Light winds and clear skies. The water temp was just right at about 22C.

Light warmup besides a good swim before the start as to not get too hot before the start. As for the start, well this was perhaps the only thing the race staff slipped up. It was changed from a dock dive start to a deep water start. The rope however that they had strung between two canoes was only long enough for about 20 guys to line up, not the 55 that were chomping at the bit while treading water.

Horn went off and I had a great start, avoiding most of the contact. I started right beside Barrett Brandon and pretty much swam beside him for the entire swim. It was a swimmers field here with 4 guys including AMac coming out with about i think 20s on the next group which I was in. This might have been one of my best swims to date.

A decent T1 and I get rolling right away on the bike. Over the bridge with Brandon, Limmkeman and O'Grady from NZL I took the first corner agressively and gapped them. I then proceeded to pump it H'Core up to Ethan Brown who was on his own as well. The two of us worked like clockwork to catch another group of 3 including Collins, Fernandez and Darling that had splintered off the front 4 of Fleishmann,Dye,Van Akkeren and McCartney in T1. With Collins the group had added horsepower but the other two were not much help. We rode for about 1 lap before catching AMac who had fallen off the lead 4. We weren't able to gain on the front 3 and were eventually caught on the 3.5 laps of 5 by the main group of about 20. Once caught I took a breather and regrouped. The remainder of the ride was not bad but then things got nasty.....

ON the back stretch of the final lap, complete straight a-way, someone 5th or 6th wheel rubbed and went down. Unable to avoid the carnage that ensued I proceeded to ride over the guy in front of me and then have 4 guys ride over my back as i skidded on the tarmac.

....get up see 8 or 9 carbon bikes on the deck, look around...nope not that one, nope , nope, ahhhh there you are. Put the chain back on and remount. Open up the front brake cause the wheel is now rubbing and get rolling again. Determined to make this race count I rode into T2 probably about 45s off the guys who avoided the bedlam.

On the run I built it each lap, reeling in 6 or 7 guys in front to finish somewhere around 11th or 12th i think.

Tough day for all, but am really happy with how things went here today.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Don't Mess with Texas

Here are some photos from my short time here in Austin. I've really enjoyed the time here so far. The city combines texas flare with great scenery and fabulous training.
One morning I did a run along the river trails and I don't think I've seen so many people out exercising since stanley park. The city even sets up free hydration stations for the runners, cyclist to combat the heat that apparently isn't even hot yet! On to some photos:

Saturday Morning Austin Farmers Market, Bison Burritos were tasty.

Downtown Austin, 5th and Guadalupe.

Lance's Tour de California Comeback Aresenal at Mellow Johnny's

Another weapon from the Tour days

This was an interesting spot. JP and I swam here on Friday. Barton Springs is a natural fed spring that is 1/8mile or 200m long. Busy place and at one end it is shallow so it makes for great open water siting practice when you near the waders. Being fed from a spring the water temp is constant at 70 degrees 12months of the year, so you can swim OW on new years day if you want and not have to join the polar bear club.

They have a pretty classic diving board as well that had one great guy double bounce off it to a belly flop.

I felt like the paparazzi when I snapped this photo of the Armstrong Manner. He is in the Giro now though so I wasn't asked to surrender my camera.

View of the Downtown from the West on top of Mt. Bonnel

Looking down on Lake Austin from Mt. Bonnel lookout

Mt. Bonnel siting rocks. You could spend hours out here watching the wake boarders, sail boats, and seadoos.

Today JP and I met up for a swim at the Deep Eddy pool. Another beauty, with an obscure distance of 100ft (33m) per length. Fed from a spring as well.

More Oklahoma Photos

Me looking like I need the can. I had actually just got off the can in this photo after suffering some bad sort of gastro-intestinal bout post race. Christian was very kind to let me borrow his scooter to get to and from the pool.

Christian pumping out some serious watts to beat the sunset home!

A hitching Post! Yup my first viewing of a real hitching post...these guys had just pulled up on their steeds.

Finding some great riding with the OKC Tri Boys

Christian and Alicia showed me around the OU campus one night with Harvey. Beautiful campus with many classic buildings. The football stadium was giganormous.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Make ya slap ya ooooold Pappy!

My parents visited Austin some years ago and when they came back a popular catch phrase in our home become "Make ya slap ya ooooold pappy!" It stemmed from a BBQ flyer they saw while down in the Texas Capital. I think it refers to slapping meat on the grill but maybe there is much more to it than that.

Years later I am in Austin, TX getting ready for the CapTex Triathlon/ ITU Pan-American Cup being held here on Memorial Day. I have only been here since Wednesday but have seen quite a lot of the area. My homestay, John, works as a geologist and I can see why in a place like this. The City rests on either side of the Colorado "river" which has been carved out of limestone. The "river" is now a series of damned lakes. Beautiful lakes!

The topography here is off the charts. Constant steep rolling hills encompass the entire area. Mt. Bonnell is a great lookout of the entire region which we had a look at yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday, I had one of those days where you really ask yourself, Am I really doing this?

Am I really standing outside Lance Armstrong's House?

Am I really swimming in this outdoor spring fed pool under the Texas Sun?

Am I really riding up a 30% grade hill?

Am I really doing this....Yes I am!

This trip has made me realize how lucky I am to be able to travel to so many new places, and get the full experience from wonderful hosts.

I hope to redeem myself on the run this weekend. Sure to be another great race with a good field.

More later, with photos to follow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

OKC report

Oklahoma City hosted the Juniour, U23 and elite Pan-American Championships over the weekend at the Chesapeake Boathouse in Oklahoma City.

Canada did very well as a nation, the juniours did especially well showing great form with 3 podium performances (kyla Coates 1st, Marianne Hogan 2nd, Connor Hammond 2nd).

In the elite mens race I found myself out to a great start in the swim, quickly onto the reed train on the left. Around the 400m I got in some contact and got gapped from the front group. I did well to remain just off the back of the group for the remaining 1000m. Coming out of the water Andrew McCartney lead the entire field with the likes of Olympians Hunter Kemper and Big Matty Reed on his heels. I was about 10 seconds off the back but had a great T1 and caught on quickly on the very windy bike. During T1 and the first couple k of the bike 6 guys pulled away and had about 25s on the second group after the first lap. Ok, i thought if we work hard we can perhaps bridge up. Well, no this did not work so well. We had some strong cyclists in the group but the organization of the echelon was scattered with the wind. The 25s lead ballooned into 3' coming off the bike and to make matters worse we were caught by the big third group on the last lap.

Onto the run I had another great transition and headed out first in the chase. I went out too hard though and payed for it at the end of the run. Once again I was hampered by upper rib/diaphragm cramps that riddled my last lap to a slower pace. Four guys went by me on the last lap!!

Not a bad first race, but it was a exciting, fast and am I very happy with the results of our juniours, the future looks bright!

Kyla and Marianne on the podium!

Two of the three Andrew's on the Run

The next day AP and I got to watch our homestay couple, Christian and Alicia, race the age-group Olympic. It was Alicia's first Olympic race! Christian ended up 3rd overall and 2nd in his age group with the fastest swim on the day! Alicia raced to 2nd in her age-group as well. A pretty good one-two punch.

After the race we went out for dinner. Things get a little fuzzy there as a wave of stomach pain and diarrhea ensued throughout the night. I can't pin point it but it could have been anything from the river water to something in the post race food to the 5 donuts i ate in the morning. I am just extremely glad it has past and I can now rehydrate myself.

Up next, Austin ITU on the 25th.

Alicia on the podium

Christian riping into T2

The swim exit

The venue from the bridge

AP supervising the wetsuit application

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thetis Swim Video

A Flurry of Posts

I've finally got some time to sit down and set up a few highlights that have happened over the past few weeks...settle in with a drink and enjoy...

Chapter 1. Frigid Waters

I'll start way back on May 1st. First day of May marked the first open water swim. A nice sunny day didn't make the water any warmer however. Luckily some of the ethopians on the team came prepared with duct tape and extra neoprene:

Sharpie getting sealed up

Don't Forget the Feet

Shiver me Timbers!

Chapter 2. Uncle Andy

On April 15th a new person came into this world; Stella Ann Bollans entered the Salmon Arm hospital just after 8pm. Mhairi and Tim you will be the best parents, however I will be around to test your parenting skills from time to time with some tempting corruption for Stella, the uncle has to play that role doesn't he? I went and visited the three up in Salmon Arm. First diaper change, first baby bath, a lot of first actually. Most noticeable thing I learnt about babies was that even though everything is much much smaller, the sounds that come out of them are just as loud.

Chapter 3. Sooke Sprint

Last weekend I raced just 30k up the west side of the Island in Sooke. This race is my favourite pool swim triathlon. Both the bike and run are challenging and well marshelled. The 700m swim went well, had a little trouble in T1 adjusting my bra and then headed out on the bike with the cross hairs lined up on the names ahead of me. Into T2 I had about 75'' on AMac, but just 20s on Stevo who had raced a heat before me. On the run it was tempting to giver but PK was at hand to steady the rains, that was except for a short lived sprint with Amac at the end. Stevo ended up winning the race with time to spare, looking good for shawnigan my man!

Chapter 4. Hell in a Box

In prep for the race I am at right now the seniors got in some heat adaptation at the PISE MET, aka hell in a box. Cycling 75-90' at 36C/75% Humidity was tough. By the end of the cycle though I was flying stronger on the back half of the session and able to deal with the heat a little better. Every session I would lose about 6lbs in sweat...yup that is 1 and a half milk jugs. Per hour my sweat rate was about 3L. Now this is impossible to replace during a race, but it gives you an idea of how much you need to replace post workout or race in order to rehydrate yourself and aid in recovery. A revisit to the HIB might be in order when Kelowna rolls around in August.

Chapter 5. The day before the Storm

Nice day today here in Oklahoma, 85, sunny and some serious kite flying winds. We are about a 30' drive from the race site so we made use of Christians home swim set up to do some fast treadmill swimming! Another storm warning for tonight, tornadoes on the menu as well.

Sooner Boomer!

Wednesday night's arrival was interesting....on the flight from denver to OKC we hit some bad weather. It was sleeting, thunder/lighting and tornadoes in OKC so we had to circle around in a holding pattern for a while. Then the captain was going to land in Dallas if things didn't clear up quickly. Luckily in the end we landed in 1am. AP and I then got the rental car and navigated to the homestay without directions which we forget to write down. We got here though and the homestay is great, about 20miles south of OKC in a nice town called Norman. A Couple, Christian is 36 and works as an architect, his wife (Alicia) is a nurse. Both are competing in the age group race Sunday. He (Christian) was a collegiate swimmer at Cal and once swam a 15:15 mile. Ap and I have been offering copious amounts of $$ to him to take our chip for the swim.

Oklahoma is similar in landscape to southern Ontario. It reminds me a lot of the Claedon/Brampton area. Flat to rolling hills, with quite a variety of vegetation.

THe race course itself is well different...The swim venue is in the Colorado river. Little current but very murky. When you dive in it feels like someone has turned out the lights. The swim to bike transition is quite funky with a lot of U-turns. The bike is quite bumpy, and has some narrow sections. Flat for the most part with one gradual up-hill. It circles the state capital buildings which will give something to look at. The run course looks fairly straight forward but again is on a narrow foot path, which might be interesting if there is a large group coming off the bike.

Should be a fast one on Saturday with a lot of good competition. Many of the top south american's however have not showed up, being denied visa's etc.

Today AP and I are trying out our homestays cowboy engineered endless pool. Maybe i'll post a video later.