BEN RUTLEDGE

OLYMPIC AND WORLD CHAMPION

“Don’t just hope they win, help them win!”

CAN Fund

A tagline created by Holly Micuda, a 13 year old Oakville girl who is trying to raise funds for Canadian athletes on the world stage.  Grass roots initiatives like these have been popping up around Jane Roos’s Canadian Athletes Now Fund for the past 12 years.  Her goal is simple, to see Canadians shine on the world stage and to give athletes the funds necessary to have a legitimate shot at making there.  Her fund has raised over 10 million dollars during its life and she has given it directly to the athletes to cover the additional expense not covered by the athletes’ respective National Sporting Organizations.  She wants athletes to know they are valued and are supported by the citizens of this great nation. Sport takes money to work well and if the  Canadian public is to rally behind our athletes  we can all take part as being one of , “Team Canada”  in Vancouver .

The Canadian Athletes Now Fund is a charity that lets you know which athlete you have supported and also give you a tax receipt for your donation.  I was a five time recipient of this fund and without a doubt in my mind part of the gold medal I have, is due to the support of this fund.

Athletes face many obstacles to be able to shine on the world stage.  First and foremost there is having the physical ability to do a given sport. The next is a willingness to train and compete with no guarantees.  These two qualities are what propel athletes on a daily basis no matter what else is around them. What comes next is a series of items that help the athlete achieve greater heights than they would ever be able to on their own.  Such as coaching, equipment, specialized training facilities, performance services (massage/ physio), proper nutrition support and opportunities to compete in high level competitions. What differs between these components from the initial two is that they cost money. The more well developed these components are the greater the chance of an athlete succeeding.

Does money mean more medals? More success? Not always, but in my experience it definitely allows an athlete to have more consistent performances and greater ability to grow from each performance. What I want to explore is why, we as Canadian should stand up and show our support to see our great nation succeed in sport.

It is my guess that if we are proud of our nation and realize how lucky we are to be a part of its physical beauty, its people and its opportunities, that we would also want everyone within its walls to be as successful as they can be.  Altruistic sure, but those that are not afraid to envision this, should be able to see that a completely unified nation supporting each other could be a great place to live.

My Idea is why not let sport be a rallying point for all Canadians to cheer, gather and embrace this great nation we live in. Sport is a unique aspect of human culture that is measureable, and with little explanation it is universally understood who is: “Higher, Faster and Stronger” . I believe each one of us at some point in our lives has had the dream of being the best at something, no matter how obscure/normal it may be.  What is great about sport is that it allows us to reveal absolutely who is the best at something.

This is why sport can then provide a vehicle of motivation for the rest of us to achieve our bests in whatever we choose to put our energy in.  It shows us there can be numerous  paths to that desired success and if we can persevere through tough times, learn our mistakes and respect our competitors/friends/coaches/mentors we all might have a better shot at our lives.

For myself, the elation that comes with wining a sporting event is amazing; it is my hope that all Canadians at some point in their lives feel a similar rush.  For some, these sorts of feelings are created in other avenues other than sport but what I find especially great about the Olympic games in Vancouver is that we can be first hand witness to others success at the highest levels.

Our athletes’ are doing everything they can to be this motivation, so the rest of Canada to look up to them  and unite around this excellence. But there is this tiny little piece that is still missing; the absolute funding to do it. Currently there are still 100 athletes who are still on Jane Roos’ wait list for additional funding. This last minute funding will help cover bank loans used to purchase equipment, massage and physiotherapy bills, and the peace of mind of mind that a Canada is behind them in their quest of Gold.    So to close my piece, I want to let you all know how to help our Canadian athletes succeed and to say “you” were a part of their success.

Go to http://www.canadianathletesnow.ca and donate Now!

Tax receipts are given and you will find out which athlete you have supported.

Myself With Ron Mclean!

Back at it?

Blood sweat and tears, seriously this is what I have been going through the past few weeks. As well  I have started rowing again coincidence?  Sounds like fun doesn’t it. I will explore this decision today as I get back to my neglected blog. To say that I have been fulfilled with my actions in the outside world after the Olympics has been a notion I regularly ponder.  To be successful at something I believe we need to find an avenue at which best aligns our skills and our motivation to achieve said avenue. And this is why I have started to embark on my journey back into the rowing scene, or at least steps toward figuring out how and why I may continue with this life choice.

Pulling the oars off the rack for the first time in more than a year was a chilling experience. Firstly I had forgotten my sandals and I was walking barefooted on the cement dock at the UBC boathouse and furthermore there was a medium to high wind blowing from the north.  As I walked my oars to the edge of the dock I started to wonder if I could even remember how to row in a single.  I spent most of my time rowing in a two man boat called a pair (each oarsman had one oar) now I was in a boat where I had two oars. As well, the single is narrower and shorter making it very tippy and unpredictable in wavy windy conditions.  Well I can report I did not entirely forget how to row, and except for a few bobbles here and there, by the end the boat was pretty stable and each stroke was cleanly exiting the water and the blades (oars) were not touching the water on the recovery!

The feeling of a balanced single scull is a splendid skill, for the inexperienced rower this may take years of practice to accomplish with any sort of consistency. Now I am not trying to brag…too much, but I hope to give credibility to the sport and its complexity.  This comes in the form of power and finesse, power begin the most important part, but without any finesse the rower will ultimately loose too much energy fixing balance and forcing a high stroke rate.  So for me to row and hear the sound or small droplets of water falling off your oar on the water during the recovery phase of the stroke just after powering through the drive was music to my ears. The sound gave me knowledge that I was doing the right things, I’m not saying I was going at a world record speed, but to the untrained eye I was rowing!

So what’s about this blood sweat and tears business you may ask. Well, just picking up the boat and putting it on the water can sometimes break a small sweat, let alone the 15 km rowing . Sweat is not a big deal; it’s the other two that can cause some concern.  The blood, caused by popped blisters on my hands from pulling on the oar handles. This is common after not rowing for some time, since my hands lost their large callus’ which had developed from years of training. Now what was only left to protect my hands was thin layer of flesh to protect my underlying bones.

And the tear business, well that is just something which comes with a bit of embarrassment. I would like to say I was training so hard I was crying but I have only had one or two moments in my life where I have been able to take myself into those depths.  My tear/ weeping comes from an event which is actually unrelated to rowing, but worth mentioning I think.  I was helping my landlord carry my hot water tank out of my apartment the other day and when I was walking through the doorway my left pinky toe smashed into the door jamb. Clumsy yes, but not improbable as the water tank was obscuring my view.  I managed to keep hold of the water tank and then taka few more steps until we had made it to our landing spot.

Stubbing your toe can hurt, but it probably won’t kill you, but what might do some damage is what happened next. When I looked down at my foot, I was not wearing any shoes, my foot looked wider than normal and there was a searing pain developing. What had happened was my pinky toe had been completely de-hinged and was facing perpendicular in direction of my other toes…. Not something you ever want to see. And at that point, a flash of anxiety ran through my body resulting in what some may call weeping (mild, of course).  I thought it was broken but when I touched it, it sprang back into place from its sideways position! Lesson: wear shoes when carrying hot water heaters out of the door!

It has since returned to normal function, not without some challenges though, I have stubbed it at least 5 more times in the coming 2 weeks. I am not used to its swelled size, and I continue to not notice where it is in relation to my foot….OK enough whining

After putting in some more time with my training I figured this is only one part of the rowing scene and to really gauge if I liked the sport I would have to also enter a race. So it was decided that I would enter the National championship in London On, on Nov 4th.  I had decided the single may not be the best option for me to race in and after talking to a few old teammates I decided to enter the Men’s pair with x -teammate Pete Dembicki.  We put in a couple of training sessions together before racing and things were looking positive.  Not Awesome, but positive ;)

Arriving in London we had one session together before we were able to try our skills out against the rest of the nation’s best rowers.  The weather was very cold and we even had a day of racing delayed due to the weather! At the very least this gave us a bit of extra time to row together and find out some key strengths in our final races.  We raced hard and had a not bad National championship. We ended up placing First in the B final…not exactly perfection, but with our limited time together and lack of fulltime commitment to training I think we had a solid performance.

The overall result is I still love the sport and have continued to keep training and keep up with my fitness. My plan is to work hard on my own during the winter months and when I am expected to be back in camp I will be there ready and willing to go!

I swear I’m still a rower at heart, but……check this one out too!

Subaru West coast Triathlon Series Article

Triahtlon part deux

Five kilometers into the bike I looked down at my front wheel I had noticed it was on backwards and not done up tight….I’m such amateur! I thought to myself, if I weigh 210 lbs and if I can keep enough weight down on it I should be fine…. I guess you will have to read on to find out. “They” say you need 10, 000 hours to really be a master of anything, currently I am running at, well, not nearly enough to be a master of triathlons yet. I’m not totally discouraged though because, “they” also say it’s the journey not the destination. If I may, I’d like to add my thoughts to this regarding a triathlon. To me, the destination would be the finish line, and the middle journey bit would be the running, biking and swimming. Now, during that middle bit I am in a whole bunch of pain, not exactly the fun journey they may be refering to.  And,  not until I cross the finish line ahead of a whole bunch of people would “it” be realized. 

It may be awhile till I really figure this stuff out, if at all, but I made a concerted effort to improve on my last triathlon. I managed to add some extra training into my schedule and buy some real triathlon gear. I have yet to buy the aero bars, but I now have the proper wetsuit (thanks Nineteen Wetsuits for your help and advise). As well, I have the speed laces and speed number thingy (I don’t know what they are really called but it holds the race number on the run). And not to forget the Triathlon suit, Speed Theory in Vancouver advised me on the best style for combination for a 6’5” triathlete. I can tell you the chamois in the shorts was an absolute joy 15 km into the ride compared to a pair of old rowing shorts.

Here are the details of the New Balance Victoria Sprint Triathlon. The start cannon went off and I was ready to go. I had the gear, I’d practiced my transitions and it was all up to me. That all being said, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to swimming in an open water pack. There just seems to be no real way to replicate hundreds of people swimming at the same time kicking and frothing the water. I’d imagine its very similar trying to swim away from a burning and or sinking boat, women and children first, but if I beat you all there I can be the captain of the safety boat…swim

Metaphors aside, the swim hurt and I will have to continue to practice breathing hard with my face in the water. Gills would have been nice I think. In my delirium from running up to transition to the bike I passed my friend Kevin Johns running the opposite way with his bike. He had just set a new sprint course swim record and was on his way to the bike portion, unfortunately he was going the wrong way and had to double back and lose most of the advantage he had from his amazing swim! Unfortunately I had no idea he was going the wrong way and couldn’t let him know!

 

It seems both of our pre race preparation was not up to the standard it should be, because after five Km into the bike I noticed my front tire was on backwards, not a big deal as well as not done up properly, big deal! Call me stupid, but I was not going to slow down anymore that I had to. That tire was either going to fly off and take me down with it or I was going to ride the rails and chase down the swim field. I chose option two…and I think with a little help from above I managed to get to the end of the bike with the lead two riders and a front tire still attached.Transition 2

The next thing I knew I was throwing my helmet on the ground snapping my laces shut and running out on to the course I had run around so many times during my rowing career. Unfortunately the two guys with me were a bit quicker and I only lost time to them, but I felt I push my limit well and felt very uncomfortable most of the way. So when the finish line was in sight I was overjoyed that the “journey” was now over and I had come to the end ahead of most of the field!

The end result was I knocked one minute and 30 seconds off my swim and upped my bike average from 35km/h to 39 km/h and my run was nearly the same. As I had mentioned in my last post, I was doing everything I could to pass the older gentleman in front of me. Well this race I had the same mentality, but instead of my rabbit being a 40 year old it was a 16 year old… To be honest, pride was playing a large part of this race. I wish I had some better reason for motivation. But sometimes you have to adjust your mental state to get the best out of yourself. So to Christopher Sundby of Victoria I thank you for racing like a champ.

 

 

I would also like to thank the quick release on my front tire for not flipping over during the ride. If I had a good excuse I’d insert it here, but all I got is a lazy approach to the start and an “amateur hour” stamp on my forehead! Seriously who doesn’t check that stuff…well I’ll count my lucky stars and hope none have fallen from the skies for the coming races.Finish

Here are the final results and I actually have some pics up on this thing now so enjoy. Till next time “keep fit and have fun” (Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod)

Triathlon!

One five inch scratch, a bruised groin and one sip of water later and I did it.  I finished my first Triathlon (sprint)on Sunday.  I believe I can fifth overall….I have no Idea if this is good or not. However what I can tell you is that my legs are sore and sixth place was 45 years old.  Never underestimate your competitors!

The Swim-I had no idea how violent the swim would be, especially looking around at the start seeing a sea of people half my size. Well not half my size but a good three quarters anyways. Essentially being bigger made me an easy target to grab onto allowing people to pull themselves by. This is what led to my 5 inch scratch on my arm, I’m pretty sure it would have killed an ordinary man…  I now know the ferocity of the start and will be ready for next time.

Transition #1- Getting out of the water I looked back and realized I was not doing so badly, but I was now approaching the transition. Something I had not entirely practiced especially under a bit of stress. As the water billowed out of my purple wetsuit with red knee pads I ripped out my legs out and dried my feet. I’m pretty sure I was the only one drying my feet, however, my bike shoes are a bit big and there is no way I was going to wear my bare feet in them.  After struggling with my socks and  frantically putting on my sunglasses and helmet I proceeded to run up the astro turf with my bike to the road 50 m ahead.  I rate my first transition a six out of ten…I think the socks and the drying of the feet was a bit of overkill, it is now noted for next time

The Bike-As I ran out of the transition zone I noticed I was probably one of two-three bikers who did not have aero bars (handle bars pointed forward for a more aerodynamic position). At first I thought that since it was such a short ride that they may not help too much, but being one of only a few without I started to question my choice. After the ride I still have no conclusive evidence that it would have helped, however, I do know that sitting on a bike seat for 40 min without bike shorts is painful. After passing a couple of bikers on the ride and being passed by only two, one being Simon Whitfield I felt I had done pretty well.BIke Photo by Kevin Light.

Transition#2-  That being said I now had to negotiate my way through rows upon rows of bike racks to where my shoes were located. At this point I learned another valuable lesson, remember where you put your shoes….After making a couple wrong turns I finally found my shoes and went straight to work, “loop swoop and pull”.   Nope… what I should have been doing was, “pull and clamp”. Yup, no aero bars and no quick tie elastic laces…next time.

Run- Straight up a hill and across the road, legs stiff and tiring, feeling like a glass of water. I tried to grab a cup as I ran past the refill station, however my hand, instead of carefully grabbing the cup, smashed it and the water gushed out. Leaving only a single drop of water for my parched lips to savor.  Well, that was all I could get, and all I would get, my legs and mouth would have to wait till after the race to refuel. There was one thing that was keeping me to push on though,  it was a  slightly balder head than mine and possibly a bit greyer as well  ahead of me.  For my own personal pride I needed to push on and get by him.  As I crossed the line I was ~20 seconds ahead of him and I had come 5th overall in the sprint triathlon!run-shawniganPhoto by Kevin Light.

Lessons learned- practice transitions, hydrate more and try the new gear. Next race will be on June 21st in Victoria. I would also like to thank LifeSport Coaching and Saunders Subaru for putting on a great event and giving me a car to cruise around in for the weekend!

Pics coming soon

Learn form the Best Part 3

I woke up Thursday morning  morning and found there was something wrong….My calves had turned from a functioning muscle, into a what I would like to describe as a rock….seriously it felt like I was walking with two big stones in my shoe, no flexion.  This was not what I was hoping since I still had two big workouts ahead of me.  I told myself to suck it up and as I made some breakfast I reviewed the swimming tips Simon had given me the day before. I would be 2 x as fast today, I mean how could I not be I had all the information I needed.

As I walked onto the pool deck I forced myself to walk properly, even though each step felt like I was tearing apart new calf muscles. After a congenial hello to the group, Brent asked me how I was feeling after the run yesterday….I put on a brave face and told him “pretty good”. Pretty good compared to having a vise clamped on your legs is what I really meant, but I wasn’t going to give that away so easily.  We stated with a similar warm-up to the previous day, and unfortunately that also meant the team was lapping me at regular intervals.  What I came to realize was that having the knowledge of how to perform the stroke and actually doing it are definitely two different things.

This is what I always found so enjoyable about training; narrowing the gap between the ideal and what you are actually doing.  For me that gap was getting wider at the moment, I was learning more than I could ever put into good use. Not a bad thing, but it can certainly feel overwhelming at times. Reach long, catch the water, pry by your hand, keep your elbow up, roll by your hand, continue to push through the finish, use your triceps, recover with high elbow, fingertips near the water, breath every 3, keep your head straight, KICK! Repeat.

Well after the warm up was done, I had almost gone cross-eyed trying to repeat these steps every stroke. It was kind of funny seeing how inept I was, however a lesson was clearly learned. Practice one thing at a time, no matter how athletic you may be or how much mind control you have over your muscles, it’s not worth doing everything marginally better.   Practice one thing at a time master it (to a certain degree) then move on.

For the rest of the workout I was still just trying to keep up anyway I could. I also narrowed my focus of the stroke to the front end grab. Results were similar, but I did feel a bit of an improvement, this was more water being put in my ears as the water was now rushing by my head a little quicker than normal.

For the last part of the workout there were a series of short sprints, 16X 25m. If I ever had a chance to beat them, here it was…the first 25 M set was building speed; I started off feeling excited that I may have the ability to claw into the water for 25m. Believe it or not I was with them off the start, then as they started to build speed I learned another part of swimming: wash. It’s kind of like rowing in what we describe as dirty water, wavy bumpy and making you slow down.  Well I had 16 to make up for my mistake of letting them get ahead of me and washing me down.

Again my thought process was ahead of what I was actually capable of doing.  With only a short rest in-between sets I was not getting fully recovered. And compounding that was the fact I was forgetting to breath, with the increased speed I found it increasingly difficult to get only air in my mouth. Frothy water was probably accounting for 30% of the intake! As the sets continued I fell further and further behind, this was starting to seriously affect my ego.  I had no game…however I had one last card to play: the last set! This card is usually pulled by the true amateurs of sport, the idea is to take it easy for the last couple of sets of  the workout saving yourself for the final set. By doing so the real athletes who understand training and who have given their all during the full workout are really empty by the last set allowing the armature to step up and in their minds win the most important one.

Well for me, and actually being an armature in swimming I figured I was allowed to play this card, although fully aware of its cowardness. I had only one problem though, I needed to win to have any sort of self worth.  As we lined up for the last set I powered on like I had never before, I was right with them, our arms were side by side, wash was being spread equally between us all. “Breath”, I told myself, and as I went up for a breath I was just slightly fallen behind and managed to catch a nice big gulp of pool water (wash) and only a tiny bit of air. This was not going to stop me this time, I was going to win this one, and it didn’t matter if my head popped off due to lack of air. I continued to drive my arms in the water like I was breaking out of a brick room, all technique was gone, and my sheer will was the only thing I had left. As I saw the black T pass under my face I made two more pulls, my eyeballs were nearly pressed against the goggles lens, water was flying around like a killer whale in full attack. As I touched the wall, “Casey had struck out” everyone was already there…but just barley, and although I had failed in the cheapest trick in the book, they were kind enough to throw me a bit of a bone saying they could feel my wake during that set…To be honest and I’m not proud, but I’m pretty sure everyone in the pool could feel the wake my flailing body was producing.

Struggling while training can happen at all levels I am finding out. That is what practice can do for you, it lessens the amount of struggles and self doubt and it allows you to focus on achieving a top performance. I’m sure with time this may happen for me with swimming, however I’m exactly sure how long ill be able to hold my breath.

Well one more workout in the series, a EASY bike ride…. in three hours. Ill report back soon.

Learn from the Best Part 2

During my three hours of recovery I managed to pack away a few eggs a bagel and a couple of Powerbars.  As I headed down to the big gravel parking lot at Elk lake I started to fret that this next workout was going to be running alone much different from swimming alone in my mind. I started to do the rough math, I knew Simon could run a 10k in roughly 30 minutes, and my very best time was 38 minutes. Even if we cut that down into one mile chunks he was going to be almost one and a half minutes faster per mile… but hey I thought I could at east giv’er for 1 mile at a time…

Starting the warm up I was in my size 14 Asics, complimented by my beach shorts and dri-fit running t-shirt. My compatriots Brent, Kyle Lauren and Simon were more appropriately dressed for the brisk spring air with track pants and war-up tops. We took off for the warm up and to my surprise I was right with them, we were all having conversation and galloping along at a moderate pace.  Brent. Kyle and Lauren were out in from while Simon and Lance ( coach) were trailing behind. I actually had some time to learn a bit about what the life of a triathlete is like, as the swimming did not provide itself to talking while working out.

I was very curious to everything about the sport, My absolute knowledge of the sport was that it was one sport made up of three and on any given day Simon was one of the best. I was excited to get a perspective of what the other guys/gal in the group were all about? I started with the basics, how big were they? I found out that they were what they described to me as 140lbs dripping wet, and Lauren, well I wouldn’t be so silly to talk about a women’s weight, but it’s safe to say she is very fit and would not have a problem being a lightweight rower with a max weight of 125 lbs.

What I was also keen to know what each of their best parts of the race were. The majority of them said it was running. At this point, after being lapped at the pool in the morning I knew I was now possibly in for a real beating on the trails.

Finishing the warm-up I had managed to stay with Lauren till the end as the guys had ramped up their speed back to the gravel parking lot. After a quick stretch and water break we headed to the mile long stretch of trail Lance (coach) had measured off. I was to be sent off first with Lauren, one and a half minutes ahead of the guys. Being male and a somewhat competitive one I figured I should at least be able to stay close to Lauren….I was wrong. I quickly realized that my 6’5” 215lb frame was not made to move as fast as the svelte miss Groves who pulled away from me at a feverish pace. As I crossed the finish of the first mile Simon and the rest of the guys were approaching fast and had almost made up their minute and a half margin.

As Lauren and I took off again for our second “set” Simon and the guys were going to be sent off one minute behind my goal was to hold them off for as long as I could. This lasted for about half of the distance… as they ran by me (Simon in the lead), I could only hear what I would call a patter of footsteps, nothing like the slapping of the ground that my size 14’s were making. And if I were to use a metaphor it was like a group of galloping gazelles prancing through the forest. I’m pretty sure even if I tried I couldn’t even run that fast for 10 seconds.

This trend of everyone passing me continued, eventually to the point where, well for my own dignity I will keep to myself. But what I will say as we approached our 6th and final set I had slowed down enough that as I was finishing my mile well behind everyone, and my rest had turned into just enough time for me to slow down turn around, pretend I was not pain and immediately do it all over again. The rest of the group was getting at least 2 minutes rest in-between sets! Finishing this workout I realized a couple of things 1) I’m probably out of shape 2) maybe if I could get down to 140lbs I could keep up with these guys. 3) Sctatch #2 there is no way I will ever be able to keep up with these guys and girl.

As we jogged as a group back to the cars I could already feel my calves screaming from the added intensity that only 6×1mile could produce. When we had got back to the cars I was ready to retire for the day and had already made up that decision in my mind, little did I know that there was still a 10 min cool down, I sheepishly withdrew from the group and started my recovery for the day’s work.

Simon and his group were an amazing sight to see, being a top level athlete myself I have come to respect other athletes and their abilities in their respective sports. What this day showed me was I will probably never become a world class triathlete. But all is not lost, because there are a couple of things that I want to point out. Firstly, for Simon to openly allow me to join in with his group only shows how he respects my teams accomplishments, and in return he gained my utmost respect by beating the pulp out of me. Also, an observation whilst running, the guys were shouting out words of encouragement as they ran past me, I was sensing that if it were possible for me to be up there with them they would openly accept me as a challenger helping them push on.

Simons past victories have been inspirational and exciting, with his leadership I can only see good things to come from the rest of our Canadian triathletes as they push their way to the top. However, I will say that I see Simon as a true champion, and he will probably do whatever he can to hold his title as top dog for as long as he possibly can.

I will be back for more adventures of the next days of training soon..

Learn From the Best

Swim Day

So I have attempted to try this triathlon business. And well, if I’m going to do it I might as well give it my best, so it seems to me that I should learn form the best.  Lucky for me and my Olympic connections I had the privilege to contact Simon Whitfield, Olympic gold and silver medalist in the triathlon.  I asked him if I could join in on some of his training sessions in Victoria, being the nice guy and champion he is, he kindly obliged to beating me into a pulp. Through the next four training sessions I very quickly learned why he was one of the best and I had a long way to go before I could call myself a triathlete, or even anything else other than a rower for that matter.

I arrived in Victoria a night early to make sure I was ready for my day of swimming and 6 x 1 mile running the next day.  When I arrived at the pool for 7:30am, I had no idea what the workout was going to be.  I also had no idea who other than Simon would be doing it.  It was nice to see he had a great training group of athletes at is side; Kyle Jones, Brent McMahon & Lauren Groves.  Coming from rowing,  we depended heavily on our teammates to help us push through our training.  The reason for this is seeing how everyone else was performing, which in turn allowed you to measure yourself daily on how you think you should be doing.  So it was no surprise that the triathletes were doing the same thing,  although I was curious if this was the case being an individual sport.

The workout was written on a small piece of paper and wetted to a kick board tilted up so we could check it as we turned on our laps.  I enjoyed looking at the nomenclature of the “sets” described, to be honest I cannot remember what they were, but it bore close resemblance to our rowing “pieces” which were acronyms like P for pyramid and SC for staircase alongside  numbers for rate changes or times or distances.  What was very clear was that the total distance was 4500m roughly 2000m more than I have ever swan in a single workout before!

That aside I was up for the challenge and was ready to see how my 2 months of swimming was going to stack up against some of the best triathletes in the country, let alone the world. Well, to be honest I was not surprised to see that they were much faster than I. And after doing the warm up I was ready to almost call it a day, but seeing Simon and rest of the gang attack the workout definitely inspired me to not look like a quitter.  It was definitely a bit of an ego blow as lap after lap I was having to move out of the way of the lead swimmers.

As the workout came to an end, Simon took the time to help me with my stroke.  Being a novice to the sport I have been looking for all tips and ideas on how to get better, needless to say I was more than excited to hear what Simon had to say.  At this point in the day I must also say that I was impressed with his generosity of his time especially having a family at home as well as a visiting mother! His tips were delivered to me in a way that made me feel not like the complete novice that I was.  After a few attempts I was seeing what he was trying to explain.  note that I said ’seeing’… not ‘doing’…I figure that will come with another couple hundred workouts of this nature!

As we parted from the pool I was reminded that the next workout was in 3 hours, 6X 1 Mile at elk lake big gravel parking lot…. Details to follow soon…

Its all about spreading…

Well it has been a while, but I hope I haven’t lost you.  I have been looking into things that will help me find my way after 8 years of training. I quote I recently heard at the  Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame dinner resonated with me, “it’s not what you accumulate in life, but what you spread”. This was from Canadian Olympic Hall of fame  inductee and long time UBC coach Bob Hindmarch.

When I first heard it I didn’t think much of it, it didn’t seem too profound and at an inductee ceremony those are the quotes you expect to hear.   However I soon took to reflection and thought to myself if he is being honored in such a way there is probably some real substance to his work. I also had a bit of a flash back to the first time I met Bob, it was at a student run conference on the Olympics. We were both speaking about athlete experiences and after being taken to two site changes and told we had a shortened speaking time I was a bit nervous about how I was going to have to change my presentation. Bob, I imagine sensed this and initiated a sequence of events that led me to feeling better about the situation. In short fashion he asked me if I had spoken at events like these before, my reply was yes, he then reassured me that I’d be okay and asked me if I needed a podium, as we were now speaking in the luncheon room with no stage/podium.

His only concern seemed to be that I would be ok, as a speaker the time before a presentation can sometimes be nerve racking and he managed to cut all nerves out with his caring attitude. If we now go back to his quote, “it’s not what you accumulate in life, but what you spread” , Bob could have used his past speaking experience and used it solely to his advantage of and performed a great presentation, however this was not enough for him, he wanted me and everyone else to have a great presentation and by spreading his reassurance and concern for my well being allowed me to have a great talk.

I sometimes wonder if the direction I am choosing it the right one, well after seeing a man walk the walk, and talk the talk I can now see that it’s not always about the exact direction you are going but the positive influences you can have along the way. And when the time is right or an opportunity arises then that is the time to make a decision. In the meantime I will do what I can to help others and with time it should come back to me. Perhaps this is something we can all set out to achieve?

If you are looking for ways to help I have charity that is looking to raise funds for their cause. They are called Right to Play, and they are having a golf tournament in Vancouver on May 29th at the University Cub.

Right to Play

Triathalon?? Lets see if I can swim first….

To swim or not to swim….hmmmm well, what I do know is I have not been blessed with built in swimming skills. This was demonstrated in the pool today as a lady in a flower pedal swim cap and snorkel used the age old trick of slow and steady wins the race…

My last formal swim lesson was when I was the ripe old age of 10..or around about ,  I can remember receiving my white swim badge. What a great day, I had reached the upper limit of jr swimming lessons,  that meant no more swimming until i wanted to become certified in life saving and more importantly no more taking my shirt off in front of girls.  Swimming never clicked for me then and I can now see why ~20 years later I am still struggling to keep my head above water.

When I first got into the pool today, all is well,  I chose the moderate lane and proceeded to put on my swim goggles and nose plug (better safe than trying to deal with two breathing holes, the mouth is all i need).  Looking like a half belonged  I started a few lengths with a kick board. This was moderately successful, I was even keeping up to people in my lane! Next step was to try a length of breast stroke, you know the one you generally use while approaching a poolside bar, head up, with frog kick. Again I had succeeded in not sinking to the bottom of the pool and or being run over by faster swimmers.

This was fun and all, but I was now ready to get to the meat and potatoes, the front crawl…Well lets just say that humans were not designed to be in a position of needing air whilst their heads are underwater. As I floundered, splashed and sprayed my way down the lane I could feel my heart rate racing as I gasped for all the air available to me in between my strokes (flailing arms).  I had to laugh at myself, here I was a lean athletic  guy struggling to get the end of the pool before there was no oxygen left in my brain, leaving me to resort to the back stroke as I finished  length after length…In between these lengths I would need substantial rest and recovery as to prepare myself for another 50 m of torture. As well, this is when the lady in the snorkel and flower swim cap would catch up, touch the wall and proceed ahead of me.  I was devastated, OK well not really, but it sure was an adventure. I think many more hours will be needed in training to confidently attempt a triathlon.  My final view after my first day of swimming is, I don’t not hate it;) Let’s go from there and see what happens.

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