Sunday, February 16, 2014


That's "Post Baby Personal Best" - achieved today at my first race back at the "First Half" Half Marathon.

1:27:21 official gun time

and miraculous even splits throughout, in spite of the headwinds and terrain

First 5k - 20:45
5 - 10k - 20:19
10 - 15k - 20:22
15 - 20k - 21:01

So on the one hand, nothing particularly special when you've done the same course in 1:20, and have run even faster elsewhere.  But, seeing as my life completely changed last August and training has been, how would you say, less-than-consistent, I'm pretty darn happy!

Hopefully I get some pics posted in the next few days

~ liquid

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Another day, another destiny

I was riding with a dear friend the other day, and she asked "and just how long have you been at Speed Theory?"

It was February(ish) 2006, and the email for the UBC Triathlon Club (I was treasurer at the time) received a message about a new triathlon store that was opening up in Kits.  Pop your head in and say hi, it read ... and at the bottom of the message, a note that they'd be looking for some full time and part time staff.

Shortly thereafter, I met Jeremy "the MoJ" Wilson, and some months later Nicole "ShopGirl" Akeroyd.  I earned my title (or self-appointed, I honestly can't remember) of Manager of Awesomeness.  I sold bikes, fit wetsuits, and helped a lot of new cyclists learn that road biking doesn't need to be scary.


If you're in suspense, wondering about this retrospective, I'm writing it to let you know that, pretty soon, I'll no longer be an everyday face at Speed Theory.  I'll be entering a new aspect of the sporting industry, working as the Pearl Izumi Cycling and Running rep for Mainland BC.

Here are some things that won't change with me:

- I will still be coaching, both private clients and with Leading Edge Triathlon Club
- you will still see me out training and racing (though my race distances might shorten up a bit)
- you will still see me around town sporting my Speed Theory kit (I did help design it, after all)
- if you ask me a shop question, I will still smile, then take a second to put my "shop hat" on

But here are some of the new things I'll be doing:

- I'll be selling running shoes and clothing (something I'm really excited about)
- I'll be meeting a ton of new cycling and running retailers, seeing how experts around the province outfit their customers for awesomeness
- I'll be managing Pearl Izumi Run & Ride demos at a local Run/Ride store near you!


Selling stuff with the crew at the 2008 ITU World Triathlon Championships in Vancouver


All kitted up for cold weather at English Bay

Lookin' fine volunteering at the Diva's Only races


We called ahead to make sure we'd all match


"Hey, let's go ride bikes" - "Where to?" - "Who cares!"


If you've ever come into Speed Theory and seen me work, you know that I love what I do.  And it's all because of the people - the first time cyclist making sure they can ask a stupid question (there are no stupid questions!) or the seasoned veteran talking about the latest gear or training technique. 

And a very special thanks to Jeremy, Nicole, Mike, Murray, Brandon, Erin, Cam, Rachel, Katrina, Rob, Jeff, Kamal, Alli, Chris, Sarah, Calvin, Katherine, Kurt, Jennica, Sheldon, Steve, Paul, Paulo, Chris, Jenna, Jared, Mark, and Greg.  It's been a blast

~ liquid

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New CrossFit PR

Personal Bests are always great to celebrate!

This morning, at our (relatively) new gym at CrossFit North Vancouver, we ran our first 5k.

I was excited.  And you can only get how excited I was if you knew the old run course that we did for a timed 5 kilometer "race."

Have you ever biked or run down to Deep Cove - like, all the way down to the end of the road at the turnabout.  Then turned around and come back OUT of Deep Cove ... trying to run for time?  Yeah, I think I broke 20 minutes on that run once (20 minutes is decidedly NOT fast for a 5 k run).

So our new route was not only fairly straight, but most definitely flat (or at least flattish).

The new 5 km course runs out-and-back along Dollarton Highway                  
And I managed to take a FULL MINUTE off of the run time - 18:40

Now, granted, this still isn't a spectacularly fast 5 km time (certainly not my PR for a road race), but taken as a pure training run (and in this case, after just having front squatted 215 lbs) it was pretty damn exciting.

And I got to run in some brand new Pearl Izumi running shoes (more on that in a couple of weeks :)

The Pearl Izumi Road N2 shoes : Project EMotion
Love the run

~ liquid

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thank you Challenge

It was with a heavy heart that I sent the following email to Challenge Penticton last week:

Hey Challenge Penticton,
Wondering how I go about withdrawing from the race this August.  I've had to make the heart wrenching decision to be in town for my pregnant wife's due date.

I wrestled with it - been looking forward to racing in Penticton on my 30th birthday for a long time.  But I'm going to go with my wife on this one!

Let me know how to proceed

Indeed, racing in Penticton in 2013 has been my athletic goal for the past 4 years.  With the race always being at the end of August, I took a look at the calendar to figure out when the race would fall directly on August 25th.  It turns out that it did so in 2013 - coincidentally my 30th birthday.

But, in December, Elizabeth and I got the most exciting news, with a due date of August 20th (shortly after letting our parents know, my Mom quietly said to me "I think you should reconsider doing that race at the end of August")

Thanks Mom, I'd already come to that conclusion!


If you haven't looked into Challenge Penticton yet, or you're thinking about the future of long-course triathlon racing in |British Columbia - considering the prospect of Challenge Family versus Ironman - I would highly recommend you stick with Penticton.

I won't post the email specifically, but the response I received was nothing but positive, offering their congratulations, and wishing me the best in the future.  Oh, and they wanted to know my address so that they could send the refund cheque for my registration.

Thanks again Challenge - when I get the go ahead from my family to once again race long-distance triathlon, yours will be the first race I enter.

Just so you know, you're awesome

~ liquid

Friday, January 25, 2013

... and we're back

I know.  It's like when your favourite TV show has an exciting season finale just before summer hiatus.  And then the show doesn't come back in September, and you wonder "what happened?"  You wait with baited breath for a new episode ...

Well, here we go:

So I signed up for the Diez Vista 50km Ultra at the beginning of April, fulfilling a long-term goal I've had for a while (to be clear, the goal was just to sign up for a 50km event ... actually crossing the finish line is a separate goal)

Luckily, I enjoy running through the trail of North Van, though usually I wouldn't be spending so much time in December and January doing long runs.  I say "long" in terms of duration only ... slowly but surely I'm renegotiating my sense of speed and pace when logging over 1000 feet of elevation gain in given run.

From my front door, I can quickly get to the Seymour Demonstration Forest, up Lynn Loop, or over to Mount Seymour.  It's also possible to head straight for Grouse and the section of the Baden Powell trail there, though my training runs haven't taken me that direction yet.

Oh yeah, and I'm also running into work at least once a week ... 16 km each way.  It's kinda peaceful running back over the Lions Gate bridge at 7 o'clock at night (it's also rewarding passing cyclists!)

Today's run was a fairly standard route:  up from Park & Tilford to the Demonstration Forest, up and around the Lynn Loop, and home again:

I had some pretty pictures too, but I hate my phone and it's not downloading.  So if I figure it out, it may just mean that you get 2 blog posts in one day!

Keep your feet movin'

~ liquid

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report

So here we are, my first DNF at an Ironman event.

I've had a lot of people asking and messaging, and the short story is that I'm okay, I'm not seriously injured, and I'll be back to fight another day.

So, what happened ...


Without boring you with too many details, I was able to enjoy several days before the race with some of my best friends staying far away from the race site.  We drank coffee, we swam, we read books - it was great.

Race morning went as smooth as ever.  Bags were packed for speedy transitions, bike looked mean, all things were good in the world.

The Swim

We weren't really able to get a warmup in before the swim (I took a few strokes swimming parallel to shore), and as always, the gun just went off at 7 am (really Race Director, a countdown would be nice).

A sea of yellow caps, and some pink ones!

After a couple hundred meters of swimming around and over bobbing athletes (in those first few minutes, don't ever, ever stop!) I found myself swimming rather okay.  I'd been getting in the open water as much as I could in June, and I was excited to see whether a winter of consistent swimming would make any difference in my time.

And we're off!

As I got out at the end of the first lap, I heard the announcer saying "32 minutes, 32 minutes."  WHAT!?!  Even if he was saying 32 minutes and 59 seconds, I had just taken, like, 4 minutes off of my standard half iron swim time.

Back in for the second loop!  The wind had picked up and the water was a bit choppy, but really nothing like it had been in Coeur d'Alene in 2009 (or last Monday when Rachel, Cam, Erin and I hit up Kits Beach) so I knew I'd be fine if I could just keep my cool.  First swim in a long time where I haven't let slapping hands and breaststroking around buoys get me frustrated.

Final time: 1:07:20 - win!


The other benefit to swimming faster is that there were slightly fewer people in my way as I raced through transition.  Had a bit of problems with my shoes, and couldn't get my arm warmers on, but other than that things went smoothly.

I saw the clock reading 1:10:something as I left, and the official T1 time is 3:28.

The Bike

Biked fairly well heading out of town.  I had come down in May to scout out the new bike course, and thought that race day would go pretty fast (especially compared to the old course, which had cyclists stopping and walking up some of the hills).

Heading out on the bike course

As Meredith Kessler mentioned in her victory speech, "the new bike course definitely didn't disappoint in the hard department."

Hills, headwinds, and me probably working too hard on the first loop of the course made for a very tough second lap.  I wasn't eating or drinking too well, and just couldn't find any strength to cycle up the hills.  I remember coming back to town after the first bike loop thinking "okay, special needs coming up just on the other side."  I had planted an argyle bottle in my Special Needs (for extra awesomeness), but I kept looking down at the barely half-empty bottle on my frame - a bottle which should have only had a slurp or two left in it.  Next race, I definitely need to freeze the bottles regardless of the weather, and start experimenting with fewer calories in each bottle.

Staying aero, but didn't feel so fast

As I biked down the I-95 for a second time, it became apparent that I wasn't going to meet my "dismount bike at 1:25 pm" goal (I set time-of-day goals for Ironman, as the race always starts right at 7 am).  And it frustrated me, when it shouldn't have.

New disc, new 808, new aerohelmet

From my personal race report (the one you don't get to see):
"I think I lost sight of my first rule of racing: focus on the process, and results will follow.  There was something on the bike ride that irked me - I was struggling with my speed, and I wasn't going to make my 1:25 pm dismount goal, and I was disappointed in myself.  Rather than re-evaluating my goal, or even racing my own race, I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn't keep pace with those around me on the bike."

Lesson learned - shit happens, courses are different, learn to adjust.


It won't stand, as I didn't finish the race, but with a T2 of 54 seconds, once again I had the fastest transition in the race.

The Run

So, here was the race plan heading into Coeur d'Alene: "win, or end up in a ditch." 

By 'winning' I really meant "fight on the run and chase down as many of your competitors as you can." 

Ending up in a ditch was either a knock at the fact that my disc wheel/808 combo would be too much to handle on the bike, or I would fight so spectacularly that I'd implode, which I guess is what happened.  Either way, I wasn't really looking for another Ironman finisher's medal, and at my previous 4 IM races I had always set new personal bests.  Somewhere I knew that this streak couldn't last forever.

Step by Step

It may have only been for 15km, but this is the first Ironman marathon where I was able to run at the pace I know I can do.  I had set my watch to Autolap at 5 km (hadn't trained enough in "miles" to really know my splits).  The goal was to run 22:30 per 5 km.  I achieved that, and it felt easy!

Out on the run, time to fight!

After a not-so-stellar bike ride, it felt so good to come out of transition and, within the first mile, have the fatigue wash away, and to just be running.  The plan was to "steamroll" the race, and build my pace as I went along.  I had fully expected to have the first 5 km be 28 to 30 minutes, and then I'd fight to accelerate from there, but no, I was running what I wanted to right out of the gate.

I was running strong and eating well.  Heart rate was under control, and I was "Counting to 100" like a champion.  Running back towards town, I also had the chance to cheer on and be cheered by lots of Vancouver friends who were racing - a definite advantage to an out-and-back course!

Then I stopped.  Just like that.

All spring I've been having problems with my Achilles (both left and right).  I had been getting it treated, and for about 10 days hadn't had a problem.  A little after 15 kilometers into the run, though, I felt a bit of a tweak in my left side.  Not debilitating, but immediately I felt the fuel tank empty.  Like, gone.

I was near an aid station, so I grabbed as much fuel as I could, then tried running again.  Nothing.  No speed, no strength.

And, of course, I was now being past by all the runners that I had worked so hard for the past hour to catch - I really didn't want to have to do it again.  So as I walked along the highway, and took off my race belt and HR monitor (they can chafe during a race, so are the first to get adjusted whenever I start suffering on the run).  I hadn't had the bike split that I wanted, I really didn't want to walk another 25 kilometers, and I knew that my judgement to run through the pain in my Achilles was probably circumspect.  So, when a volunteer asked me "are you done?" it didn't long for me to say yes (in fact, I'm a little surprised at how quick it all happened).

The Aftermath

I had seen Bjoern spectating on the run out, and figured that he hadn't moved too much, so if I could walk back towards town he would probably have his phone, and I could call Elizabeth and assure her that I wasn't dead (she has said on numerous occasions that when I'm out of sight or behind schedule, she starts thinking the worst in pretty short order.

I passed my a volunteer or spectator (can't remember which) who told me "good job."  "Not today" I said, "I'm out."  Well, she would have none of it.  "Nope, you swam and you biked, and you made it this far, so you are an Ironman."  That definitely helped.

I saw Rachel and Stephanie heading out on their second loop, successfully phoned Elizabeth, then got a ride back towards town on the back of a gator.  Then I spent the rest of the afternoon cheering on athletes as they finished their first loop, or started heading out for their second.

The highlight from the rest of the afternoon:

It's good to know that people think I'm invincible, and apparently the fastest runner alive.  3 or 4 of my fellow racers, before finishing their first lap, when they saw me sitting on the side of the road, said something to the effect of "you bastard, you're already done?"  Yes, even though you saw me only 45 minutes ago out on the run, I managed to run so fast as to lap you, finish the race ahead of any other age grouper, AND come back on the race course to cheer you on.  Take that Tom Evans!

Or, I guess it just goes to show that, halfway through the Ironman marathon, you really can't think or do simple math.

And watching Rachel, Stephanie, Tristan, Geoff, Lawrence, Susie, LE Cam, Chris, Steph, Commander Cam, Diane, and everyone else out of the road was pretty fantastic.  Well done out there!

Thank you

If you've read this far into my blog, it probably means that you're a fellow athlete, a supporter, a friend.  Thank you - for all the words of encouragement leading up to race day, for following me on race day, and for caring enough to wonder what happened when my run splits weren't showing up on Ironmanlive.

I don't think that Ironman ever gets easy, but at the end of the day it will still be there (Coeur d'Alene, in fact, will be there for at least another 5 years!).  I don't know what's next, but there will be a next.  And whatever it turns out to be, I'll be fighting.

~ liquid

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Overcoming the Mind Block

I still remember the spot on the Ironman Canada course in 2007 (my first Ironman race) where I began my mental war.  It was a spot on the rollers between Richter Pass and Cawston where I was riding uphill, into a headwind – not an optimal point for a 140-pound-something athlete.  I never had the thought of quitting – I had engrained the notion of finishing at all costs (yes, even if I had to take a nap and finish in 16:59) – but I distinctly recall saying to myself “there’s no f-ing chance I’m ever doing this again.”  Today is June 7th 2012, 2 weeks before what will be my 5th Ironman race.

Fast forward to the Awards Ceremony for that same race in 2007, where Lisa Bentley took the stage after her third victory at IMC.  She spoke about the adversities, physical and mental, that she overcame in her training leading up to Penticton.  She said that she did not have a perfect day, only that she overcame her adversities better than her competitors.  And most importantly (to me, at least) she reminded us that “there’s victory in finishing what you start.”

A year later, when I met Lisa in Vancouver at the ITU World Championships, I had her autograph my Speed Theory jacket with the words “There is victory in finishing what you start :)”  (yes, there's a smiley face)

For most age group triathletes, our minds can play terrible games with us the days leading up to, and even during, important races during our season.  We are not professionals at our sport; no paycheque is riding on our placing that day, and, even if chasing an elusive Kona slot or National Team qualification, there will always be the chance to “come back and fight another day.”

But we put a lot of training into what we do, and ultimately we want to perform our best on race day.  Here are some thoughts that I’ve learned from professional athletes, training partners, and other resources on how to overcome the voice in your head that says “you can’t” or “I don’t want to anymore.” 

1.       First of all, if you’re not on Twitter, open an account.  Follow athletes that are faster than you – they tweet some really inspiring stuff. 
2.       In the days leading up to a race, recall the victories you achieved during your training sessions.  Weekly hours logged and the ratio of workouts finished versus those missed pale in comparison to those 3 or 4 great training days that you had.  Remember those ones. 
3.       Being nervous and having butterflies leading up to a race is a good thing – it signifies that the race means something to you. 
4.       Have a song, a poem, a tag line, a picture, a something that helps you focus and brings you inspiration.  Or a couple. 
5.       On race day, you can be miserable, or you can have a good time.  I suggest you chose the latter.
6.       When the going gets tough, count to 100.  If you succeed on reaching 100, things probably won’t be tough any longer (if they are, keep counting). 
7.       Remember why you are doing this whole triathlon thing.  If you don’t write a Season Plan at the start of each year, start doing it now.  If you don’t have long term goals (2013 will see the end of my current “5-Year Plan”) start developing some. 
8.       Read!  Most professional athletes maintain a blog, and some have even written books on their battles and victories. 
9.       Sure, races don’t always go well, and everyone knows that sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than our victories.  Finishing a race should bring a sense of accomplishment and help build confidence.
10.   Believe in the process.  Results will follow.

~ liquid