If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Little Half

Sunday was the Rotary Half Marathon. I had planned to make it my steady run of 13 miles at around 1:30 for a time. Whatever the reason, add together a bunch of runners, a race number, timing chip, and a cool day and I can’t switch off the competitive part of my brain. After running about ten minutes though, my body shut it down right quick. Was it a lack of speed work, too much long stuff, tired from the night before, too much ice cream?

I saw at the beginning Darren Mealing and Danny Groening were a ways ahead so thought I would catch and run with them for a bit. That was the brain again telling the body to do what it was not willing to do. It seemed easy at first but I figured by the time I actually caught up to them I wouldn’t be able to say anything anyways from being out of breath so that was another reason to watch them fade away in front of me. The volunteers at every corner were young kids with lots of enthusiasm. They were great.

I basically settled into a manageable pace albeit faster than I wanted to go but not so fast that I’d be dead for two days after. The second half of this race does undulate quite a bit and this year being my second one I knew what to expect. I finished the last three kilometres faster than the other eighteen with a finish time of 1:24, four minutes slower than last year but satisfied with a hard, steady pace. Congratulations to Graeme Wilson who won in an impressive time of 1:11.

Most importantly, I felt great the next day and the one after that for my first trip to Chuckanut Mountain since a year and a half ago. That’s another blog entry though.

Rotary Half Marathon and Ekiden Relay

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fall is Here

Last week I did my first long training run in the dark since probably February. It took me right back to that time last winter.
I left at around 8:20 and meant to be back by 10:00 to watch Rescue Me (can’t help it you know). Took my headlight and reflective stuff and wasn’t really dressed for what I found out was the cold. Did not realise it was so chilly already at this time of the night. I guess due to the fact I ran mostly in the day during the summer to try and get ready for the Penticton heat (totally not necessary this year), I hadn’t been in the dark for quite a while. I could even see my breath in the beam of my light. Maybe it was my brain being cold and not able to function properly, or just my body feeling like I didn’t want to run much further, but I for some reason thought if I ran out 40 minutes and back 40 minutes then it would land me right back home at 10 pm. Of course I had 1 hour and 40 minutes to run and should have run out 50 and back 50 so when I got home and the clock only said 9:40 I knew I screwed up. Not a bad thing because the knees were feeling like I’d run three hours.
Although it is much nicer running in the light and the warmth of an evening in the summer, the fall/winter has it’s own allures. I like the winter training as it reminds me of when I first started training for my first marathon while still living in Cloverdale. The kids were still very young and I was not able to get out during the day so had to go out once they were in bed. It was damn cold those days and sometimes I’m surprised that I kept it up. I love the smell of the cold air. I’m no voyeur but I love running past people’s houses and seeing their homes all lit up and looking cozy inside as they go through their evening routines.

I also love how obvious it is that my headlamp throws off invisible light the way some cars seem to not notice me even though my light surely must be blinding them. I have it angled so it can’t hit them anywhere but square in the windshield. Usually if I’m driving at night and I see a red or white solid or blinking light on the side of the road, I may not know exactly what it is, be it runner or walker or cyclist, but I know enough to give it some room. Believe me I’ve tried every variation my headlamp has to offer in terms of red or white light, blinking or just solid. Nothing works on a consistent basis, or it could be that most drivers don’t give a @#%! about runners/cyclists in general. These are the drivers whose mirrors graze your shoulder if you’re not paying attention, night or day.

I’m renewed with my running and am excited about moving in the dark again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

IMC 2007 race report by Dave Simcox

The weekend of the race arrived with me feeling ready and relaxed. I was certainly prepared for the big day and was relieved to be starting off injury and pain free.

One 12th of my race crew, my wife, came down to the park with me at 0530. I have never seen such a line just to get body marked. I have body marked myself at other events but generally IMC goes well. Not this year. Made it through in about 25 minutes and had a good chat with a fellow from back east.

In the transition area I checked over the bike and added a few items to my gear bags. Of course the bathroom break is inevitable. The lines were at least 30 deep all around so I put plan B into action. I suspected there would be a shortage of bathrooms, there always is. I walked back out of transition, hopped the fence into Gyro Park where there were potties a plenty. A quick hop back over the fence and the whole thing was over in 5 minutes. The other option would have been to save it for the swim but I would like to maybe sell my wetsuit some day.

I made my way onto the beach at 0640 to quickly find my family lined up along the fence, all 12 of them decked out with green Dave’s Race Crew t-shirts. We hugged and high fived and chatted a bit. Then I gave my mom in Edmonton a call on the cell. These are some of the greatest moments that Ironman has to offer. It gets emotional standing there knowing these people have given up 3-4 days to show they are behind and beside you all the way.

The warm up was next so I waded into the water, stopped to put my goggles on only to discover I am standing beside a good buddy, Darin Bentley. All those thousands of people and I stand along side Darin. We were both shocked and happy to see each other. Darin finished 1st in last years Ultraman Triathlon. We kept it brief, as I wanted to get a 10 min swim in. After the short warm up I came back up onto the beach to wave at family and stand for the anthem. I new this might be my last IMC so I just turned around several times to look at all the people and to take a moment to reflect on how awesome it felt to be standing there only minutes away from an event that I felt so blessed to take part in. There was no anxiety or worry just excitement and relief.

The swim was chaotic at the beginning but I have personally never felt more relaxed. You could really feel this year, the total presence of all those extra swimmers. Especially when they were kicking you in the head. It didn’t thin out till I rounded the first turn. After that there was plenty of open water but still many swimmers near by to catch a draft from. I exited the water feeling better than ever and still managed to pull off a PB in the swim.

The T1 was smooth and flawless and my quickest to date. No chatting. Just get in get out.

Out onto the bike and that really cool ride down Main Street makes you feel like you are doing something kind of special. I maintained a solid average pace of 35k or so all the way to Osoyoos.

Nutrition was not going to be factor as it has never been an issue. A flat tire on the other hand can have a way of spoiling the moment. I felt there was something not quite right with my tire about 1 km out of Osoyoos. If you have ever ridden tubulars you will understand what I am talking about. You hardly know the bloody thing is flat. The ride feel is a bit off but not that much. Plus your head is saying no, that’s not a flat mate just keep peddling. Well you probably could, but not overly wise. All those friendly faces going by and there I am frothing at the mouth on the side of the road. Actually, it didn’t faze me too much at all until I yanked the flat off only to discover the valve stem broke off inside the carbon wheel. OH, OH! All that adrenaline and excitement was just too much for that poor little valve stem. I have never done this before and was pretty sure I wasn’t carrying a tool to fix it. I did however stay at a Holiday Inn Express once. Anyway I managed to route around for a stick to jam in the hole in the wheel to get the busted stem free. Then to the task of putting the other tire on. No problem there, I was back in the race. I know time flies when you are having fun so I am not sure how much I gave up in that little exercise.

Richter Pass seemed like a nonevent this year. Cool day with lots of support along the way I guess. Down along the backside of the hill, I stopped by the Bike Barn vehicle to have my tire pressure checked, sure enough only 40PSI. Can’t do that on a clincher or you would be saying pinch flat all day long.

Then those nasty rollers came and so did the wind. The best part about this portion of the race for me is seeing my family cheering me on at every hill.

I can always tell we are in for some serious head winds when those big metal road signs are hanging on an angle, towards you. I just went t into the fetal, I mean aero position and peddled on. I was maybe doing 20k/, not fast enough to set any records today. I may have sworn a couple of times, maybe. You just have to keep telling yourself. “Well this Ironman Canada for you. What did you expect?” After making the turn toward the out and back turn around the pace was good again with the tailwind. I remember this guy going the other way say to someone, “when are we getting out of this wind tunnel?’ After picking up special needs it is like heading home now. This was the slowest and most challenging section of the day. Brutal wind. At one point 4 riders in front of me were actually tilted about 25 degrees to the right, just like those infamous shots from Kona. The ride through Ollala and up Yellow Lake was not easy but it is here where I start taking notice of all the riders passing me that I will very soon be passing on the run. Happens every year.

Speaking of running, there is no better site on the planet for me than the archway into T2. Bike be- gone. I quickly changed and headed for the exit only to realize just before the timing mat that I forgot my Carbo Pro in the bag. No worries. Just run back and grab your bag. Where is my bag? Oh, in that pile with 500 other bags. Three volunteers searching and finding nothing so I walked over to the other side of the heap and there was my bag. Oh well. Could have been worse.

The run started with my legs feeling great. Again, that trip up Main Street says it all. Carol and the gang were a km or so up the rode and at their usual spot near Skaha Lake Campground. It always strikes as real weird feeling leaving that aid station. It is like you are out on your own now. But then I remember I have a whole bunch of people to catch so better get to work here. It is not much for some but I do take some pride in only being passed once in the first 13km. This young gal with a War on ALS shirt went by. I shouted out Way to go Blazeman. (John Blais). She new what I meant and waved. I teared up. You get thinking about yourself and you lose sight of the sacrifices others have made along the way. If you do not know the story check it out. My race was back in perspective again. Ironman does that when you least expect it.

I made the turn around in just under, 2 hours. Saw a buddy Steve O. from NSTC there so we chatted as I walked for a bit. I ended up walking up the hill out of Okanagan Falls. The last two encounters with that hill I ran but this time my legs just said walk. Like I didn’t really have any input in the decision. I just walked. If I was going to walk some then it was going to be a fast walk at least. The trip back was windy and difficult at times. I found the best thing mentally and otherwise was to walk quickly through the aid stations even though I had my own water bottle and Carbo Pro. I did this until the campground again where the family was waiting. My brother-in law from Richmond and his hunting partner made a surprise appearance bringing the total number of fans up to 14. How good is that?

With just 5 miles to go I had a sudden #1 urge for #2. There was this lone man in his yard cheering folks on so I stopped and asked with humility if I could use the washroom. He was very gracious and escorted me into the where I met the wife but I was not in much of a state to chat at that point. After a short pit stop we shared some pleasantries and I was off. Sometimes you meet people in the weirdest places and at the strangest of circumstance.

I want to go back for just a moment. At mile 19 there is this fellow standing by the mile marker cheering people on. He then appears at mile 20 holding the marker overhead and yelling the usual stuff. I wasn’t paying much mind until he kept showing up at subsequent markers along the way. I couldn’t figure out he was getting by everyone. I was just thinking about getting across the finish line in under 13hrs, when I see this guy again at 2 miles to go. He sees me and shouts out “Hey Dave, 2 miles to go man. Keep that pace and you will just beat 13hrs, but you gotta keep going hard man. You can do it.” How did he know about my sub 13 plan? I have no idea who he was or if he even existed at all for that matter. Even if my family had not been there that day oddly enough at that moment I knew I wasn’t doing this alone. If there can be angles in the outfield, why not at an Ironman? I felt good but tired heading into those last 2 miles and crossed the line at 12:58 and change. A PB. Go figure.

I mentioned a tear or two being shed on the run after reflecting on John Blaise and the legacy he has left behind. I actually wept a few other times that day. Standing with my family at the swim start and calling my mom on the phone I was overwhelmed by their love and support. As I headed up Main Street on the bike my mind was flooded with thoughts of my buddy Jack, who should have been there that morning had he not been killed training for this very race. I shed a few more tears for him that day. Then the finish line with everyone around. I hugged my wife and was thankful for all her patience and support. I never would have attempted a third IMC without her. Thanks Lucy.

Thanks Sean and Tar-lee for putting together a terrific training plan that kept me motivated and on track the whole way. Best swim and run to date but I am afraid there is no hope for me on the bike. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Thanks to my great family and friends for all the encouragement and help that made IMC 2007 one to never forget.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fueling the Run - October 13, 2007 - Elgin Hall, Surrey

Click on poster image for bigger picture and more details ...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Holland '07

I wrote this on the plane ride home while the memories were fresh and the leg pain dreadful every time I stood up. As the old saying goes, "If it was easy, everybody'd be doing it"

Here I though Korea was a fast and furious trip last October when I was there for five days. Now I was off to Holland for four days (after the time change). Left home at 8:30 Wednesday morning and arrived in Amsterdam at 6:30 Thursday morning. Then there was a three hour train from the airport to Groningen and finally another to Winschoten where the race was to be held. Of course then I misssed my shuttle to the registration hall called "De Klinker" (no joke, it's a theatre for operas and musical shows) and set out to find a phone to call my ride. I walked around with my two heavy bags until I found a phone but couldn't get it to work as I needed to dial another '0' in front of the number, but didn't know that. By now I was in total frustration wondering what I should do when a lady walked by and, seeing me in my obvious state, said, "Are you searching somezing?" I told her my story and she was kind enough to take me to her husband's office where he called the shuttle for me and arranged to have the them pick me up at his office there. He was also doing the race on Saturday as part of the 10 x 10 relay. How nice everyone was here!

Got picked up and went over to De Klinker (that name never got old the whole trip, trust me) with Herman, another super resident of Winschoten who had lived in Canada for a couple years a long time ago. We chatted and left for the hotel when two others showed up from the UK. There wasn't much to see around the hotel, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere. Everyone from the team showed up as the day went on and it was a reunion of sorts as several people there were also in Korea. There were the competitors: Darren, Jack, Rick, Bruce, Jenn, Marianne, and Paula. Support were: Armand (team manager), Tommy (team doctor), Kandise, Bonnie, Carl, and Marie. We had a team meeting after dinner and that was the end of my thirty hour day.

Darren and I had arranged to get up at 7 am to do a quick run but when I woke up and looked at my watch it was 9:30! Haven't pulled a twelve hour sleep for a long time. That day we drove to Groningen to do a bit of shopping but as it's not really a tourist destination there weren't many souvenirs to be found. That evening ater dinner was the athlete's parade which I enjoyed because, especially here, the streets of Winschoten were lined the whole way with people cheering all the countries' athletes. With a little prep for the next day we were off to bed.

The weather on race morning wasn't that cold but overcast with a steady drizzle and windy. It was perfect for Darren and I, both from BC, seeing as we hadn't seen much of the sun this summer and we couldn't have been happier. Kandise and Armand went ahead of us in the van with our supplies but I didn't realise I couldn't see them before the start to pick up my water bottle and belt and grease up my feet. They were at an aid station across town from the start where the bus dropped us off. I would have to grab it as I went by the first time.

Darren and I started near the back of the "corral" where the athlete's were and we were reminded how few Europeans subscribe to the use of deodorant. The group was made up of 100km, 50km, and relay runners. I was glad we started behind so many people so I wasn't tempted to go out too hard with the fast guys (and girls). Darren went out ahead and was looking strong the whole day. We would pace each other a bunch of times then he'd go ahead, then I'd go ahead and on the run went. I stopped the second time I saw Kandise to lube up the old toes, which took about 90 seconds. Enough time for me to go out too hard after that where I caught up to Darren again in about six kilometers. Hoped I wouldn't pay for that later. The weather couldn't decide what it wanted to do. It was drizzling then got sunny, then cloudy, then rain again. Oh, and it was windy the whole time. Mostly straight on headwinds. Even though the route was sheltered mostly as we went through town , there was still some open areas that hammered us.

The great thing about this course, unlike Korea or the Elk/Beaver 100s, was that it wound through the town with so many twists and turns that you didn't have it memorized until around the 7th or 8th lap. No stretch was longer than a kilometer which was awesome too, it kept me on my toes and didn't lull me into boredom going down a three or four kilometer straight run.

Then there were the crowds. This was an event like I've never been to. Not only are there people in the streets, they're on their front lawns in chairs, at tables, under tents. It's a huge carnival. It's not like other races where people come and go or move around like a marathon or Ironman, these folks were glued to their chairs and did not move for the whole race. If it rained they got umbrellas but stayed put. The landscape is not like our wide streets at home with sidewalks everywhere, these were like narrow back alleys with brick houses on each side. And they cheered. A lot. It was an amazing and uplifting feeling when I could hear "Go Canada" (pronounced Cah-Nah-Dah). There was a paper distributed with the runners' names so as you approached a group, they'd quickly look up your number and yell your name. After a few laps they weren't even looking me up, they knew the Canada singlet and cheered half a block away. It was a Mardi-Gras. There was "Orange Street" that had the trees on the sides wrapped in orange paper, streamers and flags and tents and signs (the biggest actually saying "Orange Street"") were all in orange. There were kids here even handing out cut-up oranges but the 100k runners weren't allowed to take any aid from anyone but at the designated stations. There were a lot of "sponge stations" set up by the local kids. As I watched other runners use them, the little kids would chase them and pick up the used sponges off the ground and put them back in the same bucket of water along with dirt, leaves and sweat from the runner. I decided it wasn't hot enough for a recycled sponge.

Another section had to have a hundred small wooden cut-outs of four foot tall cartoon moose in all different colours. I still don't know the significance of that display. Along this same stretch were flags up and down the streets above us with ribbons and streamers and balloons and bands playing. Of course as the laps accumulated, we got more tired, more in need of support, the more drunk and boistrous the spectators got. At some areas you could smell the beer from the pubs and at tables in yards. Made me want to be done so I could join them. There was one group who would sing "O, Canada" as Darren and I ran past - every time. There was also a group of young teens who shouted, "Ya, Canada - Southpark!!"

What I can't say enough of as well is the support our crews gave us. Everything from simple high-fives to babying us when we needed it. Special appreciation goes out to Kandise from me who had a bottle ready every time I went around and would offer suggestions on what to eat or drink when she knew I wasn't thinking straight.

I had another one of those times mid-race where I think, "How can I go on and finish this thing when I feel so bad?" (at 40km). What makes people go forward when every step hurts and we'd love to do nothing but stop. I think we reach a certain plateau of pain that hopefully doesn't get worse, only manageable. I do everything I can to tell myself to go on. I do a lot math to figure out my splits and if I can go under eight hours. At 70km I knew I was on a good pace to a PB. All I needed to do was stay at or under five minute kms. With one lap to go Kandise gave me my Canada hat and I set out into the winds for the final trip around. Getting greedy at the 98km mark I figured I could break 7:50 and managed to run just under. Had I known Darren was less than a minute behind, I would have had us come across the line together for a great picture as we both had PBs.

When I was done the legs felt so bad just walking that you couldn't imagine having to run anymore, even if the race was longer. That's the way I felt at around the 60km mark but still kept moving forward. Maybe it's the mind counting down the kms for the body until it can stop.

After a hot shower and cheering everyone in, we wrapped it up and went back to the hotel. No medals, no finisher's t-shirts. Just the runner and their race. Happy or sad it always feels good to finish - and eat ice cream.

Run Winschoten

Ultraman Report 2007

After a tough IM I was ready for time to rest before Holland but it was not to be. Tracey and I volunteered to crew for Ultraman as this race is a special one. After a bit of regret for saying I’d do this, due to other commitments and the need to rest, all negative feelings were dispelled as we found out we’d be crewing for John Brooks who did the race last year. John was a great competitor last year and an even greater person. We knew it would be an honour to crew for him. Once I got up to Penticton I felt like I was in another world with only the race to focus on.

I got off work Friday morning and we drove up right after. Pretty tiring driving that distance twice in one week. We tracked down John and our other crew-mate, Candise aka Candy, that day and went over some pre-race stuff like nutrition and equipment, then it was off to bed for him and some beer drinking for us.

5 am came early and we all met at Skaha Lake for the start of the 10km swim Tracey was paddling for. Lots of unfamiliar faces were there - crews and athletes from last year like the amazing Toni Barstis along with her husband, Dave, who was doing the race this year as well. Also there were Ferg Hawke, Steve King of course, Gerard Charlton, winner of the ’05 race, and a host of others. I think because of the relay this year there were more spectators and people a the start which was exciting.

When all the paddlers were out of sight I went for a quick 90 minute run, the first since Ironman six days prior. The right calf was still so tight I didn’t know if I should keep going or not. It settled into a steady ache that was manageable but I wasn’t happy about it. As I went down East Lake Rd. I shadowed the swimmers and their kayaks. It was very peaceful watching them go down the lake with me. I ran back to the start, got the car, and headed down to the swim finish with about ten minutes to spare as the swimmers were coming out.

Candy and I got John’s gear ready for the next evolution, a 140km bike ride. He exited the water in 3:50, beating his last year’s time by thirteen minutes. Nice line Tracey!! We got John on his way then headed out after him in the van. It’s been two years since I crewed and as hard as it is, it’s the same amount of fun that I remembered. Seeing the other crews and talking with them is great while waiting for the athletes to come by. Everyone was so nice and friendly which epitomizes this race.

John was doing a great job staying relaxed and steady but needed to be reminded to spin up the hills instead of attacking them. The weather got warmer but there was no wind like the weekend before at Ironman. Nevertheless John started getting cramps in his legs going up Richter Pass and needed the girls’ massaging at the top. It got worse on the rollers when he stopped for another break and basically fell screaming with leg cramps into the chair we set up for him. I actually thought to myself, “he won’t get up from this, he’s done.” We still had more rollers, and out and back and then the climb up Yellow Lake. We figured out at that point it was probably the copious amounts of Advil he took before and during the swim that weren’t allowing water to his muscles. After another rub-down he set off slowly and managed to get back into a good rhythm. He managed a good ride from then on in (albeit with a few too many “chat-stops”). His climb up Yellow was stellar - very steady and strong. He rode down to Christie Beach with a time of 6:12, seven minutes faster than last year. A new Day 1 record for him.

The next time he was feeling a bit tired but with no Advil we figured it couldn’t be as bad as the cramping the day before. The first big excitement of the 273km bike day was coming back to OK Falls around 90km when Jenn Dawkins almost got attacked and eaten by a HUGE bear at the side of the road!! Whew was she lucky! Then there was the flat front tire John had but didn’t realize it until after he’d finished climbing “the Wall” - the hardest, steepest section of the course. John’s a real stats guy, always wanting to know how far he has to go to the next section of the course. Being from the States we were always trying to convert the kms quickly to miles for him and sometimes my guesses as to the distances were underestimated. Even though he didn’t have a bike computer, he seemed to know and call me on my bullshit estimates.
Near Hedley he was getting pretty low in the blood sugar department so an excellent decision (one of many) from Candy was to go ahead and get him a ham sandwich. We tore ahead, dropped off Tracey in Hedley and screamed back to John. He got his sandwich not long after and basically ate the meat and left the bread which was fine because salt is never a bad thing in endurance racing.

Past Princeton was when things slowed down and John became concerned about whether he would make the cut-off time of twelve hours. We were wanting him to beat last year’s time but quite frankly we had the cut-off time in our heads as well and he needed constant reassurance that he would make it. Goes to show how important the crew is for the mental wellness of the athlete. He did so much on his own though because he’d been through it before and knew what he needed to do. It sucked though when he said he felt like he was going faster than last year but the time wasn’t reflecting that. He finished in 11:25, somewhat slower than last year’s 10:44 but just as relieved and grateful to be done.

Unfortunately Tracey and I had to go home that night and couldn’t stay for the double-marathon run the next day. So after more than twenty hours driving in two days we had another four and a half to go. On the run the next day John blasted out a 10:44 run, with help from Cam and Barb, beating last year by almost an hour even with stomach issues. It was sad to see the end of Penticton for a while. It always feels like end of summer after Ironman and Ultraman and I guess it is, back to the responsibilities of real life. Summer may be almost over but the base training for next year’s running starts as soon as I can walk again after Holland, so it’s not all bad. We definitely missed an exciting finish as the difference between first and second place this year was a mere 19 seconds! And between third and fourth it was only 3 seconds! Congratulations to everyone on their race.

I could probably look back at the last two years’ Ultraman report endings and they would mirror this last paragraph. Suffice to say it is a most magical race that brings people from all over the world to a little place in the Okanagan Valley for three days that they’ll remember forever. Can’t wait for next year.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ultraman 2007

Tracey & I crewed this year for John Brooks, Manager of USA Today. Here are some pictures of our 2 days with him. Report to follow soon ...

Ultraman 2007