Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kitz and what's next

On the bike course--Kitzbuhel World Cup
The town of Kitzbuhel
The view from the swim start!
Well, my first 5 weeks in Europe have come to an end. The race in Kitzbuhel went well. After a mediocre swim, I was able to work my way back up to the front pack on the bike (we caught the lead pack on lap 6/8). I had a speedy T2 and ended up heading out on the run first! That lead didn’t last for long as many of the fast runners were in the same bike pack! I had been having leg pain leading up the race, but was able to tough it out and was satisfied of my effort. I ended up 21st, 2:22 off the winning time—getting better each race!

Now I’m back in Calgary for a short stop, to Victoria for a mini-training camp and then back to Europe for another month! The plan right now is to race in Kelowna (August 19th), World Championships in Hamburg (September 1st), Beijing World Cup (September 15th) and one last race in Rhodes, Greece (October 7th) before coming back home.

For now, I have to wash some clothes, recover from all the racing, heal my leg and refocus for the next series of races!

Hi to everyone, hope all is well!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sun, Sand and Dunes!

My Day in the sun finally came! I had been promised that the weekend was going to be nice and sunny....saturday was overcast with showers (no surprise) and sunday looked like it might turn out to be the same when a thunderstorm rolled in just as we were heading out to the coast! We waited out the storm and left late afternoon for a run workout in the dunes and some beach time. It was great!

Here's the beach at Bloemendaal....note the grass covered dune ridge in the background.....

My first experience of a Dutch beach!
Walking down the dune ridge to the sea....
The dunes, tons of trails/paths to run and ride on! Apparently they have an Xterra race in this area...the run up from the water would be killer!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Sun and the Run Make an Appearance!

What is that bright object in the hurts my eyes...After ~3 weeks, the sun came out for almost 2 days!! That was AFTER the race of course!
Me on the run course in Holten, finally a decent run time!
Riding Tandem with Om Fred!
I raced in Holten this past weekend. It is a town in the east-central province of Overijssel. Since we weren’t racing until 12:45 we drove to the race in the morning. The race start was ~10k away from the town and T2, making for some complicated logistics with respect to gear and transportation!

The swim start was another interesting one in a narrow channel, I didn’t even here a horn/gun for the start just felt everyone swim over top of me! I managed to recover from the horrible start and get into the lead pack of girls on the bike. I tried to organize the group but the effort level wasn’t there and we were caught by 4 more girls after ~15k. I stayed in the front of the group and had a solid bike, coming into T2 second. Onto the run, I stuck to the plan of going out fast and strong and hanging on! This actually worked, I’ve had a hard time getting my legs going the last few races but I was happy how the run went in this one. After running in 5th place for 8k, I was passed by a couple of fast running girls from the chase pack (including Vendula Frintova-the top ranked Czech athlete) in the last 1.5k and lost out in a sprint finish with 2 others to finish 9th overall but with a 37.42 run split (my fastest this year!).

After the race I spent a relaxing couple of days with my relatives Fred and Marian (thanks for the pictures) out in Lemelerveld. The sun actually made an appearance for 2 whole days!! I even climb the mighty Lemelerberg (berg=mountain in Dutch=79m elevation gain) by tandem bike with Fred and then reached the summit (3 times) the next day on my run!

Next up…2 weeks of solid training in Aalsmeer and then off to Kitzbuhel, Austria on July 20th for the World Cup on the 22nd!!!

Tot straks!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Potential Father's Day present...

A Dutch garden gnome....if it weren't for weight restrictions, I'd be taking this home for a father's day present!! It looks like it is the pigs entrails in the basket....yummy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

More pictures!!

Here are some photos from European Champs. Thanks to Venetia Berk for the great pictures!

Wetsuit removal...note all the water coming out of it...see post below.....
On the bike #28
Bike again...3rd from the front...
The dismount...
On the run...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Rain, Races and Wetsuit Strippers...

Transportation; Euro Style.....

In the water at Dutch Nationals.....

On the bike with Birgit....

Rain, Rain, go away!! Dutch Nats and Euro Champs (it's a long one...)

We’ll I’ve been here for 2 weeks now and I think I’ve seen rain, sometimes in the form of torrential downpours sometimes just sprinkles, everyday since my arrival! Oh wait, it was sunny and 27 the day I landed, but then I think it rained that night!!??

Dutch Nationals were on the June 23rd in Stein, which is in the south of the country (Limburg), between rainstorms! There were only ~15 women on the start list and 2 were sick and DNS. Right from the horn it was only myself and Birgit Berk in the running for the title (we had a 3 min lead out of the water!). We swam side by side and biked together for the whole 40k. Onto the run I knew I was going to have a difficult time as my lower back, hamstring and glute muscles were super tight! I tried to push through it but had given up too much time to Birgit on the first lap, so it was pretty much a survival run after that—just finish so you can stretch your leg!! So, second place at Dutch Nationals, not how I wanted to finish, but I will take it considering the circumstances!

The following week I moved in with the Dutch National coach-Adrie Berk (yes, Birgit’s father) and Sander Berk (the top Dutch male athlete and Adrie’s son…bit of a family affair here!). We did some good training, managed to sneak in a dry, but windy, bike ride and a scenic run in a national forest. I stretched and worked on my hip as much as I could leading up to European Championships in Copenhagen.

We left for Copenhagen on the Thursday, june 28th and arrived at our hotel, whose logo is “sleep cheap in luxury”….the whole thing is a bit of an overstatement!! Cheap means 120 Euro/night and luxury means the smallest room for 2 people I have ever stayed in—including in the UK!! At least we didn’t have to share a bathroom!

Race day the weather had improved slightly from the rain and wind of the day before. The water was only ~15 degrees with Jellyfish (my nemesis…), there were some threatening clouds but the rain held off for our race, unlike the wind!! I was psyched to have a good race, it was a strong start list but there were only a few strong swimmers, so I knew I could be in that top group out of the water. This looked likely up to the second turn buoy. I was swimming along nicely and in a good position in the lead pack when out of now where, this girl swam over to me and dunked my head down. I was a little pissed but worse had happened to me before, so I took a couple strokes and shook it off. Then I realized that something was wrong….my wetsuit was filling with water!! My wetsuit (which is a reverse zip) had been unzipped by the girl that dunked me!! I panicked at first, kept swimming, then stopped and was lucky enough to get it zipped back up! This caused me to loose touch with the lead pack in the water and created a lot more work on the bike! Luckily there were some strong cyclist that missed the lead pack as well and we managed to all group up on the bike anyway. Onto the run, again tight back (agrhhh!!!), I held my position pretty much the whole way after the first 200m, finishing 22nd overall.

So far my run has been letting my down (although getting a little better with each race), but there are good things coming out of every race. I am seeing a therapist here to see figure out my back issues, so hopefully I can resolve it quickly! Next weekend is the Holten points race (which has a start list the size of a World Cup) and then on July 22nd is Kitzbuhel. First though, I need to find my bike…it was lost on the way home from Copenhagen!!

I hope everything is going well at home—Happy Canada Day!!!

--more pictures to come!!