Guelph Lake Triathalon038

June Reflections 2009

Wow! Another month has passed, and boy has it been a busy 30 days. And while it wasn’t as crazy busy as May was, there were still some highlights to share, lessons learned along the way, and goals to work towards in the future.

Memorable Events:
1. Guelph Lake Triathlon: The first half of the month I was finally able to get back into some serious training the for event on the 21st. Boy did it ever help! If you want to read about it, check out my post here (link being upated)

2. Board Game Nights: The most popular game this month was Munchkin. For those who haven’t played, this is a really fun and sometimes frustrating board game. The premise is to fight monsters, steal their treasure, and gain levels. The catch is that everyone gets interesting wild cards that can seriously hurt or help you in battles. Just wait until the first person gets to level 9 until all the big guns come out! This is definitely great negotiation practice combined with strategic thinking. Read more about the game here.

3. Raw Food Pot Luck: Last weekend I had the chance to attend a raw food potluck. And as the name implies, everything that you bring must be raw. There was so many interesting and tasty foods there, it was hard to believe that everything there was raw. Some surprises (in a good way) were “burger patties”, raw ketchup, two kinds of guacamole and corn on the cob marinated with olive oil and salt, I made some sun-soaked mint tea which was hungrily gobbled up. Thanks to Yafa for introducing me to the event. For more info, check out the link to the group here.

4. Toronto Jazz Festival: Right at the end of the month, I had a chance to go and check out the Toronto Jazz Festival. On two consecutive days, I went to check out different events – the first was an open air concert by Jamie Cullum and the second event was a world-record attempt to hvae the world’s largest saxophone ensemble (they were hoping for 1,000 people). Both were really cool and interesting in their own way and it was great to go and participate in some of the festivities happening in the wonderful city I call home. Check out some pics from the sax event here.

June Reflections
So in addition to the fun and interesting highlights, June was also a learning and growth period for me. I’ve been challenged a lot by recent work activities and have a couple of things I wanted to focus on:

1. Personal Development: At work, we had a performance review session reflecting on some things that have gone well and things that we can improve on for the future. I’m hoping to do something similar in my personal life as well in the next month or two.

2. Leadership: Such a broad and vague term, but I’ve got some specific things that I’m going to actively work on moving forward. (and maybe it’ll turn into another post later if all turns out well)

3. Have more fun! It’s summer and time to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. If you’re free and want to hang out, let me know!

4. Summer Projects: I’ve got a bunch of stuff on my “When I have a spare weekend/It’d be nice to-do” list, it’s just a matter of finding/making the time and getting to it. Some things include selling my old hockey cards (anyone know someone who can help me out with this?) and going on a portage/hiking trip, and working on improving/refining my writing style, to name a couple.

5. Reading more. Lastly, I’m hoping to find some time this month to continue reading and expanding my mind through enriching, thought-provoking books. I’ll be sure to post some summaries when I’m done with them, and you can check them out at my facebook group (link being updated)


A Guelph Lake Triathlon Weekend

This weekend I participated in my first ever triathlon. It was something I had decided a couple of months ago to give myself a new and interesting challenge for the first half 2009. And so early this morning, I found myself lining up along the beach of Guelph Lake ready to participate in my first triathlon.

I had been pondering the idea of participating in a triathlon for a little while and it had always seemed to be some giant insurmountable physical task (which it isn’t!). And so after doing a bit of research and found out that the distances involved in a triathlon aren’t as bad as I thought it would be (I was thinking about the Ironman distance which is really nuts!), I settled for the Olympic distance which still seemed to be quite a challenge, but definitely something I would be able to overcome with some training. The distances for the Olympic distance are 1.5km swim, 40km bike, and 10km run – and by themselves seem pretty manageable. However, when you string them together consecutively, that could be another story…

And so, a couple months ago on a cold February night, I went past the point of no return and signed up for the Guelph Lake triathlon event. I submitted my application, paid the registration fee, and essentially gave myself no way to back out of the event, even if I wanted to. It was to be the first Olympic distance in Ontario for the 2009 season and something I felt would be a worthy accomplishment to check off on my lifetime to-do list.

And overall, it went much better than I had expected. My goal for the event was just to finish the race (they have a 4 hour time limit) and based on some of my training times, I was projecting a 3 and a half hour race if everything went well.

And so allow me as I indulge myself and take a bit of time to recap the race and relish the moment of completing the event. Overall, I came 361st out of 465 participants, and 18th out of 20th in my age group. But the main thing that I’m proud of is the fact that I beat my goalof3.5 hrs, completing the race in a total time of 3 hrs 5min 40 sec. Here’s how it got broken down:

Swim: 33min 1 sec
Bike: 1hr 27 min 6 sec
Run: 59min 24 sec

And now for the recap of the event:

This was quite a rush with a mass start for all 465 participants. I started off towards the back of the pack, and relatively quickly settled into a groove. I had a couple issues in sighting and got a bit off track for the first part of the swim. I definitely got swum over and tangled up with a bunch of other swimmers, but because I felt really comfortable in the water (and with the added buoyancy of a wetsuit) I was able to stay calm, relaxed, and focused on pulling with my arms and gliding through the water.

On the second lap of the swim on the home stretch back towards the beach, I got into a really nice groove with this girl who was swimming right next to me. I think we sort of drafted off each other for a bit and pushed each other to keep up the pace and stroke rate.

As I stepped out of the water, I couldn’t believe it heraing James yell at me that I was out in only 33 minutes. Maybe it was the adrenaline of the whole event, the extra buoyancy/speed of the wetsuit, or both compbined, but it looked like things were off to a really good start.

Transition 1
This was a frustrating transition. After getting out of the water and feeling quite good, I struggled for a bit to start undoing my wetsuit. It turns out there is a velcro flap at the top that prevents the zipper from getting yanked down during the swim and it took me a while to figure out to undo that before finally getting the zipper undone. The other even more frustrating part of the transition was that my left contact had fallen out during the swim (it was still sitting in my goggles when I took them off) and after struggling for about 5 minutes trying to put it back in, I eventually just gave up and completed the rest of the race with clear vision from only one eye. Who needs depth perception anyways?

This was the longest leg of the race, but also the leg I felt most comfortable in. Getting into a groove wasn’t really a problem, and I was able to rehydrate myself and get some fuel in me to help push through the rest of the race. Right off the bat I ate this energy gel that’s supposed to give you lots of energy, but it was really thick and actually quite disgusting tasting. I think it did help though as I felt fine going through the rest of the bike course.

Overall, the bike course went well – though it was mentally tough getting passed all the time by other riders. I like to think that they had a lighter and more efficient bike than mine as I was using a pretty old bike I got second hand off of craigslist. What was encouraging though was on the uphills as I was able to make up some time and pass some people (but only to be passed agian on the flats and downhill sections of the course). Also encouragin was seeing my times through the different splits and knowing that I was on pace for a faster than normal bike ride.

Transition 2
Coming back into the transition area was great. The fans and spectators were cheering and I had a perfect dismount just before the line where you have to get off the bike and run your bike into the transition area. I was in and out in a jiffy as I already had my shoes on and just had to rack my bike and take off my helmet.

The run was by far the toughest leg for me and I knew it would be going in. What didn’t help was that just after leaving the transition area, and trying to get the blood flowing to my legs, the muscles in my quads starting cramping up big time. It got pretty bad and I had to take some time to try to walk it off, even stop to try and stretch it out, and just push through the sometimes excrutiating pain. Trust me, it’s not fun when you want to run, feel ok to run, but just can’t becaus your muscles are cramping and shouting at you to stop. And so it continued on and off for the first 3 kilometers where it would start to release and I would try some light jogging, but then a different area of my quad would start to cramp up and I would be forced back to a walking pace.

Eventually though by kilometer 4 I was somehow able to get jogging consistently and starting to focus again on the race and not on my muscle cramps. Kilometers 4, 5, and 6 allowed me to transition up to the race pace I wanted and I was slowly able to overtake almost a dozen people during these next few kilometers.

K 7 and 8 would have been the toughest if it weren’t for all the pevious muscle cramps. I had to really focus on keeping up the pace and finishing strong. At K8 I kept up with another runner who looked like he wanted to make a stronger push for the last 2 k, and boy was that a struggle! Finally, in the home stretch and final kilometer, I just gunned it and gave it everything I had, working up to sprint for the final 500 meters. I had just enough gas in the tank to power through as you come through the final turn and you hear the crowd cheering and see the transition/finish line in sight. With my lungs burning, I gave it one more final push, overtaking another dozen or so people before crossing the finish line and feeling a huge wave of relief and euphoria that I had completed my first Olympic distance triathlon.

Thanks to James, Ron, Eric, Esmond, Nelson, Jing, Wei, and Pat for coming out to support me today in Guelph. I couldn’t have done it without your support and a big thank you to everyone else who encouraged me along the way. As for my next personal challenge, I’m not sure what will be next. Any suggestions?

The Simple Pleasures of Life

This morning, I had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful breakfast outside on my patio. The sun was shining, the birds were singing their morning song, and I had a delicious breakfast of eggs (over easy), a bowl of cereal, and English tea. Nothing fancy, just simple, honest, and tasty food!

To me, this was a great opportunity relax, enjoy a minute of peace and quiet, and take a step back to enjoy some of the simple pleasure of life. And I think that’s the reason why I’m writing this post – to give myself some time to reflect, relax, change up my daily schedule a bit, and just enjoy the moment (and have more of these kinds of experiences in the future too).

And in our culture of trying to cram in as many activities as possible, I think it’s something that most of us don’t take the time to do and I’m so grateful for this opportunity this morning. It could something as simple as enjoying the feeling of the sun warming your skin, feeling the cool and moist air of the early morning, going for a walk or getting some exercise, or even just listsening to some great music to name a few. And I mean really savor and enjoy the moment. Focus on the little details, like watching a ladybug stretch out its wings, listening to every note and taking in the harmonies of the music you’re listening to, and feeling truly alive.

To me, this opportunity has reminded me of how fortunate and blessed I am. Life is too short to be angry or bitter, to hold grudges or be upset about things that you can’t even change. It’s far better to let it go, do what you can to the best of your abilities and live life to the fullest with as few regrets as possible. That reminds me, I need to get going on my to do list for today!

Life is good – cheers to more happy and fulfilling experiences.