Monday, December 29, 2008


Ok, so I havne't been on the blog train lately and with good reason... I found out recently that Kim and I are moving to Trondheim, Norway!

Kim applied for a job that had opened up with the Norwegian Government due to a maternity leave. They were impressed with her resume, flew her over for an interview, and offered her the job shortly thereafter! So, we have both been busy trying to work this all out as Kim leaves within the next two weeks and I'm going to be leaving in February! This was just such a good opportunity that we simply could not pass it up.

Trondheim is located in mid Norway on the west coast in a protected fiord.

Trondheim is an old historic Viking city that is full of culture and history.

Did I mention that Trondheim is an orienteering mecca with elite clubs, world champions, more maps than you could use in a year, and is holding the world orienteering championships in 2010? Yeah, it's that good. Despite being at a similar latitude of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Trondheim is relatively mild with winter temps hovering around -7 Celcius making it a cross country skiing mecca as well. I bet they have over 500 km of trails within a 30km radius of the city centre. Ok, that's a total guess but the above map is of a big area and it is literally covered in trails. I'm still not sure what the mountain bike situation is like there but I'm sure it will be decent.

I think I could get used to this!

These photos were all a random assortment from the Google Images directory. It looks like I can go see 'W.A.S.P.' rockn out with all there skeleton paraphenalia.

I'll try to give more updates as they come. Just writing this has got me really psyched. Can't wait!!!


Winter Wonderland

Well, right after the Stewart Mountain race, the skies started to dump the white stuff until we had a winter wonderland in Victoria and all around the island and coastal mainland. While this isn't extremely uncommon, it's not very common to have so much as once and also to have it last so long. With all the snow, the city half shut down with the small number of snowplows trying to do there thing. At first the snow wasn't too bad and I was able to still ride into work on the ice and snow filled lochside trail with my studded ice tires but eventually, this became too much. The ice became like a skating rink on parts of the road that forced me to move to Cordova Bay road which was now narrower and scarey with all the Victoria drivers with my life in there hands (trust me, this is not a good thing and no one knows what to do when it snows).

You can complain about the snow if you want (and most people do) but you can't argue that it's not pretty and it also brightens up the winter where were used to dark and dreary conditions for months.
Lochside road filled with snow. I tried to bike in to work but turned around after a couple of blocks. The snow was just too deep to keep the bike straight. It would have been some effort to just keep it at a normal walking speed. I worked from home that day!

Cordova Bay with snow filled islands in the distance.
The first signs of snow still didn't stop the Thursday Night winter solstice ride!

Meeting up with the crew for some fresh handmade eggnog
Kim and I spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day up at Jeff Reimer and Kristen Magnusens' place up in Parksville. We spent the two days out on the snowshoes with there three german shepards who kept us all company. It was so nice to spend some good time with them and enjoy some the winter snow.

Big Bear stuck on the bridge
Unfortunately, we couldn't make the lookout that we wanted to as our progress was slow due to the deep white stuff. It was still worth it though.
Cameron Lake

Snowshoeing out in Englishman River Conservation Area

Jeff and Kristen took us to a pretty cool steep eroded bank on the river.

After we left Parksville, Kim and I took the ferry over to visit Gary and Jackie in North Van for the annual Robbins Christmas bash. It was great to see lots of people I haven't seen in ages. Yes, I drank a lot but not quite as much as Robbins who hugged the toilet for a bit the next morning... er, afternoon. We still managed to walk around downtown Van, watched the Polar Express in 3D at the Imax, and built a snowman on the beach in Stanely park. It was a great long weekend and I'm looking forward to some additional downtime over new years and the days following.
Hope you're all having a great time off to visit friends and family.
Happy Holidays!
Todd & Kim

Stewart Mountain 16km Race Report

This was another race that went off very well for me. Similar to the Gunner Shaw race two weeks previous, I had limited training time in but felt pretty good nonetheless. The difference for this race though was the fact that I don't even remember the last time that I ran longer than 15km so I wasn't really sure how I'd hold up come the back half of the race. I decided to stick with a similar plan as in the Gunner Shaw: push hard for 500m to get a good position, ease off into a moderate pace that felt a bit slower than I feel I could go, ease up on the Stewart Mountain climb, push the downhills, get into a good grove on the undulating backhalf, and hammer the last 2km after the last bit of singletrack.

Everything again went like clockwork. I pushed hard and got in a good position along with two other racers. I held on for quite some time but shortly before the big climb up Stewart, they started to push the climbs a little too hard and I knew that I should tone down the pace just a bit. I really wanted to make sure that I had some juice left at the end of the race and knew that pushing hard up the big climb would have limited benefits. I held my position as I ran and power hiked up to the summit and was surprised to pass Shawn Nelson as I did so. Shawn is the brother to Mark who co-owns the Frontrunners Westshore store and is a very strong runner who I have yet to beat in a runner race. He was definitely struggling and admitted to not doing well on the big climbs.

Garth Campbell greeted me at the top of the climb and after some encouragement, I was on the long downhill. Shortly after, Shawn caught up to me and made a pass but continued to stay in my sights for the next few kms. No one else was in sight front or behind so it became a push to maintain position and keep in contact with Shawn.

My plan was working out very well as the run back to the lake felt good and I knew I had lots of energy to bring up the pace and finish strong. Once we got into the final singletrack, I started to reel Shawn in and would make my move as soon as the double track hit. Just as we were about to exit the singletrack, I lost my trail focus for a fraction of a second, smashed my left toe on a root, and planted my right knee and forearm into the dirt. I felt the pain, then the adrenalin kick, got up, and started to run without hestiation. What once started like something severe, quickly faded to manageable as I continued on a little shaken but still going.

After a quick little climb, I started to put on the juice and made my way up to Shawn with about 1km to go. I sped by and kept up my kick to avoid an immediate follow. Without looking back, I continued to push hard all the way to the line. With a quick shoulder check near the end, I could see that I was alone but gave a final push to the line anyway.

I ended up with an impressive 11th overall in a time of 1:12:08 which I was very happy with.

Shane Ruljancich had another great race finishing in 3rd overall and Gary Duncan once again impressed me with 16th overall (and he's in the 50-59 age category!).

It was yet another great race hosted by the Prairie Inn Harriers.

Quickly after the race, the weather started to turn very cold and foul and the next day we all awoke to good snowfall that has continued to last over the holidays. What good timing for the race!


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gunner Shaw 10km X-Country Race Report

This past weekend, I decided somewhat last minute to get off my running ass and push hard in a race to get the blood flowing and to inspire me to run more. I haven't been running too much as my love of cycling and in particular, mountain biking always seems to take precedence. I've been doing some Sunday morning group rides along with the infamous Thursday Night Ride to keep my legs up to speed. The weekend prior, I made the mistake of hooking up for a run with Shane after my Sunday morning ride (that ended up being 5 hours door to door). I got home from the ride late, quickly changed (transitioned), and was running up Jocelyn Peak on the Gowland Tod trail in no time. Now, running with almost anyone would have been bareable but... I was running with Shane so after 1.5 hours of climbing and descending, my legs felt like they haven't felt since the Diez Vista 50km trail run.

Having said all that, my legs seemed to be in good shape for the race and my warmup with Garth and Jo seemed to give my the green light. I've done this race before and although the course had changed, I really planned things out as I wanted to really race this one smart.

I've raced enough running races now that I know I tend to go out a bit too hard, fade in the middle to end, and usually have a bit of a kick at the end. Overall, my back half is usually always slower and this I'm determined to change. I still remember the Pioneer 8km last year in which I came to the halfway point and Bob Reid was there yelling splits.

"13:30" he yelled.

I knew then that I was going way too fast and ended up with a back split of 15:00 even to finish in 28:30. The Gunner would be different.

Before I knew it, the race was on and all the fast roadies led out. The pace wasn't crazy although I was going a bit faster than I wanted. My plan was to go hard for the first 500m to get a good position and clear the crowds, then to ease down into a decent pace with a good push on the hills and leaning into the descents hard. My plan was to keep this pace as I could until I hit the last 2.5 km where I would pick it up and push hard to the line.

My plan was going well at the beginning as I pushed passed several runners and finally gained a good open spot. I should have been a bit further up at the start line but not a big deal. Once I got into a rhythm I had a fellow mtn bike rider friend pass me but then ease off into a similar pace as my own. This worked out very well as I now had someone to push myself with. I found myself making a bit of time on the hills, losing a bit on the flats and then gaining on the downhills. Actually, the downhills surprised me the most as I was really letting it go and making up easy time on other runners.

After 5km into the course, I knew I was right on track as I was feeling good but not too good, and no one had passed me. Then we hit the climb. There is a short but steep climb in this race that seems to just kill me everytime. Every year I just seem to crumble after the climb and this year was no exception. My breathing just went to the red line and it took me a good 5 minutes to get things under control. Even so, everyone must hurt here as only one person passed me and no one else in my sights really let go. This was easily my slowest section of the course but it was also the toughest and I expected it to be so. However, it wasn't long until I hit the bridge on the end of the lake and it was all back to the finish line from here.

Looking at the race map, I knew that just after the bridge is where I would make my move. On a small downhill, I picked it up, passed my fellow mtn biker friend and continued to push up the opposite hill to put in some distance so that he would not hang on. This was my plan from here. I'd push up to the next runner, ease off slightly in their draft, and then push hard for long enough to drop them. I did this with about four runners until I got Lucy Smith, the top female runner, into my sights. I put on a push but was obviously starting to fatigue as my push was much less than it had been. I was still making up some distance but there was just too much to make up by the line... or so I started to tell myself (damn thoughts!). Just as I was going to call it in and give up the fight, Angus, an orienteering friend of mine, was beside the trail and started to cheer me on to catch her.

I put the push back on and came down the final hill to the lake where you have to do a short water run, followed by a beach run to the line. Lucy had too much of a gap on me but then, she took a sharp turn pretty slow and was slowed by the water as well (my long legs definitely helped here), that when we hit the beach I knew I could pass her. I put on a sprint and just grabbed the line ahead. Yes, yes, I am talking about sprinting to beat a girl but I'll take it as she's an amazing runner and I think this is the first time I've been able to beat her at the line. I will say that she probably slowed down on purpose and didn't really care because I wasn't a chick but hey, I'll take it!

Overall, my race went like clockwork and I can honestly say that this was the smartest running race that I've ever done. Yes, I might not be in my top form but I definitely raced as fast as I could have based on my current level of fitness and man did it feel good pushing by people at the end.

23rd overall
My watch said 10.18km so I'll go with that.

Helly Hansen shorts and short sleeve top
Shoes - Montrail Continental Divides
Fuel - body fat ;)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Raid the Hammer 25km Race Report

As part of my work/vacation time in Ontario, I lined things up to coincide with a 25km orienteering race call Raid the Hammer. This event is put on by and is a fundraiser for the Golden Horseshoe Orienteering Club. This event is top notch as far as organization and the overall quality of the event. Competitors are given muliple maps that range from newly produced and detailed orienteering maps to older O maps and even aerial photographs (not in this event though). The event was staged in the Dundas, ON area which is where the Niagara escarpement runs through and with it, the Bruce Trail; this is a trail that stretches from Niagara Falls to Tobermory - a distance of over 800km.

Because of the location, for Ontario, the elevation for the race was quite substantial at around 1200m total elevation over ~30km. While the race is a '25km' race, this refers to running straight-line between orineteering controls which just doesn't happen. So, around 28km would probably be more accurate.

As this event is for teams of three only, I hooked up with fellow Raid the North Extreme teammate Chris Piller and former Supplier Pipeline strongman Bill Wells.

As Chris had been on the winning team of the Saloman Giant's Rib Raid held in April of this year (the other big race in the series), he was eager to try and clinch a double win which, as far as he knew, had yet to be done.

We showed up for the race running a little late and before we knew it we were on a bus to head out to the start line. We had a chance to check out the maps in advance and could see that teams would be split into two groups at the beginning of the race. The start consisted of two loop sections where you had to get three of four controls, come back to the start, do the next loop, come back again, and then head out on the Bruce trail to get to another map in the race. To avoid overcongestion, teams were told which loop they had to do first.

The race started shortly after the bus drop which saw us go from not warmed up to red-lining it in a matter of seconds. Our strategy was to get out front after the first two loops and then get in a groove and try to hold our position. While I love BC and would not move back to the big O, the fall forest here is just so nice. The forest is nice and open with fall leaves covering the ground and that fall smell that I only seem to find here. It definitely reminded me of home - my old home :)

Our plan seemed to be working as we were the first team back to the start after the first loop and headed out strong on loop number two. Just after we picked up our last control and headed to the start line, we heard give out a yelp.

"You ok", we both asked as we slowed our pace.
"ummm, not sure, I just heard my knee pop".

We kept going but knew that this was not good. Chris has raced with Bill before and from what I've heard of him, he is an absolute strongman and will push through almost anything...

Bill had noticeably slowed so we decided to assess the situation at the start line (as that's where we had to head anyway after our 2nd loop).

Bill came in and was not running very well... you could tell he was in noticeable pain.

"This is not like Bill", Chris said as his mood became glum.

"I hyper-extended my knee guys... I think I might be done".

We let Bill know right away that he should make the right decision and not race if he was injured. As Bill is a chiropractor and physiotherapist, he knew he was done. After lying down and having us test his knee with some pressure, he had to pull out.

Chris was noticeably bummed but really, there was nothing we could do other than race hard the two of us (unranked) and try and close the gap we had just lost and win the race.

Chris and I went to work and slowly picked off several teams and closed the gap on the leaders but just could not get enough of the time back. At the end of the race, we were neck and neck with another team of two (one of their members had to drop) but they got a step on us at the last control and came in just ahead of us to take 2nd.

So, we ended up in third overall but obviously did not get ranked as we lost Bill. Nonetheless, it was still absolutely worth it as I had a great time and it just felt so good to get out on a long orineteering map and pushing the body hard again.

I've been on the bike a lot lately before coming out to Ontario and now realize how much I miss running lots. I'm definitely going to make this a priority over the next couple of months and try to put in some good performances in the Island Series Road Races.

Well, that's about it. I'll be back in BC soon and can't wait! I think I'm having Thetis Lake withdrawl.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Past Six Weeks

Yes, I have fallen off the blog train again but for good cause. I have been busy on a number of fronts including work, training, racing and travel. Here is mostly a photo log of my past weeks.

Mountain Biking Mt. Quimper with Doug

Doug Doyle and I headed out to Sooke to explore some of the Harbourview trails. It was quite the grind at times due to riding old access roads and riding (trying to ride) the hiking trail (the old main road) up to the summit of Mt. Quimper. We definitely had a gorgeous day!

The summit of Mt. Quimper

Taking a break at the summit before a bad trail decision for the descent.

Biking and Hiking up Mt. Whymper

This was a great trip organized by some local Prairie Inn Harriers running friends, Andrew and Sarah. Kim and I and Garth and Lara all hooked up and did the drive up to the Cowichan Valley to the base of the summit. There is a lot of logging in the area (it is still active) so you are able to cycle up some good elevation before you begin the hike. So, we all brought our bikes and went to it.
The Bike was pretty grueling but the views were well worth the effort.

Starting the climb up Mt. Whymper

The summit just ahead.

Sarah and Kim making their way up the climb

A good food break at the summit.

All Smiles!

On the way down.

Old spruce skeleton.

Ready for the fast descent down!

Sarah letting go of the brakes; sometimes ;)

Pumpkin Pull Ultimate Frisbee Tournament

The last couple of years I have started to play some Ultimate on and off and decided to finally commit this year and play in a Tuesday night league at the University of Victoria. It has been loads of fun and a great fast twitch workout that I normally to otherwise get much of. I also play after a speed interval workout with the Prairie Inn Harriers so by the end of the night, I'm pretty much played out.

So, along with the Tuesday night league, I joined some fellow teammates to make up a team for the Pumpkin Pull tournament. This is heaps of fun as the tournament coincides with Halloween and every team is dressed up in a theme. Some teams of note were Caddyshack (all wearing golf gear and cardigans), a DnD team consisting of a wizard and other crazy characters, and GoesInTight... Our teams theme was Cabaret and we definitely had some good costumes going on.

One of eight games over the weekend. Here we are playing Caddyshack.


Hovan and Christine looking all ready to take on the town.

Leon found this awesome sequined top.

Team Photo.


On top of Pumpkin Pull, Kim and I dressed up in 70s gear and rocked out at Kim's dance Halloween Party and also as Paul's place (from Ultimate).

Keeping the 70s alive and kickn!

Rippn up the rock band (70s music only) at Paul's place.

Stratford Visit

For the last 10 days, I've been visiting family and friends in and around my hometown of Stratford, ON. I've been having a great time and have been getting in some great recovery but soaking up in my brother's hot tub on a daily basis followed by working out some knots in the legs with the foam roller. I've been working lots as well as I made the visit a working holiday but have still managed to have some good fun including some disk golf (of which my brother is currently obsessed).
After Scott picked me up from the airport, we headed over to a disk gold course for a short 9 hole game. Ah, the nice deciduous trees of the east. As you can see, the weather last week was just fantastic. 15 degrees and one day it went up to 20. I definitely came at the right time!

Scott letting a rocket go off the tee box.

Checking out the next hole.

Scott, Shanon (Scott's wife), and Jason (Shanon's brother) check out the lay of the land on Tee #3 at the Woodstock disk golf course.

Jason letting go of a strong left-handed flick.

We played best ball (best disk) in teams to make things go a little smoother and add some camraderie.

During my visit, I hooked up with Chris Piller for some mountain biking at Kelso and orineteering at Mt. Nemo to sharpen up the skills before Raid the Hammer (I'll cover this race soon; I promise!).
On top of Kelso, through a field of wildness.

Another nice day!
On top of the escarpment and top of the ski hill. Yes, there are some hills here but not much.

Today, I got out for a nice 18km run on some trails I have yet to be on. I started off on the avon river running by the now finished festival (for the season).

I kept following the avon up stream until I hit the Avon trail which then took me back on some country roads back to my brother place.
Winter has now officially arrived as temps have dipped down to freezing and I've gone from shorts and a shirt to tights, a long sleeve, vest, touque and gloves. No complaints here though. It was still a nice day.