Friday, February 25, 2011


Thirty-three participants turned out for the first event of the Spring Fling. A lap of the course was run not only for a warm-up, but to sort out any confusion about which tree marks the finish (a traffic pylon served to further clarify). The location of parked cars was noted, (thankfully none too close to the corners!), layers were shed and the start of the race was less than 10 minutes away. No rain throughout the day left the streets dry and for early February, it was a rather pleasant evening, 4 or 5 degrees. Just a few degrees shy of perfect race weather, daylight would help too. The notable absence of Matt Reeve at the start line left some wondering if the side plaques of the trophy in the office were up for grabs, the previous champion would later receive a DNS. Surely he should have informed someone he couldn’t make it to the race, or perhaps three previous race series victories have made him confident that he can attend 5 or 6 events and still perform well enough to win the series.

Several competitors knew that they were a mere half hour from putting this impediment to the February Push-up Challenge behind them. Without the race (And Sunday’s looming 500m swim) to hinder daily push-up totals, relief was not far off. Some argument briefly erupted over whether tapering for Spring Fling events was a bit excessive. No, it was decided, it certainly is not, it’s practical and quite understandable.

In the end, 14 of 22 athletes who attended the same race in November improved on their times, with the three biggest improvements coming from Keely Hammond (40 seconds) Rodrigo Samayoa (31 seconds) and Stephanie Flynn. Steph was fresh off a 5k PB over the Christmas break and using an interpolated Steveston Ice Breaker 8k time, a 29 second improvement over her November 5k time was calculated. Let’s be fair, we couldn’t force her to race again with only two recovery days. Not to belittle Theresa’s one second PB. A new record is a new record.

Some other personal notes: (If I missed your name this time, please forgive me, there’s 7 events left, one man can only observe so much, and please do feel free to share any race stories with me.)

After a Christmas of debauchery, enormous meals and reduced training; Winston managed to smash his “I just wanna go sub 20” goal with a 19:04.

Thomas finally found a 12 hour period where he miraculously was not sick, and his blood concentrations of NyQuil, Tylenol, Vicks Vapour Rub and Buckley’s Bedtime were at some of their lowest levels in months. Further drug tests are ongoing to determine if his 19:04 PB will be allowed to stand.

Thomas crossed the finish line right behind Winston, both in 19:04. During a post-race interview, I asked Thomas if he had just sat on Winston’s shoulder the whole time, let him set the pace and do all the work. “Oh, no” Thomas replied. “Nothing to do with race strategy, that’s just where I could get the best view of his legs, from a few strides back”. And they are indeed rather nice legs, we can’t hold that against him.

Since several of the club’s members have participated in a V02 max study on campus and now find themselves with an array of numbers with which to make direct comparisons, many were eager to see how Kellen’s V02 of 78 would stack up tonight. I might add that for one brief 15 second interval, a VO2 of 82 was reached. That means his body is using just 4 less millilitres of oxygen per kilogram, every minute, than Lance Armstrong does. The guy that won the Tour de France. More than once. Just 98 less than your average thoroughbred race horse. Just 158 less than your average sled dog. The mighty lungs were good for a quick 18:16. Forced to run alone (not that anyone that tall can really draft), no one was within 20 seconds in front or behind him. I tried to shout some encouragement on the last stretch, “You're near the finish!” After the race, I discovered Kellen had misheard me and took my encouragement for an unsportsmanlike insult. “Your rear is thin-ish”, is what he heard. Not far from the truth.

Vince took 14 seconds off his PB with a 17:41. The Prefontaine of the pack, Vince had the length of two parked cars on the pack before we had seen the orange pylon for the first time. A lead which he held through the first mile and even successfully defended once or twice. Still 4 seconds shy of Matt Reeve’s November record, I am reminded. Some rivalries never end, even with geographical separation.

On the girl’s side, American Triple T partners Kim and Victoria were separated by only a single placing, so they should have no problem holding the same pace as a team in Ohio.

The top 4 spots were filled by competitors who hadn’t raced the 5k in November. Kaley set a new course record of 19:29, while Naiely Cabrera took second on one of her first few runs with the club. Lauren was just a few seconds behind followed by Stephanie Urness. With the new point scoring system, all of them are within a few dozen points of each other and the Spring Fling title could still have many contenders. Kaley’s win comes after a rather high mileage January with a 22k run just two days before the race, so there’s reason to believe the girl’s record could be lowered even further. Never has the point series seen so many athletes who are quick when it comes to one aspect of the triathlon along with many well rounded individuals. Competition should be close on both the guy’s and girl’s side.

For myself, the first mile flew by as I tried to gradually reel in Vince. I try to never look back so I could never be sure who’s echoing footsteps followed, watching as their shadow merged with mine every time we went under another lamp post. Not the most relaible way to keep track of distance. In the end, Max stuck within a second of me and I think he likely pushed me to take 15 or 20 seconds off my time. Carl wasn’t far behind, and when you consider his training was almost exclusively in sub zero temperatures, in the snow, with downhill skis on, he raced very well on this somewhat drier, warmer, and very much flatter course. Vince, Barry and Brendan all finished well under the 18 minute mark.

As I crossed the line, Jen, (who’s Achilles had graciously volunteered her to be the timer) called out “seventeen flat”. My watch agreed, 17:00.32, if you can get that kind of precision with a Timex. So if I had worn my brand new 4.6 ounce shoes, had a little less pasta for lunch, had there been one less turn in the course, I might have broken that magic 17 minute barrier. Had the ancient Babylonians (from whom we have borrowed our timekeeping) chosen 61 as a base for their numeral system instead of 60, I would have made it easily. These are a whole lot of excuses for not pushing just a little bit harder.

John Heinz 17:00
Max Stallkamp 17:01
Carl Reilly 17:24
Barry Claman 17:33
Vincent Lavallee 17:41
Brendan Neaf 17:54
Kellen Kjera 18:16
Liam Harrap 18:50
James Montgomery 19:00
Winston Guo 19:04
Thomas Belshein 19:04
Ben Kresnyak 19:10
Drew Senay 19:11
Nathaniel Janzen 20:10
Rodrigo Samayoa 20:26
Scott Chris 21:01
Matt Ridley 21:50
Johnson Jia 22:11
Mattias Kretschmer 24:43
Matt Reeve DNS
Kaley Strachan 19:29
Naiely Cabrera 20:41
Lauren Slattery 20:46
Stephanie Urness 21:04
Victoria Gilbert 21:08
Kim Seder 21:23
Stephanie Flynn 21:23
Theresa Price 21:27
Keely Hammond 21:29
Karin Olafson 21:55
Sherry Gu 22:24
Dina Bulfone 23:14
Jen Bhatia 23:24
Lauren Riva 23:45


Kellen Kjera said...

Very nice job John! haha.. "a bit thin-ish" hahah!!! :) made my day!

Lauren Slattery said...

I love the lamp post / shadow comparison you made, I was doing the exact same thing! Excellent writing:)

Winstonian said...

Awesome race report John, and congrats on getting the course record! I like your version of the story better, tho I'm pretty sure Thomas was ahead of me the whole time. ^^