Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Bored

It has been 3 weeks since my double sports hernia repair. I am going to see the surgeon in 3 days to hopefully get the green light to resume training. This will be the longest time without training for me in the last 21 years. I feel pretty good but I am waiting for the doctor to give me the ok to get back at it. I didn't wait long enough in the past and I don't want to make the same mistake again. I plan to start slow with some easy Computrainer rides over the next two weeks and then get into some running, cross country skiing and swimming. I recently received some photos from the Hawaii Ironman (finally) and thought I would share them with you. While we are in the early stages of our winter  at home these pics take me back to the beautiful weather in Kona.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Off Season Surgery

Two weeks ago I had some long awaited and much needed surgery. Not a life saving sergery. It was a bi-lateral sports hernia repair. For those who may not know what a sports hernia is, it is a weakening or tear in the abdominal wall. I originally had a hernia repair back in 1988 and everything was fine until early 2007 when the problem returned on the left side again. I had it repaired in November of 2007. With 2008 being a Paralympic year I think I was a little anxious to get back to my training and went to a training camp in Victoria in December. At the camp we were doing rides that were a minimum of 3-4 hours and as much as 6-7 hours per day. A little too much, a little too soon and I tore it again in early 2008. Being a Paralympic year there was no way I could afford to have the sports hernia repair done in 2008 and qualify for Beijing so I raced through the year. Just prior to the Paralympic Games I tore the right side but raced through the injury. Having aspirations to make the 2010 Winter Paralympics in cross country skiing I put off the surgery again. It was a stretch to think I could become good enough cross country skier, fast enough to make the cross country team. By February I had given up on the thought of making the cross country team but now we were into prime early season cycle training, and again could not afford to take the time off for surgery and rehab. I raced the whole year with the double sports hernia and finally when the season ended in November I had the surgery. Now I am 10 days into recovery and feeling better each day. I am being patient this time and waiting the appropriate time before I return to training. I should be able to return to light training in the middle of December. At my age I feel I can't afford to sit around and miss training for very long.

Monday, November 16, 2009

UCI Paracycling Track World Championships - Manchester UK

Sorry for the delay with this post but we did not have Internet access in the UK.We started our trip on October 26th with a week long pre competition training camp in Wales at a fantastic facility in Newport.

Our new custom built track tandem from Dolan Bikes. It is very compact and responsive. It handles much better than our old tandem.

 On November 3rd we moved over to Manchester 3 - 4 hour drive from Newport. The track at Manchester is one of if not the fastest track in the world.

Manchester Velodrome

Canadian National Paracycling World Track Championship Team and staff

Devon and I during our bronze medal ride

Our day begn with qualifying for the pursuit for all tandems at 11:30 am. We were in the last pair at about 12:30 pm. Being last to qualify is an advantage because you can see how fast you need to go to qualify for the medal ride. The fastest four ride for the medals. The top 2 times ride for gold and silver and 3rd and 4th ride for the bronze. Riding a successful pursuit is all about knowing how fast you need to go, setting a schedule of lap times and staying as close to that schedule as possible. To make a long story short we qualified 4th and would ride later that night  for the bronze medal. It was a nervous afternoon waiting for the evening race  We had been in this position before in 2006 at the World Championships but did not win our medal ride and finished 4th. We were the underdogs tonight but were determined to have the best ride we were capable of. We are notoriously slow in the beginning and at the first km  time check we were behind but slowly a tenth per lap we began to pull the Spanish team back and by 2.5 km we had them . We continued to build our lead and came out victorious.

    A huge " thank you " to our coach Hushang Amiri (www.pacificcyclingcentre.ca ) for all his help and guidance. "Couldn't have done it without you Houshang "

Men's Tandem 4km individual pursuit podium.

Monday, October 26, 2009

UCI Paracycling Track World Championships

Leaving this morning for the UCI Paracycling Track World Championships to be held in Manchester UK from November 6 - 9 .We have a stop in Newport, Wales for a preparation camp until November 3 when we will head over to Manchester for final prep. Should be exciting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Race Day - Part II ( The Bike )

WHEW ! ! ! At last the swim is over. Not because I am a poor swimmer or that I find the swim physically difficult. It is very stressful not to be able to see where you are going. Imagine swimming with fogged up goggles in an ocean swim . That's not exactly what my vision is like but it may give you an idea what it is like. We head through the fresh water showers, grab our cycling bags and head into the transition tent. It is organized chaos in there. the volunteers a little more organized and the racers a little more chaotic. They are trying to save every second possible. We take our time , making sure everything is ready for the 180km ( 112 mi ) bike. We cross the timing mat, mount our tandem and start hammering. Immediately we start to pass other cyclists. I had [planned to keep count but that idea goes out the window in the first 5 minutes when we must have passed 75 - 100 riders and I lost count. We climb Palani and now we are on the Queen K and rolling along betwen 40 - 45 km/h ( 24 - 27 mph ).Everything is going great. We cover the first 60 km in 90 minutes, right on schedule. I feel good about our progress , especially as we riding onto a headwind. We battle a continuous headwind all the way to the turnaround at Hawi and it is HOT ! Thinking we may get some tailwind assistance on the way back from Hawi I am disappointed but not surprised to find that we have a crosswind for about 20 - 30 minutes after the turn around and then another headwind all the way back. The Kona winds are not kind. Our speed is slowing down and we fail to meet my time splits at 120 km and 150 km. We are still passing lots of cyclists, in fact we passes 768 riders during the ride. I wonder if hat is some kind of record. At about the 130 km mark I am having a lot of discomfort in my left hip and quad. The night before while riding to transition to drop off our tandem and transition bags I had a little accident. Our cycling shoes were in our cycle transition bag so we were riding in our flip flops as we had done several, times before. However to add to the unstable conditions of my flip flops on my Speedplay pedals I now had our 4 transition bags in my left hand. Do you see where I am going with this ? My left foot slipped off my pedal, I had mt left hand full of transition bags so I had no support on the left side and I fell off ,landing on my left hip ,knee and jamming my toes on the pavement. There had to be at least 200 - 300 people around to witness my expert cycling skills. I jumped upi mmediately, more embarrassed than hurt at the time .I don't know if this had any affect on my race but it couldn't have helped. No excuses though, the Kona gods kicked my ass.`As we approached the bike to run transition I was looking so forward to getting off this bike. For those of you who have never ridden a tandem and for those of you who have, 5 hours on a tandem is like 7 - 8 hours on a single bike.Your back hurts, your butt hurts, everything hurts. WE finish the bike ,grab our run bags and head into the transition tent. It feels so good to be sitting on a chair, something wider than my butt as opposed to a bike saddle. Sorry no pics at this time. Next the run.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Race Day: Part 1 (The Swim)

Sorry for the delay but I am finally ready to give you my race report from last Saturday's Ford Ironman World Championship.4:00 AM - In that brief moment when you are waking up but your eyes are not open and you are not really aware of what is really going on ,I wonder why is the alarm going off. Oh ya. I am doing the Ironman today. Usually I am awake long before the alarm sounds on race day but not today. That was the best "night before" an Ironman sleep I have ever had. I am not sure if that is a good sign or not. I don't seem to be as nervous as the previous 24 hours prior to a race. i get up mix my bottles of high concentrate Carbopro ( 1200 calories per water bottle ), eat a bowl of oatmeal and we are off on our 20 minute walk to the start line. As we continue on we encounter more and more racers nervously funnelling toward the pier. It's still dark but you can see by the stars in the clear sky it is going to be a beautiful morning. We arrive at transition with plenty of time for body marking, and final prep on the bike goes smoothly and now all there is to do is change and get ready for our 7:00 AM start. I put on my new Point Zero 3+ speedsuit generously supplied by Guy Crawford and Blue Seventy. This swimskin is AWESOME, it fits like a second skin and you can feel your increased speed and the ease in which you move through the water. The cannon sounds and we start at the back , waiting for the main pack to move off ahead of us.
I thought it better to avoid the washing machine effect as Devon has never been in a race of this size and never experienced what it feels like when over 1500 vertical bodies become horizontal and start thrashing their arms and legs. I must admit I have experienced this and was not too anxious to re-live it. Besides holding back and waiting 30 seconds or so is not going to make much difference in a 12+ hour day . The water is so clear and it makes it much easier for me to follow Devon and the other swimmers with my limited vision. We have a plan , if we get separated during the swim I will wait for Devon at he end of the swim. Miraculously things go well and we are never more than 10 - 20 meters apart and Devon always seems to know where I am and we never really lose each other. Devon is new to swimming and our plan is to keep a steady pace of about 22 minutes per kilometer. The swim was rather uneventful. No kicks to the face or punches to the back of the head. There was some slight body contact but there always is in a race when everyone
is heading for the same small section of beach. The swim goes well and we exit the water in 1:28, right on target. Up the stairs , through the fresh water showers to wash off the salt water and into transition. Part 2 (the Bike) to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Day Before

It's a Friday, the day before the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championships. There are people all over town getting their last training runs in or just trying to relieve the nervous tension before the big race. The streets are crowded with competitors, conspicuos by their shaved legs and extremely low body fat. There are lots of people working feverously to prepare the start/finish for tomorrow and you don't see how they can complete it on time but you know that somehow they will, after they seem to get it done every other year; Why should this year be any different. Today has been far more hectic than I would like it to be. Too much walking, too much time in the sun. A lot of last minte issues. I am not sure I am mentally ready for this race and being ready mentally is so much a part of Ironman. But I am here now and ready to make the best of it. The Ironman will NOT wait for me to get my head into it.

Friday morning at the pier with the transition in the background.

A look at te set up for the start/finish from the pier

Entrance to the Ironman Demo Expo which featured a number of swim, bike and run equipment manufacturers.

At the Expo you could try out a number of bikes including Cervello,Ceepo, Quintana Roo along with Zipp wheels and all kind of pedal systems.

You could try out several kinds of speedsuits as well as the Fast Lane system which creates a current in your pool which you swim against for a swim workout at home.

Myself and Ironman legend Dave Scott. Dave is a 6 time winner of the Hawaii Ironman. At 55, Dave had planned to compete this year but was hit by a car earlier this year and was unable to race, hopefully next year.

The end of another day in paradise, or as I see it, the calm before the "storm"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kona , Tuesday October 6th

Things have been going great. The town is filling up with Ironman competitors and their supporters, the best Iron distance triathletes in the world are here in this small town, on the coast of Hawaii. There are also hundreds of volunteers who travel to Kona to participate. My supporter, my eldest son Sean is here . My other son Aaron and my wife Marlene are unable to make the trip due to school and work. I know they wish they were here to cheer us on in person but will be following online and cheering loudly back home in Burnaby. Today is a rest day so we only did a short 1/2 hour swim this morning.

The best bike shop in townBike Works. It has everything for the cyclist and triathlete. Everthing from swim,to bike, to run plus nutrition and service.

This is Lava Java the hot spot in town for the triathletes. Especially in the morning after a swim in Kailua Bay

Devon, my pilot (right), and I (above) at the view point on the Queen K

A beautiful Hawaiin sunset. The end of anothrer day in paradise but one day closer to a long day of "hurt".

Kona Days 3 & 4

Training has been going well. Nothing special to report. Swimming in Kailua Bay each morning, riding the Queen K and running on Alii Drive. Here are a few photos

A shot of the lava fields that flank the Queen K highway where most of the bike ride takes place as well as part of the run.

The famous Banyon tree outside the King K Hotel at the start/finish.

Our new custom carbon tandem by Calfee Design. This is the best tandem I have ever ridden. Very fast. We were easily cruising at 45 km/h today.

This is the pier where the race starts and hundreds of Ironmen come each morning for their daily swim.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kona Day 1 & 2

We are finally here and it's just as awesome as I remember it from my last visit in 1993. We are staying in a great 3 bedroom condo about 1 km from rhe srart line. We have been out on 2 rides on our new custom carbon frame from Calfee Design. It is an awesome ride. I have ridden several tandems made by different builders and this frame from Calfee is by far the best I have ever ridden. It is light , stiff and is a perfect fit. These are the three most important aspects of a tandem, especially the stiffnrss. These 3 features are very difficult if not impossible to find in a racing tandem. We have been out on the Queen K and the pavement is prisitne. It has been hot out there and the Kona winds are relentless. Be back tomorrow with more and some photos to go along with it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leaving for the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championships

I am starting this blog to document my experiences at the 2009 Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. We leave tomorrow for the big Island of Hawaii. We will be there for 10 days before the race which is on Saturday, October 10th. As usual I am asking myself if I am ready, have I done enough to prepare myself for the 4 km swim, the 180 km bike and the 42 km run. I have asked myself this question prior to the previous 10 Ironman races I have completed. I was never sure, this time I am. I don't think I have done enough. As a member of the Canadian National Paracycling team, cycling is always the priority. So my swimming and running has suffered a bit this time around. In the next 11 days, I will document my final preparation for the Ford Ironman. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My name is Brian Cowie and I am a visually impaired Paralympic athlete. In the days, weeks and years to come I hope to give you some insight ( no pun intended ) into the daily life of a Paralympic athlete. Stay tuned.