Friday, March 26, 2010

Gotta Love Rick Mercer!

Just a quick note to reinforce how much i enjoy Rick Mercer...a little out of the blue i know, but just got done watching his recent show.
Rick was at the 2010 Paralympic Games and was hanging out with the athletes, in particular Brian McKeever. Brian is a visually impaired x country skier who ALMOST got the chance to compete in the Olympics, but ended up winning 2 golds (maybe three actually) in the Paralympics. Rick does such a great job in many of his shows, showcasing para-athletes such as Brian, wheelchair curlers, sit-skiiers, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair is a great step in showing the world that para-athletes are driven and skilled and deserving of respect.
I emailed Rick (shot in the dark from a million miles away), asking him to come on down and take on a summer para-sport. I told him to come out and attend our local race in August, lead me through a Try-a Tri and let me be the backseat driver. Also to get Syd out there to maybe give Rick a bit of a scare(blindfolded) on the back of the bike..
Rick is great, he is usually game for fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe he'll find this to be a new and fun experience.
Anyhow, done rambling, just was very excited bout his recent show...keep up the good work Rick!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Still Alive, still kicking, just a bit delinquant

As my wife pointed out to me earlier this week..."You haven't writen in your blog forever, you should get back to that..." The context I think was partially due to the fact that she felt that my loyal readers (or reader, thanks Aunt Pat!) may be missing me. I also think it was partially due tot he fact that she wanted me to perhaps vent, err, umm, i mean SHARE with somebody other then her for a change...and you know what? She's right. More on this later.
(goofing around with new helmet--above)

I am clearing out some cobwebs and getting back at it, as i fell 2010 will be a full year, lots going on, and much to look back upon and look forward to. Thank you for checking back in, and I hope 2010 is a memorable one for you too, for all the right reasons.

Well, since my last real blog back towards the end of 2009, much has been happening, and much is in the process of happening. Since he fall, one in which our cat of 3 years "Marbles" decided one October day to run into the corn field behind our house--never to be seen again; I competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships; we held our 3rd Annual Stubborn Buffalo 8 Miler; and our renovations were finally hasn't slowed down all that much.
The start of 2010 has been rough personally (hence the reason my wife is glad I share with more then just her alone), as I've been battling some pretty hefty demons. As most know, I base my life on the theory that anything truly is possible, that everyone should live with a great amount of perspective on what truly matters in life, and on the fact that being negative is poisonous to the soul and to the ones around you. Trying to keep ones self positive is sometimes a tough road to tread, but thus far I've managed to do so; that is until recently. Thus far in 2010 I have had to "prove it" on a daily basis--prove to myself that the words I preach to others are correct. I must daily prove to myself that there are no excuses to remain positive, that challenges are merely things that you must find a way to adapt to and then move on. Hence my new favorite mantra of:


The fact that last November i visited my eye doctor and found that my current vision is now roughtly 10-15% of that of a normal person, and indicated a roughly 10% drop from the previous year, only confirmed the reason for the current difficulties I face. However, so far in the early part of 2010, I had seemed to be losing the mental battle, losing my perspective, losing my ability to adapt, and spiraling into a world of "can't"....which was obviously VERY disturbing and VERY upsetting to me. I knew growing up that things would get rocky, but I promised myself that i would l not lose, I would remain positive and keep plugging away. So after a very rough January and a progressively better February, I now enter into March. I feel more postive, more proactive (hence the blogging), and more able to assess, adapt, and move forward.
The demons i battle on a daily basis regarding:
-how do i get outside for a run when i'm too frightened?
-how do i admit that i'm frightened?
-how do i get my friends to realize that things are much tougher and i need their help?
-what if they don't want to help me or can't help me?
-how am i going to train for an Ironman (Ironman USA in July) if i have to do it all by myself and nobody will run or ride with me?
-what do i do if my vision won't allow me to work properly anymore?
-what happens if the nausea and fatigue and headaches i'm getting from my vision get worse?
...and so on and so on?

I have found answers to some of these, and for the rest i have decided that there is no sense in dwelling, as i must just do the best every day i can, and keep that perspective. I am blessed with a super supportive family and most of all a wife that won't LET me lose. I know she feels helpless, but SHE knows that i don't need sympathy, i need her to first of all understand, and secondly kick my in the rear. She is doing both:)

As i continue to look forward to 2010, facing new challenges and adapting to my ever changing circumstances; i still feel very much excitment for what is going on locally. Local races, local athletes and the promise of a great 2010.
Coming up we've got our 2nd Annual MUDDY RIVER RUN in April, hosted by the VON. We've also go the Trot to the Beach and Rondeau Triathlon's as per usual. This year's SBES (Stubborn Buffalo Event Sereis) is shaping up to be the best ever with the events as follows:

WIND-ING UP FOR 2010 (May 15) Wine tasting/season kick-off party at the Smith and Wilson Winery

CYCLE WITH THE HERD 100K- (May 29) A 100k/50/20k bike ride that replaces our spinathon and gets everyone outdoors. The ride will run from Erieau to Morpeth and back, with routes going along the lake and through Rondeau Park.


STUBBORN BUFFALO 8 MILER (November -first sunday) This year being help in Wilson's Conservation Area, as we've looked for a few years for the perfect location...and i think we've found it.

This year we will have many many local athletes taking on big challenges and representing our areas with pride. Athletes will be running 5k's all the way up to Marathons----doing try a tri's all the way up to Ironman distances. Chatham-Kent is chalk full of great athletes and i hope 2010 will allow them all to shine.

A quick picture of my new Big Al (my racing tandem) is too big and twitchy for many of my potential pilots...thus limiting my outdoor riding time... I have purchases a mountain bike tandem for kicking around on... So far so good, as Mindy feels comfortable and I have been out a couple times already this year. Nothing beats outdoor riding!

As mentioned above, 2010 will have much to look forward to. There will be numerous local races, SBES taking place, local athletes competing all over the place and plenty more opportunites for Chatham Kent to show it's talent.
For myself 2010 will bring IRONMAN USA in July, which will be 6 years to the day i did my first Ironman there... this will be my 7th Ironman (6th finish). I also hope to race several local races with a few different pilots, as Syd is still my guy but HE'S GOING TO BE A DADDY in July, so he's goign to be a bit too busy to do too much racing. He and I will tackle the Ironman though.
Syd and I also hope to travel to Budapest Hungary in September for the ITU World Championships (Olympic distance) i can stake my claim to potential spots on the Canadian National team if/when triathlon makes it to the Paralympics.

Other then that, not too much else new..I will try to keep in touch, and be a little less winded next time around.. Thanks for reading!

Bikes looking a little lonely in the garage:)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Over $31,000 to "comfort" a life

How i wish I could say to SAVE a life, but as we know, ALS never releases anybody it grasps. One day however, one day.

This past Nov.7th, we held the 3rd annual STUBBORN BUFFALO 8 MILER, which is a road race to raise money and awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). This cause is my mission, as after watching a couple individuals die from this disease, my life's perspective has forever been altered.

Our race was held on a very thin shoe string budget, but as i said, even if we only raise $100, that is still $100 more that can be used to comfort somebody dying from ALS.

The money is used to buy equipment and supplies needed to help support a dying patient. We do use some of our series' money for research, but the larer need is immediate, in helping keep those dying from the disease, as comfortable and as independant as possible. Research is important, as without a cure, this is all without a point; however if we ONLY focus on the cure, and forget about the current victims...well that would be a horrible injustice as well.

The run was a success, raising nearly $2000, which i was shocked at....with only 45 participants (we threw the race together in about a month's time)...this amount of money was a blessing.

I am pleased to announce that over the past three years, since the Stubborn Buffalo Event Series took shape, we have raised over $31,000 for the local ALS society. I know this isn't big in the grand scheme, or when compared to other "big engines" such as the MS, Cancer, Heart and Stroke, Lung, groups. We just aren't in the same league, and frankly, 31 thousaund IS a lot of money to me, and it DOES make a tangible difference. So although i would always have loved to raise more, i am still pleased with the efforts of our commitee, and i am aiming big for 2010, and striving to hit the $50,000 raised mark.

Ya $19,000 in one year is tough, but we've got three events to do it, and we'll be at it bigger and better then ever.
Thanks for ALL your support, and we look foward to seeing you out in 2010, stay tuned for updates on this blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gotta love K-Swiss!!

Check out he new pair of Canada Flag K-ona's from K-Swiss. Erik from K-Swiss hooked me up with this sweet pair of lightweight trainers...can't wait to set some new PB's with them.

Look forward to the potential of continued partnership with K-Swiss, they are one class act!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ironman World Championship 70.3...2nd place!


This past Saturday (Nov.14/2009), myself and my guide and friend Syd Trefiak, ventured down to the sunny south! Clearwater Florida!
Our mission? To take on our third and biggest event of the year, the Foster Grant Ironman World Championships 70.3 .
Syd and I met up earlier this year when i began my Paratriathlon career. He stepped up to the challenge and decided to help out a perfect stranger continue his athletic career. Going to a World Championship was a reward or good karma for somebody who does something that Syd did, being selfless. We raced a half Ironman earlier in the year, and the Paratriathlon USA championships in July; both great successes and learning curves. We hoped to have our act smoothed out for Florida, and i believe we did-turning in a performance that surpassed my goals.

Trying to keep it fairly short, please enjoy the race report. From the eyes of a blind will be interesting to get Syd's perspective on the day.
Thursday--- We arrived early, after an early wake up call, to a chilly and WINDY Clearwater... It wasn't much different then the weather at home--expect more palm trees. The order of the day was to meet up with Matt Miller (C Different founder) and Aaron Scheideis the CDF this kid has it all---speed, looks, talent, etc. He is one fun guy. We were also off to make sure that "flaming big al" made it safe and sound. This is my tandem, not a long lost uncle!! Big Al made it safe and sound and so we rode it back to the hotel and unpacked. That evening was cruising the expo and then off to the pre-race banquet. The dinner was on the beach, a beautiful setting normally, but this day was freezing and windy; not the most enjoyable of evenings. Off to bed to catch some much needed sleep.

Friday(NBC day!)-- This was a LONG day! Syd and i got up fairly early, took Big Al out for a cruise to make sure he was race ready, and he was. Since i was battling the beginnings of a head cold, Syd went off for a short run by himself. My main mission was to not get so sick that i would be unable to race, but man i was worried, as i was feeling cruddy for sure. Once Syd was back from his little warmup, we hopped on Big Al and rode down to the expo to visit with Erik at K Swiss. Erik is one super cool and super nice guy...I chatted with him a bit bout myself and career, and my connection with C Different, and i proceeded to purchase some Canada flag K-0na shoes...these are super sweet lighweight trainers by KSwiss, and let's just say Erik gave me a deal i couldn't refuse. After this we headed into the Hilton as i had an NBC interview scheduled for 11:30am---a quick stop to say hi to Kevin Mackinnon and Greg McFadden, two friends of mine--then it was time for the interview. After about a 30 min chat with the NBC camera crew, Syd and i had some still pics taken, were given the GPS i was to wear on race day, then we were off to the Pro panel press conference. Sitting at a long table with Aaron and about 8 other pro's, was pretty cool, but obviously i was the SLOW guy of the bunch. A quick lunch in the VIP booth and then we were off to the Pro Pre-race meeting. One hour later, that meeting was over and we were free to "enjoy" the rest of the day. This amounted to dropping off our gear bags just as it got dark, heading to the hotel for a 1 hour rest, then dinner, then back for an early bed time. Holy moly, we were all just wiped out...and ready to that'd be the easy part! I am not complaining though, as the C Different, Ryan and Aaron, ALS, and "yes you can" stories all got told and covered very well. Nighty night!

Saturday(Race day!)--- Woke up at 4:30am and downed a couple Peanut butter sandwishes, as i forgot my normal BOOST drinks for pre-race... Syd convinced me the PB sandwish was the way to go. I agree it didn't upset the gut, but didn't quite have the oomph i needed. We (Syd, Aaron, Matt and I) drove off to transition and as we entered...immediately 2 cameras swarmed on Syd and I... I guess they saw when we checked in, and now were getting their pre-race coverage. The idea was to "look cool" and not appear nervous:) I really wasn't that nervous to be honest, i was pretty tired and a bit worried that my non-existant headache would come back with a vengance later in the day (thankfully it didn't). Had a bit of a pre-race interiew in the transition area, then we were off to hit the Porta John, then the swim start. The swim was originally supposed to be in the Gulf of Mexico, but due to rough surf and rip current, they switched it into a nearby protected harbour---fine by me, as i wasn't feeling my swim was up to snuff. After standing around for a little bit, it was time to put the wetsuit on, and head to the dock, smile/look focused for a few more cameras, then hop in the water. We got to start at 6:45am in the pro wave (pro women, as the men started a few minutes after us). The sun was just coming up and was promising to be a gorgeious day. BOOM! went the cannon and we were off. My goal was to hang at the back of the pro women pack as long as i could, then just get the swim done. We were doing ok, and somehow i felt myself being pulled backwards. Hmmmm, odd! I guess while looking into the sun, Syd mistook a small bouy for a swim cap and swam to the wrong side, stringing up our tether----oh well, i wouldn't have seen it either!! I actually thought he sangged a person, as the bouy looked like a head!! Syd calmly took his tether off, unwrapped it, put it back on and we were off. We had lost the pack and now were basically alone the rest of the way. We managed to get a bit over half way before them pro men flew by us. I felt cruddy, and very unpowerful, but somehow managed a sub 34 minutes swim, which was actually my goal. Got the wetsuit stripped off, tethered stuck on my feet--slight delay--then we made the run into T1, grabbed gear bags, into tent, threw on shoes and helmet and were off!
Onto the 90km bike (after the 1.9km swim), we took it out steady and decided to not kill ourselves and leave a bit for the run. We found ourselves totally alone---pro's in front, age groupers behind, it was very very strange. We saw 5 people the whole race (passed them handily) and never got caught by a single rider. Syd and i both were riding strong, and felt good, despite very very very very sore posteriors and backs.... More kinks definatley need to be worked out in this regard. My goal was to average around 37km/h and we managed to average 40.22km/hr for a 2:16 bike ride...I was pumped for sure! OOOOH DOLPHINS!! was the highlight of the ride (for Syd anyways)..and the NBC cameras coming up to film us was quite awesome too...."look intense syd, look intense!" Into T2, shoes on, and we were off on the 21.1km run!
My goal was to run a sub 1:40 half marathon, but considering the way i was feeling the preceeding days, i was just happy to run the whole thing. Syd is good at keeping me steady and avoiding the quick start. We held a strong pace the whole run, only fading a tiny bit about 3/4 of the way through...his knee was hurting, my stomach was hurting, but we managed to keep it quite strong and average a 7.55 min/mile pace (I was aiming for a 7:45/mile pace), so not too bad. Seeing Aaron and Matt 4 times was fun, and we realized we were neither gaining, nor losing time to them. We knew we'd not catch them, so we decided to not blow on the day and kept it steady. Seeing my buddy Debbie Regals out there (fellow Blazeman Warrior) was awesome too. The crowd and athlete support for Syd and I was unreal, i've never had so many people say so many encouraging things, they truly understood our mission. As we appraoched 2 miles to go, i realized we were pretty much on track for a 4:45-4:47 overall finish, which was right on my goal of a 4:45 finish. It was going to be tight, and Syd decided to step it up the last hurt, but we sucked it up and managed to both ROLL across the finish line in 4:43!! A new personal best for me by 25 minutes and we ended up 25 minutes behind Aaron. Great race for me, but would've loved to get closer to Aaron. One day for sure...i just need to work on my swim and a few other things...and perhaps get more agressive on the bike. All and all we had a ton of fun, and Syd and I were VERY pleased with our day. Very satisfying.
Final thoughts?-- Coming in with the goals of sub 34 swim (swam 33:xx), a sub 2:20 bike (rode 2:16), a sub 1:40 run (ran 1;43) my sub 4:45 finish...i was pleased for sure. I ended up 4 of 7 Paratriathletes overall, and got a 2nd place finish in the Visually Impaired group (yes there were only two of us, but i truly believe my time would have been good enough for 2nd against all the other VI athletes i know, alhough it would've been close). AND i've not taken on Canada's other fast Blind guy, Brian Cowie...
We got our story out, we gained people's attention, and respect, we gained potential sponsors and product support and we finsihed 2nd in a World Championship!! You can't end 2009 any better, as when the year began i didn't kow if i'd even get to do one race, let alone 4 (2 big prestigious events). Thanks to Syd, C Different, Aaron, and my wife for all the help and support. This year makes me very eager to plan for the future and the potential to inspire others that they can do anything....just adapt to your situation, and figure out a way to get it done.
Oh ya, and thanks to Big Al , my comfy Running Free shorts, CDF shirt, Rudy Project sunglasses and helmet, and New Balance shoes...they got me to the line safe and sound...
and i can't WAIT to get out in my new K Swiss shoes, hoping for some new PB's outta those puppies!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A years journey..

Reflecting back on this past year...I can't help but realize how things have changed quite a bit. However despite what most thought, it isn't all negative.

Nearly 1 year to the day I rode my bike by myself for the last time (Oct.11/08), at the Ironman World Champioships; watching a dream slip into the darkness before my very eyes (no pun intended)--I hop aboard my new ride (Oct.10/09).

It's funny to look back upon the year that has past and realize how life has changed and has stayed the same all at once. I admit looking at the above images of my "final ride", make me cringe just a bit. It was not the fairy tale ending I had pictured....bombing across the Queen K, well trained, motivated, and on a mission to have the best day of my life. Instead, I scratched and clawed my way through the longest bike ride I have ever done (not in distance, but in time..) I guess it is only fitting that my final solo ride take me the longest to complete. Far from my envisioned triumphant farewell to solo racing; instead came one of the most brutal days of my athletic career. The day went wrong from the start and I felt like I was on the outside looking in, losing control of the situation until ultimately my day was done.

Sad yes, angry yes, motivated for sure...

Humbled? You can't help but be humbled by being so prepared and then being blown to's the mystery that is the Ironman...and i love every second of it.

So as this past Saturday i found myself aboard my new tandem ride, i couldn't help but reflect on the year that has been. I dream of the day i get to return to Hawaii for redemption, and I remember fondly the many thousands of kilometers I travelled under my own power.

When i reflect on the year I find good and bad (well not bad, just more challenging i suppose)


- I got a new bike

- I got a glimpse of truly who my supporters and friends were/are

- I was giving new gifts/opportunities in the way of Syd, sponsors, an invite to the Ironman World Championships 70.3, C Different Foundation, MJ, Brian and all the rest who have helped me "learn" the paratriathlon ropes

- An opportunity to inspire, educate, and motivate people to turn a challenge into a challenge. What do i mean by that? We many folks thought since i couldn't ride anymore due to my vision challenges; then i'd give up the sport and "move on". This was never an option, so i took that challenge and turned it into a new challenge; like NYC triathlon, racing the best Paratriathletes, going to Ironman Worlds 70.3, going back to Ironnan USA Lake Placid next year...and more to come i'm sure.

You don't give up, you evaluate, adjust, and go for it.


-the cost of this "adjustment" in my career

-having to ride 90% of my miles indoors, as even though i have great support group, people are still hard to nail down with busy schedules. So i had/have a hard time when all the others i used to ride with, are outside, and i'm not...but such is life

-as mentioned before, you realize who your support crew are, and you lose supporters and gain all new ones. So it's not all bad i suppose.

Really those are the only real challenges i found...and as you see there are far more things to be gained then lost, which is hilarious as many people thought this would be more of a LOSS then a's perspective i guess.

Which finally brings me to my point of the "year in review"

I look at how my life has changed in a year...some good, some challenges, but all and all, i'm alive and still get to race.

I look at some "year in reviews" of people in my life and i realize that whenever i look at those Kona pictures and cringe...I must also smile and feel lucky enough to be reflecting upon them.

You see, two folks in my head stand out...Jon Blais, and my father Adelard Van Praet. If we did a year in review for them for 2005-06 or tells a whole other story of how life can change in a year; quite dramatically.


Jon- 33 years old, diagnosed with ALS

-Become first person with ALS to complete the Ironman

Adelard Van Praet- father of three, husband, retired and livin life. Diagnosed with ALS


Jon-In a wheelchair, losing mobility, speech

Adelard-In a wheelchair, losing mobility and speech




So when we look back on a year, we remember the good, the challenges, the changes, and most of all the future possibilities.

Remember can change in an when faced with a challenge.


Take a look at your support crew, thank them and appreciate them, and realize that every day good or bad is still an opportunity to learn and experience new and exciting things. Do not take it lightly, as in waiting for that perfect day, or year, you will miss the wonderful ways in which you've learned, experienced and grown.

Get out, get movin', smell the roses, and don't wish the days away in hopes of something better.... Better is NOW!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chatham duathlete heads to the Worlds Championships

In the every continuing recognition of our local endurance athletes, today I thought i'd write a quick blurb about one of Chatham-Kent's most consistant and successful triathlete/duathlete.
This guy has been around the sport for the same amount of time that I have, we've raced and trained together several times, and i've watched him post some very impressive results.
I believe that any C-K athlete who can make it to a World stage in their sport deserves two thumbs up, as C-K can bost many success stories in the endurance sport genre, this story needs to be shared.
Gavin Stuart is no stranger to representing C-K and Canada on thw World stage; in 2007 he travelled to Germany to race in the ITU World Triathlon Championships. This past weekend he travlled to Concord, North Carolina to compete in the ITU World Duathlon Championships, consisting of a 10km run, 40km bike, 5km run. The ITU is the International governing body over triathlon and duathlon, and each year brings representatives from each country to crown the world's best; not only in the pro field, but in the Age group and Paratriathlon categories too. Gavin competes in the Male 45-49 age group, against 38 others in this years race. So how'd he do? Quite well I think... "i had a good race and was happy with all my splits" says Stuart, who placed 234 of 577 overall participants in the race. You can't complain bout that one.
Here's a shot on Gavin on the run, in truly an International affair:

I am pleased to know virtually all of C-K's deep talent pool in the endurance field, and am always excited to hear of new success stores from people i've never met. For a city known for hockey, soccer, baseball, I must again stress the fact that we've got some very talented "long-haulers" out there, so be kind to them when you see them out on the road, don't get pushy or impatient...heck you don't want to push another World Championship contender off the road do ya?