Friday, October 31, 2008

October Running

Over the summer, I was dealing with some chronic shin issues that never had the chance to heal. After our last big race of the year - Muskoka 70.3 I took a break and did not run for the rest of September allowing my legs the chance to rest and recover.

After those couple weeks I began a new running regime. I ran frequently but for short periods of time and at an easier pace. I want to allow my legs to build up their strength slowly to avoid injury. Since the beginning of October I have run every day. The first week I ran only 10 minutes, the second week 15 minutes, etc. I am now doing 30 minutes every day and my legs feel GREAT. Not a hint of discomfort.

Typically my running speed will be in the 7:00-7:30 range for almost all of my runs. In this build though I have been enjoying running with Kylie and Gracie for all of the runs and have thus been running around 9 minute miles. Not only have we been able to enjoy a lot of family time on our runs but the runs have benefited us in different ways. The reduced speed for me has allowed me to increase my run frequency while allowing my shin to heal. At the same time, Kylie has enjoyed the the company on her runs and has benefited from the consistency.

While I will start to increase the speed on many of my runs as I build towards next years races, we will keep a couple family runs each week as we both love them so much.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Muskoka 70.3

I grew up in Canada, and raced in Graham Fraser's Trisport Series from 1993 until 1998, when I moved to Southern California for chiropractic college. When they announced the Muskoka 70.3 race last year Kylie and I signed up immediately. I was excited to race again in Ontario after 10 years away and Kylie was excited about doing an international race and having a vacation in Canada.

A few months after signing up for the race we got engaged. We decided to have our wedding a week before the race so we could have a reception with our Canadian family and friends while we were already going to be in Canada. Its pretty crazy that you have to sign up for these races further in advance than it takes to plan a wedding ;-)

A month or two before the race we were contacted by one of writers for the local newspaper and he did a story about us coming to the area from California to do the race on our honeymoon.

We were surprised when we picked up the race program and saw that our picture also ended up on the front of it - a very cool honeymoon memento!

As this race was on our honeymoon we raced in bride and groom jerseys that Kylie's mom had bought for us. Our running visors and our shorts had "just married" logos and Kylie had a veil sewn into her visor ;-)

On the Friday before the race we went to Deerhurst resort in Huntsville to register for the race and to do a short swim on the course. We also drove the bike course, which made us realize that while there was no huge hills on the course, there was no flat on the course either! It went up and down constantly which would definitely make it challenging. Th e roads were in great condition for the most part, except for a few miles near the end.

Saturday morning we dropped off our bikes at the transition area before heading to my dads house for our Canadian wedding reception (see previous blog post). That night we again stayed at my brothers house in Bracebridge which was a very manageable 25 minute drive to the race site. We awoke a few times during the night to the sound of very heavy rain and hoped it would pass by morning.

On race morning we drove to Huntsville in intermittent light rains, still hoping it would not get any worse and maybe even clear up. Kylie and I set up our transition areas and then headed down to the swim start. Our trip to the swim start took longer than expected as we kept bumping into people and chatting. I all of a sudden realized I needed to HURRY to the water as I was in the first age group wave and the pros had already gone off.

I made it to the water with only a moment to spare so I did not get the chance to get a warm up of any kind. The horn sounded and we were off! Within about a 100 meters or so I started to hyperventilate, due to the lack of warm up and then going out hard at the start. After almost coming to a complete stop to catch my breath and let what seemed to be the whole wave pass me by I was able to start swimming again. Once I got going I started to feel really good in the water. After turning at the the second buoy we had a very long straight to the last turn buoy, which was very difficult to see. Fortunately I had made a mental note during our practice swim of a white boathouse on shore behind the buoy that I could swim towards. Almost everyone I was swimming with started to drift very wide here while I was able to hold a straight line to the final turn. After that last turn we swam toward the exit at a set of stairs they had built for the race. We got out of the water on the golf course and had to run about 300 meters up a big hill around the hotel to get to the transition area. As I got to transition I heard the announcer say that the first age grouper had just started the bike which was a very pleasant surprise because I figured with my problems at the beginning of the swim that I would have been further back.
T1 was uneventful, just a quick in and out. I decided to leave my sunglasses there as the rain had already begun falling harder. Fortunately, it was not cold or it could have gotten quite miserable.

I immediately felt pretty good on the bike and began to pass some of the pro women who had started a few minutes ahead. About five miles in I passed someone from my age group and asked how far ahead the leader was and he told me that I was it! I hoped he was right but, I still asked each of the next three or four pro women I passed just to be sure. We certainly were not mistaken about the difficulty of this course, it was unrelenting! Up, down, up, down, corner, up , down...fortunately it was as beautiful as it was difficult. Around mile 40 I started to tighten up a bit and felt a bit rough over the next 10 miles or so. During this time three age groupers passed me and on one of the last hills I dropped my chain and one of the pro women I had passed earlier passed me back. The bike course was about two miles longer than a normal half ironman as the course circled Lake of Bays, so the only way to shorten it to the normal 56 miles would have been to build a bridge. So while it was one of my slowest half ironman bike rides, with the hills and the extra distance, it was actually a very solid ride. This was one of the first times I have gained the age group lead on the bike and held it into T2. My normalized power on the bike was 230 watts, while my AP was 220 watts. Basically one watt higher than I had done at California 70.3 in the spring.T2 went by quickly and I started the run pretty strongly but I had to make a concerted effort to slow myself down as I had been doing very little running this year due to a persistent shin injury that I had never given the time to properly heal.

Despite the downpours there were still a lot of spectators out cheering us on. My groom tuxedo jersey really got the crowds going and Kylie said she had the same reaction to her bride jersey and veil! Around mile 8 the wheels slowly started to come off. Around mile 9 I lost the age group lead and I was unable to respond. At mile 10 as we started to run on the golf course trails the eventual winner of my age group passed me. I could see a couple more runners behind me at that point and I had to dig REALLY deep for that last three miles to maintain my position. Between the unrelenting hills on the bike and run and the extra weight of my waterlogged socks and shoes my legs were trashed by the time I got to the finish line.After crossing the finish line I made my way to the ART tent and had my legs worked on. When I was finished I noticed that the massage tent looked pretty empty so I was able to get a massage as well! I picked up my dry clothes bag from the morning, and put on everything I had in an attempt to stay warm. I then tried to figure out where Kylie was on the course so I could cheer her on. I finally found her as she came by the finish area with three miles to go in her race. She looked GREAT! While everyone around her seemed to be struggling with the hills and the rain she was running strong. I headed back under a tent in an attempt to stay dry while I waited for her to finish. Once again I bumped into people I used to race against 10 years ago. I always enjoy catching up with people in the sport that I haven't seen for a long time.

Kylie finished really strong, she actually had a half marathon PB on THAT course in THOSE conditions! And her best overall placing in a race of that size. AWESOME!

We headed inside for some food and then headed to the awards ceremony. When I went up for my age group award Kevin MacKinnon noticed my tuxedo race outfit and asked me about it. So I was able to share that Kylie and I had just gotten married the previous week and that the race was part of our honeymoon!

The award was really cool, rather that a typical plaque or medal they had awards designed by a local artist. They were etched glass on pieces of local granite - very cool.

I would really recommend this race. Muskoka is one of the most beautiful places in the world, the course is challenging and Trisport has always been one of the best race organizers anywhere.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


After the wedding Kylie and I rode the tandem up to her mom and Dennis' house. We changed, packed the car and then headed south, back to Monterey where we had reservations at The Sanctuary Resort. Kylie's mom decorated our car! Due to how hectic things had been for the couple months leading up to the wedding we were both exhausted. So while we did get up when our breakfast was delivered at 9AM we slept, read, ate and slept some more until 4:30! The latest either of us has ever stayed in bed. We enjoyed the fireplace all night and all day but it made the room too hot so we opened the patio door too keep the room cool. The bonus was since we had an oceanview room we could hear the waves crashing on the beach the whole time - a VERY relaxing sound. Here was the view of the ocean from our room:

Once we finally did wake up we went for a walk along the beach. We enjoyed the sand dunes that are are actually protected in the area, checked out the surf fisherman and everything that had washed up onto the shore, including this jellyfish!

That night we went into Monterey and had dinner at one of the seafood restaurants on the pier. The following day we got up early and rented kayaks to explore around Monterey Bay. We paddled around the pier and in front of the aquarium where we had stoppped with my family just days earlier. We were able to see a LOT of different sea life including sea otters, sea lions, seals and even dolphins! Initially we just saw the dolphins jumping a little ways off, in front of the jetty by the harbor, but on the way back we decided to kayak into the harbor and ended up coming across two dolphins. One actually jumped within 10 feet of my boat and VERY cool. Here is Kylie in front of a number of sea lions sleeping on the jetty.
After enjoying more of Monterey we headed back home to Redlands, so we could pack the next day for stage 2 of our honeymoon. This was to fly to Canada for our Canadian reception with all of my family and friends and then race a half ironman!

Upon reaching my dads house, they had a sign hanging outside the door welcoming, Michael and Kylie Donia. We visited with my dad and step mom that evening and the next day she took some more pictures for us. Including some very beautiful ones at a conservation area near Apsley. We then drove through Algonquin Provincial Park which was just beautiful, but unfortunately we were a little early for the fall colors, and did not get to see any moose. The next day we stayed with my brother as he lives close to Huntsville so we could get registered for our half ironman race and check out the race course. We were pleasantly suprised to see that our picture had been used on the front of the race program put out by the local newspaper! They had done a story on us because we were coming up to to the race from California for our honeymoon. :-)

We then headed back to my dads house the next day for our Canadian wedding reception. When we arrived we found a cool direction sign my dad had put up for our guests! They had a HUGE spread of amazing food. Many of my relatives and friends from college came out to celebrate with us. It was great to see everyone and we are thankful they were able to be there with us. The next day was our race, which I will save for its own blog post.

After the race we spent a day in Muskoka before heading into Toronto where we did some sightseeing, including the CN tower and dinner at Wayne Gretzky's restaurant to finish off the Canadian experience;-)

The final shot for this post is a picture Gisela took of us in their front yard.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wedding Day

After a very hectic couple of months which included: giving my notice of resignation at work, moving to a new city, getting a dog, commuting 100 miles a day to the old job, wedding planning, training for a half ironman, beginning business planning for my own office, and travelling from So. Cal. to the Bay area with family, our wedding day was finally here!

The day before we had a rehearsal at McNears Beach Park where the ceremony would take place the following day. Here is Kylie and I standing in front of where we would be married less than 24 hours later.
To respect the tradition of not seeing the bride until she comes down the aisle I stayed at the hotel that night with my mom and Kylie stayed with her mom and Dennis. The next morning I got up and went for a run before getting ready for our big day. (Kylie was out running about the same time, so its a good thing we didn't bump into each other ;-) Here is my mom pinning on my corsage. And here is my brother Richard who was my best man, my dad and myself.

Then we got word that Kylie was on her way down to the park so Gisela finished with our pictures and I went to the Beach area so I wouldn't see Kylie while her pictures were done. After what seemed like a long time Richard came and got me so the ceremony could begin.

Kylie's nephews Ethan and Luke were our flower/ringbearer team. Luke had a little difficulty navigating the runner that was on top of the long grass, so he went down a few times, but they were awesome! Here Kylie is coming down the aisle with her mom and dad. It was an amzing wedding, a beautiful day, a fantastic setting, wonderful friends and family and a gorgeous bride! Presenting Mr. Michael and Mrs. Kylie Donia:Gisela got some beautiful pictures, I love the lighting as well as our expressions in this one:

Here is a picture of all of our new complete family that was there:

After pictures everyone sat down to eat:
There were a few and toasts including a very funny one by the best man:

Afterwards we had our dance:

We both LOVE ice cream. It is definately better than regular wedding cake so we asked a local ice cream shop if they could do a wedding cake. They had never done one before, but said they would buy the molds and make one for us. Each layer was a different flavor: strawberry ice cream with angel food cake, mint choclate chip ice cream with chocolate cake and cookies and cream ice cream with chocolate cake. IT WAS AWESOME! Our theme for the wedding was tandem bikes "Pedal Together Forever" so our cake topper was quite fitting:

We definately left the ceremony in style:

California Coast

The week before our wedding, my mom, my brother Richard and his girlfriend Maria flew into LAX to travel north with us to the wedding. Richard and Maria had not been to Los Angeles before so we did some sight seeing before going home.
We first had lunch on 3rd Street Promenade, here Maria displays the beer Rich and I each enjoyed with our food. We then headed over to Venice Beach to do some people watching and let them onto the sand and see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. As it turns out we all ended up in the ocean ;-)The next day we were up VERY early to avoid LA rush hour and began our drive north. Our first stop was just north of San Simeon to check out the elephant seals.

We then continued further north to Big Sur to check out the Redwoods, here's Kylie and I in a hollow in one of the trunks of the trees.
Then we jumped back into the car to get to Monterey where we had lunch at Bubba Gumps and checked out the Monterey Aquarium. Here is my mom, Rich, Maria and Kylie at Cannery Row in Monterey.Once finished there we drove the remaining hours up to San Rafael. After a night of sleep we headed out the next morning to do some wine tasting in the Sonoma area where Kylie grew up. Here's Kylie and I at one of the winery's we visited.

The following day we took the ferry across from San Rafael to san Francisco to have lunch at Fishermans Wharf and check out Golden Gate Bridge. We of course had Clam Chowder in sour dough bread bowls! Here is a picture at Fishermans Wharf with my mom, Me, Kylie, Rich, Maria, my dad, Gisela

After this we got married, which this trip was all about in the first place ;-) Stayed tuned for that post!