Thursday, August 13, 2009

The car is still soldiering on

Another Monday night, another bunch of problem-free lapping sessions for JP and me in the Civic. We ran on some very tired Toyo RA1's and I couldn't go quicker than a 1:04.50, but the car was fun to drive. In fact, with the dead tires in the rear, it was almost tailhappy. Although it threatened to rain all evening, it never really did. When I look at JAG's photos, however, it seems there was something in the air...

Less smog?
Coming up this weekend is the next round of our Time Attack series at St-Eustache. It looks like JP and I will again be vying for best time in my Civic while his awaits a new tranny.

Cool cars spotted:
Alfa Romeo boat-tail spyder
70's Bentley
C6 Corvette Z06
Ferrari 575
Maserati GT
Aston Martin DB7

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Running up that hill.

Yesterday, I ran a 5-mile race on Mount Royal with my sister. Usually, I'm not that into spending money to run a route I can run for free, but it was Val's birthday and I thought it would be fun to run in the same race. I had practiced the route with her on Thursday and told her that she could clearly go faster.

It turned out that 5 miles is slightly longer than the 8 km we had practiced on. Despite this, Val managed to shave off almost a minute from her Thursday time.

For me, the challenge was to go as fast as possible on the uphill section without running out of steam before the second half of the race, which was all downhill. As is typical with these races, the order of runners sorted itself out in the first couple of minutes. I felt good, as I could see the lead group of runners pulling away for a long time before I lost them. I don't think a single person passed me on the uphill section. As I came to the turnaround at the top of the mountain, I saw the leaders and was surprised to see there were only a handful of them. Somebody shouted to me and the others nearby "Let's go, top 10!" and I realized I might actually be in the top 10. I was surprised and very motivated as a result. After the turnaround, I was behind 3 guys that I could see. Three of us passed the other, who was taking very short strides ont he downhill section despite being quite a tall guy. After that, I focused on staying with the pair in front of me, a guy in an orange shirt and one in a blue shirt. We were running at the same pace, not catching anyone else and with no one catching us. I was a few meters behind and the two of them were together. At the 6 km mark, the guy in blue dropped off the pace and it was just me chasing the guy in orange. I managed to keep up with him and pull alongside him. I was truly enjoying this moment of race strategy, wondering who would make a move first and whether the other would be able to counter. This is something you don't get out of a training run! The guy made his move with about a kilometer to go, and I could not follow at the increased pace. I was hoping that he had moved too early and I had an ace up my sleeve: I had practiced sprinting the whole last section of maybe 400-500 meters at the end of my run to see if it was possible. I caught up to him before the last bend and then turned it on on the last stretch, passing him and keeping him behind me. I crossed the finish line tired, but not completely dead. I was happy with my performance, speed-wise and strategy-wise too. I knew I was probably in the top 10, as no one had passed me and as there were only a handful of runners milling about in the finish area. I talked to the guys in orange and blue. The guy in orange was not overjoyed, but we spoke a bit. The guy in blue was in a good mood and we talked about his plans to run the New York marathon this fall. When the results came out, I found out I was 6th out of 106 runners. This is by far the best finish I've ever had in a running race. I know that these Running Room races are not of the highest calibre, but I was still very happy. I was not on the podium in my 30-39 age group, as there were three others in that age group ahead of me. The guy in orange was in the 50-59 group... impressive. The race winner destroyed us all with his time more than three minutes faster than mine. The fifth place guy was 40 seconds ahead of me, so I had no regrets about not catching him... 40 seconds is a lot. All in all, I am as motivated as ever to continue my training for the Orford half-marathon this fall and plan to go on a run this afternoon to complete my minimum mileage for the weekend.

Sorry, no car news then!

Cool cars spotted:
Ferrari 360
Ferrari F430
Ferrari F575
Ferrari 599
Porsche 914
Porsche 996 GT3Austin Healey 3000
Porsche 997 Turbo
Bentley Continental
Aston Martin Vantage
New BMW Z4
Mercedes 500E (I want one!)
Audi RS4

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Driving as much as possible

Sadly, Alex has gone to Chicago for 6 weeks to do post-doctoral work. As a result, I have tried to find activities to fill my weekends. This past weekend, I was invited to drive Carl's Type R at a Solo 2 event. Usually, I don't really go in for Solo 2. I decided to give it another shot. Carl would be driving Oktay's S2000 and I would have the Type R all to myself. I was classed in STX as the car was on street tires (Kumho). I managed not to get lost in the field of cones and did a 1:10 on my first run, 1:08 on my second and 1:07 on my third. Carl told me I could get down to 1:05. He was running 1:03 in the S2000. I managed 1:05 on my next run then 1:05 plus a cone on my fifth run. I slowed down to 1:06 on my last run. I was satisfied with my result. I ended up 13th out of 33 ST class cars. Carl decided to do his 6th run in the Type R. He managed a 1:02. Ouch! I guess I'm not a high level autocrosser yet! I had a good time, but I don't plan to continue to run these events much. 65$ for 6 minutes of racing is just not worth it.

On Sunday, we hosted a lapping day at St-Eustache. It was supposed to rain in the morning or afternoon. It rained the entire day, non-stop. Luckily, Pascal St-Cyr had brought some Toyo RA1's which we put on my car. We then split the track time and had a ball. Despite the 800 lb/in front springs and 1000 lb/in rears, the car handled predictably and well in the wet with the shocks set at full soft. It was a fun day over all.

On Monday, the weather was dry. I mounted some old Hoosiers on the car and went out for a few laps. The tires felt pretty dead, but I still managed a 1:03.88 on a clear track. I then swapped cars with Oktay and did a full session in the S2000. It's really a great car and fun to drive. I didn't push too hard as I'm no rear-wheel-drive expert. Still, I could see the car's potential. Oktay hopped out of the Civic smiling. He had managed a 1:04.9 and was smiling (and sweating). Surprisingly, he mentioned that he found the car physically demanding to drive. Most people say the opposite. JP went out for one session and corded one of the dead tires. For once, he didn't beat my time!

Thanks to JAG for the great photo!
I have been quite busy with my running training as well. I have managed to stay on schedule, running three times a week. Yesterday was a killer, with 10 30-second intervals, which Nico had us do all uphill in 28-degree heat. On Saturday, I will run a short race on Mount Royal with Val (5 miles) on the same trail where I do most of my training (chemin Olmsted). There are no car activities planned this weekend.

I bought a wiper and windshield washer bottle for the Civic and managed to procure a front bumper beam as well. The car is 95% of the way to being SCCA legal. I just have to see if we will attend any SCCA races this year or not. To be continued...

Cool cars spotted:
Dodge Viper SRT10
Maserati GT
Maserati Quattroporte
Lamborghini Murcielago
Ferrari 360
Ferrari F430
Ferrari 550
Bentley Continental
Audi RS4
Audi S6
Audi S5
Audi R8