Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And I'm back!

This is the first opportunity I've had to write since my vacation. It was only one week, but it seems to be taking me all week to catch up on work. Luckily, I have an intern to help out for a few more weeks.

How was Cuba? Great. Relaxing. Great weather. Beautiful beach. Decent food. My biggest complaint was the other tourists. It's amazing how much some people can eat, drink and smoke. I guess that's what you get when you choose a budget all-inclusive hotel. Do I sound a bit snobby? I guess I am. Second biggest complaint? No diet soft drinks at my hotel.

The Cubans were great. They were a friendly and seemingly hardworking people. We were in central Varadero and this allowed us to see many Cubans in their day-to-day lives. We also took the bus to Havana and walked many kilometers exploring the city. It's mostly beautiful, but also a bit depressing to see the condition of many of the neighbourhoods. Still, I would recommend this type of trip to anyone, whether your goal is simply to relax on the beach or by the pool, or to explore a new country.

The cars in Cuba are a strange mix: American cars from before 1960, Russian cars from the 70's and 80's, and modern Korean and Chinese cars. This was the first time I had seen Chinese cars. They look a lot like Korean cars.

I brought my running gear (except my watch) and planned to cover some decent miles. On my first day in Cuba, I planned to go running for about an hour. After 30 minutes, however, I was cooked. Although I had brought a couple of small water bottles, I was overheating, even though it was 5:30 pm. Still, I managed to go out on three other occasions for an hour each. I went out again yesterday and I felt pretty good. I'm glad I didn't take the week off!

The results are now official. My girls' basketball team finished in 9th place and missed the playoffs by one spot. Ironically, Val's team, that finished in last place as far as I know, made the playoffs in her age group, due to the number of teams in the league, I guess. I will go check out that game tomorrow. My men's team will be in its first playoff game Friday.

Cool cars spotted:
New Corvette ZR1
New Audi S4
Porsche Panamera Turbo
Cadillac XLR
Cadillac Allante

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This post is the last thing I'm doing before my vacation to Cuba, so I will keep it short. I've been keeping up the running plan (ran on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today) for the Ottawa marathon. I was not able to do 3 km in 11:30 today, which I was supposed to do as part of a 12 km run. I only managed 11:47. Still, I'm getting in the mileage. I plan to bring my running gear (minus the GPS watch, illegal in Cuba) on the trip so I can do some hot weather training.

It's actually been very hot here. I was able to wear shorts to go running three times this week. Today was a big day, getting things ready at the office to take a week off, then running 15 km, then playing basketball (we won by 10, I scored 8), then packing. I'm pooped and going to bed!

Cool cars spotted:
Lexus ISF
New AMG E63
AMG C63 with modded exhaust
Ford GT
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 without the rear wing
New Audi S4
Audi S6 V10
Aston Martin DB9
1992 Mercedes 500 E
Ferrari F43 Spyder

Friday, March 12, 2010

Final game of the season.

The Collège Reine Marie Diamonds lost their last game of the season yesterday. We were down by 17 at the half, we cut the lead to only 4 by the end the the third quarter, but things fell apart in the fourth quarter and we ended up losing by 24 points. It is now extremely unlikely that we will make the playoffs, as it would take default losses by the 8th place team to drop them into 9th behind us. I really hope we can achieve more than three wins next year. The team worked hard this year and really deserved more wins. I also hope that most of the grade 7 girls return next year so we can play in the same division (grade 7-8) with a more experienced team. I plan to continue to hold practices once a week to keep the team in shape and maybe teach them a couple more things this year.

I have officially started the 12-week marathon training program that Christian prepared for me (Merci Christian!). I was afraid I would get a late start as I had quite a sharp pain in my shin at the end of last week and over the weekend. I think it was tendinitis. I took it easy for a couple of days and didn't run last weekend at all. On top of that, I have been wearing running shoes all over the place instead of other types of shoes with poor support or no cushioning. This seemed to work, as I was able to start the program pain free on Tuesday. Here are the instructions according to the plan, and what I actually did:

March 9: 12 km including 8 x 30-second intervals at 16.5 km/h
I managed 10.2 km and all the intervals at target speed
March 11: 14 km including 6 x 400-meter intervals at 16 km/h
It was late after basketball... I managed 12.6 km and completed the intervals, although on some I did not manage the target speed. In most cases, this was due to a crosswind.

I know I have to stop slacking off on the target distances, and I plan to faithfully respect the plan this weekend (runs planned for Saturday and Sunday). I don't know how I will manage in Cuba without my GPS watch (it's illegal to bring a GPS device to Cuba), but I figure I can make some decent calculations with the stopwatch alone. I look forward to running in shorts and a t-shirt!

There has been little progress on the race car on my end, although Pascal has been working on the interior. The tranny is out and we have to find someone to put all the pieces together: new synchros, new final drive, change to a different differential that will fit with the new final drive. We also need a new clutch. Pascal will then put it back in the car and the result should be a better accelerating car (with only 111 ft-lb of torque).

Cool cars spotted:
Audi RS4
New Audi S4
Bentley Continental
Ferrari F430 (spring is here!)
Maserati GT
Maserati Quattroporte
Mercedes 230G
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Olympics are over.

I'm one of those people who complains when Canadians don't perform well at the Olympics. Anyone who followed the Vancouver games can figure out that I was complaining quite a bit at the halfway point of the games a week ago. I was really surprised at the turnaround in performance as far as Canadians winning medals. I also watched the hockey final yesterday and I could feel butterflies in my stomach, which is not common when I'm simply watching something on TV. All in all, I am extremely pleased with Canada's performance at these Olympics. To go from no gold medals at Montreal and Calgary to 14 in Vancouver is truly astounding.

Last Friday, I had to go through a professional inspection at the office. This was quite stressful, but I think it went OK. We'll see when I receive the Bar association's recommendations.

My 12-week marathon training officially begins next week. I've been trying to ramp up the mileage so it will not be a shock to my system when I have to run over 60 km per week. In the past week, I ran 6 km on Monday, 6 km on Wednesday (in the slush) and 28 km yesterday with a small group from the Running Room. When you start to run distances like this, you can really explore areas further from home. This was the fist time I ran to Laval, for example. I look forward to planning my longer runs on the map so I can enjoy new areas in and around Montreal.

I had a basketball game Friday night and we lost in overtime. We played a solid game, but our shooting fell off in the second half, probably due to fatigue, as we were only 5 players. I think I scored 9 points. I finally scored a foul shot (1 for 2), which has been a problem for me lately. There is only one game left for the girls' team, in ten days. It looks like we will not make the playoffs, as the best we can realistically hope for is a tie with 8th place with a team that beat us, which would relegate us to 9th. Only the top 8 make it to the playoffs. I feel bad about this, as my team is made up of a good bunch of girls. Happily, most will still be eligible next year to play in this same age group, which should mean a few more victories.

Car stuff: not much going on with my race car. I've been closely following the lead up to the F1 season. It should be a very interesting beginning to the season: there are several new teams (between 2 and 5, depending how you count), Shumacher is back, and Villeneuve is negotiating to get back in the game as well. The season starts in less than two weeks.

Cool cars spotted:
Audi S5
New Audi S4
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo II
Hummer H1