Friday, April 30, 2010

They can't all be wins...

Just got back from my basketball game. We lost by 20. The series is now tied at 1-1 and next week's game will decide the championship. I can't say we did anything specifically wrong. Our top scorer scored a bit less than usual, our second scorer barely scored, our 3-point specialist did not hit any, as far as I know. Our two fast break specialists performed normally. I did not score, which didn't help. The other team's outside shooting was really hot. We could not keep up. I would have liked to see some offensive fouls called on the other team, but I can't say I played a brilliant game defensively either. The other team really "brought it". We will have to get it together if we want to take them next week. The other down side is that now I will have to leave for Calabogie at 5:30 in the morning next Saturday instead of leaving with the gang on Friday. Bummer.

Tomorrow morning is Perry Auto's open house for racers, I will try to take some pictures. I might also "visit" my race car at Pascal's. If so, I will again try to remember to take pictures.

News of Alex:
Alex is working really long hours this week, often late into the night. I don't know if I could be that productive if I had to! She found out this week that she will be getting a job interview for a professor position she had almost given up on. I have a good feeling about this one!

Cool cars spotted:
Ferrari F430
Porsche 998
Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Maserati Spyder
Saab 900 SPG
Saab Viggen

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Time to get to work on the car...

I can't believe it snowed all day on Tuesday. It was not just a few flakes either... I went for a 12 km run in snow and slush and it was extremely unpleasant. I wasn't able to do my 30-second intervals as there was simply not enough traction. I never expected to have to break out my winter running gear again! At least I was glad that I wasn't feeling any after-effects of my half-marathon training run on Sunday. Does this mean that I am fit and don't feel the effects of a hard run, or that I could have gone even faster? I don't know... This week is a low-mileage week, and I am enjoying the rest (of running 44 km instead of 75!).

Alex is still very busy with many work projects. This means that I can catch up on several car-related activities this weekend while she is working. These activities include:
- going to the open house at Carl's store, Perry Auto Laval
- picking up some used race tires from my friend Nigel
- helping Pascal mount the doors and bumper on the race car
- getting some race and street tires mounted on various wheels
- visiting me engine guy to pay him for some work
- going to a Federation meeting as a representative of my club, AISA

Monday-night lapping will begin on Monday, but my transmission won't be in the car yet. I will only get it back from the transmission guy on Monday, at which point Pascal will install it. I guess my first use of the car will be to head to Calabogie the following weekend. Hopefully, all the necessary tasks will be completed before then. I have the student list for the school and 3/4 of the students are advanced (usually it would be closer to 1/2)... should be fun! Then, I will have only 2 weeks to organize our participation in the Mosport Sundown GP 3-hour enduro. This should be relatively straightforward, as we have not done anything to the car that would affect its reliability. Stay tuned...

Cool cars spotted:
Porsche 998
Maserati GT
Audi RS4
Aston-Martin DB7
GMC Safari Condo off-roader (!)
Nissan Figaro
Acura NSX

Monday, April 26, 2010

Breakdown of yesterday's run.

This is the data from my half-marathon training run yesterday. The horizontal dotted line represents my average pace of 4:09 per kilometer. I'm happy to see that my pace was generally consistent. This was something I had not managed in the Hypothermic half-marathon in February. This time, I managed to not go too much faster than the pace in the first half of the run. I was fortunate to have Alex with me on her bike. She carried my water and gel packs and stuff, and generally encouraged me, saying stuff like "OK, only 12 minutes until the turnaround point" or "only 25 minutes and you're done!". When I needed a drink, she would pedal ahead and station herself on the side of the trail to hand me a bottle. Pretty sweet.

One problem with the data is that I ran pretty much a straight line out and back, and when I turned back, there was a slight wind against me, which means I had a tail wind in the first half. So I don't really know if the fact that I slowed a bit in the second half (and my heart rate climbed) is due to fatigue or the wind or both. One thing I do know: I was nowhere near as dead as I had been after the February race (remember those photos of me after the race?). I felt pretty good. I feel pretty good today as well, no soreness anywhere. I really have Christian Brouard to thank for the awesome training plan. Whereas in February, I had hoped to do a time of close to 1:30, I really had no basis to expect a strong performance. Now, I am following a detailed training plan with specific instructions for each run. The instruction for yesterday was simple: run a half-marathon at a pace of 4:10 per kilometer. The fact that Christian expected that I could do it at this point made it seem possible and it turned out it was possible. If my marathon goes as well as yesterday's training run, I will be very happy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


21.1 km in 1:27:40. Personal best. Very happy. Not easy...

Racing season is underway!

It's again been a pretty busy week. Last weekend, we held our first AISA auto racing school of the year at St-Eustache. I think we can call the event an unqualified success. There were over 60 students and 30 instructors. The atmosphere was great, the weather was all over the place and people seemed to learn a lot and have fun. There were some crazy cars this year... there were two 600 hp rear-wheel-drive Porsche 996 turbos in my group. There were multiple other Porsches, V8's, and all-wheel-drive turbo cars. I rented out my blue Civic to a student from Ontario, and he seemed to enjoy himself, despite less than stellar handling due to a worn bushing in the front suspension. Usually, I try to get in a few laps in the race car at this school, but the transmission rebuild has not yet been completed. I think I only actually drove three laps all weekend (in a 2007 Golf GTi, fun car, but more for the street than the track, in my opinion). The next event is the first Monday of lapping on May 3rd. We are also hosting a second school at Calabogie on May 8th and 9th. Alex will be joining me for the Calabogie school, and it should be a fun event. Here are a couple of photos of the school by Gabriel De Tilly:

Porsches on parade
The blue Civic in action!
News of Alex:
Alex has been quite busy with work since her return from Chicago. She has many work projects going at the same time. However, given that she is not someone who gets stressed out by large amounts of work, she is still able to enjoy the lovely spring weather and hit the gym several times a week. She has also managed to find time to join me on some of my runs, keeping me company on her bike. Alex is also trying to figure out where and when we will take our summer vacation. It's looking like a European destination, possibly with some town-to-town hiking.

Speaking of running, I am still following Christian's plan and it's going well. I finally signed up for the marathon online this morning... someone had told me there was no rush as the event doesn't sell out, but the website said it was 98% sold out, so I went for it. I don't know why I was procrastinating. Today's workout is probably the toughest challenge yet: I am supposed to run a half-marathon in 1:28, which is 5 minutes faster than the time I set in February. I will give it a shot later today on the Lachine canal. I imagine it will be extremely tough to hit that time, but we will see. Alex will be there on the bike to encourage me and carry my water and stuff. I will post how it went.

My men's basketball team won our first game of the finals in convincing fashion by 20 points on Friday. I think I only scored 4 points, but I think I made a significant contribution on defense. It was quite a physical game and I took a lot of contact, although I think I ended up with only 2 fouls. There were many "no call" situations. I would love it if we could wrap up the series in only one more game, so that I will be able to head to Calabogie on Friday night instead of Saturday morning in 2 weeks.

So basically, there is still lots going on. Soon basketball will be over and the marathon training will end with the marathon May 30th. Hopefully by then, I will have more time and energy for car stuff and planning some sort of summer vacation!

Cool cars spotted:
AISA school:
Shelby GT500
Porsche 996 turbo
Porsche 911 RS America
Porsche 997 GT3R
Toyota Celica GT4 Carlos Sainz
Subaru Impreza STi

Nissan GTR
Nissan Skyline R32 GTR
Nissan Pulsar GTi-R
Acura NSX
Toyota Supra twin turbo
Lexus IS-F
Ferrari 328 GTS
Ferrari California
Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
Lamborghini Gallardo Spider
Maserati GT
Bentley Continental
Bentley Arnage
Audi R8
Auti RS4
MGB (chrome)
Volvo P1800
Mercedes 230 GE
Fiat Tipo

Friday, April 16, 2010

Busy week

It's been a busy week, trying to get all the final preparations taken care of for the race school this weekend. There will be 60 students and about 30 instructors. Pretty good ratio! I will be renting out my street car to a student who needed a last minute ride. This led me to try to change the front brake pads. I was unsuccessful, as one of the calipers was jammed and I couldn't fit it over the new pads! I will try again with the help of Lee W. this evening (and with a brand new caliper). I drove the car with the summer tires for the first time yesterday... what a difference! 175-70-13's vs. 205-50-15's... night and day! Still, I look forward to changing cars at some point in the next few months. I love Civic's, but I'm getting old and snobby. I want leather seats, cruise control and a car with no rust!

My transmission parts are finally in and hopefully the race car will be ready in a few days. I hope I finally have all I need to assemble a functional transmission with limited slip differential and 4.785 final drive.

I attempted to hold the last basketball practice of the year yesterday, but there were only two girls there. The moral: it is pointless to try to continue to hold weekly practices after the final game of the year. I must remember this next year! It is better to set a definite end date for the season, then stick with it, so I can focus on other projects. My men's team has the week off before starting the best-of-3 finals next Friday.

I've continued with the running plan. Yesterday, I had to do three sets of 2 km at 4:10 per km as part of a 16 km run. Not that easy to find 2 km stretches with no hills and traffic lights in the real world! I'm glad I have a fixed plan, because if I only went running when I felt like it, I would not go very often... especially with the cold and windy weather we've been getting. I'm supposed to run 18 km tomorrow and 26 km on Sunday, which will be tough with the race school taking all day both days. I will probably end up going out tonight to have a day off running tomorrow. It's getting to the point that I look forward to the "days off", although I end up filling those evenings with other stuff. Maybe I should try running in the morning once in a while.

News of Alex:
Alex is still in Chicago. We have been communicating by Skype and email. She has managed to have many restaurant meals with family and colleagues, and also work and go to the theater. I think she will call it a good trip all in all. She will be back in town tomorrow evening.

Cool cars spotted:
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Bentley Continental
Bentley Arnage
Audi S6 V10
Audi R8
Alfa Romeo Spyder Graduate
Saleen S281
Brabus Mercedes G-Wagen
Maserati GT
Toyota Land Cruiser 2-door
Toyota Supra twin-turbo
Nissan 370Z

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Changing seasons

We've reached that time of year where I'm transitioning from winter sports, like basketball, to summer sports, like auto racing. Our first AISA race driving school of the year will take place at St-Eustache next weekend. It's sold out, which is good, and I look forward to heading out to the track. Unfortunately, my race car will not be ready as we are still waiting for the transmission rebuild. I really hope it will be ready for the Calabogie school 3 weeks later, as I have still never been able to take my car out at Calabogie.

The girls' basketball season will most likely be wrapping up this week. I tried to continue practices after the end of the regular season, but turnout has been low. This Thursday will almost surely be the last practice of the year. I taught some of the girls who did show up to play horse, and I hope it catches on. I will try to find opportunities for the girls to play this summer if they choose to. I received my Canadian coaching certification card by mail, which is quite satisfying (even though I met the conditions over a year ago!).

My own team has now won both our best-of-three semifinal games and we will be heading to the finals in two weeks. There were only four players on the opponent's team Friday, so it was an easy win. I scored 20 points, but it wasn't that hard with only 4 defenders. The final will be extremely tough, as we take on the first place team.

The marathon training is going very well. I've been running four times a week, following Christian's plan. I am at my lowest bodyweight in over 10 years, even though I'm eating quite a lot. According to my training watch, I burn over 2 000 calories on a long run. I have met all the training goals set out in the plan, the intervals speeds and the average speeds on the longer runs. Yesterday, I was supposed to run three ten-minute blocks at an average of 4:30 per kilometer in the context of an 18 km run, but I managed to average faster than 4:30 for the whole 18 km. I think this means I'm in better shape than I was at the winter race, since I averaged the exact same speed over a pretty similar distance, including climbing to the top of Mount Royal yesterday. I went out for a 24 km run with Franck this morning, and I was really beginning to feel the fatigue in my legs. If you add yesterday and today's run together, the total length is the same as a marathon. I'm beginning to see that the marathon is going to be something seriously tough. I'm trying not to think about it too much and just follow the training plan. If I just do what I'm supposed to do, hopefully I will have no regrets, even if I don't meet my target time. Averaging 4:30 for 42 km is going to be seriously tough. I look forward to the challenge though!

I rode in Carl's Evo again yesterday. It is a phenomenal car with stupid acceleration. However I also got a chance to drive Carl's friend's E46 BMW M3. What a great car. I think I would really rather spend 25 000 $ on a great used BMW than 45 000 $ on a new Mitsubishi, even if it is faster. I can't wait to get my own BMW and have that feeling of driving a nice car!

News of Alex
Alex likes to read the blog and also seems to enjoy being mentioned in it. I know two facts to be true: 1) she will never go to the trouble of blogging for herself or even posting in any form of blog or internet discussion, ever. She is keyboard shy, even though she spends many hours per week getting her emails just right. 2) she has no problems with information about her being made public, including in this blog. I will therefore experimentally begin posting news of Alex in green and see what transpires.

Alex is out of town on business. She attended a psychology conference in Atlanta last week, the type of conference where one presents a poster instead of a paper. The conference part went well. When asked what Alex thought of Atlanta, she responded "I didn't really feel like exploring, so I don't know". She did enjoy at least one breakfast buffet.

She is now in Chicago, staying with her aunt for the next week and catching up on some work with her University of Chicago at Illinois post-doctoral professor/boss. She will be back in town next Saturday. She thought that I should have mentioned in the blog that she too went running in Cuba. Another quote from Alex: "You know that thing you're supposed to get, the runner's high? I don't get it. I now know running is not the sport for me".

Cool cars spotted:
Land Rover Defender 110 TDi
Ferrari F430
Ferrari Testarossa
New Audi S6
New Audi S4
Mercedes SL600
Mercedes Unimog
Maybach 57S
BMW M Coupe
Jaguar XF-R
Jaguar XK140
1980 BMW 320
BMW 633
Porsche 998
Porsche 997 turbo
Maserati GT
Bentley Continental
Seat Leon
Toyota MR Spyder
Lexus IS-F
Nissan Skyline GT-R R32
Triumph Spitfire
Triumph TR8
Acura NSX
Dodge Viper RT/10