Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some summer M3 pics

I had the M3 washed, for once. I took a few pics while the car was still clean!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Still hot, still training, still fast on Monday nights!

The marathon training continues, as does the hot weather. I am running at night whenever possible to avoid the crushing heat and humidity. This has worked out well so far.

On Monday night at St-Eustache, I had another fun evening with the Civic. I managed to yet again best my fastest personal lap, with a time of 1:01.25, this time using Nitto tires instead of Toyo's (apparently, they have the exact same compound). I was pretty happy about that. My camera batteries were dead, so I don't have video.

I tried a student's Nissan 370Z (automatic) and it feels like a well-put-together car. My other students had a modified Camaro, a BMW 135i (still fun to drive) and a Lexus IS-F (I didn't try it). The Lexus left me a bit cold. The interior feels like quality, but it's a bit boring, except for the cool dash display. There is much less road feel than in a BMW M3. I guess this is a good car for those who mainly want a quick and comfortable street car more than a track car.

The M3 has not spit out any more fault codes since I had the steering angle sensor reset at the alignment shop. The only issue for now is that sometimes, when I go over a big bump, there is a clunk from one side of the rear suspension. The clunk then repeats on every bump for a while, then eventually disappears. Weird.


Out on the road, there are many exotic and luxury cars. It seems to me that there are more every year. Are people getting richer, or just going more heavily into debt?


Cool cars spotted:
Ferrari F430
Ferrari 575M
Ferrari 599
Ferrari 348
Jaguar XF-R
Aston-Martin Vantage
Porsche 996 GT2
Porsche 996 GT3
Porsche 997 GT2
Cadillac XLR
Corvette Z06
Lexus IS-F
AMG G55
Audi R8 V10
Viper RT/10
Viper SRT10

Friday, July 15, 2011

I guess the aches and pains aren't so bad...

The marathon training plan has been keeping me pretty busy. Four runs per week is a lot, not just in terms of exercise, but in time. Given that I still have a full time job, my evenings are pretty booked up. This is making summer fly by even faster than usual! The runs themselves are going well, although I know I am not always hitting my speed markers on the intervals. Tomorrow there is a particularly tough 3km "test" incorporated into a 12 km run. Yay.

Despite the heavy demands on my free time, on Monday, I managed to hit the track with the Civic for the first time in six weeks. Although the evening was cut short by rain, I managed to get in one and a half sessions on track. In my last session, after giving a few passenger laps to one of our more enthusiastic club members, I hooked up with Nick's E36 BMW for a few fun laps. Although I did not feel I was driving especially brilliantly or that the Civic had much grip on the hot tarmac, I managed to record by best lap ever at St-Eustache (a 1:01.32). I was pretty surprised. When I say best lap ever, I include the time when the car still had a 200 hp 1.8 liter engine. Here is a short video including this fast lap:



I've been driving the BMW a lot and was unhappy to note that, despite an alignment, the steering wheel is not centered. Also, because the steering angle was not reset during the alignment, the brake warning, traction control off and tire pressure warning lights all come on in yellow on the dash whenever I head out on the highway. This is supposed to be corrected by the alignment shop this afternoon. Otherwise, the car handles really well and fuel economy has even improved! Also, I am now addicted to air conditioning. I even use it with the sunroof open.

Cool cars spotted:
Lamborghini Murcielago
Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera
Ferrari 575M
Ferrari California
Aston Marin DBS
Aston Martin Vantage
AMG C63
AMG G55
Porsche 997 Turbo
Audi R8 V10
Audi RS4
Lotus Elan+2
Maserati GT

Friday, July 8, 2011

Aches and pains

I've officially started my 12-week marathon training plan for the Montreal marathon, to be held on September 25th. My plan was to go running at least twice last week to build up to the plan, which is quite grueling (when compared to sitting on your couch...). I had remembered that the plan started out with three runs per week,  which eventually grew to four. It turns out I was confusing the marathon plan with the half-marathon plan. The marathon plan starts out with four runs per week (Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday-Sunday). Also, I only managed to go running once last week. It is now Friday of week one and I am sore. In fact, last night, when I went out to run 14 km, I was still sore from Tuesday's run. Both of these runs included intervals (16.5 km/h for 30-second bursts and 16 km/h for 90-second bursts). I imagine I will still be sore tomorrow when I run 14 km and again Sunday when I run 17 km. In fact, I can't envisage a time when I won't be sore.

This is the same marathon plan as I used, successfully, last year for the Ottawa marathon. Last year, I had been running more regularly before starting the plan and the transition into the plan seemed smoother. However, I seem to remember that I was having more trouble hitting the required speeds for the intervals last year. One thing I like about a fixed plan (as opposed to just trying to run a lot, like my friend Franck), is that it does not require a ton of willpower. Once you commit to the plan, that's it. You just follow it like a robot. The first time I did this last year, it felt good, as I knew I was following a training plan prepared by an experience marathoner (Christian Brouard) that would likely result in me being able to run a sub 3:15 marathon. As I was able to meet my goal last year, I am even more confident than I was last year that following the plan will allow me to again meet my goals. I am not aiming to beat the Ottawa time, as Montreal is a less flat marathon and as I can't be guaranteed pleasant weather in September. I am not worried too much about the result... I just want to make it through the plan. Also, it would be nice to be less sore.

On the automotive front, I watched the first two episodes of Top Gear's summer series this week. They tested  (and loved) the BMW 1M. They pitted it against the Porsche Cayman R and the Lotus Evora and they sort of raised the same question as I have raised in the past: why buy a 2-seat sports car when a car with four real seats (not unlike my M3) performs just as well. I believe I brought up this point this spring: when a Golf GTi is as fast around a track as a Boxster or Cayman, why choose the Porsche? Of course, the Porsche is pleasant to drive, but so is a BMW and even a Golf. I guess it has something to do with the flash/prestige factor... I don't know. I used to want a Boxster, but really, for someone who only owns one parking spot, it makes more sense to have one car that meets my daily transportation needs and my performance needs. Of course, I figured out long ago that, for track use, I need a car that is cheap and easy to maintain. Until recently, I was thinking that I would sort of like a nice used Porsche 911, but really, I don't see how it is better than a nice used M3 of the same vintage, which has a real back seat and trunk. As for convertibles, I think my needs would be met with a Miata or an Alfa Romeo, as straight line performance would be secondary. Buying a convertible would be a sort of selfish endeavour anyway, as Alex would always be cold whenever I put the top down.

Cool cars spotted:


TVR 280
Aston Martin Vainquish
Aston Martin Vantage
Ferrari 458
Ferrari F430
Ferrari 328
Ferrari California
Lamborghini Gallardo
Maserati GT
Corvette Z06
Lexus IS-F
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1
Nissan Pulsar Gti-R
Nissan Skyline GT-R R32
Bentley Continental
Alfa Romeo Spyder
Lotus Elise
Porsche 997 Turbo
AMG E63
AMG C63
Audi RS4
Audi R8
Audi S6 V10
BMW Z4 M Coupé
BMW 1M

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The BMW is back!

... and I am very, very, very happy to have it! When you have a BMW (or any other European or high end car), you can have it repaired quickly or inexpensively, but not both. As I had chosen to have the M3 fixed by my friend Marc (at a cost of 300$ instead of 1300$ at the BMW dealer), I had no choice but to wait a few weeks before getting the car back. This was not so bad, as I was on vacation in China for three of those weeks and because Marc had lent me his Civic while he had the BMW. Still, I felt that I could not fully enjoy the summer without the M3. I bought the car at the beginning of winter, and after driving a sports car all winter, I felt that any inconvenience was worth it because I would get to enjoy the car in summer. It was painful to be denied this pleasure, but all is well now. Summer is here, and the M3 is back. Yes.