Monday, August 24, 2009

Weather Woes

It's been an odd summer in the Toronto area - unusually wet and cool. The end of August is fast approaching and, in some respects it does not feel like summer has even really arrived. I seem to recall only a handful of days since early June( when the weather starts to get really nice) that have been over 25C. I mean 20 - 25C is nice, it's just that you expect it to be much warmer. We have not had the AC on at all this summer!

I was all set to go do a wetsuit demo for Nineteen last week when the weather woes continued. I pulled into the parking lot at the Kelso Conservation Area west of Toronto in light rain. To the north - very dark clouds were forming. Just to the south - full sunshine. At the lake the rain eased off and Kelso lake was dead calm. Not a ripple on it. About 20 people were there already, and it was still 15 minutes before the start of the swim and the demo. It looked like the rough weather was going to pass us by!

Then the wind shifted and picked up dramatically. The dark clouds - now a greenish hue started to advance right towards us. In the space of a few minutes white caps had formed on the lake, and the water was actually being picked up an wiped at us standing on the shore, by huge gusts of gale force winds. Rain and lighting began to . . well . . rain down! We all scrambled for the protection of our cars. The rain then started to really fall. The wind was nuts and the lighting was insane. I have been in many storms before but I don't think I had ever experience that intensity of rain, lightening and wind all at once before. It was so bad that I could not see anything outside the car save the bursts of light from the lightening. No one attempted to leave. They could not see anything!

There was a slight easing of the intensity and people began to leave. Thank goodness we did not start early and have people out in the water. Another wave of rain came down like it was being dumped out of a bucket on my car. The car shook in the winds sitting exposed on the shore of the lake. I hunkered down to wait it out. After another 10 minutes or so, I started to drive out of the park and saw two direct hits on hydro poles by lightening within 20 meters of my car with sparks showering down all over the place.

The drive home took forever, as I was of course driving along with the storm at about the same pace as the front was advancing. Eventually, after close to 2 hours of driving I burst into sunshine and took the picture above of the ensuing rainbow.

The next day Environment Canada confirmed that tornadoes had touched down, in various places in southern Ontario - including near Milton and Kelso Conservation Area.

We have rescheduled the Nineteen Wetsuit Demo for this Thursday - Aug. 27 from 6 - 8pm at Kelso Conservation Area - more details here.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate this time!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sonetimes It's Not Fun (Warning - Picture May Offend!)

Listening to some people talking about training and you would think that it's non-stop nirvana. But truth be told, sometimes it's not fun. Either the weather, how you feel or other factors conspire to make it miserable! On the whole, I can't wait to get out there on the bike for my next ride. After one ride ends, I am always thinking about that next ride . . . when is it going to be?

The picture above is of Jenni Keil the wife of one of Nineteen's sponsored athletes - top age-group Ironman triathlete Jeff Keil. Jeff took the picture, but clearly Jenni is not amused! A reading of Jenni's Blog, revealed that this indeed was a ride from, or perhaps to Hell - pouring cold rain and multiple flats. However, the weird irony is it's exactly these sorts of rides, training sessions and races that we remember, years later. They take on this epic quality about them and we pass them along in stories( often with the usual minor embellishments!) to friends, family or whoever will listen.

Two time Ironman World Champion Scott Tinley, told me as much when he came up to do the Canadian Short Course Championships one year in Calgary, Alberta, when we all got up on race morning to see snow-flakes coming down! "It's the days like this that we remember forever and pass the stories onto our grand-kids. Not the sunny and 70[F] days", Tinley told me shivering at the finish-line.

In 25 years of running, riding and even swimming in foul weather, I would concur with Tinley, it's the epic weather days that we do remember and develop into stories and pass along. Living in Canada my whole life, and in the places that I have lived in this fair country, we get our fair share of wild weather, so you get used to it, and you just get out there and do it! However, I recall going down to California to train one year to briefly escape the frigid Canadian winter, and hooking up with a local running club to get in some good runs. On one of our first runs, I went on with the club, I said to a guy - "How's the running been?" He said to me that they had not run in a week - "it's been raining". So I guess it's all relative. For me it would have to be a blizzard and -30C to stop a run in Toronto, but in So Cal a bit of rain will do the same thing - Not trying to read too much into that! :)

I will note that these days, I am much less hard-core about the training - perhaps I have even become a bit of a fair-weather-type, as they say. My wonderful wife, Paolina, is the crazy, nut out there riding, and running in just about anything these days - after all, she's Scottish and we know what the weather is like over there! So now, it might actually be me who would be giving the finger, to Paolina, having dragged me out at some crazy hour of the morning, in the pouring rain for a wet and cold ride. Jenni, I feel for you!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Is it really "work" when you have so much fun in a job that it never seems like work? I sometimes have to pinch myself and realize that what I do really is, work. I do this and I get paid for it so, it must be work, but it never really feels like work.

I had left the sporting goods business a number of years ago and went into sales work in a completely different and foreign area for me. I was told that I had outstanding communications, relationship building and sales skills. I would/should do well. It's a long story, but the short version was that, it never really worked out the way, I hoped it would. I never worked harder and longer at something with so little to show for those extraordinary efforts. A contact of mine was good enough to have coffee with me when I was at a low ebb. He said you need to get back to something that you are really passionate about - and the success will follow. Of course, I knew all this, but for several years had been blind to it. He was right. I needed to get back to selling something and working in a business that I was really passionate about. And that's why I am back in the sporting goods business - specifically the triathlon wetsuit business working as the Sales Manager for Nineteen wetsuits.

The picture above is of our rack of Demo wetsuits at the recent Ironman Lake Placid triathlon. Getting out and doing these demo sessions at big triathlon events is something that I really love to do. It never feels like work. I could stand there all day talking wetsuits and swimming with people . . and never get tired of it. It's not bad - standng out there in the sun, on the shores of a beautiful lake watching fit women and men go swimming. It's all good! As a wholsaler, a lot of what I do is focussed on our retail customers. At events like this, I get to interact with and talk directly to our end-user cusomers - the people that are actually buying our Nineteen wetsuits and using them in triathlons and for open water swimming.

The feedback and information gathering that I get at these events is amazing and I always return to the office on a high and ready to carry on and take it to the next level.

I wish that I could do more of these sorts of events. It really is one of my favourite things to do. But it never really feels like work and yes, I get paid to do it! I am lucky.