A few days after Puerto Rico 70.3, I was starting to recover well, and was feeling really good about racing the upcoming 70.3 Texas. My legs and energy system were feeling great, and I had positive Continue reading Ironman 70.3 Texas Race Recap: Sometimes the Point is to Get the Job Done!
After a 3 week early season training camp in Tucson, Arizona, I made it home for a few days before I had to fly out for the first race of the season at Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico. After having some health issues last summer and fall, I was unsure as to how an early season camp Continue reading Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico Race Recap: Riding the Pain Train in Paradise
World Championships are the pinnacle of any sport, where athletes test their mettle and fitness against the best in the world, and I was proud to be chosen for the 2016 Canadian World Championship team to race in Oklahoma City on September 24th. I knew the race would be hot, and the field would be strong. It had already been a long season, with more races than I’ve done in previous years, but I wanted to challenge myself and see how well I could do if I threw a few additional races into the mix. 5 weeks prior to Oklahoma I raced at the Canadian National Long Course Championships in Penticton, having a decent race and finishing 4th. After some really great run workouts in the weeks leading up to Oklahoma, I felt that I had improved my run fitness and would be able to have a great race, hopefully finishing in the top 10. Unfortunately my body had other plans for me.
I travelled down to OKC a few days before the race, with my good friend Rachel McBride. What struck me the most was the heat when we got off the plane. I had been doing a lot of sauna training and indoor trainer riding to prepare for it, but it felt a lot hotter than I thought it would. With a high humidity, it felt like it was in the mid to high 30’s Celsius.
Preparation for the race went well in the few days leading up to the race, but I had a bit of a stomach issue the two days pre-race (had some ‘dehydration issues’) which didn’t really help a lot in the heat. Race morning came, and I felt pretty great during my run warmup. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a warmup swim in, so we had to go at the 4k, non-wetsuit swim with cold muscles. I had my Nineteeen Wetsuits Rogue swim skin, which was my only saving grace. As our names were called out (which is pretty cool,) we ran out to the start line at waist deep water.
The gun went off, and it was a struggle immediately. The course was a two-loop swim, with a ‘tailwind’ on the way out and a ‘headwind’ on the way back. I lost the pack by halfway to the turnaround, really struggling with arms that seemed heavy and dead. The swim back was insane, with massive chop and the inability to see the marker buoys. I was alone by this point, and by the time I FINALLY made it to the end of the first loop, I couldn’t believe we had to swim ANOTHER loop! It seemed to take forever! Into the second loop I went, and continued to struggle.
Coming out the water up the ramp, Michael Brown (Challenge Penticton Race Director) was standing there and yelled out
“Don’t worry Nate, EVERYONE had a bad swim!”
A sure sign I was off to a bad start.
On to my trusty Quintana Roo steed, I got to work. The first hour on the bike I spent chasing and slowly catching athletes ahead, but by the one hour mark the legs were starting to get heavy, and from the two hour mark the legs weren’t cooperating at all, and I was struggling to push any power. I kept on it, doing my best to spin and keep my head low and aero. It was a grind with a 30km straight section back to T2, with solid headwinds the whole way. I didn’t feel too hot, but I think my perception versus reality was a little skewed, and I think perhaps the existing dehydration from the previous days combined with the heat on the bike took a lot out of my legs. I finally made it back to T2 at what felt like a crawl, and felt that the run was going to be my chance to make up a bunch of the time I lost in the swim and on the bike. As I bent over in T2 to put my run shoes on, I could hear the AMAZING Team Canada team manager Tenille Hoogland yelling at me, saying
“Okay Killam, I know it’s a tough day out there, but get out on the run course!”
As easy as it would have been to just stop right then and there, I couldn’t let the team down, and out onto the run course I went.
My legs had the usual tightness that exists when coming off the bike, especially a tough bike. The opening km’s felt okay, but I just couldn’t seem to get into a good rhythm. By the 4-5km mark, I knew things weren’t good already. My pace was slowing down, and even though I was pushing harder and harder, my paced consistently slowed. By the second of 3 loops I was already suffering badly, doing what I can only loosely describe as ‘glorified walking’. Hitting the end of the 2nd loop, having slowed to a grueling pace, the easy out was to just pack it in, because I was having (easily) the worst race of my career. But as I came through the turnaround point, I decided that quitting wasn’t an option today. It was a World Championships, I was representing my country, and I knew there were a lot of my friends and family following the live updates as I raced. I was proud to be racing for Canada, and if I had to walk to the finish line I was going to get there somehow. I never stopped, I just kept moving forward, with my mind thinking about the finish line. My friend Rachel McBride passed me in the early part of the 3rd loop, and I tried to stay with her but only lasted a few hundred meters before I slowed once again. She went on to place 3rd, another podium at the ITU LD World Championships for Rachel, and I am SO proud of her. As I came into the finish chute and crossed the line, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy to be done a race.
The Oklahoma ITU World Championships was easily my worst race to date. But it was also an incredibly humbling experience, one that I think is important in the development of a successful athlete. If I could have chosen to not have a terrible race, I obviously would have, but I’m taking away an experience that will help me grow mentally as an athlete, one that will give me even more drive and motivation to perform next season. I also take it as a learning experience, that I need to work on performing in the heat. Even though sometimes the heat doesn’t make you feel hot, the body is much more affected than you realize, and obviously I was affected by the heat. I’m hoping to make the 2017 ITU LD World Championship team again next year, and have another crack at this race. Big thanks to Gavin and Claire Robinson, who were so kind to host myself and Rachel in Oklahoma City.
I would say it’s been a rather successful season for me, with improvements on every course I raced at last year, and many top 5 finishes. I’m looking forward to continuing this upward performance trend in 2017, but am looking forward to a little mental break and having some fun this fall racing cyclocross.
Thanks so much to all my awesome support team this year, everyone who has believed in me and has always had positive words of encouragement. My wife has been a never ending source of motivation and support, even when I leave for weeks at a time. My coach Björn Ossenbrink has helped guide me to a new level this season. Huge thanks to all my amazing sponsors, they’re the real-deal and really make all the training and racing possible. Quintana Roo makes some seriously fast bikes. Pair that with super-slick Easton wheels and Rotor cranks, and I’m lucky to be riding a monster of a rig. Thanks to Compressport Canada for ‘supporting’ me wherever I train and race. Big thanks to Champion System Canada for the amazing kit they supply me with every year. Thanks to the team at Velofix for all the bike work and hooking me up with extra gear when I need it. Nineteen wetsuits has kept me ‘afloat’ with their awesome lineup of wetsuits and swim skins, a proudly Canadian company that I’m stoked to work with. Thanks Dave at Distance Runwear for keeping my feet happy with Hoka shoes and all the other little run bits I need. HUGE thanks to my coworker and sponsor Jason Wood, for keeping me healthy all year long with Usana vitamins. I couldn’t do what I do without all these amazing people, so thanks to all of you! Everyone I interact with creates an impact on my life, whether big or small, so thank YOU! One of the parts of this sport I love is meeting so many new and awesome people all the time, and I’m truly lucky that triathlon has brought all these people into my life.
I hope everyone has had a stellar season so far, and for those of you in the offseason, enjoy some well deserved rest and recovery with your family and friends. It’s cyclocross season for me now, the next stop is Kona, Hawai’I to watch the Ironman World Championships and see if the legs will cooperate in the Kona Beer Mile, put on by TRS Racing!
Thanks for stopping by!
One of the things I love about triathlon is the challenge of racing my guts out for 4 hours over three different sports. A bit of a sucker for punishment, I prefer to race those courses that are made even more difficult due to their terrain or location (such as Wildflower.) Continue reading Challenge San Gil Race Report: Running out of Real Estate
Wildflower holds a special place in my heart. When I first started triathlon, I got really into the documentary ‘What it Takes,’ featuring some incredible professional triathletes, including legendary Canadians Peter Reid, Lori Bowden, and Heather Fuhr. I would watch that documentary before every race (even my sister remembers this,) and would frequently watch it while on the trainer. Continue reading Wildflower Race Recap: When in Doubt, Ride it Out!
High in the sky. Far above my normal. You’re my mistress. People don’t see you, but I know you’re there. Every time I think about you, my heart beats a little faster. Even when I don’t, my subconscious knows, and up my heart rate climbs. When I push a little too hard, my breathe, you take it away. Away from me. You keep it for yourself. You’re a selfish mistress. You have no emotions. You take all my heart beats away without a second thought. No thoughts. Just the constant quiet reminder of your existence. No one around me realizes you’re there. Sneaking through my day, you dodge all your familiar faces, and come after mine. Continue reading Challenge San Gil Race Recap: Banking Heartbeats at 6500ft
Inappropriate, I know, to neglect anything for 5 months. It’s been a while since I’ve punched the keys to this page, and that’s something I’m trying to keep on top of, especially now that the season is underway and things are getting serious (not to mention upping the ‘fun factor!’) So, in light of an entire childhood filled with ADHD, and an attention span that could rival a goldfish on a good day, I figured I’d get up to date on all the races (experience and something I learned from each) as well as the exciting happenings since September, but something that you could read over the course of a latte (extra hot I might add, there needs to be SOME substance in my updates!) I like to think this is the ‘long Cliff-Notes’ version of the last few months:
An iron distance race takes a long time. Even at the top level, it’s still an 8+hr race. It’s a kind of pain and suffering that is much much deeper than the cardiovascular system; it breaks you down deep, right to the bone. That’s why the offseason is a great chance to work on much shorter, higher intensity (not to mention SUPER FUN) races such as cross-country running and cyclocross races. These short races really help work on your running and cycling technique, as well as your top-end speed and power in both disciplines. Nothing hurts more than breathing through your eyeballs for 5-8km XC trail running races! It’s a leg-burning, lung-bursting experience, that can be a lot of fun, and a great way to prepare for next year’s race season. Continue reading Off-Season Update #1: Pinetree Classic XC Race, New Bike Day, and More!
I personally like to take the positive spin on things, something that at least a few people can second. Hence, I’m taking the bonus out of the upsets at Challenge Atlantic City two weeks ago: the best part of a dismal performance during the marathon, where my avg HR over the second half floated just below and above 130BPM (that’s low, for those who don’t follow their HR,) is an exceptionally quick recovery. That, and eating my weight in burgers and bacon the proceeding 24hrs post-race, has my legs feeling peppy and spunky only 1 week post-race. After discussions with coach Björn, we’ve decided to add another race into the calendar before Challenge Penticton, one that has been a favourite of mine since my inception into triathlon, and now that I live in Dunbar, is quite literally IN MY BACKYARD: The Subaru Vancouver International Triathlon. Continue reading Taking The Upsides of the Upsets……
In 2010, my third year of triathlon, I went down to Lake San Antonio to race the legendary Wildflower Triathlon (olympic distance). I had a great race, and it was one of the most exciting race venues I’ve attended. After a good stint of training in Tucson this February, I decided that perhaps this year was the year to go back and take on the half iron distance race at Wildflower. With race day creeping up fairly quickly (May 3rd,) I decided to make March a solid month of local short distance races, to try and ‘race my way to fitness’ as they call it. Some fairly short, it was a painful three weeks of racing, with some eye opening experience and some positive take-home messages, I came out the other end with an idea where I need to focus my energy to perform the best I can in May.
|The Quintana Roo CD0.1 and Gray Cycling wheels ready for race #1!!|
Race number one also happened to be my first Olympic distance triathlon I ever raced in, the UBC Triathlon. As I now live about 10 minutes from the race start, it was an easy decision to race. Along with the close location, there also happened to be some friends racing in the front-end of the field, which made it a much more exciting day (Jeff Symonds, Nathan Champness, Chris Young, and Brendan Naef.) I showed up to the race start only one week removed from the first big training camp of the year (three weeks in Tucson,) still holding on to some deep-set fatigue, and nary 3 speed sessions since October. I knew the race wouldn’t be pretty, but it would give me a good day to shake out the cobwebs.
|Photo credit Björn Ossenbrink. Swim start.|
|Photo Credit Björn Ossenbrink. Sunny-weather training is made quite apparent.|
|Photo credit Björn Ossenbrink.|
I started the swim (1500m TT style start, 10 seconds apart,) just behind Symonds, knowing that he would most likely shake-and-bake from the gun and it would be a matter of trying to ride back to him. This race is done in a long course pool, so I decided to wear my Champion System one-piece race suit, so I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to get a top on or anything messy like that. Sure enough, Jeff was off like a rocket. Halfway through the swim, another swimmer made her way from a few competitors back to me, and I managed to snag a free ride the second half of the swim. Coming out of the pool for the long 400m transition run, I came to my new Quintana Roo and was ready for some action.
Unfortunately, my legs just didn’t seem to show up on the day. I couldn’t push much wattage, and the fatigue kept me stuck in 3rd gear the whole ride. I didn’t lose too much time on the bike, pulling in a sub 1hr ride, but Jeff put another 45 seconds into me, and Champness came from God-knows-where and punched a big lead into me. When he came by, I was sure he was turning 60RPM, and he just smashed through the bike in 56 minutes. One of the thoughts in the front of my mind the whole time was “boy, are my toes ever toasty!” A trick I use for cold weather racing is to wear toe covers on my cycling shoes, and put hand warmers (Lil’ Hotties, Hot Paws, etc,) under the toe covers. Works like a charm!
|Photo Credit Björn Ossenbrink. Keed your aerobars warm when it’s cold!|
|Heading out on the bike. Photo Credit Björn Ossenbrink.|
Onto the run, I ran as fast as I could turn my legs over, but as most people who haven’t done speed work know, you just can’t pull a fast run out of nowhere. I brought myself very close to Champness, but halfway through I just hit a plateau, and couldn’t catch him.
|Brought my game face. Photo credits Björn Ossenbrink.|
In the end, I came third overall, behind Symonds and Champness. Close behind were Chris Young (4th,) and Brendan Naef (5th.) Considering my previous few months of training, with almost zero speed (and not much running,) I was pretty happy with my efforts. The local university news published a great little piece about the race, which I was honoured to be included in. You can read it HERE.
|Cool guys on the podium.|
The weekend after UBC Triathlon, I did the St Patrick’s Day 5k in Stanley Park, a fantastic local race that puts on quite the show, and attracts a bloody fast field. I hit my top gear right from the start, and although it seemed the whole field was running away form me, I was able to stay strong and slowly reel back a large number of competitors. Halfway through the race, I remember a guy in front of me wearing incredibly short (and tight) green booty shorts, and all I could think was “no matter what, you can’t lose to this guy.” I managed to run just under 17 minutes, that put me in 46th overall. It was a far cry from my 2011 performance of 15:58, but this was a new course, and I was lacking any speed work. The race pretty much shattered my calves (which were still suffering from the previous weekend,) and I was hurting for quite a few days post-race.
|Where’s Waldo? Photo Credits Robert Shaer.|
|A little blurry, but you can still see the suffering!
Photo Credit Robert Shaer
Finally, this past weekend, I competed in the Modo Spring Run-off 8k, once again in Stanley Park. This race circumvented the park via the seawall, and although not quite the same size in participants, it was a really well run race, and the weather couldn’t have been better. I went in to this race with already sore calves and legs, and after about 3km, the legs just started to shut down. It’s a crappy feeling, but I just kept going as best I could. I mean, the sun was shining, and I was breathing, so in reality, everything was going to be okay. We can’t always be ‘ON,’ and have to take the bad days in stride. I ran my slowest 8k that I can remember, finishing out in 28th spot, in just over 29 minutes.
|A slow race for me, but just the right speed to enjoy the sunny weather.|
After some early season volume, the focus now will be gaining back some top-end power and speed leading in to the Wildflower Triathlon. It sounds like I may have the company of some teammates racing, which will make it an even more exciting and fun experience. In just over a week, Jenn and I leave for Tucson yet again, to spend 12 days training hard in the sun. It’ll be a shorter than usual trip, but with the focus on intensity, it’ll be a burner for sure.
On a side note, Quintana Roo is about to unveil a BRAND NEW BIKE tomorrow, and I’m dying to find out what it’ll be. I’ll be looking forward to trying it out, so stay tuned to see what rolls out!!!
|The wait is killing me! The new Quintana Roo super bike to unveil soon!|
I hope the early season is shaping up nicely for everyone, have a fun weekend ahead, and stay safe!
|Time to get serious.|