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.
Last weekend I raced the Pinetree Classic XC Race (8.2km) in Coquitlam, at one of my favourite past haunts, Mundy Park. I spent a lot of time running the trails at Mundy Park in my first few years of triathlon, and jumped at the chance to test my offseason legs in the park. I had no idea what to expect. I figured I would explode in the first 200 meters, and that I’d do a hobbling jog reminiscent of the ‘Ironman Shuffle.’ It didn’t go that way at all; I took the holeshot position off the start line (a 100m sprint to the first turnaround, and into the trails,) and hung with the eventual winner for 1.5 loops of the course (a 4 loop course.) I was waiting for the explosion, but the legs held together much longer than I thought they would. I made it 3 loops before I really started to fall apart, and saw heart rates that I haven’t seen in years. Ending up in 3rd overall, I was happy with my offseason performance, especially since I spent the entire previous evening at the Burnaby Velodrome, learning how to ride a track bike (which, by the way, is dangerously fun.)
Sunday included a few hours on the bike with Elliot Holtham, who’s preparing for his first Kona Ironman World Championships experience. He’s racing against the 50 best professional ironman distance athletes in the world, going in ranked 27th in the world! I made sure to give him verbal abuse from all angles, as he needs to be prepared for everything. We spent a few hours in the mountains, taking advantage of a reasonably hot September day.
This week I’ve been starting to put some more mileage in on the run, getting ready for some fall half marathons. I’ve also been getting ready for my first ever cyclocross race this sunday, at Vanier Park in Vancouver! Speed Theory Vancouver gave my cyclocross bike a solid tune-up, and it’s ready to let fly! I’ll be starting the weekend with yet another cross country running race, the MEC run at Mundy Park (another chance to race in Coquitlam!) I’ll be finishing the weekend with the Vanier Park CX, which is sure to be an eye-opening and lung-burning experience.
That last exciting update is the new addition to the bike fleet!! My shiny new Litespeed C1 has arrived, and after Speed Theory Vancouver built it up, it’s in the stable and ready for some mileage. I like to change up my riding through different parts of the year; it’s good to ride different bikes to keep yourself well rounded (Road, TT, Mountain Bike, CX, etc,) both physically AND mentally.
I hope everyone has enjoyed the first few days of fall! The leaves are changing and falling, with the temperatures cooling and the rain beginning to fall. Stay safe out there, and have fun!!