4 Races in 40 Hours: Track Cycling, XC Running, and Cyclocross

What a weekend of eye-opening experiences!! As I said in my last post, the offseason is a GREAT time to try new things that can increase your strength for the upcoming triathlon season. Doing things other than the usual swim, bike, and run can also be a big cup of mental refreshment through the fall/winter. This past weekend I tried a few new things that not only had my adrenaline flowing all weekend, but tested my cycling and running skills. Continue reading 4 Races in 40 Hours: Track Cycling, XC Running, and Cyclocross

Off-Season Update #1: Pinetree Classic XC Race, New Bike Day, and More!

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!

Challenge Penticton Race Recap

In 2013 I didn’t have a great day at Challenge Penticton. In fact, due to seemingly endless mechanical issues, I didn’t even make it to the finish line (the details HERE.)  I vowed to come back in 2014 to get across the finish line, and that I achieved! Unfortunately, getting to the finish line didn’t quite pan out how I had hoped…..

Kids race medals
Handing out medals for the Fun Run 5k and Kids Race, in usual fine form, with Jeff and Karen.

Continue reading Challenge Penticton Race Recap

It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense: Subaru Vancouver Half Ironman Race Report

Everyone makes decisions in life. Everything from where they want to live and what career they want to work, down to what they want for breakfast and which underwear will feel best with their favourite trousers. Last tuesday, only 9 days removed from Challenge Atlantic City (a full Iron distance event: 3.8km (2.4mile) swim, 180km (112mile) bike, and a full 42.2km (26.2mile) marathon,) and only 5 days out from the Subaru Vancouver Half Ironman Triathlon, my coach and I made the mutual decision that I was so well recovered from the Atlantic City experience that I should race the Subaru Vancouver Half Ironman Triathlon.

It seemed like a great idea at the time. Seriously, what could go wrong? Continue reading It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense: Subaru Vancouver Half Ironman Race Report

Taking The Upsides of the Upsets……

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……

Overcoming Setbacks – Challenge Atlantic City Race Report

My first foray into the iron distance racing of 2014 was at the inaugural Challenge Atlantic City held in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 29th. It was sure to be a spectacular race, as all the Challenge Family races are, and I was really excited. Having a really solid spring of training, including a specific block leading in to the race, I was feeling really confident and strong. To add to the excitement, both Jenn and my dad surprised me by buying plane tickets to come watch the race (although I’m still pretty sure dad mostly came to rip it up at the casinos!) We all had separate flights, and although my connecting flight on wednesday evening was cancelled due to storms, I managed to catch a late morning flight on thursday, after a lot of standing in lines and only a few hours sleep.

Loosing up the days before the race with a run along the boardwalk

Continue reading Overcoming Setbacks – Challenge Atlantic City Race Report

Racing my way to fitness: no three ways about it!

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.

New Bike

Continue reading Racing my way to fitness: no three ways about it!

Racing My Way To Fitness: No Three Ways About It

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!

Nathan

Time to get serious.

Tucson Training Camp Wrap-Up: SUCCESS!

Already REALLY missing swimming in the sun! Hillenbrand Aquatic Center at the U of A campus.

After 3 weeks of incredibly sunny training in one of my favourite training destinations, I’ve returned home a little worse for wear but positive there’s been some solid gains made for the season. I’m excited to be able to go back with Jenn in less than 5 weeks, for another 2 hard weeks of training. Returning to the rainy weather here in Vancouver is a tough pill to swallow, but I’m making the best of it.

No matter how many times I climb Mt Lemmon, it NEVER gets old

I decided to make a short little video to highlight the training camp and all the things I got myself into over the miles. I hope you enjoy it!

Halfway up Mt Lemmon, just above Windy Point

HUGE thanks to all my incredible sponsors and support team for helping me get to and through Tucson in fine form. Thanks to the folks at Quintana Roo for getting me a bike quickly on short notice, and huge thanks the the crew at Speed Theory Vancouver for getting the bike built last minute, it rode like a dream! Thanks to Champion System for clothes on my back, they kept me comfortable over the miles. Thanks to Compressport for helping me make the most of my recovery time, and making traveling as pleasant as possible. Thanks to Powerbar for keeping my fuel tank all filled up through all the miles. Thanks to Dave at Distance Runwear for keeping my feet in the fastest and most comfortable footwear possible, my Pearl Izumi N1’s (on a side note, wearing them through a rocky canyon will beat the bejeezus out of them!) A huge thanks to coach Björn for directing this big show of a camp, and helping keep my focus where it needed to be. Thanks to Jesse and Amy for putting me up at your sweet digs, and a special thanks to Jenn for putting up with me disappearing yet again for weeks on end.

This sunday is the UBC triathlon, which I’ll be competing in alongside many other local athletes. It was my first ever Olympic distance race 7 years ago, and this will be my 5th time racing it. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, but I’ll be ready for whatever craziness gets dished out.

Riding with the Gang, enroute to Mt Lemmon

I hope everyone has been enjoying this late winter weather, have a blast out there and stay safe!

Nathan

Trials and Tribulations of a Professional Triathlete, Fire Fighter, and Peanut Butter Addict