Was it the last race?

So, I originally thought that Vancouver Triathlon would be the last race of the season. Then I’d have my usual few weeks off, then get into the off-season base building.

But this, evidently, is not the case.

Let me start by saying, I am extremely dedicated to my goals in triathlon, and they are, at the moment, all short course goals. Some are short-term goals, some are long-term goals. But all short course goals. That being said, I started triathlon racing the half ironman distance. All season I have been focusing on short course racing, while watching a fair amount of my friends race in the longer distance races. I’ve been curious as to how I may fare in a long course race, having stuck purely to speed training over the summer, whether or not my speed would be able to hold itself up in the longer races. Well, it appears I’ll have an answer to that question soon enough.

After much pondering, and some light convincing (Jimmy,what have you done!!!!) I’ve decided to end the season (for real this time,) with a fun race, one of the long-course variety.

Austin 70.3 Texas.

I am going to race it purely for fun, going in without any big expectations, just that last kick at the can. It should be a good time regardless of the outcome (although a good result would make my dietary splurges post race that much more satisfying! One more scoop of ice cream?) I’m going down with a friend of mine, as well as my coach. Looks like Jeff Symonds and Anthony Toth will also be racing. You can bet I’ll be cheering for them on course, hopefully they can bring home some gold. Canada REPRESENT!! The bonus: sun and heat in october! Weather will be very warm while we’re down there.

Since I decided to race, my training has been more endurance focused. Wow it’s been a while since i put in the big volume weeks like I have the last few, just putting in the last big push until my taper starts next week. For instance, today i harassed my body with a 3200m swim, followed by a 145km ride (4:30, avg speed 32km/hr,) with a 30min brick run off the bike (8km.) A really wicked day, but definitely different to what I’m used to. I feel a little more worn out some days, especially after a few big days of training.

I’m looking forward to the race, it will be a blast no doubt. Rest assured though, I still have every intention of racing ITU and short course next season, so after Austin it’ll be back to the drawing boards to make sure I get where I want to go.

To go the distance, you gotta take it one day at a time.

Last Tri of the Season?

After a very humbling race two weeks ago in Kelowna, I came into the Vancouver Triathlon with a little higher hopes. Having worked nights shifts on both friday and saturday nights, I was probably a little under rested. I rolled into transition very early on race morning, as I always do, just so i can be a little more relaxed in set-up and warm-up, and not have to rush so much. After getting everything set up, and a short warm-up run, i returned to my transition spot for final prep before the race. There i saw Facundo Chernikoff, a friend of mine and fellow elite triathlete, who also let me know that Mike Adams was racing as well (another elite ITU athlete.)

I knew it was going to be a tough race with these guys here, both of them being more experienced than I, as well as WAY better swimmers than me, Mike Adams being a phenominal swimmer.

The start was very hairy; huge rocks covered in barnicles and broken shells littered the shoreline and the first 50m of the swim (which was probably about 1.5feet deep.)  Many of us got pretty beat up in the beginning, half the people swimming, half dolphin diving, EVERYONE jumping on top of everyone else. It was mayhem, but that’s a typical triathlon swim start for ya. I had a bad start and couldn’t quite get into a good pack; I ended up swimming most of the swim by myself.

Coming out of the frigid water and up the beach to T1, I was told I was in 8th place by my friend Jeff Seeley, who was waiting to start his sprint race. I had yet another bad swim.

I knew i had some catching up to do on the bike.

This time i was a little more careful getting onto my bike, so I didn’t bail again. The weather was freezing out, i think winter might have come early this year, it was about 10 degrees C out. I went into the bike with a plan to get faster each lap, and I did just that. Even with torrential rain, on a very technical course that required me to coast and slow down a lot more than i would have liked to, my average speed for each lap increased. Having the aerodynamic edge with my Jamis Xenith T2, and Pro-Lite carbon tubulars that i borrowed from my pal James Fry (thanks Jimmy!) i was able to post the fastest bike split of the day by about 1:30. A good hit of energy from an E-Gel right before the end of the bike and I was ready to try and close the gap on the leaders.

Coming into T2, I was told I was in 3rd overall. Facundo was just putting his shoes on as i came in to rack my bike, and he took off right after. Going into the run I could see him way up ahead, and the chase was on. I know Facundo can run, he generally runs about the same times as i do, so I knew i would have to have a fantastic run to catch him. Cruising in my New Balance 205KIM’s, I was slowly gaining on him, and at the turn-around point in the first lap i had closed the gap considerably. By 2/3’s through the first loop i pulled in behind him, paced him for a bit, and then put on a big surge to go by. By this time i had taken a fair chunk out of the leader’s gap, and set my sights on catching Mike. By the start of the second loop i had taken about 1:30 out of his lead. I started to run harder, and at the turn-around of the second loop i wasn’t that far behind him. Mike made a huge push for the end of the race, and i just wasn’t able to catch him. It was awesome to be racing with all my friends and hear all their support for the chase out on course, as well as from the people watching. I finished second to Mike, a result I am happy with. Having the fastest bike and run splits of the day was a big confidence boost.

As for my swim, it was pretty slow. I need to put some major miles in the pool over the next few years, as ITU racing is a swimmer’s and runner’s game. I’ve been swimming for less than 3 years, and it shows, but I’m confident i will make some big improvements in the next year on my swim.

Guess it’s back to the drawing boards for the off-season.

Thanks again to everyone who made racing this season possible, especially to my parents, who made it out to the race despite the ugly weather, and who have made it to almost all my races this year. A thanks goes to New Balance Vancouver, E-Load, Secret Cycles (who’ve bailed me out a few times this year with last minute emergencies,) Popeye’s Supplements Coquitlam, and Jamis Bikes (for all the sweet race rigs they’ve supplied me with!)

The First Elite Race EVER!

So, two weeks ago I raced my first ever Elite race at the Kelowna Apple Pan American Premier Cup race (ITU Continental Cup.) Pretty much going to serve that one up to experience. The swim was absolutely horrible, i froze my ass off before i even got in the water. The weather was insane, windy with some very heavy rain at times. My bike wasn’t bad, and i set a personal best on the run with a 35:06. But a fall before i even got on the bike definitely slowed me down, and healing has been a little slow. Coming out of T1 completely frozen from the swim, i couldn’t feel my legs at all (or any part of my body for that matter,) so when i went to jump on the bike I tripped up and didn’t quite make it over the seat.

Have you ever seen an indoor volleyball player make a huge save by sliding on their knees to get to the ball? Well that was me, sans knee pads, plus more pavement. But in my defence, after being instructed very sternly by my pal Charlene Croteau (who also graciously offered her parents place as a homestay) “for the love of God, Bucky, please stay vertical,” I did indeed stay vertical. The bike nor I went down. I just got a little lower to the ground than I’m used to. Hearing the crowd full of hundreds of spectators go “oooohhhhhh” is not a good sound to hear. Swim-to-bike = EPIC FAIL.

After dusting myself off, I continued on with my Jamis Xenith Race. I put the ZIPP 808 Clinchers on it from my other bike, the Jamis Xenith T2 time trial bike, and boy did they perform beautifully! During the 6 loop course i ended up in a pack of 4 riders, and we rode to a pretty good bike split, keeping away from the lead pack (in the ITU if you are going to get lapped they drop you out of the race.) The rain didn’t help much, but the Oakley Radar’s that my buddy James Fry lent me definitely kept the rain out of my eyes.

My E-Load and E-Gels kept the energy flowing as I went from the bike to the run. I hit the run hard and fast right from the get-go, as the field was definitely a fast one. Two of the guys coming out of T2 with me were just too fast to hang on to, but i spent the entire run slowly reeling guys in, passing a fair amount before the finish. I don’t think i was recovered completely from a hard 10k effort the weekend before, but i was very happy with the run. My New Balance 205KIM race flats were extremely smooth and comfortable, fitting like a glove. Even with some major road rash on my feet, they were still fantastic, never at any time being uncomfortable.

For my first ever Elite race, and this only being my third season, i would say the race was fairly successful. My swim is obviously my weakest point, and will need a lot of work for sure.

Thanks to everyone who was out there to cheer me on, your cheers of support definitely helped me push harder. Every time i heard someone yell out my name, it gave me a little shot of adrenaline to feed off. Thanks to my sponsors for all their support. A big thanks to my coach Shaun Callaghan of Pacific Rim Multisport Coaching, who was there to ensure i got to the start line ready to go, and gave me a lot of support during the race as well as post-race. Without all the people who offer me support in various ways, i don’t know how I’d manage in this sport.

Nathan (aka “Bucky”)