The Off-Season Fun Begins!!! Whistler Relay with the guys…..

A lot of people get the off-season blues. It’s the day after your last race of the year (BIG races I mean,) the culmination of months and months of training has finally been cashed in, and what are you going to do now? That’s how I usually feel after the last big one. Always thinking about what’s next, until there is no next for the season (at least in the triathlon respective.) With this thought comes a bit of a sadness:

“Did I race well this year?”
“Did I go as fast as I could?”
“What am I going to do now?”

etc, etc, etc……

But this year is different for me. Yeah, I’m still thinking about what’s next for training and such, but I’m really trying to just go-with-the-flow this off-season. You know, have some fun (not that life isn’t usually 110% AWESOME,) outside of just training and working. So, I know they’re still competitions, but one of the things I love about the fall is doing the running relay with the guys from work (Delta Fire Rescue.) Last year I was on the team (for the first time,) when it was the Haney-to-Harrison 100km’s relay (consisting of 8 relay legs.) It was terminated after that race, as the logistics and stress on the local communities (not to mention the backlog on traffic,) became too much to bare.

The start line: added an extra 600m’s to the leg, so 12.6k.

Now, it’s the Whistler relay and Ultra, an 8 leg relay, 80km/50mile Ultra Marathon held up in Whistler. When asked to run with the team again this year, OBVIOUSLY I was all in!! Too much fun every time, I knew it would be a blast. It’s run on a 20km loop, the first leg being 12km (what I ran,) and the second being 8km. Then you do it again.

Nearing the end of my 12.6k leg. CHILLY!

And again.

And again.

A perfect Whistler morning greeted us as we arrived, cold and crisp, but dry (albeit a bit of snow on the ground.) I lined up to run the first leg, and what a fun course it was, with some good hills and trails. I pulled off a 3rd in my leg, around the 44min mark, and handed off our chip to the next runner (Ian McCabe,) with almost a 5minute lead on the next Fire guy. Our team ran so well, and came out 3rd in our division (one spot better than last year, improvement is always a plus!!) The main point of this was to have fun, and although I couldn’t stay around to party that night, it was a blast and I’ll DEFINITELY be back next year. I’ll plan to be able to stay the night though, have a little ‘extra’ fun 🙂

Next in the sights is a day in the pool at the UBC Masters Swim meet (look at the time, I gotta get going!) ALWAYS an amazing day of racing (and eating, because lets be real, that’s why we REALLY do all the training: to eat MORE!) I’m damn excited as I’m entered into 5 events, one of which being the 50m fly, an event I haven’t swam before. I haven’t even BEEN to a pool in about 8 days, so it’s sure to be a gong-show.

But hey, that’s what the off-season’s for, isn’t it?

Enjoy the day, and happy training!!

Ironman 70.3 Miami Race Report

Ever since I began working with Bjoern Ossenbrink and Lifesport Coaching last December, my training load has been rather high, and to train and race like I have this year has really taken a toll on my body. Suffice to say, coming into Miami 70.3 I was ready to bring this season to a close. My training leading up to Miami has been incredible, pushing myself in workouts harder than I have before, especially when it came to long hard running sessions, and my favourite workouts of all, the weekly brick sessions at the track with Bjoern and the rest of his athletes. Pushing some really positive times, I was confident Miami would be a fast race for me, maybe even a breakthrough. Hell, even my confidence in my swim was high, with some great consistency in the pool. Yup, Miami would be my race.

Days before the race, beautiful weather!
Unfortunately, bad luck decided to rear its ugly little head, and rain down on my parade. About 2 weeks out from the race, I contracted a lovely bacterial infection, which caused me to need a full 10 day course of antibiotics. Out of pure good luck, I managed to also contract some delightful virus that had some pretty uncomfortable symptoms, and the two wreaked havoc on my body for about a week. The antibiotics were the worst, leaving me with practically zero energy or motivation to get out and train. I didn’t want to do much, I ached all day, I felt my recovery was null, and I hated my coach for making me come out to training sessions , (my favourite was when he said, and I quote, “You can stay at home and cry, or come to the pool and do something about it.” Classic Bjoern! For those of you who know him, you know what I’m talking about.)  I have the best coach, but boy did I despise him for making me come to some of those sessions. I had my doubts about the upcoming race, even though we both stayed positive, and I kept my confidence high, there was a realization early on that I might not even be able to race.
At the Expo with Jonna
Anyways, the morning I left for Miami was the end of my antibiotics, and within a few days I could feel my energy returning. I was staying at an apartment near the race site, in downtown Miami, owned by a really upstanding gentleman named Ricardo. A triathlete himself, he opened his home to me, which I am grateful for.  The place was amazing, equipped with an outdoor pool (although only being about 18m’s long, I still managed to get a swim workout done in it!) The place was brilliant; walking distance to everything you could need (except the beach to swim at, although I managed to get a few open water swims in pre-race.)
Me swimming, photo from the apartment patio, 34 floors above!
 You may recall that I happened to meet a few fantastic people in Pennsylvania during the Pocono Mountains race, members of the Endurance Multisport tribe of athletes. Well, I was really excited to have Jonna Trexler join me in Miami, to assist with race support. Brand new to the sport this year, she is excelling at an amazing pace, dominating the amateur and elite amateur race scene. I’ve never really had someone like that as race support for a race I’ve travelled to, and what a difference it makes! I found myself much more relaxed, and was kept in check when I started to get a little too excited and carried away (I know, I know, doesn’t sound like me AT ALL 😀 Haha!) The days leading up to the race I had some good confidence building sessions in training. I tested out the Nineteen Frequency Speed Suit Prototype that, up until this race, I hadn’t trained in too much as I haven’t had to race with it yet. It was an amazing suit, and I was feeling very strong in the open water, even when it was choppy (note to self: the water in the Florida Keys is VERY VERY SALTY!!!) I’ve never experienced water as salty as that, it felt like I had such great buoyancy in the water (either that or I’ve enjoyed a few too many treats lately…..) My new Aquasphere Cayenne goggles worked really great for the open water, they never fogged and my visibility was unbelievable! I’ve never had that much peripheral vision in the water; it made sighting a whole lot easier.  After a few rides on the P3C, the legs were feeling fluid and strong (not that I didn’t have quite the boost from a wicked wheel-set, 1080 rear/808 front, graciously lent to me by my great friend Andrew Powell.) The winds in Miami could get quite intense, but I found I didn’t have too much problems getting thrown around on the wheels.
Waiting to go to the dock, race morning. Lovely weather huh?
One of the reasons I signed up for Miami was because I KNEW it would be warm there this time of year. What I didn’t really take in to consideration was that it was ALSO hurricane season. As luck would have it, there was a tropical storm warning for race day. The weather had been really gorgeous leading up to the race, but the day before it started to turn. I was sure I could ‘will’ it to be nice on race day, if I just hoped hard enough maybe it would turn out sunny. Lucky for us, we at least didn’t get rained on for the Pro meeting the day before the race (as it was outside.) Leading into this race, I had briefly checked out the starting list, but didn’t really see any big names. I thought the pro field was going to be small.
on the dock, waiting for swim start
WRONG!!!!  Walking up the bleachers for the meeting, I started to notice some fast guys who I’ve seen in the past, and then a few of the sports superstars, such as Matty Reed and Michael Raelart. I was so excited to be able to toe the line with some of the sports best athletes, and I got a bit of a confidence booster by Bjoern and Jonna (I guess that’s what the ‘support’ team is for!) Needless to say, it was going to be a bit of a star studded affair on Sunday.

Coming out of the water in the Nineteen Speed Suit
Race morning started out as it typically does, not much sleep and a bit groggy. I woke up excited, but that started to sink a bit when I looked outside. It was raining sideways, and I don’t mean that in a metaphorical way either. It was windy as hell with hard, driving rain. After my usual race morning breakfast of toast with almond butter, honey and a banana, I was off to the race site. It was a little cooler than I had expected, the downpour probably wasn’t really helping with that fact. After setting up my transition, and doing my routine warm-up, it was time to get to the dock for the swim start. The race was delayed 15mins, which was a good thing, as it was still really dark. All the pros stood around shivering, waiting to get in the water (which was actually a relief, as it was a warm 77 degrees!) I lined myself up in a good position, and with a horn blast the race was on!!!! Sprinting off the line, I held a good position for the first few hundred meters. I felt my form was really great, and settled into a good rhythm. I started to fall back from the big packs, and ended up swimming more than half the swim alone. The currents were pretty crazy out there, and the return into the dock was upstream. I was caught by Leanda Cave and a few other pro women right before the end of the swim, and managed to get punched in the eye. It felt like my goggle was going to suck my eyeball out of my head!!! At least you know those goggles have a good seal.

Fighting the wind, feeling strong
Even when it’s tough, still all smiles 🙂
Onto the bike I was feeling good. My energy was soaring, the cheers from the crowds were getting me pumped up, and I started to push like a freight train right off the bat. The course was difficult in the sense that it was so flat, with VERY few turns, and that made it a bit of a mental trip to try and keep myself in check. It’s important to continually assess while on a course like that, and I rode practically the whole bike along, so it was even more important for me to stay aggressive, so as not to let myself slow down without realizing it. The first ¾’s of the bike I felt really aggressive and strong, and my speed was really awesome. One of the things that made this course extra hard was the wind; it NEVER let up! I was riding into a headwind on the way out, and it felt like an even stronger headwind coming back. It was exhausting, and I was feeling the effects for the last 10-15 miles. Flying into T2, my transition was sped up by Jonna’s loud yelling to hurry up and go faster! It caught me off guard, but got me moving a little quicker. I was using my new compressport socks, and they went on really quickly.
Hard right to the line
The final kick, leaving it all out there.
Hitting out on the run course, I was getting blown around pretty badly. The winds had picked up even more, and I felt like a leaf getting knocked about. I ran like a warrior, digging deep the whole run, but sometimes you know right off the bat when you’re not running to your full potential, and I was hurting right from the get go. I slogged it out, starting out with a really great pace, and the encouragement from the crowds kept me going, especially from Jonna and Jill Allen, a good friend of Rachel McBride’s (who was also racing today.) There was a causeway out to South Beach, and the general consensus among EVERYONE was the same: the winds were effin’ CRAZY!!! The first loop, the rain felt like needles, and the wind was gusting so hard it was like running into a wall!  Seeing Rachel with her devil horns on her head gave me a laugh, and helped me to keep pushing through (as I also knew she had a broken foot, that made me suck-it-up and go harder!!) Leanda Cave caught me at about the 11.5mile mark, as she had been gaining on me the whole race. Just at the 12 mile marker, I found the last little bit of power I had left and started to kick. I don’t know what my pace was, but it must’ve been fast! I quickly pulled away from Leanda, and just ran as hard as I could to the finish. Completely spent, in a time of 4:15:08, I crossed the finish line.
Finish line with Rachel….and FOOD
Takes someone special to hug you after a half-ironman!
The race was fun, as they always are (whether or not they go right or wrong, I always take away the positives.) Finally glad to be finished with this LONG LONG season, it was time to take advantage of being in Miami with some amazing people. After the awards ceremony, where Rachel collected her 7th place trophy, we headed off to South Beach for some post-race celebrations, with happy hour at their resort, and some of the best Mexican food I’ve had, at Rosie’s Mexican. The night was full of laughs and good times, and I couldn’t have been in better company than Jonna, Rachel, and Jill.
Happy Hour post-race:)
I have to thank everyone who has supported me this year, my family and friends have been the most amazing support network I could ever imagine!! My Super-Coach Bjoern Ossenbrink of Lifesport has made me strong, and I couldn’t have gotten to the level I’m at without him. Thanks to Eload, Compressport, New Balance Vancouver, Nineteen wetsuits, Popeye’s Supplements, and most recently, Jeremy Wilson and the crew at Speed Theory Vancouver. Without your support I wouldn’t have made it this far.
Rosie’s Mexican!!
The season is finally done, it’s time to recover, decompress, and rebuild for the 2012 season, where I know there is going to be some big work, with even bigger results! Stay tuned for all the fun things I get up to in the next few weeks, lots of excitement I promise! Stay healthy everyone, and enjoy the off-season.

The Movember Stache

Last year’s dirty ‘stache; bigger aspirations for this year!!

Last year I made my first ever attempt to grow a ‘stache for Movember, and I guess you could say it was a success (or a hair FAIL, whatever way you want to look at it!) It was a dirty nasty thing, but it got a lot of attention (which is the EXACT reason you grow for movember, to bring awareness.) This year I’m growing my little creepy ‘stache as part of Delta Fire Department’s Mug Slugs, and if you want some good Karma, please donate ANYTHING you can to help out with the cause!! Every little bit helps, as every dollar raised will support the awareness, research, education, and survivorship of prostate cancer.

To help me help my brothers, go to my address and donate anything you can, and help us fight the good fight!!

Thank you, and happy training!

Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains Race Report

I originally signed up for the inaugural Pocono Mountains 70.3 because it was the only 70.3 race that fit into my schedule that would also give me points towards the 70.3 World Championships for 2012. I had ignorantly thought, “Hey, Pennsylvania at the beginning of October, it’s going to be warm weather I’m sure!”
Well, I was wrong. Wrong doesn’t even begin to describe it. See, if I had done some research, I would’ve found out (BEFORE signing up) that there has been record rainfall all summer, and that the temperatures CAN be okay, but more often than not it is cooler. As the date approached to leave, I was feeling an unbelievable amount of confidence in myself, as my training had been going spectacular!  My swim was FINALLY coming together, I was having some amazing bike sessions, and I was performing brick and track workouts at a level beyond what I had ever been capable of before.  “Yes,” I thought, “this will be the race where it all comes together.” Then I started looking at the weather forecasts. They weren’t pretty. In fact, comparing it to Vancouver weather, it STILL wasn’t pretty (on race morning, at 4am (that’s 1am Vancouver time,) the temperature was 2 degrees colder in the Poconos than in Van.) This started to make me nervous, as I have a knack for performing better in the warmer weather. Wondering what I was getting myself into, I stayed positive (as I’m known to be, regardless of what’s happening around me,) and knew I would still pull something great together. Arriving the Wednesday before the race, I was greeted by my first of two homestays, Craig and Erica Sheckler. They are the owners and head coaches of the Endurance Multisport Triathlon Club, based out of the Emmaus/Pocono area of Pennsylvania. They were an outstanding pair, great hosts and super friendly. I stayed with them the first and last night of my trip, and the few nights between I stayed with Matt Wojaczyk, a club member. Another fantastic host, he showed me the area and the race course, as well as volunteered on race day.
TT style race start
The night before the race, as I’ve become accustomed to, I didn’t sleep a wink. I didn’t even think much about the race, but just couldn’t sleep. We had found out the day before that the swim had been cancelled, as the Deleware Water Gap (the river we were to swim in,) was 8-9 feet above normal levels, making a normally flaccid running river into a raging force of muddy brown hell. It was insane. If we had swam, they would’ve needed catch nets at the end or we would have been goners!! (So much for my swim finally coming together.) Getting to T1, it was damn cold that morning. I was a little happy there was no swim, as it usually DOESN’T put me at the front of the race, and I was fairly sure I would’ve become hypothermic if I had swam in the water. The skies started to open up on us as we lined up to start, Time Trial style, at the entrance of T1. I was feeling good, and was the third pro male to go. They let us go 30 seconds apart (the age groupers went  2-3 seconds apart.) It was hard hard hard (as Coach Bjoern would say,) right from the start. The hills started almost immediately, with all sorts of technical turns and rollers (which, if it had been a bit drier out, would have been a good course for me.) Fully layered up to try and stay warm, I rode hard. A few strong riders eventually went by me, but I maintained contact with a bunch of them. Time seemed to just fly by, and I was riding so well. Then, 45 miles in, my front tire went flat. “Crap,” I thought, “why now?” Into action I went, pulling over and ripping my Hutchinson tire sealant off, and started fighting to get the small nipple adapters screwed on. It was tough, and I was having a hard time working my frozen fingers. It took many tries to get the adapters all screwed on, and by the time I was ready to roll again, it had felt like 20mins had passed by. “Back in the game I thought,” as I started to roll.
Hard at work on the bike
Lovely bike riding weather
And yet again, it was not meant to be. As foam started flying out of the original hole, just spraying all over the bike, the road, and all up-and-down my front, I pulled off again and tried to see if there was glass or something still stuck in the tire. **Learning experience: Pit-Stop does NOT work on clinchers!!** Nothing in the tire, with foam still shooting everywhere, I just thought I’d keep going, at least until the tire went flat. Well, lucky me, the tire stopped deflating with about 20-30lbs of air in it, just enough to keep riding on, but not enough that I could really push hard AT ALL. See, the elevation profile is all sorts of rollers and climbs, culminating to the 45mile mark, where it is mostly technical downhill the rest of the way. Suffice to say, my rear brake saw a lot of action the final 10miles, as I was in no hurry to crash my BRAND NEW Cervelo P3C.
 Into T2, I was a bit unmotivated to run, but throwing my run gear on, (in what felt like an absurdly large amount of time, ended up actually being pretty quick,) I was off onto the run course. I figured I would run my race, just focusing on form and nutrition, as there was no chance for me to place well. Alone with my thoughts (and the cheering of the aid station attendees,) I trucked myself all the way to final big climb to the turn-around. The course was very hilly, and extremely challenging, with a lot of rollers and steep inclines. Just before the turn-around, I realized that there was a few guys not so far ahead of me.
Erica, Jonna, and other Endurance Multisport members
Game on. I figured with nothing left to lose, I started to open up the throttle and let’er rip!! After a few miles, another pro was in sight, and that was it. Tossing my gel and salt-tablet flasks, I kicked it up another gear, and putting a target on his back I started to really put a dent in his lead. I mean, I started to give it everything I had, and with about 1.2miles to go, I passed through the last aid station (with my competitor only 10 yards ahead.) Two things I forgot to mention:
A.      The entire run course is pretty much an out-and-back;
Craig with long pink hair!
B.      Craig and Erica were manning the first/last aid station with their Triathlon club members, all of them outlandishly dressed up in all manners of pink outfits (I especially liked Craigs long pink hair.)
Finishing strong
Before the race, Erica told me she was a REALLY loud yeller, and I said I’d hold her to that. She came through, and the cheers and yells to “RUN FASTER, HE’S RIGHT THERE!!!!” were like throwing jet-fuel on the fire, and I started to kick. I don’t know how fast I ran that last mile, but dammit if I almost didn’t set a PB!!! I kicked past that guy and just ran with a blinding sprint, I have no idea where it came from. I put something like 30-40 seconds on him by the finish, and was elated that I finished so strong. 11th pro overall, not what I was expecting, but given the circumstances, I was happy with my performance (and learned a lot from the race.) Post race festivities included some much deserved beers, and my favourite pub-food of all-time, yam fries!! I sat down for dinner at a local Irish Pub with Craig, Erica, Matt and a delightfully good-looking (and talented,) up-and-coming elite triathlete, Jonna. Splurging on all things delicious, it was a fine way to end the evening.
Even though the conditions were crappy, and I had one helluva flat tire scenario, I’m glad I went down to Pennsylvania. I took a lot of important learning lessons away from the race, and made a bunch of awesome new friends. I’ll be taking all the lessons learned and putting everything into my last race of the season, Miami 70.3, on October 30th. I feel like my fitness is far better than it has ever been, and I have a new level of confidence going in to the race. Most people have long since finished their race season, but I hope everyone is out and enjoying the last bit of warmth and nice weather we’re enjoying in the Lower Mainland.
Safe and happy training everyone!!