Having only learned to swim in my 20’s, the first leg of triathlon has always been my weak point, especially in the pro field. In long course triathlon it’s not uncommon for pros to learn to swim in their teens, but at the highest level of short course triathlon the swim pedigree runs deep. All the athletes learned to swim before they were 10 years old. Some of them came up through the high-performance swim program in their country, including a few olympic trials. Most of them started triathlon before they hit puberty. Which means, they are the best swimmers in triathlon. I knew this would be a challenge for me, but day two of the grand finale was the most savage of formats: the Enduro. This brutal race is 3 times through swim/bike/run without stopping. The savage part is that 2 athletes are eliminated per DISCIPLINE, meaning two athletes’ day is done after the 300m swim.
I’ve been working hard on my swim, but even with a decent start (albeit a terrible start position on the pontoon) I was still the last out of the water and was eliminated after the swim.
These athletes are incredibly humbling to race against, but I’m proud that I had the opportunity to toe the start line with the best in the world on the short course scene. Most of these guys have been to or are going to the olympics; they are world champions and olympic medalists; they are the fastest on the planet, and I got to race with them and get to know them well, which is big component of the excitement. They are great people and all class, and it was a pleasure to be a part of Super League and watch a format that is changing the sport of triathlon.
If you’d like to watch the live coverage (and hear the legend Will McCloy announcing) check out the youtube video HERE. Men’s race starts at approximately 2:16 into the broadcast. I’m on pontoon spot 6.
Thanks for following along! I’ll post an update soon on the lead-up preparation for Super League, and how I got ready to race such a short and hot event.
The weather was HOT and the competition was SPICY on day 1 of Super League Singapore. This is the Grand Finale of 4 weekends of racing (Jersey, UK; Malta; Mallorca; Singapore) and the field was the strongest yet.
I was pontoon spot 6 which put me kind of in the middle of the field. Being a weaker swimming in this field makes a middle spot hard, as the outside guys squeeze together and you get popped out the back, which is exactly what happened. I struggled to hang in there but lost :29 seconds to the leader out of the water, Igor Polyanski. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet.
Hitting out on the bike, full of lactate, I hustled my way through the course, slowly picking up other athletes. The weather was in the 30’s C and VERY high humidity, and coming from cold and snowy Canada I was already feeling the heat. I managed to keep the gap to the front of the race at under 30 seconds, and came off the bike with more work to do.
The moment I started running I could feel the heat. But I could also see competitors just up the road, so I was motivated to suffer! I kept the throttle wide-open, slowly catching and passing other athletes. As I came down to the last few hundred meters, I saw Igor Polyanski right ahead of me and thought to myself “well, I might as well try to pass Igor, it could be the highlight of my career so far and will make for a good story”. So I kicked (way too early I might add) and managed to sneak around Igor (although he didn’t look too interested in speeding up) and came up 18th of 23.
My best Super League finish to date, and although I had a rough start I’m proud that I left everything I had out there and dug deep to the end. The heat was incredible, I’ve never done anything so hot in all my life and I was dying after I crossed the line. Thankfully they had ice pools to cool off in, it was a real life saver!
Unfortunately I didn’t make the top 15 cut-off to make it to the second round of stage 1, but I was lucky enough to have front row seats to watch Johnny Brownlee take the overall win on the day, with Tyler Mislawchuck in a very tight 2nd and Haydon Wilde in 3rd. The other Canadian Matt Sharpe had an awesome day for 5th. I’m super stoked for these guys, they are some of my favourites here.
If you’d like to watch our race action, check it out at the Super League youtube page HERE. It’s women’s race first, then the men’s race.
Today’s stage 2 is the Enduro, a savage race of 3 times through swim/bike/run (300m/4.8k/1.8k) without stopping. The kicker? Bottom two athletes from EVERY discipline are eliminated. The last time I raced this format I was eliminated after the first swim, albeit close, but close isn’t good enough in the eliminator.
We race in a few hours so I’m going to log-off and prepare for (hopefully) the swim of my life! Thanks for reading!!
Less than 24 hours away from Ironman Canada in Whistler, race nerves and anxiety is starting to kick in! I recently wrote an article for Triathlon Magazine Canada on the course conditions with some tips for success on race day. Check out the link below to have a read, good luck on your big day out tomorrow!!
I know it’s been a WHOLE YEAR since I’ve posted last, that must be a new record!?!? So why ruin a good streak you ask? Because I owe it to YOU, the reader, to fill you in on the crazy amount of awesomeness that’s been going on the last year! There’s so much…..but lucky you, I’ll be getting you all the ‘ADHD Updates’ shortly so you’ll be fully updated before you can say “SQUIRREL!”
But I wanted to share a piece that the amazing folks over at Innervoice.life put together, giving you a little deeper insight into what makes me tick as an athlete and a human being. It’s a great read, but if there’s anything you take away is that they gathered some SWEET photos, fluorescent yellow looks THE BEST on a kit, and that every day spent above ground should be spent living life to 100% of it’s potential.
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!
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!→
Professional Triathlete, Triathlon Coach, Fire Fighter, New Dad, and Peanut Butter Addict!