All posts by The Triathlon Guy

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

The Infamous Tucson Saturday Morning Shoot-Out

I’ve been anticipating this all year, ever since I got to ride in it last year at Tucson Training Camp. It’s held a small dark corner of my thoughts, slowly building excitement as the trip down here to Tucson approached. Ever since I rode in the Shoot Out last year, and missed the front pack due to getting trapped in the gutter (along the edge of the road, boxed in by other riders,) I’ve needed a touch of redemption. Now that I’m here in Tucson, it was paramount that I got to engage in the excitement of bike racing, not only in a warm climate, surrounded by strong riders, but also aboard my triathlon bike.

Yup, the Quintana Roo TT bike, with aero extensions and everything.

Sounds somewhat out-of-place, or perhaps a bit offside, but I’ve discovered that as long as you’re able to hold a straight line, stay away from the aero bars, and don’t perform any nerdy triathlete shenanigans, you’re more than welcome to participate. It’s essentially a free impromptu race, every saturday morning ranging from a 7:30am-6:00am start, depending on what time of year (check out the little breakdown of the ride HERE and a map/elevation description HERE.) It’s exciting and fast paced, and today’s ride was no exception!

It started with about a 20 minute roll-out through town; I noticed a lot of chatty banter, with far too many serious faces. I think roadies need to smile more.

Rolling through town, lots of smiles from team Canada

As we neared Valencia, the road that is essentially the ‘Start Line,’ there was a lot of silence, and riders shedding layers as they prepared for the beginning of the Saturday morning excitement. I’m sure many riders prepare for this ride all week, with carbon race wheels and bikes worth almost as much as my house surrounding me, to be ready to try and take that final sprint, along with the Shoot Out glory and bragging rights. I’m pretty sure having that win on a resume is a pretty big deal, far more lucrative than winning the Velo Vets Iona sprint. Even though we were at a pedestrian pace rolling out, my legs were practically bouncing and I’m pretty sure my heart rate was in zone 4.5, anticipating crossing over that starting line. We hit Valencia, and all of a sudden a rider came by the outside lane and said “let’s get this party started!”

Classic.

It was action pretty much from the gun, no real breaks forming until a few miles down the road, but a hard and fast pace was set immediately. There’s no fooling about at the shoot out; if you want to stay with the front group, you’re going to have to suffer for it. Luckily for me, I not only brought my best suffer face, but I also loaded up on my favourite pre-‘race’ octane beverage: beet juice. Essentially, I felt like I brought a gun to a knife-fight.

There was no looking backwards today, I was focused on one thing, and one thing only: make the front break, and hold on for dear life. It took a turn for the hurt at 13 miles to go, or ‘The Bridge,’ where the pace gets really cranked and I definitely felt the burn for a few pedal strokes. I managed to hang on, and even to move myself through the field nearer the front of the pack. As we neared the Sprint Hill ‘Finish,’ just after mile marker 5, the main group I was in made a big effort to pull back the breakaway, which I’m fairly sure the bacon-powered Triathlete Ben Hoffman was a part of. Myself, my buddy Jesse Vondracek, and a new friend I’ve made here, Maik Twelsiek (another professional triathlete with some big wins to his name,) were all in that main group, and it strung out pretty long near the end. I managed to get myself into a good spot and finished close to the front, somewhere in the top 15(ish), a respectable spot for a triathlon nerd like me.

Jesse V, rolling on his Litespeed, during a brief recovery zone.

The ride back included some exciting pace-line work, something you don’t get many chances to do when you’re a triathlete. It was a hard effort, really fast too, as we rode back towards town.

It was an exciting ride, the closest thing to actually racing, and I would highly encourage anyone with pack-riding ability to ride the Shoot Out if they come down to Tucson. An awesome thing to note, was seeing so many Canadian kits in the Peleton, even some local kits from the Vancouver area, including team Coastal Ride (based out of the city I work in, Delta.) There was a noticeable amount of pretty serious riders, including many members of the Smart Stop Cycling Team, plus a TON of sweet looking Champion System kits, which are hard to miss.

Immediately post shootout, with the front pack.

So far the camp has been excellent, my energy is higher than ever, and the body is back into high-mileage mode. The mileage as of 11 days of training:

Swimming: 30kms
Bike: 1050kms
Run: 92kms

Total Hrs: 55hrs

Time to go hit the hills with Jesse and the super-dog Addy for a few hrs of trail running. Then, my favourite, costco trip!

Happy training everyone!!

Nathan

Tucson Training Camp Round Très

SUNNNNNN!!!!

Sorry, I just had to. For all you poor folk stuck in the big city of Raincouver, I’ve completely succumbed to the urge to get overly excited about the nice weather here in Tucson. I feel like I’m on a different planet; just waking up to that inexplicably bright orb in the sky that generally seems so vacant during a Vancouver February works wonders for a person’s mental fettle! It seems to be able to cure any dark or depressed grey matter with it’s warm bright rays and Vitamin D enhancing effects. I urge anyone living in the GVRD to escape for a warm excursion during this time of year, even if only for a weekend! (Vegas anyone?!?)

Just pack your bike and ESCAPE the winter blues!!

Enough of that (not exactly uplifting Valentines Day chatter eh?) now that everyone’s cursing my overt enthusiasm and excitement for the weather, here’s a quick update on training camp activities:

I’ve made even more friends, including Tricia Shadell, a budding up-and-coming pro Enduro Mountain Biker. It was great to meet Tricia (a friend of Jesse V and Amy,) who was here to race a 24hr MTB race as a relay team member, but unfortunately managed to break her collarbone (not a little crack either, a rather legit FULL BREAK,) before the race, after she biffed it HARD chasing pro downhill mountain biker buddies on the trails. But to make her feel better, I made her my staple breakfast favourite of oatmeal pancakes (recipe coming soon to a blog near you,) and Canada’s finest pure maple syrup (for which there is no equal. Period.) I also tied my first ever ponytail, as she was rendered single-armed due to the break. Actually, I didn’t just adequately perform the tie, I freakin nailed it. And it was a double-bobble, which in my eye deserves some kind of trophy or plaque, or at least a sweet-ass medal.

Crispy-edged goodness…..
Pancakes to make a sad day happier, easy to eat with one hand!

I’ve come across roadkill wild hogs while riding that would most certainly have caused my untimely demise if I came across them alive (big, MEAN looking fellas, gnarly teeth all over the place!)

I’ve had a pleasant conversation with a Harley rider while stopped at an intersection (while ogling his ride, he claimed my bike looked damn light. I replied with, “Yeah, but it doesn’t sound as awesome as yours,” (after which, he gave a good solid revving, which I returned fire with an awesome sign of the horn, leading to even more eardrum-shattering revving and laughing.) After our shenanigans, I discovered his son raced BMX’s.

Amazing what you can learn at a stoplight.

It’s been glorious here so far, swimming with Jesse V and the Ford Aquatics Masters at the Hillenbrand Aquatic centre, a phenomenal place of high performance that really shows how serious they are about athletics at USA universities! All outdoor, all the time, and the short course yards makes you feel like an absolute stud!

Logging some hilly, twisty desert miles on the new QR

After 3 days of training, I’m already getting a tad tired, having logged 10km of swimming (including this AM’s swim, but not tonight’s swim,) 430km of riding, and 12km of running (number will most likely triple before today’s end.)

It’s only beginning, and I can’t wait to log some more miles on the new Quintana Roo CD0.1. Since I’ve been powering through so many of my Powerbars, I’ve started making some whole food training fare, based on some of the concepts and recipes of The Feed Zone: Portables, including leftovers from the above mentioned oatmeal pancakes (PB&J sammy’s anyone?) as well as some Salted Dark Chocolate Sticky Bites that are currently cooling, that I’ll post about sometime soon.

PB&J Pancakewich is uplifting during a LONG ride

Besides the beautiful weather training and being joyously reunited with Trader Joe’s, everything is doing slick here at camp. I hope everyone is enjoying their early season training, have a fantastic weekend and go have some fun!

With that, I leave you a short clip on how to be a mountain biker:

Nathan

Stuck on the Road Side at Challenge Penticton

Having my favourite bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, pondering how many pairs of gloves I’ll need to wear to survive a few hours of riding in -4 weather (that feels like -8,) I came across a hilarious photo that reminded me of the crap luck I ran in to at Challenge Penticton last year. Some of you may know I had a ‘little’ mechanical trouble on course, with the end result being my first ever DNF. You can read my 2013 Challenge Penticton Race Report if you’d like to find out the details to that catastrophe. Ironically, finding this photo is perfect timing as I’ve just joined the Team at Quintana Roo and Litespeed, so my needs in this photo have been filled! Big thanks to my teammate Chris Young for the photo.

That’s me in the background, standing on the side of the road. Pretty much sums up my feelings at that moment!

Speaking of a new whip, it’s time to go saddle up and ride out! I think I’ll leave you with a little video to create a smile, and possibly brighten up a possibly dark, cold, snowy winter day. Happy training!

Nathan

NEW BIKE DAY!!!!

As I sit here, grazing away on my PB celery stick and bowl of trail mix, I eagerly await my ride tomorrow morning. Not because it’s going to be -6 out, although that IS quite appealing (not); my excitement is because I get my maiden voyage on my brand spankin new race whip! That’s right:

NEW BIKE DAY!!!
The incredible mechanics at Speed Theory Vancouver stayed up late last night to get it all built up, and they did a phenomenal job too! I’m blessed to have a great shop to work with, these guys help me out huge all the time, and seem to be able to fix everything (except a failing relationship due to spending too much time out training than with your partner. Apparently you’re on your own with that.)
Along with exciting New Bike Day, I’m ecstatic to announce my new bike sponsor for the next few seasons! I’ve decided to partner up with the awesome team at Quintana Roo and Litespeed; the weapon of choice for 2014 will be the Quintana Roo CD0.1, built up with Shimano Ultegra components, Rotor Cranks, Power2Max power meter, PRO Missile bars, a Cobb saddle, and the lightning-fast Gray 9.5 carbon tubulars. It’s a rig I’m excited to train and race on for 2014, and a partnership that I’m pumped to have moving forward in my career as a professional athlete. 
Some Simple Math:

+
=

Always remember: keep your mechanics happy!
They worked late to finish it, homeward bound!

A bike fit with Coach Björn Ossenbrink tomorrow will be JUST in the nick of time, as I fly out to Tucson on monday for a 3 week training camp with my good buddies Jesse and Amy, where I’m sure there will be many miles shared, and even more monster cookies abolished to depths of my bottomless appetite. 
Remember Jesse and Amy?

….How about these cookies?!?!?
said, the race rig from last year needs to find a new, loving home. You can find the ad HERE. It served me well, I hope to find it a great new home to get ridden fast!
My trusty roadie is also looking for a new home, a complete bike that will guarantee some fun on the flats and especially on the hills. That ad can be found HERE.
Even more exciting news: I’ve been informed that the awesome folks at Speed Theory Vancouver can order ANY of the Quintana Roo bikes in to their shop, so if you want to rip it on a QR too, they’re the ones to see!
The rest of my awesome support network will be announced very shortly, as I finalize everything and sign in blood on the dotted line (well, not really, but that sounds way more official than digital signatures.)
Happy training everyone, stay safe and work hard!
Nathan