All posts by The Triathlon Guy

Where did the last few months go?

Christmas Eve above the snow line

It’s been a while since my last post, and a LOT has happened since then. I decided, as we do in triathlon, to take a break from much of the social media scene for the remainder of 2013 (post-Austin 70.3,) and have just been slowly getting back in to the swing of it lately. After the last race of the season, I find that there’s a bit of a depression, even if only slightly, that the race season is over. You’ve worked so hard, every day, up to this pinnacle point of the season, and then it’s all over. It’s tough to get into the off-season, to be able to wake up some days and not have anything planned, to just go with the flow of your days and weeks. It offers some freedom, the freedom to do whatever the heck you want to do.

The freedom to eat whatever size pancakes you want!

If I wanted to go to the gym and lift weights, I did.

If I wanted to go row on the erg, I did. I got so excited about rowing that I came close to retiring from triathlon to be a rower. 
Trying my hand at rowing

Almost.

I spent a LOT of time NOT running, swimming, or biking through November, mostly hitting the gym, the rowing erg, or baking something. I began mountain biking a fair amount later november and through december, as we had a rather warm start to winter. Mountain biking helps build fitness and explosive bike power, as well as gives you a completely different stimuli to road riding. It’s also just plain fun.

Fun in the woods….
….Even fun in the snow!
Can’t forget café rides with your buddies…
…and riding with the ladies!

Once the snow started to fall, it was XC ski season!!! I find XC skiing to be a massive boost through the winter. I come back to cycling MUCH stronger, and a lot more fit than the year before. Plus, it’s loads of fun. It’s even a ton of fun when you’re watching your buddy race up in Callaghan!

Elliot’s First Race of 2014

Getting retro

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my run and strength over the last month, with a fair bit of time on the ski trails. Having all the time off lets you reset your body and brain, and lets you slowly grow that hunger to train and race. For AAA personality triathletes like myself (and I know a lot of you,) it can be bloody difficult! But when you start to slowly get back in to it, and start the rebuild into the new season, your body and mind will thank you. You may not notice it at first, but come august, when you’ve spent a lot of time breaking yourself down with training, you’ll REALLY appreciate it. I’m feeling superbly fresh, and I’m ready to do what it takes to exceed my expectations this year. Continuing into my 4th season with Coach Björn Ossenbrink, I’ll be starting the year with a 3 week Tucson training camp, staying with my good buddies Jesse and Amy. The big races this year will be Challenge Atlantic City and Challenge Penticton, both full iron distance events, finishing up with Austin 70.3 again.
I’ve also been building on and creating new relationships with my sponsors, and will shortly announce who my superstar support network will be! It’s been an exciting few weeks as I finalize everything, and things are starting to really happen.
I hope everyone has had a superb Christmas and New Years, I know I sure enjoyed a week up in Sun Peaks skiing, all while making some awesome new friends! Best of luck to absolutely everyone this year, go fast and enjoy every second of the journey.
With all of that, I leave you with this, ‘How to Be a Road Biker’:
Stay tuned, and stay safe!
Nathan

Breaking Barriers: the Austin 70.3 Ironman Race Report

Preparing for battle.
Going to war.

That’s how I felt the days and weeks leading up to the Ironman 70.3 Austin race on Sunday. I felt like I was preparing my body and mind for an epic assault on my competition, ready to push my body to its breaking point. I went into every training session motivated by these aggressive and unusual (for me) thoughts, fuelled by something that I had been missing all year. I was focused, I was determined, I was fitter than I’ve ever been, and it was all about to culminate into a performance that I can be bloody proud of. It had been three years since I was in Austin for this race, the last time I was here I came 20th overall, won my age group by a fair chunk of time, and was one of the top (if not the top) amateur racer on the day, a defining moment in my career when I realized that maybe I, too, could race as a professional in this sport I’d fallen in love with.

But I digress. Let me preface the happenings of the Austin race with a quick blip on the radar of why it’s been so silent on here the last few months:
Every warrior needs a good lid. Pretty doesn’t hurt either.
For starters, I’ve been in the process of moving, starting on September 29th, and has pretty much accounted for 97% of my time outside of training and working. It’s been a big haul, Jenn and I joining forces and moving in together, to the Vancouver neighbourhood of Dunbar: a perfect setting for mental clarity and comfort, as well as a prime and very ideal location for training. Less than 5 minutes from front step to trail head, multiple pools and open water swim venues within minutes drive, and smack-dab in the middle of some mighty fine riding routes, giving me the options of the flat time-trial friendly roads of Richmond and Delta, or the hilly and punchy routes through North Vancouver and beyond. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been so worth it already. I’ve been mentally stronger, with the hunger to perform at the forefront of my mind. In the last 5-6 weeks before Austin, I had been having some of the best running sessions that I can remember, getting some incredible track work in and really smashing some tough interval sessions. I’ve finally found my running legs back, and I knew Austin would be a good day for me.
Now, let’s fast forward to Sunday’s race.
Yup. This is at the gym. Seriously.
My most awesome teammate Rachel McBride was heading down to Austin with me, ready to defend her title as 2012 Austin 70.3 Champion. She was extra-awesome to invite me to stay with last year’s homestay, Doug and Liz (and 8 month old Claire.) Arriving to Austin’s sweat-producing weather, I was absolutely blown away (and am still in disbelief) by Doug and Liz Vreeland’s incredible hospitality and generosity. Doug helped us pick out run and ride routes, even taking us to the local masters swim to swim along side multiple All-American swimmers and double Olympians (which was rather humbling, as they lapped us on a 200yrd set like we were standing still!!!) He even took us to his ‘gym,’ although I would probably rather refer to it as the Disneyland for Fitness Junkies; they not only had high-end fitness equipment (including spin bikes and all the other incredible machines known to man, as well as some that aren’t known by many,) but they also had a lap pool, full yoga studios, outdoor military-style obstacle course, outdoor gravel path for running, and a full service coffee bar. Oh, and how could I forget the LAKE! Yes, that’s right, they had a bloody LAKE in the back! Rachel and I took advantage of the lake, practicing our starts, finishes, and smooth water entries. You know, very professional business and such.
Practicing my smooth water-entry for race starts. Nineteen Rogue helps with the ‘Hang Time.’

Getting close to race day, I was getting that feeling inside that has rarely shown itself in my career, the feeling that I knew I was going to perform well. Doug and Liz took incredible care of us, and come race morning I was rested and ready to go to battle. The days leading up to the sound of the gun going off felt like my body was preparing itself to suffer like I have never yet.

Extra rested and recovered, in the
best recovery tool I’ve ever seen, Recovery Boots!
So how did the race go? Well, let me tell you.
It was a bit of a shocker to wake up at 4am, look outside, and realize that it was raining so hard I couldn’t see the street lamp outside. Not how I expected to start my race morning in Austin. But, it faded away to a light sprinkle, and by the time I headed lakeside for swim warm-up, it had stopped.
Standing knee deep out into the water, green and pink fluorescent swim caps splashing and bobbing through the water, the rest of the pro field was warming up in the light glow of the morning sun. Some serious faces, some smiling and laughing (which, as you can imagine, I was a little closer to the latter,) but all looking fit and ready as I was. We lined up for the starting canon to go off, 15 minutes late (to give us more light,) and I was treading water right in behind Ben Hoffman and Richie Cunningham (which, in retrospect, wasn’t a good choice to park my arse for the swim start.)
BAM! The gun went off and it got furious as usual. It was down to fisticuffs instantly, a raging battle of testosterone and the unwillingness to give up the oh-so-coveted spot in the draft zone. It took about 300-400 meters before it started to spread a bit, and I was able to take stock of the situation. I managed to get on some feet that had me working fairly hard, but I was able to relax the legs and save some energy for the rest of the day. As we neared shore, I could see the clock closing in on the 26-minute mark, and I was able to race up the shore in 26 minutes and change, a fairly decent swim for me. I ran through transition in my usual sprint fashion, pushing my way past a few guys (whom I figured were moving at too much of a pedestrian pace for my liking,) grabbing my bike and ripping through T1 with one of the fastest transitions of the day, only next to the race winner Matt Charbot (who got through about 1 second faster.) I pride myself on my fast T1, and today was no exception.
My Nineteen Rogue helping to a solid 26 min swim.
Out on to the bike, the legs were working right away. It was push push push from the get-go, and I started putting targets on guys’ backs and picked them off. Fellow Canuckle-head Stephen Kilshaw was also racing, and he came by me after about 8 miles or so. I decided to go with him, and bumped it up to maintain contact with him (it’s a mental booster if you can stay within sight of the guy ahead of you!) We slowly reeled in guys one at a time, until we had made our way from 21st (out of the water for myself) up to the top 10 or so. I was working hard with a few guys, and when I looked back, there was a massive peloton of guys following right close. Like, a LOT of guys. Some of them were so blatantly drafting, the back of my aero helmet just nicked their nose as I turned to look them square in the face. I ended up burning a LOT of matches during the later stages of the bike, as I was frustrated by the drafting and only a few of us were up front trying to push the pace; the rest of the peloton would just suck wheel when we tried to get away. I’d say my favourite quote of the day was when a certain fellow Canadian came by on the bike, as we were working bloody hard, and said “Hey Nate, we gotta work it up here and drop-off this trash at the dump!” (pointing backwards with his thumb to the bunch behind us.)
Classic.
Head-down, guns blazing.
I was attacking on hills as much as I could, but to no avail. I ended up riding with ‘Big Sexy’ Chris McDonald (another guy who used to be a bit on the heavy side, topping out at 250lbs in his prime,) for a bit, and in the last few km’s I made an attack and he came with, splitting the group apart a bit. We did manage to get into T2 a football field length (or two) ahead of them, but by then I was burning matches by the handful.
Thank GOD I brought a grown-up size box of matches to this race.

Good thing I packed my big-boy box of matches.
Being careful in T2, it took me a bit to get my socks and runner on. Testing out new shoes last weekend (yes, I was trying something NEW close to race day, the same way I screwed myself the last time I was here,) I managed to rub nickel-sized holes in my Achilles, forcing me to be extra careful when putting my gear on. I lost some time in T2, but I took off at a fairly solid pace onto the run course.
I could tell fairly quickly that I was going to have to suffer on the run today. A few guys passed me right away, and I just kept pushing after Chris McDonald, telling myself I would catch him no matter what. I knew there was someone way up ahead that was slowly coming into my sights, and about halfway through the run, I committed myself to the chase; the hunt was on. I straightened up, and really started to lean into it. Lucky for me, I dropped all my Powerbar gels just after mile 1 on the run, saving me some precious weight I needn’t carry around. Who needs gels anyways? So by the third (and final) lap I was starting to feel the effects of only having coke and water on the run course. I started to really give it, with the foggy vision coming on, legs absolutely screaming with every iota to ‘oh-please-God-make-him-stop,’ and even the dreaded ‘counting steps’ (something I do when I am really in the hurt locker.) I could see him up ahead, and with only two miles left I really punched the gas right through the floorboards. With nary a mile to spare, I managed to cruise by him, giving my best poker-face, and surged ahead. I managed to gap him quickly, but he put in a huge surge that had me redlined, pushing so hard I could barely see in front of me, people screaming in the crowds, my body ready to give out any second. I could even see I was closing in on another guy up ahead, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to close that gap. As I hit the second-to-last timing mat, I could only imagine Björn on his computer, screaming at the screen to “GO FASTER UP UP UP” as he watched me close the final minutes of the race (make sure of course, you read that line with a thick German accent!)
Still Smiling!
This race is the first one I’ve done that has timing mats every mile of the run course. For me, I know that every single one of my supporters who is following the race can see me crossing over every mat; they can see who is passing me, and who I’m passing. This brings a new dynamic to my racing: knowing the most important people to me are watching live results stream in; the people who drive me to perform to my utmost potential, to give me best effort, who I strive to make proud, because they are my TEAM! I know they are watching, I can ‘hear’ their cheering and vibes as I cross over the mats and hear the ‘BEEP-BEEP’ from the computers. As I was suffering immensely out there on the run course, that’s what went through my head. Hearing their voices, that’s my mental rocket fuel. Seeing my teammate Rachel McBride killing it on the run prompted me to get even uglier on the run course.
Coming through the LOONG finishing loop/chute, I could see that I had quite the gap on the guy behind me, but did I slow down to savour the moment? Hell no. I cranked it up and tried my best impersonation of a sprinter (FAIL) coming through the line just above conscious, somewhat disappointed I didn’t get under 4 hours, but elated to have left absolutely everything out on the run course (and certain to have knocked a few months off the end of my life.) As I crossed the line, I threw out a hug cheer, and then the body started to realize what I had just done to myself. Within steps I was bent over, hands on my knees, trying my best to hold myself up. As my world got darker and darker, I remember abruptly dropping to my knees (confusing the volunteers with my finish line ‘Cat-Pose’ yoga routine,) then feeling two rather strong guys grab me under the shoulders and pick me up, dragging me to medical as if I had overstayed my welcome at the All-You-Can-Eat buffet (engulfed in a full-on food coma.) I don’t remember much in between there and the medical cot, but I was so happy once I came to on the bed.

Moments later, I was chewing floor.
My main concern in medical was that Rachel McBride wasn’t incredibly far behind me, and I HAD to get to the finish chute to be there when she crossed. After a few minutes, Rachel and her cat-ears costume came through the finish line, running her way into second place! When someone on my team has an incredible performance, it gets me even more excited than when I perform well. Triathlon isn’t exactly a ‘team’ sport in the conventional sense, but Team Ossenbrink makes it even more than just a ‘Team’; we’re like a family. So when my family kicks some ass out there, I get über pumped up! Rachel got one MONSTER of a high-five, and that was it.

Rachel and I at the finish, photo courtesy of Doug and Liz Vreeland.

The season was done.
Mmmm….everything’s better with Bacon!
















Yup. Bacon.























It was time to relax and enjoy ourselves, and in our last few days we did just that. Doug and Liz (our incredible homestay hosts) had lined up some of the FINEST joints in Austin, something Rachel and I had been looking forward to for months. We were not disappointed. Performing some feats to test our gastronomical fortitude, we had the finest Austin had to offer; Hopdoddys Burgers, The Salt Lick BBQ, and Kirbey Lane Café (where I convinced them to put BACON in my Apple Cinnamon Pancakes! But don’t worry, they were gluten free!) Rachel, Kim, Kelsey and I enjoyed each other’s company during our last days of warm weather for the year, we even got out for some Stand Up Paddle boarding on our last day, which was a hoot!
The Salt Lick, one of Austin’s FINEST!!! All you can eat meat.
The summary of my experience in Austin: much success! Every aspect of my race experience was outstanding, from working a new nutrition plan pre-race (with the most excellent of Registered Dieticians, Dana Lis,) to the events in the days leading up to the race (mostly courtesy of Doug and Liz Vreeland.) I am incredibly happy with my performance, it showed me I can really burn matches on the bike and still run decently, something I’ve been struggling with a lot this year. I am most impressed with my mental fortitude during the race, always an aggressive yet positive ‘WORK HARDER’ attitude, even when I was deep in Hurtville (remember, German accent and everything!) A 4:01 on a legitimate course, and 12th overall in a very strong field, the results reminiscent of an ITU finish, with competitors within seconds of each other. I hope to come back next year, and have even considered going down to race in Ironman Texas next year.
What to do now? It’s the offseason, so I have a few holiday calories to catch up on, some legs that need kicking back, and some much needed rest and recovery. I’ll realign my goals for next year with über-coach Björn shortly, and then we’ll start the build into the new year, preparing for the first race of the season for 2014, the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.
I want to give a MONSTER amount of thanks to all my support team this year. Saying thanks doesn’t even scratch the surface of gratitude and appreciation that I feel for all these incredibly supportive people. My coach Björn Ossenbrink and our team have been instrumental in my build up to this race, keeping me mentally and physically inline with my goals during training. Speed Theory Vancouver and Distance Runwear have kept me supplied with everything I need to run and bike all the extra miles, as well as lending an ear for me to talk off! Thanks to Powerbar for fuelling me through all those miles; Compressport for helping me recover to the best of my potential, and performing to my best when I really need it. Thanks a ton to Champion System Canada, who helped me create the most badass cycling, running, and triathlon kits I’ve ever had the pleasure of donning! Nineteen Wetsuits has helped me swim to the best of my ability, in a suit that is truly top notch. Thanks to John and ECOS coconut water, for helping me hydrate, rehydrate, thoroughly enjoy my favourite beverage on a daily basis, and keep me healthy through the sweatfest I incur every day. Thanks to Travis Wolsey of Sungod Physiotherapy for keeping my body intact during the ugliest of times, and Dana Lis of Summit Sport Nutrition for helping me absolutely NAIL my nutrition for racing, training, and getting to the most ideal body composition for racing. Huge thanks to my first ever sponsor, Brad Alderson of Popeye’s Supplements Burnaby and Coquitlam, who has kept my nutrition cupboard stocked with all the vitamins and supplements to keep me healthy. Last, and certainly not least, a MONSTER thank you to all my personal family and friends in this sport, you all know who you are. You help me stay motivated, determined, and drive me through the toughest days when the little sticker ‘WORK HARDER’ just doesn’t quite cut the cheese. One of the people I’m most thankful for, and owe the most gratitude for, is Jenn. Without her incredible, undying support of my goals I’d be a train wreck. We’re only as strong as our support network, and Jenn is rock-solid.
It’s Halloween night, and there’s some candy that needs handing out! Have a safe weekend everyone, happy training!!!

Nathan

The 2013 Grande Finale: Last Kick at the Can…..

After a mechanical-problem riddled race at the inaugural Challenge Penticton (you can read ALL about what went down HERE,) I had to decide what the last race of the season was going to be. It was a tough decision, and after lengthy discussions with Coach Björn, we had it narrowed down to two races:

– Austin 70.3 Texas, which was the originally planned finale of the 2013 triathlon season (October 27th);

– Ironman Arizona, which is a bloody fast and competitive race, but would give me the chance to flex my iron-distance-trained legs (November 17th.)

Austin 70.3 was my last ever 70.3 race as an age-grouper, the defining race in my career where I realized I could race in the pro field. The course reflects my strengths, with a hilly and rough ride and run course. The weather is GENERALLY (because as we all know, NOTHING is a guarantee,) warmer and drier, which also plays to my strengths (give me a veritable sauna to race in and I’m on cloud 9.)

IM Arizona would be a first for me: with a flat, fast course, bland temperatures (cool at race start up to only the mid 20’s, and DRY,) and a large competitive field, it would be a great chance to use my created fitness and test myself against a phenomenal field.

Some of the big questions we had to answer:
– can I go longer right now, or can I go faster over a shorter distance?
– Do I want to race on a more ideal course for my strengths, or one that lends to the bike work-horses?
– Do I want to finish my season in late October, or push it through to later November (remembering that I started my season March 3rd with Abu Dhabi International Triathlon)?
– Do I really feel like 5-6hr rides on the indoor trainer through late october/early november?
– Do I need to PROVE to myself or anyone else that I CAN do an iron distance race? (Although I did complete my first last year in Penticton at Ironman Canada 2012.)

The biggest question being, as I am racing as a pro:

– Which race do I think I can perform the highest at (regarding placing)?

Taking these things into consideration, as well as the fact that my good friend and teammate Rachel McBride was also going back to defend her title, Björn and I made the final decision:

Austin 70.3 Texas

I’m happy to be going back, it’s a fun place to race, and the BBQ scene in Texas most certainly makes for a gastronomically exciting experience for the beginning of the off-season! I will also get to race alongside fellow Lower-Mainlander Anthony Toth, and my Arizona-based buddy Jesse Vondracek (who was so kind as to host me during my Tuscon training camp in April this year.)

I’m excited, I’m feeling healthier than I have in a long time, I’m feeling very strong, my run legs are FINALLY coming back, and I know this will be a great experience. After all the things that went wrong at Challenge Penticton, I’ll be mentally hungry for a good race.

I believe everything happens for a reason; perhaps the mechanical troubles in Penticton happened so I could come to Austin with new ambition and a spring in my step?

Guess we’ll find out soon eh?

Happy training everyone! For all those people done their race season, enjoy some downtime and enjoy life!

Nathan

Challenge Penticton: a Tough Decision that Ends with a Smile

I’ve had a lot of people asking me “what happened at Challenge Penticton? You were doing so great and then you just disappeared?” So I thought I might give a quick breakdown of what exactly happened out there on race day, and the story behind my first ever DNF (still hurts to even say it.)

Bike Check-in Day

Race Morning:

I was up at 3am, giving me my 3hr breakfast window pre-race. Everything went smooth in the morning, I was 110% ready to go out and bury myself all the way to the line, my body was tapered and peaked just perfectly. Walking down to the beach for the start, my arms felt limber and ready to swim.

Swim:

Gun went off, and it was a dolphin diving frenzy. With about 30-40m of shallow water to cover, dolphin diving was the best option. MacCormack went off the front right away, and other than Symonds eventually bridging up and Whyte getting a bit ahead, I made the main pack no problem. As I looked around and noticed Karen Thibodeau’s Nineteen Rogue tiger stripes, Adam O’Meara and Chris Bagg, I knew I was swimming well. The crazy thing was, it felt effortless, easily staying right in the middle of the pack, even in the rough water. We exited as a bunch, and I made a mad dash through T1, knowing how important it was to get out on the bike course first.

The mad dash for a good spot

Bike:

Coming out of T1 in 4th

I came out of T1 in 4th place, behind MacCormack, Symonds, and Whyte. I immediately settled into my power zone, knowing it would be a long day. In Maclean Creek (about 30mins in,) Chris Bagg and Scott DeFilipis caught me, and we rode as a group through to Righter pass. I was feeling very strong, high power and low effort, very in control. We hit the flat portion of road at the bottom of Righter, and that’s when things started to go wrong…….

I’m third in the line, with Chris Bagg and Scott DeFilipis in front.
Smiling the first 80km with DeFilipis and Bagg

I got that sinking feeling associated with the bouncy, spongy handling of a bike when it’s getting a flat tire. I looked down and thought “okay, no big deal, I can handle this.” I made an emergency stop, put the sealant in the tire, and when I went to use my (brand new) CO2 inflation head, it blew to pieces in my hands. With about 70psi of air or so in the tire, I just got back on and started to go gang-busters up Richter to catch Bagg and DeFilipis. I was just catching Bagg by the top, but halfway down the decent I noticed the tire start to go flat again.

Shit.

I pulled over, and a motorcycle support was there asap to help me fix the flat. We tried sealing it for a while, and refilled it, but it didn’t seem like it was going to work. Standing on the side of the road watching empty space behind me slowly start to fill with other riders (we had a good 6-8min gap on the next group,) was brutally frustrating. But I knew with 90km left and a marathon, I could make up ground. We got the flat adequately fixed, and off I went. I had started to reel in some of the guys, and once again the front wheel went flat.

“Jesus,” I thought, “what else could go wrong?” Oh, if I only knew.

I spent another good batch of time standing on the side of the road waiting for the moto support, who had to call in the Bike Barn support car with spare wheels. By the time they got there, replaced the front wheel, and had me rolling again, I had spent a total of just over 15 minutes standing roadside.

But that wasn’t going to knock the smile off my face.

With my new training wheel on, I was ready for the headwinds to start; I just got back on task, and kept rolling. I started catching guys who had passed me earlier, and started making up a lot of ground. I was within 8 minutes of my initial group by the special needs station, and was closing in on O’Meara and Toth. By the bottom of the Yellow Lake climb I could see O’Meara, and thought “hell YES! I’m kinda-sorta back in this thing!” Knowing O’Meara was in the top 8 or so, I could still ride and run my way into a good spot. Things were looking up.

Then, suddenly, things started to look way down.

As I stood to get some steam at the base of the climb, I heard the horrific sound of a cyclists worst nightmare: chain-suck. For those that don’t know, it’s when the chain grabs the bottom of the chainring on the crank, and sucks it up past the chain-stay. In the case of my Teschner, past the chain-stay AND the rear aero brake, bending the chain, and locking it up there like a barbed hook in a fishes mouth.

I stood on the side of the road, staring in disbelief that this was happening. It was almost at the comical point now; barring a crash, this WAS the worst thing that could happen. A random series of events beyond my control, that had me standing roadside. Sitting there watching the inevitable train of pro athletes fly by was rather frustrating. Eventually the Bike Barn support vehicle showed up, along with Kelly Hall (the pro athlete coordinator,) and they came up with a solution: they were going to put some parts from my bike onto a Cervelo S2 road bike they had with them (that was a few sizes too big,) so I had some wheels to get home. They assured me it climbed well, and descended like a champ.

God bless those Bike Barn guys, I’m pretty sure I used a good portion of the parts they brought along, and took more of their time on course than everyone else combined.

After another good 20 minutes roadside, I was off. I had made the decision to pull out of the race at that point (with some help and prompting from the Bike Barn guys, who know what it takes to race as a professional,) losing 35 minutes on the bike and standing around doesn’t make for a good day on the run course. Top 10 so far beyond my reach (granted, if I had been able to muster a solid 2:40 marathon I think I may have been able to get there,) I knew that recovering and racing in another iron distance race sometime soon was my best bet. So, I just did what I do best: put my big smile back on and started to ride hard. Climbing Yellow Lake strong, I battled headwinds on my ill-fitting new steed (which, btw, rode and shifted fantastic,) the last 40km of the bike course. Sore in places I wouldn’t normally be sore, I rode through town, cheering on the athletes already out on the run course, and waving to people who were giving me and my ITU antics a funny look and cheer.

I had no intention of running. At all. But as I went through T2, so many friends were volunteering, congratulating me on my race thus far and ushering me through. I pretty much handed off my bike, and the next thing I knew someone was putting my shoes on, turning on my run watch, and giving me the boot out the other side. I’m a loyal person, with a  lot of respect for those that support me and for those that race the iron distance events. DNF has never been in my vocabulary, always seen as a cowardly act of disrespect and weakness. All of a sudden, I just couldn’t bear myself to stop, what with all this support from friends. I couldn’t let these people see me just walk off, just pull the pin and call it a day.

So I just said “f#ck it, let’s go for a run.”

Why not?!? Took me a while to answer that question.

I went out on course, and was cruising effortlessly. Hitting the 5km mark around 20mins, I knew I had a good marathon in me. But then I started to get in my head, and start to ponder the hard decisions that needed to be made.

Lining up a solid high 5
Kelly Hall, our pro liaison, giving a solid high 5

“Why am I still running?”
“There’s no chance of running in to top 10, why keep going and destroy your legs, leaving you useless for racing at least a month?”

I made it to the 7km mark, and made the call. It was a tough one, easily the toughest decision I’ve had to make in this sport. But it was a decision that needed making. Racing as a pro, you need to know when to hold’em, and know when to fold’em. Today the race was calling my bluff. Everything went wrong on the bike, and anyone who’s stood around for that period of time while racing knows your legs and body aren’t the same after. My nutrition didn’t account for all the waiting, and my body was NOT accustomed to riding an ill-fitting bike as hard as I could for 40km. I was still feeling strong, and knew that if I wanted another chance to race to my full potential this year, I needed to pack it in. An extremely strong swim and 180km bike (my power up until the Yellow Lake catastrophe was higher than I was riding half-iron distances last year,) coupled with a brief run was a solid training day and confidence builder. Doing the full marathon would dig me into a pit that would hinder me for the next month or two.

I almost immediately regretted stopping, feeling disrespectful to the race and all those warriors who would be out there until midnight, battling away at the distance to be part of the Challenge Family. I wanted to be a part of the Challenge Family so bad, especially after the welcoming and friendly atmosphere that they imparted on their race. Back at the finish, after chatting with a few people for whom I have a lot of respect, I realized I made the right decision. Olly Piggin and coach Björn told me with incredible certainty I did what needed to be done, and coming from them I started to feel all right. This race was my Superbowl, my Kona, the thing I’ve been focused on during those long hard indoor winter trainer rides, when I’m securely in the pain cave. Having reinforcement from people I trust and admire that I did the right thing just puts the smile back on my face.

I can say with honesty that even though I didn’t finish this year, I had more fun at the event than I did last year. Challenge Family has put on an absolutely incredible community-oriented event, with a large focus on a friendly family and all-inclusive atmosphere. I will become part of the Challenge Family, whether I’m forced to wait until Challenge Penticton next year, or I can somehow make it to another Challenge Family race this year. I’m completely sold on the Challenge races, it shadows last year’s Ironman Canada and it will continue to grow and flourish like Roth has over the past 12 years (growing from 200 athletes in 2001 to 5600 athletes in 2013!)

The moral of the story? Shit Happens. All you can do is keep smiling and move on to the next challenge. Use the experience as a character builder and chock it up to experience. This is the first big catastrophe I’ve had on the bike in 6 years of racing, and over my career it certainly won’t be the last. There is obviously a reason I wasn’t supposed to finish the race, so it’s on to the next adventure. I’m still breathing at the end of the day, and to me that’s always a win.

So what’s next for me? Well, I’ll be enjoying an amazing banquet tonight to celebrate all the accomplishments of the athletes that completed the race and achieved their goals and dreams. I’ll use this as motivation for my next iron adventure, which will be coming sometime soon. I’ll also be sharing my big smile, the same one that never left my face the entire race, no matter how dismal things looked.

Congratulations to all those athletes that raced in Challenge Penticton, Ironman Canada, and Ironman Louisville; whether you achieved your goals and dreams, or just stuck it through and suffered to the end, you are all champions. Special mention to absolute rock star Jeff Symonds of Penticton, who smashed the Challenge Penticton race from start to finish, winning the inaugural race in front of his home town crowd, in typical ‘Gettin Ugly’ fashion. Also, big thanks to the Bike Barn for keeping me rolling all day, they did everything they possibly could!

Happy training and racing everyone, be safe out there!

Nathan

The poor little fella has no idea what’s coming….

Challenge Penticton: T-2 Days to Kick-Off

Sitting here in OK Falls, legs up, relaxing as hard as I possibly can before the inaugural Challenge Penticton, I find myself energized and compelled to share some thoughts in the last few days before the big race. Like most triathletes that are burdened with the AAA+++ type personality (and a little lingering ADHD from my childhood,) I find it bloody hard to sit myself still for any extended period of time. Unfortunately for us, these big iron distance races require us to taper our activities and energy so our minds and bodies can be completely rested and sharp as a katana blade, leaving us with too much time and energy to get ourselves in trouble (otherwise known as the ‘Taper Crazies.’)

Legs up resting and recovering (as well as fending off ‘Taper Crazies’)

For me, this is usually the case; I can never seem to sit still for long, and seem to get in to things that wouldn’t be coach approved. BUT, like last year at Ironman Canada (my first and only iron distance race,) I seem to be more focused than usual, able to relax and keep my feet as high as possible. After a long season of intermittent health complications, coupled with a few good blocks of training consistency, I feel strong and rested for this race. Spending a few weeks of training blocks on the course here in beautiful Penticton this summer has me confident in my ability, with the course imprinted in my brain like a mental map; a feature that allows me to race in a bit of ‘automatic mode,’ reducing the amount of mental processing required while racing, (as I don’t have to think about what is coming next on the course,) leaving more room to think about my current condition out there, such as “how do I feel? How is my stomach? Am I thirsty or hungry? When did I feed or drink last? How is my power? Who is around me?” etc. It takes a load off the overwhelming amount of stress you put yourself through in an event of this length.

Made it to page 3 of the Penticton Herald with hometown hero and Powerbar Team Elite Teammate Jeff Symonds.

With this instilled confidence, and keeping my motivational factors in mind, I’m ready to roll for sunday. The weather looks reasonably decent, albeit much cooler than I would prefer, with some cloudy periods and temperatures ranging from 14C-26C. Personally I like it hot as Hades, but have found this year I’m able to perform in cooler temps as well. The swim looks like it’s a 50/50 chance of being no wetsuits for the pros, as it was 23C on wednesday. The temperature cut-offs are 22C for the pros, 24C for the age groupers. It’s been cooler the last few days so I’m hoping it gets one degree cooler. If not, no worries, as I have my fantastic Nineteen Rogue SS speed suit (although it’s undecided whether we’ll be able to wear them for the swim.) If no speed suits allowed, my Champion System suit has a drawstring and will work great for the swim.

LOOK! They gave me a CAR!!!

Driving my ‘new’ car in the wednesday parade

Being the first North American Challenge Series race, Challenge Penticton has been doing it RIGHT so far. I’m impressed by the amount of activities and events they are putting on for the athletes and the community, encouraging participation by everyone (including events for the kids!!) The local community makes a world-class race what they are, and Penticton is no different. Everything from the ‘Official Athlete Lounge’ at Brodo Kitchen (that uses as much locally sourced ingredients as possible,) to the contents of the pro SWAG bag (Stuff-We-All-Get; bottles of wine sourced locally from ‘Therapy Wine,’ local honey, and more.) They also encourage athletes to visit local shops and partake in local activities, as well as including local businesses in the expo and promotional flyers. It’s really a win-win for the athletes and community, the way that Challenge has made all their series world class events (and a reason why this event will have 60,000+ spectators!)

Just some contents of the Pro SWAG bag. Excellent local offerings!

I want to express wishes of luck and throw all my best vibes of excellence to everyone racing on sunday in the inaugural Challenge Penticton, as well as ALL my friends and teammates who are racing Ironman Canada in Whistler; I hope everyone has the best day possible, and has more fun than they thought was possible (people still think I’m crazy when I describe and iron distance race as ‘fun.’) Kick some butt, achieve some dreams, and keep in mind that we love doing this, no matter how much it hurts on race day.

To those who want to virtually follow the race, you have a few options:

– use the Challenge Family iPhone/iPod/iPad app:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/challenge-family/id506987174?mt=8

– check out the Challenge Penticton website for LIVE updates on race day:

http://www.challenge-penticton.com

Team Ossenbrink presents from coaches Björn and Stephanie!

You know you love the pain; once you realize that it’s going to hurt and you embrace the suck, you will perform your best and enjoy the pain. Happy training and racing everyone!!

Nathan

ps. a massive special THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the supporters, spectators, and cheer squads of all the athletes partaking in these events. Without your support during training and racing, this wouldn’t even be CLOSE to the incredibly positive experience it is. The cheering on course means more than most people understand, us athletes appreciate your die-hard drive to motivate out there!!!

Recover, Build, Recover, Repeat

Three weekends in a row of racing might seem like a lot of racing. Well, you heard it here first, it is a BLOODY HELL OF A LOT of racing! Like a few too many nights spent at a stag party in Vegas, it leaves you feeling depleted, sore, and in shambles. BUT, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. This tunnel seemed to be a bit longer than per usual, but it did indeed have an end.

Only two weeks after Lake Stevens 70.3, I had a 6 day block of training scheduled in Penticton, on the inaugural Challenge Penticton. I took along my trusty steed, and even trustier (look it up) partner in crime, Jenn. It was a fantastic week, including almost 700km’s of riding on the Challenge Penticton course over 4 days, including an incredibly solid solo ride on the course on the last day of camp. Olly Piggin, a friend of mine who lives in Penticton, has a Kiwi professional staying with him for Challenge Penticton, previous Challenge Wanaka Champion Jamie Whyte. We hit the course in the middle of the camp, riding start to finish with a double-take of Yellow Lake (memorable quote as we turned around on the top of Yellow lake to head back down, “from here on out it’s all excellence.”)

All I could think of was Trevor Wurtele’s latest race report video, with a lot of discussion about “pissing excellence.” I was hoping that if I rode Yellow Lake enough times that maybe I, too, could piss a rainbow of excellence.

I’m still waiting.

Trev’s Calgary 70.3 Race Report on pissing excellence

In addition to partaking in some excellence that day, we also got to watch the Ultraman Canada athletes climbing up Yellow Lake in the opposite direction. Ultraman is this crazy double-Ironman distance race over three days, with Penticton hometown favourite David Matheson taking the win AND a new course record (in a time of 21:47:47….that’s 21 HOURS!) I thought the iron distance was tough; these guys and gals take crazy to a whole new level.

Collecting a little bit of salt out there in my new Champion System kit.
Perhaps it was excellence I was sweating?

I was able to get out on the swim course area again, it has to be one of my favourite places to swim. A 4k ass-kicking session (more so mine) with the local crew of Jeff Symonds, Jonathan Caron, Olly Piggin, and Kiwi pro Jamie Whyte, made for one solid morning swim.

A pro swim with Symonds, Piggin, Caron, and Whyte. These fellas can SWIM!

Another incredible confidence building session I had was a 35km run on the Challenge Penticton course; I was rocking my new two-piece race suit from Champion System, and a new set of Pearl Izumi eMotion N1 race flats (from Distance Runwear in Vancouver.) Both were outstandingly comfortable, but the best part was how comfortable and quick I ran the distance, on tired and fatigued legs. The last time I was out on that run course was during last year’s race, and it brings out a lot of positive and strengthening emotions. Maybe there was something in the shoes, maybe something in the legs, but whatever it was I was flying out there. Lets hope I’m saying the same thing after next sunday’s race!

New Pearl Izumi race flats, ready for the marathon course! Comfort AND speed!
Channeled some ‘Team Ossenbrink’ out there

A few days after coming back, I raced in the Kits Challenge, an open water swim race including a 1.5km, 3km, and 6km distance. You wouldn’t need three guesses to figure out I did the only logical option, the 6km. What can I say, I’m a sucker for punishment! With my arms falling off, I went in to the last of four loops and dug myself a nice seat in the pain cave, coming out of the water 3rd male and nearly throwing up. Working on getting myself down to fighting weight, I went ahead and gave myself food poisoning the day before the race. Paring that with a 5.5km swim workout (complete with 3km of band work,) the kind that proves my coach really does love me, makes for a tough race. But I was happy to have the experience, VOWSA always puts on great events.

Took all my remaining effort to hold up that pin. Was bloody heavy!

After all the hard work this season, it’s time yet again for the big taper. This means less training, more time preparing for the big day ahead. I’m happy with the prep so far; I’ve been getting in touch with all my support team and getting last minute things taken care of.

I hope everyone has been having a solid season of training, racing, and absolutely thoroughly enjoying themselves!! Best of luck to everyone racing in the upcoming Challenge Penticton, Ironman Canada, and whatever other trouble you’ve signed yourself up for.

Be safe, and happy training!

Nathan

About one day’s worth of food during training camp. Epic. Consumption.

The Triple-Decker Clubhouse Sandwich of race weekends: Vancouver Half and Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens Race Reports

Not often I’ve done back-to-back weekends racing. In fact, I’ve only ever done it once before, and that was last year (with these same two races.) They went well, so this year I thought, just for sh*ts and giggles, I’d throw in a third race preceding them. You know how the first went (Squamish report) so here’s a two-for-one of the rest:

Vancouver Half Ironman

This race doubled as the Canadian National LC Championships, and although I was still recovering from illness, I still wanted to perform well. With a few quick guys loading the field, I was ready to give it everything I had.

Elliot out front at the swim start, Can you spot me? (hint: tiger stripes!)

Swim:

With a 10m, steep hill beach start, we hit the water moving pretty quick, instantly filling my right goggle with water. Not willing to stop, I just closed my eye and kept going. It was, as usual, a battle almost the whole way around the first loop, so instead of stopping to get the water out I kept moving. I figured I could empty the goggle running around the beach buoy. I did, but with my luck the goggle filled up again as I hit the water.

Dammit.

Full steam ahead!

Bike

Coming out of the water not far down, I had no idea how my legs would feel on the bike. Coming out of T1, I started to spin it up, and realizing there was some jam there I just thought, “I got nothing to lose here,” and just opened up the throttle. I rode strong and consistent, catching a few guys but not quite making it up to the guys I wanted to, I was happier than the previous race at my power file. Only 1 watt short of my Oliver Half bike, I realized my health was slowly returning.

Run

Hitting the run course in 4th, I just tried to keep moving forward. My running has been rather sub-par the last few months, so I just did everything I could. On a different day I might have been able to go faster, but I gave a good effort. I thought I’d use my short course race flats out there, and they were brilliant. For the first 12km. Then I started to get a nice little foot rub going, and by the end the bottom of my big toe was completely blistered. A 1:18 run was enough to keep me 3rd in the pro field, and I was happy knowing that first and second went to Andrew Russell and Chris Boudreaux, two experienced and bloody quick pros.

Pretty happy to be done!

My new Champion System kit and Gray Cycling Wheels made their debut in Vancouver, and they were both stunning. The kit fit absolutely perfect, and the wheels rode smooth and stable. The focus now became on recovering for Lake Stevens 70.3. I had no idea what to expect.

Gracing the bottom step with Chris and Andrew

Lake Stevens 70.3

Coming back to Lake Stevens for the 4th time, I feel like I needed to have a good race. Yet to have a full race that I was happy with, I thought maybe this would be my year. One of my favourite parts of racing is meeting and staying with homestays; they add a whole new level to the experience. No hotels, no restaurant meals, just a like-minded bunch that open their homes to us athletes, always smiling and offering help. The generosity of homestays continues to boggle my mind, I’m always so blessed to find the best of the best, and for Lake Stevens I’ve always stayed with Mary and Eric Gandee, both emergency service workers and triathletes! How great is that?!?

A foggy swim start. Can YOU see any buoys?

Swim

Toeing the start line a little unsure of how my third race weekend in a row would go, Björn and I just set out a game plan to see what my body had in it. The swim course has a convenient cable that runs along the ENTIRE course, making sighting virtually unnecessary (thank God, because it was so bloody foggy you couldn’t even SEE the next buoy!) It started with a bang, and I was pretty happy to stay on Elliot’s feet for a few hundred meters. As the line of swimmers converged along the cable, it started to break apart into packs. I ended up pulling a few guys through the course, which although not the most energy conserving of tactics, a clear swim makes for less of a ‘Battle Royale’ than usual. Coming out of the water somewhere in the top 15, I knew it was time to really go to work.

The Nineteen Rogue never lets me down

Bike

Keeping it loose on the bike


My bike seems to be coming along fairly well these days, and our plan involved seeing what I could really do over the course of 56 miles. I had a super fast T1, and came out in front of a few guys. After a fairly smooth, crashless flying-mount (the process of running and mounting the bike without stopping, an example HERE,) it was time to get to work. Pulling away from most of the guys, I just put my head down and started to go. The legs were feeling great, the weather was slightly cool, and I was going all gang-buster on the cranks. After about 20mins, the guy who had been behind me came by on a hill, and I got a look at his number.

#1

“Holy JESUS” I thought, “it’s Chris FREAKIN Legh!!!” (an absolute legend!) Staying in contact with Chris, I decided around the 30min mark to start and push the pace. We continued to keep each other motivated, taking turns setting the pace. I felt like Pac Man after eating a power pellet, chasing down the ghosts to some 16bit music and gobbling them up, shooting them out the back. Eventually we came to Chris Bagg, and he joined in on our rolling party. Nearing the end of the bike, I thought it would be fun to ride outside my skin and try to open a bit of a gap. Really, what did I have to lose? I managed to get a few more seconds out front, and that had me pretty happy. This was the first race in my career that I was actually sad to be getting off the bike, I felt incredible out there. My wattage actually increased over the second half of the bike considerably, with a mean split of 306 watts, putting me in 8th place with the 5th fastest bike split.

After going gang-busters on the bike

Not bad for a buck fifty soaking wet.

Run

Björn and I knew my run has not been my strong point lately, so I went out on the run course knowing it was going to be a battle for survival. Sometimes, in retrospect, we can easily criticize ourselves, being overly critical on our performance. Looking back, I feel that I raced the first half of the run weak, giving a second-rate effort. But the second half, after a decent portion of the field passed me by, I started to dig. The legs just didn’t have a run in them this day, and I put myself into the pain cave pretty deep. My legs were hurting bad by the end, a good indicator that I really did give all I had left. Apparently, three weekends in a row can take a bit out of you?

Finishing in one piece

The most epic part of the race was going out for the second half of the first run loop, only to see Craig Alexander and Luke Bell running shoulder to shoulder, with my teammate Elliot Holtham right on their heels. I couldn’t help but explode with cheers and encouragement!!! He was running like a rockstar, right with them from the start until about 9km into the run. Elliot ended up a fairly close third place overall, a brilliant performance that the whole team is proud of him for, and there was nothing more amazing than having front row seats to witness.

That’s my Boy, Blue!

I was incredibly happy with my race up until the run, performing on the bike like I didn’t know I could, and ending up the 14th pro with a new PB on the Lake Stevens course. I can say that I walked away

with an incredible learning experience, not just about myself but also race strategy, and most importantly with a big smile on my face. I still love this sport as much as the day I did my first race, and knowing it’s a long process keeps me positive and looking forward to the challenges of each new day. It’s great to see such a big improvement on my bike this year, after a winter/spring of heavy bike work.

Hard work paying off.

Fully recovered and sitting here at my training camp in Penticton, I’m training on the Challenge Penticton course (that’s only just 3 weeks away now!!!) Time to go hit the bike, happy training everyone!!!

Be safe,
Nathan Killam

Extra Speed and a New Kit…. Gray Wheels and Champion System

Getting new gear ALWAYS makes for an exciting occasion; as you get your box or package, tear it open like it’s Christmas (for those of you that observe,) and hold up high your new item as if it’s the magic piece you’ve been missing, the shining star to some more speed! Well, this describes my experience anyways (including, but not limited to: excited jumping and dancing, squealing like a 13 year old at a Justin Bieber concert, and the all-important fist pump, with the rare and exclusive double fist pump making the occasional appearance.)

Matching blue & black gloves
Because, euro caps are AWESOME!

So, you could only imagine my excitement as I picked up my new Champion System Canada kits from FedEx; months and months in the making, to finally get the 9lb box in my fist pumping hands was beyond a Bieber worthy squeal! Getting home and frantically tearing open the box, I could hardly contain my excitement as the “holy shit” and “golly gee whiz!”poured from my mouth whilst item after item landed in front of me. It was like Christmas in July.

                                                                     
                                                                     Only better.

Feeling just a LITTLE excited

Wearing the cycling kit pretty much immediately (new kit = the BEST reason to go for a ride,) I was absolutely astonished and blown away not only by the fit and comfort, but also by how professionally the sublimation had been done. Down to every little detail, I felt like I was ready for the peleton (well, a slow moving peleton anyways.)

I’m amazed I didn’t drop my phone!

The running kit was equally as fantastic, but the true crown jewel was the two separate triathlon kits I had made; a one piece for Half Ironman and shorter distance races, and the two piece for anything longer (or exceptionally hot half distance races.) They were unlike any material I’ve ever felt, their fitment was absolute perfection, and the comfort was something else. They fit so well it felt like I was wearing nothing at all, with NO tight spots or concern areas.

A preview of what I’ll be racing on course this year!

Suffice to say, ANYONE can have this quality, and not necessarily with the massive orders required for most distributers. You can even get one kit made! Check out their website HERE to see what they can do for you or your club. I was blown away by my kits, and everyone who’s seen any components of them have given super positive feedback.

As if that’s not enough excitement for one post, here’s some more! My support team is growing, and I’m excited to say that GRAY WHEELS has come on board (or, rather, that I’ve climbed on board of them!! Pun intended.) I’ve had the pleasure to race them once so far (during the Vancouver Half Ironman, race report to come,) and I’m impressed. They have an excellent team behind them, and being based locally you can test some of the wheels out before you buy!! If you’re interested in trying them out or buying a set (they retail for much less than the big name wheels like ZIPP, Reynolds, Shimano, etc,) check out their website HERE to see what they have on tap to serve your needs! Everything from an ultra-light climber (the High Modulus 4.0) to the wind-dissecting carbon disc wheel, they got you covered with everything in between. Aero wheels, aero helmets, and a well fitting aero bike are the three most advantageous items to get the most out of your hard work on race day, giving you more watt-saving aerodynamics to go faster with less effort.

The Gray Cycling 9.5 wheel set for a little more ‘ZOOM ZOOM’ on race day!

The best part? Use discount code NK13 to snag a sweet 10% discount on your purchase!!! They have tons to look at, so have a cruise through.

Wow, that’s too much excitement for one day. Time to go do some training to prepare for the big Lake Stevens 70.3 on sunday! Be safe everyone!!

Nathan

Squamish Triathlon Race Report

Team Ossenbrink flying their colours at the Clinic

After learning of some health implications a week prior to the Squamish Triathlon, I went into the race with no clear idea of how my body would perform. Being my first olympic in, oh, 3 years, I also had no idea how I would go anyway! So many unknowns, so many questions.

Fielding some questions with Rachel

One week prior to the race, we held a training clinic to help prepare the athletes for open water swimming and transitions. By we, I mean Coach Björn, Rachel McBride, and myself. We had a really great time, and I can tell you it was fulfilling to impart some knowledge to the athletes. There were a lot of questions, and it feels like just yesterday I was the one asking all the questions (well, if you asked Björn, he’d say it was THAT MORNING that I was asking him all the questions!) Helping athletes learn more about the sport, and how to improve their own training and racing with regards to different aspects, really gets me excited. It was absolutely perfect weather, a foreshadowing of the weather to come on race day.

RACE DAY

With a 9:30am start, I felt quite spoiled to sleep in so late. Generally used to waking at ungodly hours for Half Ironman races, at hours reserved for sleeping and late-night washroom breaks by about 99.7% of the world’s population, it was lavish to be getting up around the time the gun normally goes off. Setup went smooth in the morning, and I made it to the start line feeling relatively alive.

Pre-race shenanigans mandatory. Ready to stretch out the Nineteen Rogue!

The swim was what I normally expect, trading blows with a few guys for more than half the swim, shoulder to shoulder combat that feels more like a kick-boxing event than a swim. At the halfway mark, the guys I was following started to swim towards the wrong buoy, and after a few meters I realized and changed course. It gave me a few seconds over some of the other guys, getting me out of the water somewhere in third place. Only being the second time I have worn my brand new Nineteen Rogue wetsuit, it performed incredibly well as expected, helping me keep a solid pace the whole way through.

Coming out in a good spot

When I hit the bike, that’s where it all kinda went sideways. I did my best to muscle my way through, but when the body decides it would rather be sitting on a couch than a saddle, it’s all you can do to push like a freight train hard as you can. With my average wattage far below that of Oliver Half Ironman (only a month previous,) I chalked it up to experience and hit the run course with, what else, a smile on my face!

Photo courtesy of Petra Walter Photography

The run course was amazing to say the least. Closed in trails and wooded fields, it was a change of scenery from the usual blacktop run courses. A hard charging Aussie (in town with a few of his teammates for training the last few months,) was throwing down the kung-fu hustle, and try as I may to hold on to him, he was outta-sight, outta-mind fairly quick. I just put my head down (or, if Björn is reading this, I put my head slightly forward, not too far down or up, and kept my chest from sticking out,) and went as hard as my legs would let me. I can tell you I was cursing myself for neglecting any form of speed work this year!

Yes, rocking the old-school look. Why wouldn’t you?
Photo courtesy of Petra Walters Photography.

Rounding out the podium in third, I was happy with my efforts on the day. The race itself was fantastic, I had a solid experience, and with all the people out there cheering me on I was just feeling great to be supporting a fine local race like Squamish. The two Aussies came in and did a fine job, evidently their training has paid off (I never saw the winner, he led from start to finish.) I have to thank all my teammates and especially Jenn, who RODE to Squamish on her bike, for all the support and massive cheers out there.

On a side note, my ever-so-studly teammate Rachel McBride not only won the women’s race (and beat most the men,) but also set a new course record! By 4 minutes!!! Talk about a sunday quickie.

A happy bunch.

Race one of the three-weekend trio (Squamish Triathlon, Vancouver Half, and Lake Stevens 70.3,) went well, keep your eyes peeled for a few exciting announcements in the next few days!!!

Happy training everyone, enjoy the SUN!

Nathan

Back in the Desert

The home of Challenge Penticton

The desert. Generally conceived as a hot, desolate location, devoid of life and anything more than grains of sand and a few reptilian species. But not in THIS desert, this place is anything but. The vacation oasis that is the Okanagan is definitely my favourite desert in the world (sorry Tucsonians, your just too damn far away to take spot #1!) I’m back in Penticton for a training camp, a 2 week long venture to get some miles on the Challenge Penticton course (previously known as the Ironman Canada course,) as well as try to input some speed into my running legs. Coming into day two, I’m feeling great and looking forward to the rest of the training; this morning’s pool entertainment included watching the Women’s Canadian National Hockey Team race in the end lanes at the community centre. There’s always something going on around here!!!

Along with my training camp, there have been other exciting going-ons this weekend: My teammate Elliot Holtham, who’s recently recovered from an ugly bike crash in March that had him out since with a concussion, not only WON the Subaru Victoria Half Ironman, but smashed the previous course record by almost 6 minutes! Elliot is coming on strong this year, with such early season fitness he’ll be a force on the race course in 2013. I’ll be toeing the start line with Elliot at the Vancouver Half Ironman (also the Canadian National Championships,) which should be a great race. Hometown turf and (hopefully) a really solid field coming out, it’ll be a fast day. The Victoria race had a fair bit of media coverage, which is ALWAYS great for our sport! Including a ChektvNews spotlight, with an interview of Elliot, a well placed Team Ossenbrink jersey appearance, and the women’s winner Karen Thibodeau rocking a sick Champion System kit.  There were some other great teammate performances, including more top 10 finishes!

Video link: Chek News Video

He’s BACK!!! New course record.

There was also a little clip in the local newspaper, the Times Colonist (Victoria), link is here: Times Colonist Article

I can’t forget my superstar Team Ossenbrink Teammate Rachel McBride, who not only came third place two weeks ago in the ITU Long Course WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (yeah, 3rd in the WHOLE WORLD,) but followed that up by landing on the podium AGAIN this weekend at the Ironman 70.3 Berlin triathlon. What a stud.

Studly Rachel on the podium

I’m so proud to call these guys teammates, they are only two of the amazing group of athletes that I have to honour of working with. Surrounding yourself with strong and positive energy is the best way to improve not only your performance, but also your quality of life. When you look forward to getting together with your teammates to train, you know you have a great thing going.

Time to go hit the road, the sun is calling! Happy training and racing everyone, be safe out there 🙂

Nathan