Unexpected 8km Road Race Performance

Today was the Steveston Ice Breaker 8km road race, and oddly, I was toeing the start line. I say oddly, because in the 6 days leading up to the race, I’ve done 20 hours of training! I was surprised I could even walk properly after yesterday’s 4 hours of INTENSE training, let alone make a sad attempt to run an 8k race.

Amazingly, sad it was not.

I couldn’t believe how relaxed and comfortable I felt., right from the get-go. I didnt push hard off the blocks, I just immediately fell into a rhythm, and ran with a small pack. At the start, a bunch of people took off like mad-men (as is the usual,) but slowly we filtered past them through to the half-way mark. At the 4km turn-around, another runner made a surge and picked up the pace, so I stayed with him, and we dropped the rest of the group. I just sat on his heels for the next 2km’s, and figured out his running tactics. He would constantly surge, and then fade back to a slower pace. So at the 6km mark, I surged up beside him, which would make him surge ahead (he was a young, but very tall fella’,) and I would fall into his draft right away, forcing him to pick-up the pace, yet let him do the work (not that you get much of a draft, and we had a tail wind on the way back anyways.) I did this a bunch of times. At about the 1km to go, I gave it a really solid surge (I could hear he was starting to labor; I was feeling fresh,) and ran up beside him, holding the hard pace. As I could feel him backing off a bit, I backed off with him for about 2 or 3 seconds, and then put in a hard surge. Pushing hard, I could see he was starting to fade away.

“Awesome,” I thought, “I got him!”

Then, what I didnt anticipate, (and I’ve learned this is why a lot of the top Elite ITU sprinters are pretty tall guys,) was at about the 100m to go mark, a friend of mine yelled out, “HE’S COMING!!!”

I looked over my left shoulder to see what the commotion was all about, and that’s when I saw him, making an EPIC sprint for the finish. I thought, “awe shit,” and poured it all on, giving it everything I had.

Too late. He already had the jump on me, and I couldnt match his pace. 50m’s to go, and I all I could do was watch him go by. He ended up 1 second ahead of me. My friend said if I had started to kick about 20m sooner, he wouldn’t have caught me.

Pre-race with my buddies Cristina and Jeff

:01 second. Crap.

Oh well. Good for a 11th overall, 2nd in my age group, and a new 8km personal best time (27:02, :25 seconds faster than my best time.) I’m super pumped about that, I was amazed I could even walk well today, let alone PB, after yesterday’s hard 4hrs of training, and the 20hrs of training this week!! I could’ve pushed harder, but I wanted to work on race form, tactics, and I was told not to go out and kill myself (coaches orders,) I had a 3 hour ride to do still, and this was purely a test. The best part of the race today was getting to see all my friends out on a sunny sunday morning, everyone had a great time!

I packed it all in!

The weather for the ride today was EASILY the most beautiful this year!! Cold as all hell, but clear blue skies:) On my way home, I made a stop in at my favorite meat shop, North Surrey Quality Meats. All free-range, grain fed meats (except for their non-medicated, grass fed ground beef, leanest I’ve ever seen,) easily the cleanest and leanest meats around! I figured, after a hard day of racing and 3 hours on the bike, I earned something delicious. I felt like a delivery cyclist, I packed everything in my back pouches.

Displaying the goodies:)

I picked up some tasty treats for dinner (spicy marinated chicken breast, and some small bits of lamb,) as well as a few frozen meats (ground Bison: 4x leaner than chicken; chicken sausage, and some coconut curry chicken breasts.) They were 25% off, how could I NOT get it?!? What can I say, I’m a sucker for a deal (you know, the guy who buys stuff he doesn’t need, just ’cause it’s on sale. lol) Also grabbed a bit of whipped cream for my homemade Crispy Crunch Ice Cream Cake 😀

Now it’s time for bed, back to work tomorrow. Sounds like sun for the next few days, GET OUT THERE AND ENJOY!!!

The big pains to make the gains

After a very solid recovery week, and closing in on the end of a full week of training, it seems the two week training camp was ages ago. But amazingly, I can already feel the effects of twelve days of full time training.

That’s just over 46 hours of training, including just over 150km’s of running.

Being a run focus, there were a few days of double runs.

All being new to me, and this block being, by FAR, the largest block I’ve ever done, (most of the training was at a high intensity, with all the running being either tempo, intervals, or track work,) it was pretty brutal for me. About 8-9 days in I started to crack mentally, and by the last day or two, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. It was odd, you would go for a nap, and your whole body feels like it’s sleeping, but your mind stays awake. Yet you wake up feeling oddly refreshed. Strange.

This week being a full week of training, it’s surprising to find out I am racing the Steveston IceBreaker 8k road race this sunday morning. Pretty much a “D” race, with absolutely no rest before, it will be a sufferfest like no other. But I am sure it will be a great time, I’ll be there to have fun and get in some solid training at the same time (FUN always being number 1!!!) I just have my fingers crossed for some dry weather, especially since there’s a 3 hour bike ride post race for moi 🙁

Ugly.

Some more VERY exciting news (mostly for me!haha) is I have booked a training block in April for Las Vegas!!!! It will be a big bike and run block, with focus on the bike. The thing I’m most looking forward to? SUN, HEAT, DRY WEATHER! Getting away from the cold, wet BC weather, and into the nice Vegas sun (average that time of year is a low of 14C, highs upwards of 30C) will be the real treat. Lucky for me, I’ll be staying in a condo owned by the lovely Barb McPhee (thanks Barb!) located about 10km SW of the infamous Vegas Strip (ironically, my parents are there right now, celebrating their 30th Anniversary. Hope they win some money!) This will be my first solo training camp, but there are a few guys who might join me for a few days, which would definitely make it a bit more interesting. Not sure if anyone’s seen the show ‘Pawn Stars,’ but I do intend on stopping by their shop to check out all the odds and ends they have (maybe try and pawn something?lol) Will be a good time.

Hopefully everyone is getting lots of early season training done, best of luck out there (and good luck with the weather!)

Personal Camp-Week One

After today’s ride outside, my first week of training camp will be done! Monday morning was the start of a run focus training block, and I jumped into it right away with two that day. It’s amazing how great you can feel for the second run of the day after a good solid nap.

Nap.

That’s been one of the staples in my diet the last week, having a nap every day! Especially on days where I’ve had 3 workouts, NONE being recovery. The first time I’ve done some major running like this, especially with friday’s double run and a swim day, which included a rather painful 80min Fartlek run in the late morning, coupled with a hard track workout out at UBC in the evening with some of Bjoern’s athletes and other Lifesport athletes. Bjoern made sure we ran hard, and I was surprised that I could even walk, let alone put out some decent splits on the track. This seems to be the week of self-discovery, I’ve learned I can push myself harder and further than I thought!

The biggest smile crossed my face this camp when I found out it was going to be sunny today, as today is one of my long ride days. It is absolutely beautiful out, and I am super excited to finally jump on the bike and ride in the sun. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to the fact that riding indoors on the trainer is SOOOOOO boring, and very monotonous! Especially when you have to do it almost every day. Living in BC, and not somewhere that is warm year-’round (see- Arizona, Texas,) we have our fair share of ugly days. And probably a bunch of others’ shares as well. One thing I was thinking about as I hammered out a hard brick run yesterday, was electrolyte use while on the trainer. I mean, I know a lot of people only use water while on the trainer, but think of how much you sweat! That accounts for electrolyte loss (more for some than others,) and water alone doesn’t replenish that. So after a 90+min hard workout on the trainer, that’s a substantial loss. I’ve been keeping on top of that (especially when I have the brick run after, don’t want to go in to that depleted,) using some E-Load heat endurance formula (gives you some calories to help out near the end too!)

Just food for thought.

Time to get outside and absorb a solid dosage of Vitamin D! My favourite way to take it:)

Enjoy the sun people, looks like LOTS AND LOTS of snow starting wednesday!

Nathan

Snow?

So I wake up knowing I have another hard LONG run ahead of me this morning, and to my shock there was a bunch of snow on the ground, and it looked like it had NO intention of slowing down! I knew it was going to be a wet, cold, nasty slog through the slush and snow out there. Lucky for me it slowed down, but I felt like I was running in a giant snow-cone as it warmed up just enough to make my feet miserable. I’m sure there was something extra to be gained from the run, it was a doozy. 23km fartlek in 1hr40mins, definitely not easy. At least I know that all this base building will make a HUGE difference next summer, as it gives me some killer base fitness. Way more than I’ve ever done at this time of year before. But I guess that’s what you get when you sign up with a coach as a pro athlete:(

My bad.

So some more exciting news! My first holidays from work are coming up, from January 3rd to the 14th, and Bjoern informs me there is going to be some MAJOR work going on, with a big training block that looks like a run focus.

Even more exciting though, I’ve picked my holidays for 2011 at work, and I managed to get some AWESOME slots!! A few weeks line up perfectly with a few major races, like the San Fransisco ITU Continental Cup in July, 5150 Las Vegas and 5150 Clearwater. I tell you, sitting in that room waiting to make my holiday picks was so exciting! Watching the picks move down the seniority list, waiting for turn to pick a slot, trying to guess who was going to pick which slot, it got pretty intense. In the end I got what I wanted, so a win for me.

Hopefully there’ll be a few more wins this year.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with their family and friends, and to everyone, have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! BE SAFE!

New Coach, New Season, New Goals

So it’s been a while since my last post, and a bunch of stuff has been going on since then!

First off, I’m happy to announce that I’ve started working with Bjoern Ossenbrink of Lifesport Coaching, a very experienced professional coach that I believe will help me take my training and racing to a new level. I’ve been working with Bjoern since the start of December, and things are very exciting! I’ve been looking at the race calender for the new year, and it looks like a few of the local races races will be the rust breakers, possibly including UBC Duathlon and the North Shore Triathlon. Then I’ve been looking at the new 5150 Series (from the WTC,) to use as my “A” races. I will be competing in the pro division, and would really like to qualify for the newly designated 5150 series championship race, the Des Moines, Iowa, Hyvee triathlon. It has changed from a draft-legal ITU race, to a non-drafting WTC race. The non-draft suits me better, my swimming isn’t exactly top of the field! I’ll take another kick at the ITU can with Kelowna Nationals, and possibly the San Francisco and Texas ITU Continental Cups. Nothing is concrete yet, but at least something’s in the works.

Second, I’ve gained sponsorship from John at Pacific Multisport in Vancouver, on Main street between 27th and 28th ave. Fantastic shop, he has everything you need and more to enjoy the sport, so go on in and check it out.

My swim has been going well, I’ve had a few solid swims this week which are very promising. But I’ve had a few phenomenal runs in the last two days. Yesterday I had a super solid 21km run around Mundy Park in Coquitlam, and it was only a 90min run. I coupled that with a very good 60min brick run off a hard bike session today, running 14.5km.

These are the workouts that are going to make the difference next season, putting the hard work in during the early pre-season. Now I’m looking forward to a ligher recovery week, and I’ve been assured by coach that the next building block will be a fun one. I cant wait!!!!

Time to bake some tasty cookies and spread some holiday cheer! Everyone enjoy the festivities!!!

Nathan

The Finale

So it’s been a few weeks since I finished up the season with the Longhorn 70.3 Austin in Texas.

What a day it was.

I was feeling great pre-race. My warm-up run was a good indication of the things to come, I felt loose and well rested. The swim was a little crazy, as it always is in a triathlon. But because it was only light out about 10min before the race, they only let the pros have a swim warm-up, not the age groupers. So a little interesting to start the swim. Lately my swimming has been a little off, and the past few races my swim has been my down fall. But today my stroke felt on! Then, seeing as i was the SEVENTH wave to start, 300m into the swim I started running into the next wave. It was a battle the rest of the swim, weaving through enormous crowds of people, which really slowed things down. I ended up swimming 27minutes, which wasn’t too bad, but I was hoping for a little faster.

Coming up the beach out of the lake, I was feeling great for the bike. Stepping out on the Jamis T2, I started the passing. There were people on the road from 6 waves ahead of me, so there were lots of people to pass. The bike felt so great, even though I haven’t raced that distance. I didn’t really know what pace to hold, so I just rode. I ended up riding just under 2:18, a new PB for me at that distance. The Jamis was just a rocket up the hills, and didn’t even slow down hitting the headwind on the latter part of the course. This was the first time that I had no soreness at all going into the run. Usually my hamstrings and glutes would be feeling slightly tight, but they were feeling fantastic. Unfortunately, my feet wouldn’t be feeling so well.

I seemed to have trouble getting my shoes on in T2. Like, a lot of trouble getting them on. Here’s the background story: New Balance came out with these sweet looking lime green 905 lightweight trainer/race shoe. They replaced the 904. I decided to use these for Austin, but they fit a little roomier than my normal shoes so I went for a half size smaller.

Rookie mistake.

They felt just snug when i tried them on at New Balance, which I figured would be perfect for the race. Not so. I forgot a few major things: A. My feet got swollen on the flight over, and I’m not 100% sure they went fully back down to normal size before the race; B. My feet would swell up during the bike due to the heat.


This caused the shoes to be a little too tight, and the run became a battle of will to push through the pain. Within 5 minutes of starting the run, I was starting to feel the pain in my feet. By the second loop my toes were crushed and searing with pain, and my feet were in agony. I had a lot of trouble just trying to focus on the race, all I could think of was the pain. Usually my New Balance shoes fit perfect, but this was such a noobie mistake. I wasn’t happy with the 4 minute positive split on the run, but it was a huge learning experience. I took a lot away from the race.

My goal for Texas was mainly to go down and have some fun, and maybe enjoy some heat. It was really great to go without any real expectations. Under the conditions, I’m happy with my time. I wanted to break 4:10, but considering I haven’t raced the half in over a year and a half, AND it was a PB for that distance, so all-in-all a positive experience.

My nutrition break-down for the race: breakfast was the same as always, wake up at least 3 hours before the race and have my oatmeal with a bagel and peanut butter. Then I started sipping away at a bottle of E-load, leading up to the race start. On the bike, it was 2 water bottles with a mix of 2 scoops E-load, 1 scoop Fly (E-load’s carbohydrate formula,) along with about 3 E-load Gels. I took an extra gel off the bike, and went into the run on that, also grabbing water/gatorade at aid stations. I never had any lull’s in my energy, I felt 100% the whole race. I’ve had the bogging down feeling at the end of races, somewhat like a bonk, but today I was feeling great all the way to the finish. I find the E-load and Gels work great with my stomach. I’ve had issues in the past with heart burn and bloating from other supplements, so it was great to find something that works well for me.

This was also the first race i used Compressport gear. I decided last second to go with the calf guards, and they seemed to help. I usually have sore calves by the end of the run, but not this time. The calf guards and quad sleeves really made a difference in my recovery during training as well, they seem to make my legs feel much more recovered then when I wasn’t using them. Some people are skeptics, but I’m a firm believer they help. In fact I’m wearing the right now!

Next season will see a real focus on draft-legal short course, so it was good to end the season on a high note. I won my age group, and came 20th overall. Thanks to everyone who’s supported me this season, I wouldn’t be able to race and train like I do without you!

Cheers ’till next season,
Nathan

Was it the last race?

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

But this, evidently, is not the case.

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

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

Austin 70.3 Texas.

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

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

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

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

Last Tri of the Season?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The First Elite Race EVER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nathan (aka “Bucky”)

Professional Triathlete, Triathlon Coach, Fire Fighter, New Dad, and Peanut Butter Addict!