Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NYC Triathlon

With being such a dramatic finish to the NYC Tri I ended up peaking a lot of peoples interest. This included prime time TV show Inside Edition who wanted an interview about my dramatic finish. They did a feature story on the 2nd of September. Here is the archive of the show:

http://insideedition.com/news.aspx?storyID=2066

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The In Between

When racing consecutive weekends in a row on the road, (3 this time) there is always the week in between races that needs to be filled. This can be expensive and tedious as you stay in a hotel by yourself twiddling your thumbs.

However, sometimes you get lucky and your friends Nate and Sara have family in the city and a cabin just South. After talking to Nate in Des Moines about my racing the Lifetime race he generously offered his parents house for me to stay in Minneapolis. After checking with his Mom it was actually ok for me to stay with them but that they were going to be going down to there lake side cabin afte the race...oh darn! So it was off to the cabin with Nate after the race to hang out with his huge extended family till Monday. We raced early Saturday morning so we arrived midday which is a great thing about these races, you finish at 9am. Early start but you have the whole rest of the day.

I had a great time hanging out with all his brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends over the weekend and chilling on the pontoon boat in the evenings. They are a great family and a lot of fun. I learned a new game called Polish Golf aka "Testi Toss," a foot long piece of rope with two golf balls at each end that you toss and try to get to hang from a three rung rack. Good fun, especially when the international team (Myself and a Venezuelan inlaw) beat the local team (Nates brother and cousin), but not without a lot of trash talk.

It wasn't all play and no work though. After lazing around Sunday morning I went out for a 3hr ride to flush out the legs and get some more time in the TT position (another alteration made on the ride). Then Monday morning Nate and I went for a 75min base run with some drills at the end and followed by a 40min open water swim.

After a great weekend at the cabin Nates Mom Cheryl and I dropped Nate and Sara off at the airport and then we returned to their house just North of Minneapolis. The last few days here have been great hanging out with Cheryl in the evenings and taking my time to train during the day. I have been enjoying the local Minnesota coffee shop "Caribou Coffee" before hitting the Lifetime Fitness gym for my swim in the 25m pool (usually gym pools are yards but I got lucky that this one is meters).

The organizers of the Lifetime Race are great and really treated us like professionals. The hotel was covered for three nights, the race meeting was quick and had drinks, the pro carbo party was classy and tasty and they have provided the gym facilities for training before and after the race. I have enjoyed my time here and will definately be back next year.

I am off to New York on Friday at 1pm. Having never been to NY I am looking forward to this trip. It is short as it is so expensive to stay there but I will fill the three days I am there with checking out the city. Should be fun!

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon

This past weekend I did my first US non drafting triathlon. It has been a very long time since I have done a non drafting race and this was also going to be the first on a Time Trial bike.

Having not done any of this racing before I had to borrow a TT bike from my Doctor (Thanks Dr Keeler), disc wheel from my chiropractor (Thanks Hasegawa) and go and buy an aero helmet and water bottles. I kind of enjoyed geeking out trying to get as aero as possible, being a bike mechanic it was kind of fun. I look forward to having my own TT bike and getting really nerdy!

I was only able to ride the TT bike once adjusted to be similar to my world cup position for a total of 6hrs prior to the race. Needless to say I was sure how my body was going to feel about it.

The Lifetime race is a big money race with over $200,000 in prize money and part of a five race series. I am thinking about doing the series but wanted to see how I faired at my first one.

The swim was quite cruisy as there were only 20 men on the startline so after a short burst at the start I settled quickly onto Simon's feet where I proceeded to tap his feet as much as I could to annoy him! Ha ha, just kidding, I tried to avoid it but we were swimming into a chop and Hunter Kemper wasn't just tapping my feet he was pounding them. So I eventually let Hunter by so he could pound on Simon's feet for the rest of the swim. There was no need to panic and push the swim as we would all exit together and start the bike as a group in stagger position. (Insert "Non Drafting Rules" here) quoted from Simon's blog:

the stagger group - at USAT non drafting events the rules call for a stagger rule. Basically riders must stagger themselves outside a 2meter wide by 10meter long "box", left and right you can never line your draft box up with the rider in front. In highly competitive races this always ends up causing some bickering and controversy as so many of us swim and ride about the same speed and have trouble separating. A "staggered pack" forms with the athletes jockeying for position in an attempt to stay out of the draft.

We all try to stay out of the zones as best as possible and with the top "draft marshals" in the country there to supervise everyone does a pretty good job. Regardless of the stagger rule though, it is a little easier to be back in the group then right at the front. However, once you break from the group and are riding solo you can ride a more consistent pace and take better lines through corners as you are not having to worry about overlapping a draft box.

I felt comfortable on the bike and was chuckling to myself at times as I was weaving all over the road in order to stay out of the drafting zones. It wasn't until the final 10km when I moved to the front to try and draw back Andy Potts, Simon, Paul Tichelaar, and Greg Bennet that the intensity increased. I was joined by Craig Alexander and Matt Reed in this attempt to bring them back and we all entered transition closely and with the leaders just up ahead.

I ran hard out of transition but on the conservative side as I wanted to run the whole 10km strong and I wasn't sure how this whole non drafting racing would go. I felt strong going through the end of the first 5km lap and began to build my pace as I was running in 7th with Paul starting to fade ahead of me. I put a surge in at a water station about 7km in and caught and then passed Paul. I wanted it to stick so I continued the surge for about 3min but found myself feeling strong at this pace and continued with it. I was then starting to reel in Matt Reed in 5th but I ran out of territory and sprinted to within 2sec of him for 6th place.

I was really happy with my performance considering my back getting tight over the last 10km of the bike and racing the whole thing a bit conservatively. With one under my belt now I head to New York with a better understanding of what I am capable of and ready to push my limits now. I have also continued to alter my fit on my bike to a more TT position which will release some stress on my back.

I am looking forward to having a go at New York. It will be a smaller group of men out of the water and the bike course will allow for more seperation. So it should be a fun TT race!

So Now What??

As a result of not qualifying for Beijing I needed to think long and hard and discuss with my coach where I was headed for the rest of the season. With no obligations from Triathlon Canada to fill other then racing at National Champs in Kelowna I could choose what I wanted to do. This was a freeing but daunting task as there are so many races out there I want to do. I still also need to maintain world rankings for carding and national team so there will be some more world cups this season still.

Lance Watson and I sat down and looked at my strengths as a triathlete and some of the other formats of racing out there. I have raced Xterra in the past and been successful but most of those were done now. So it was then onto the non dragting US races and 70.3's. Both suit my ability to ride hard and then run well off of it due to my bike strength. With the speed and power we have been training for worlds it made sense for me to do the Olympic Distance non drafting races in the US to start and then look at 70.3.

So the plan for the next little bit looks like this:

July 12 Lifetime Fitness Triathlon (Olympic Distance Non Drafting)
July 20 New York Triathon (Olympic Distance Non Drafting)
July 27 Corner Brook Nfld 70.3
August 17 Kelowna National Championships
August 24 Chicago Triathlon (Olympic Distance Non Drafting)
September 7 LA Triathlon (Olympic Distance Non Drafting)

Up Next

After recovering from worlds and doing a trip to Toronto to do a media tour and event for the Reactine Allergy medication I was off to Des Moines, Ioah for the biggest prizemony race in Triathlon.

The goal here was to take the fitness and prep from worlds and put down another good performance and hopefully pick up some cash. The original course had been flooded and moved to a new area which was potentially not able to have a swim as the lake was not clean enough. Over the week prior to the event though the water levels went down and the lake was deemed safe to swim in. So a Triathlon was on!

I again had a another good swim exiting at the front of the main group with only five guys in a group 30 seconds ahead. We quickly reeled the group in and then it was another pack of 30 guys riding together for 40km. There were a couple of attacks but nothing substantial and I again got into transition at the fron but then a shoe strap snapping slowed my exit but I was still in the middle of the group.

The temperature was quite high and having not raced in the heat yet this year I took a conservative approach the run. I also had a gut full of drink that was too sweet and salty to absorb sloshing around. It wasn't until about 3km into the run after taking lots of water that my stomach emptied a bit and I paired up with Hendrik Devilliers of S.Africa to start pulling the guys ahead in. We swapped off the lead and we quickly moved by guys over the next 5km till we were in 13th and 14th. Hendrik put a hard surge in with 1.5km to go and I was risking blowing in the heat trying to go with him so I let the gap open slowly and by doing so I moved up one more position to finish 12th and pick up a nice pay cheque.

Let's Review

After having a break and taking some time after World Championships to make new racing plans I will begin to slowly bring you up to speed on what I am doing now.

I will start with a brief rundown of how the Vancouver World Championships went. I had prepared for this very well, this included a reconisence trip ten days prior to the event with coach Lance Watson to train on the course and do some visualizing. It also included riding the wrong way up Thurlow at 6:30 in the morning dodging traffic and riding on the sidewalk. It was all neccesary to get the visualization and the feeling of that steep climb memorized. (Says coach who stopped at bottom and watched me...well he did it a couple of times before it got busier...or maybe he got tired...chicken or the egg???) I digress. I was well prepared and focused heading into worlds. The key for worlds was to have fun racing in my hometown and all my friends and family with the idea that all I can do is race as hard as I can. Nothing more nothing less.

It was going to be extremely hard for me to qualify for the Beijing team outright due to me missing a top 8 performance at a world cup race because of my broken wrist and food poisoning (see below posts). So I can't expect my body to do miraculous things, only what it is capable of.

I was confident in my training over the weeks prior to worlds having done some really strong sessions swimming, biking and running. The one thing missing was a solid race this season to get my top form going. Regardless, I was fit and ready to race hard and show my fitness.

I had a really solid swim exiting the water in the top ten and then getting onto the bike in the top five. Just where you need to be to position yourself for the rest of the race. The rest of the bike I felt strong riding in the top ten of the group shutting down or going with any breaks that looked like they would develop. I felt comfortable and then focused on positioning myself for T2 and being out on the run quickly. I managed this quite easily and again was in the top five onto the run to position myself as best possible. I ran with the lead group to the first turnaround and then once heading back towards transition a serge at the front of the group put the pressure on and I didn't have the leg turnover on the downhill to keep the pace. I held strong and only let a small gap form. I then held this gap for the rest of the race picking off the runners that fell off the group. I ran really strong and as hard as I could but there was a level there I knew I had but just couldn't reach on the day. So I finished strongly and thought I had put away the Frenchman going down the finish shoot but he surprised me and just outkicked me so I finished 17th by less then a second.

All in all I had a solid race being at the front swim and bike and then strong run. Another goal I had for the day was to smile at least once while racing and I managed this a couple of times. It was a great event and it was awesome to have all my friends and family there.