After a pretty good season racing as an amateur, it was time to test my abilities in the Pro field. I didn't have any great expectations with such a large field (approx. 65 men in the Pro division), I just wanted to have a good race and gain some experience.
I started training for this race in September. I had a solid base from all the racing over the spring and summer, including five Half Irons and a few short course races. With the help from my coach, Bjoern Ossenbrink, I was fitter than ever leading up to the race. I felt confident in my abilities but also realistic about the difficulties of the Ironman distance. There are never any guarantees at a race of this magnitude, and even the best athletes can falter. The most important thing is to pace yourself properly and have a sound nutritional strategy and stick to it. Considering how my training was going, I figured that if I had a good race and paced myself well I could get under 9h 10min and if things went exceptionally well, there was a possibility of going under 9 hours.
I learned how to swim when I was 27 (I actually taught myself for the first couple of years) so swimming is not my strength but I've made some good progress over the last couple of years. I knocked around three minutes off my 1900m time this summer compared to last season and since I swam 59mins at Ironman Canada last year, I was hoping to get under 56mins in Arizona. Bjoern had me on a good swim program leading up to the race but due to a minor cold (and cold water in the outdoor pool that I train in) I had missed a few swim workouts leading up to the race. I struggled on the swim and after the first 10mins, I got dropped by the main pack of swimmers. I tried to focus on technique and think about what my swim coaches are always telling me but I had trouble stretching my stroke out. My shoulder had been sore for the couple of weeks leading up to the race and it started to hurt halfway through the swim, and my lower back started aching also (probably because my technique was falling apart). Although I exited the water in 1h 1min, six minutes behind my goal time, I wasn't too far behind so I told myself to remain positive and switched my focus to the bike.
It felt good to be off the bike and after a relatively quick transition, I was on the run course and holding my goal pace and effort. During training I was able to run under 4m 15sec per km pace (sub 7min miles) at my comfortable race effort so I figured that I should be able to run around 4m 20sec to 4m 30sec pace (approx. 7min miles). Although the effort felt comfortable over the first three or four kms, my right foot was swollen and completely numb and my right adductor muscle was really tight. I ignored the discomfort as much as possible and tried to curl my toes between strides to help increase the blood flow. This was something that I had never experienced before and I was a little worried. My foot eventually started to feel better and my adductor loosened up but my quads were really taking a pounding. Thankfully I had my Compressport quad sleeves on, otherwise it probably would have been much worse. Although I had stuck to my nutrition plan on the bike and used salt tabs and drank water, I was feeling the effects of dehydration since I had trouble retaining any of the water. It didn't help that I had forgotten to grab my salt tabs in T2 and was only able to take salt again at the halfway point when I got my special needs bag. I had to stop and pee three more times on the run and halfway through I actually started to feel sick and had to take an extended toilet break which took around three or four minutes. I felt better after that and was able to pick up my speed again for the next few kms but eventually the effects of the dehydration took over again and my body shut down. It was a real effort to keep going and the thought of dropping out crossed my mind a few times, but I refused to give in and told myself to just keep doing the best I could. Even with a relatively slow run (3h 34min), I was still able to finish the race in 9h 37min which really isn't too bad considering all the problems I was having.
Although I'm definitely not satisfied with my result, it was a good learning experience and I'm happy I did the race. Competing at this level and distance is not easy and it can take some time to bring everything together and have a really good result. Racing in the Pro field at Ironman Arizona was a humbling experience. I intend to use everything that I learned in a positive fashion moving forward. I look forward to the 2012 race season.
Special thanks to my sponsors who make this all possible. Compressport make some truly amazing compression gear that has really helped me recover faster than ever post-workout and also keeps me feeling as comfortable as possible during those long and hard runs and rides. Zoot Sports supplies me with awesome race and training shoes, a race kit and other training apparel which helps me stay comfortable and fast on my feet and in transition. I approached these companies for sponsorship because I really believe in the quality of their products and I'm really proud to be working with them. West Point Multisport and West Point Cycles take care of all my other needs and keep my bike working like it's brand new. It's been a pleasure working with them over the 2011 season. I'd also like to thank my coach, Bjoern Ossenbrink of Lifesport Coaching, for believing in me and helping me take my racing to the next level. Since I started working with him last year I've made some major improvements and learned a lot about what it takes to become a competitive athlete. Last but not least, thanks so much to my family and friends for the continued support since I started this amazing journey into the world of triathlon. It would not be the same without you.
Next post: Coaching - A New Direction
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
|UBC Sprint Triathlon 2011|
The following week, I raced at the St Patrick's Day 5km running race. I had been suffering from some pain in my right foot since early November but I never really though too much of it and figured that it would go away on its own like most of my previous injuries. I hadn't made a big deal out of it so Bjoern didn't know how serious it was. The race went fairly well and I finished with a time of 17m 28s. My foot was sore but I was able to run through it and tried not to think about it too much. The following day I did a 16km tempo run, but by the end of the run I was really hurting. Without realizing it, I had been running with plantar fasciitis. The race was the turning point for the injury - I could barely walk after. I had to take a full five weeks off of running. It was a major setback.
Since I couldn't run, I started to focus more on swimming and biking. I was supposed to race at the Delta Triathlon in April but I was forced to pull out because of the injury. Towards the end of the month I had slowly started to run again, and although my foot was still sore it was much better than before. I really wanted to race at the Shawnigan Lake Half Iron in late May. Two weeks before the race I had a major breakthrough with the injury. We were doing some beach start simulations at Sasamat lake, and while running over the hard packed sand I hammered the bottom of my foot right on the injury. At the time it really hurt and felt like my injury had exploded, but a couple days later my foot started to feel great. It was as if I had broken all of the scar tissue and released all of the tension.
|Shawnigan Lake Half Iron 2011|
The next race was Ironman 70.3 Boise two weeks later. My goal was to win my age group and qualify for the World Championships in Las Vegas. I felt pretty good going into the race but I pushed too hard at the beginning of the bike leg and really suffered during the second half of the bike course. I also didn't follow my nutrition strategy properly. By the time I started the run I was feeling burnt out, and was immediately attacked by a really bad abdominal stitch that persisted until the finish. I was only able to run at my goal pace for the final three kms and ended up finishing with a time of 4h 39min which was well over the time needed to qualify for the World Championships.
|Victoria Half Iron 2011|
|Vancouver Half Iron 2011|
|Lifesport Pro Camp 2011|
|Sooke Half Iron 2011|
|Kelowna National Championships|
Next post: Ironman Arizona - Race Report
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
In October, six weeks after Ironman Canada, I raced at the Royal Victoria Half Marathon and finished with a time of 1h 27min. My goal had been to finish in 1h 24min but I hadn't trained properly leading up to the race. After Ironman, I tried to start running again too soon and ended up with some minor injuries. Because of that, I wasn't able to train appropriately for the Half Marathon. Recovery is a really important part of training and it was something that I had never been really good at.
Working with Bjoern changed everything. I no longer had to second guess myself and wonder if I was doing the right thing. He tailored a program spefically to my needs and goals and made sure that I got enough recovery. All I had to do was follow his program and trust that it would make me stronger and faster. My first goal was to race at the Vancouver "First Half" Half Marathon and finish under 1h 20min. If I wanted to be competitive at the Half Iron distance, I needed to become a faster runner. I also needed to improve my pacing, which had been pretty bad at my previous two Half Marathons. Bjoern started to coach a weekly track workout in November. As well as being a great speed workout, it worked wonders for my pacing. The track workout has become one of the most important workouts every week. Not only did it teach me how to pace properly, I was also able to improve my running technique and form.
|Sprint Finish at the Vancouver First Half|
Next post: 2011 - A Breakthrough Year
Sunday, 6 November 2011
Although 2009 held some mixed results, I was happy with the way the season went and I was feeling much more confident in my ability after finishing the Kelowna Olympic distance race in 2h 22min. Without race wheels or even a triathlon specific bike, I had managed to finish the race with a pretty respectable time. It wasn't enough though, I wanted to be competitive. My goal for 2010 was to be on the podium in my age category for as many races as possible.
|New Bike for the 2010 Race Season|
|UBC Triathlon 2010|
|Shawnigan Lake Half Iron 2010|
|Vancouver Half Iron 2010|
|Squamish Triathlon 2010|
|Sooke Triathlon Podium Finish|
|Ironman Canada 2010|
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
After that race, I bought an indoor bike trainer. If I was going to improve my results in 2010, I needed to work harder on the bike. My goal was to get under 5 hours at a Half Iron and under 12 hours at Ironman. No more sitting around during the off season...
Next post: 2010 - The road to Ironman
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
When I first moved to Vancouver in early June 2006, I had never spent much time training. I would train for a week or two each year but could never find the motivation to continue. This mostly consisted of working out at the gym lifting weights and spending 15-20 minutes on a spin bike or treadmill. I had never been in a race of any type and had certainly never swam laps in a pool.
|Stanley Park - Summer 2005|
|Victoria - July 2005|
|Vancouver Island 2008|
|R&B Brewery 2008|
|Victoria Triathlon 2008|
|First Triathlon - Squamish 2008|