Humility is a good thing. A good thing that comes with being handed a little bit of perspective when the ego starts to get out of control. I have been riding an exceptional high since my overall wins in Woodstock and Welland. This past Monday, I raced a little twilight track 5000m at McMaster, a race I saw being promoted a bit on Twitter by triathletes Taylor and Austen Forbes, where I knew the guys would be getting after it. At the very least, it would end up being a really good gauge of where my fitness is, perhaps helping to guide my final preparations for Nationals at the Toronto Triathlon Festival on July 13.
Turns out, I got my fitness test and a slice of humble pie for dessert. I ran 16:02.49 for 5k, with kilometre splits of 3:08, 3:11, 3:14, 3:15, 3:14. Here’s the kicker though: I got lapped. Twice. The lead group went sub-15:00, led by Taylor in 14:28 (what an animal!). I settled in to the second group, which I followed until one guy dropped and the other gapped me, right around 2.5km. Then I just tried to fight off the 4th km malaise that has always plagued me. The pace lagged and I was isolated. I managed to finish strong in 72 seconds for my final lap. I’m quite happy with the result, which I figure is good for about 15:40 on the roads, and getting spanked around like that really reminded me that there is still A LOT of work to do to get to the level I want to be on.
2014 has been a fantastic season for me. Last season, I struggled with injuries and was slow to adapt to the new training program I jumped into in joining Tommy and Ignition Fitness. There were growing pains, some overtraining, a monumentally questionable decision to run indoor track, and the aforemetioned injuries. I raced Woodstock, Binbrook and Welland last year having not been able to run more than 30 minutes at a time, with the odd progression run for “speedwork”. I was able to start grooving a bit before Worlds, but never really got into the condition I wanted to be in, which was reflected in the results. I recorded just one win (in a perfectly executed race) and whiffed on all my rough time goals.
Fast forward to this year: I focused on a steady and controlled diet of endurance volume and hard progression runs through the harsh winter (take that Polar Vortex, then ran my first two half marathons in February (1:18:01) and March (1:16:24). While many were struggling to get in the requisite bike training over the winter, I hit the trainer hard and saw HUGE gains in my cycling fitness. Between November and March, I watched my FTP spike by ~20W, and another 12W by mid-May. As a result, I have been racing on an extra 30W all season, which has resulted in keeping my leads intact deeper into the bike. A phenomenal improvement over last year, when I would nearly overextend the first run, only to get caught while the bike distance was still single digits.
My run has also improved. Before this season, my duathlon 5k PB was 17:04 (Welland 2013). This year I have split faster 3 times. Each time I have then got on the bike and pushed wattage that would have been absurd last season. I have been able to finally adapt to Tommy’s training program, which emphasizes higher intensity, lower volume and more recovery. I still hate days off…but I am learning their value. I have also finally started to pay attention to the other areas that need it. I used to burn the candle at both ends, and eat terrible food. My diet was primarily processed foods. However, Emma has been helping me slowly shift to a more plant-based diet, and cooking out of a Thrive cookbook. We rarely eat out anymore, and I have been forced to be more careful about what I put in my body in order to get the right nutrients. I feel stronger than ever, and bounce back from workouts quickly!
As a result of all of this, my confidence is sky high heading into Nationals on the 13th. I truly believe that with a well-executed race that I can be a national champion on July 13. Only the day will tell us if I am able to achieve my goal. For this, I have a few people to thank, people that I would not be here without.
Everyone at Ignition Fitness has been awesome, especially Coach Tommy Ferris. It’s taken a little while to get to know each other and to wrap my head around the program, but we’re making huge progress now. Tommy is incredibly flexible, which has been awesome with all of the life changes I have had in the last 2 years. Through Tommy’s hard work, I have also had access to many sponsors that have allowed me to have the best equipment (thanks to Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor) and the best nutrition (courtesy of Clif Bar) to push me into that next level. My teammates have also been nothing but supportive at races!
Being a part of the Multisport Canada/Recharge With Milk Ambassador team has been one of the best things I have stumbled on in my career. It started with an article I wrote about the doomed Barrelman duathlon that got me thinking about what I can do to save my sport. I conscripted Larry Bradley into helping me build Duathlon Central and took a more active role on social media and with race directors to create opportunities for duathletes, before being asked by Roger and John Salt to represent duathletes on the Ambassador team. It has been incredibly rewarding. The Multisport Canada crew puts on a top notch event, and I am proud to represent them. Every result means more when the race director is there to be the first one to congratulate you, the venues are second to none, and the race distances are challenging and great preparation for provincial, national, and international championship events. Given the choice, I will travel the extra hour or so to get to a Multisport Canada event than any other race!
Most of all, my family. My girlfriend Emma has been dragged around to more conservation areas at ungodly hours than any reasonable person should be expected to. Yet, when I cross the line I’m pretty sure she is more proud of me than anyone else there. I can’t wait to chase her around the Lakeside Resort in September for her first sprint duathlon! Transportation has always been an issue for me, but her parents have been unbelievable as well, rearranging their lives to get to all the races I can’t get to myself. Finally, I need to thank my parents who, despite living across the country in Edmonton, are always there. They flew in for a week to see me race at Welland, and are the primary sponsors of all of the expenses I will incur for TTF and US Nats in St.Paul.
Obviously, success is a team effort. Without my sponsors and these 5 incredible people, I would have a lot more to worry about and weigh me down! For that I am thankful, but there is still a long way to go. I intend to keep the pressure on for the next 11 weeks in search of a Provincial title, a National title, and a chance to make a name for myself nationally and internationally. Should be fun!
Until next time…keep Du’ing it!