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Pre-Nationals Perspective

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.

Mac Twilight Meet

McMaster Twilight Meet 5000m (16:02.49)

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.

In Aero Position

Thanks Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor for the extra speed.

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!

Thrive Energy Cookbook

Eat clean, race fast.

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.

ROUGH LOGO 3 blank

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!

MSC

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!

Emma and Jesse

Always there for me

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!

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Breakthrough

I had a whole blog post schedule planned for the next 3 weeks on both of my sites (this blog and Duathlon Central). But sometimes something comes up that I just feel the need to write about that blows my schedule out of the water…it’s usually something that seems very simple on the surface, but usually ends up being much more than that as the season goes on…

Thursday’s run was one of those things. Earlier in the week, I had to convince Tommy to add in an endurance run to my Thursday schedule, on a day that was previously scheduled as a day off. I hate days off, but I have learned to handle them in moderation. After a bout of diagnosed overtraining last year and several years before that spent flirting with it, I have learned that I can push my body to ridiculous limits only if I have adequate recovery time, which sometimes means a day of rest. However, I had taken the Monday off after Woodstock, then done two days of relatively light training, then this other day off before a monster weekend, and I was feeling a little bit anxious about my ability to effectively run for 75 minutes on Sunday after having not really run more than 30 minutes at a time for the previous month or so. We ended up adding in an hour of running on Thursday…an hour of running that ended up being one of the best runs of my life.

Sometimes while running, I feel like I am fighting what my body was created to do, and it feels like a struggle. Other times, it feels like all my hard work to become an elite long distance runner, and then a duathlete, has paid off by making me look like a runner. And then there are the rare occasions where I feel like this is what I was born to do, and nothing else. Going into this run, I was really lacking in the confidence to perform the high-intensity training that is on its way in preparation of my Welland title defense, Canadian Nationals in Toronto, and US Nationals in St. Paul. Confidence is a funny thing, especially considering I had just won in Woodstock the preceding weekend leading from wire to wire. I should have been buoyed by that…instead I was feeling scared that the lower volume, higher intensity training of May would lead to an early peak for my goal races. I have a tendency to overthink, especially when I have the time to think, which makes it very hard for me to trust the process sometimes. Tommy can usually do a fantastic job of calming me down and helping me see the big picture again, but this was one of those occasions when I think I really just needed to experience it for myself.

The run really wasn’t a big deal. A tad shy of 14km in 1 hour, with some 15 second strides at the end. It wasn’t a night run (my favourite), and it wasn’t overly special or magical. It just…flowed. That’s one of my favourite things about running. You can be out in your own little world, and you are the only one who knows what you are accomplishing. The majority of the people that I went past during this run probably had no idea what I was doing. The other runners I passed likely perceived my speed, but definitely not the fact that I was having quite possibly my breakthrough workout of the 2014 season. Only I knew at the time, and that insider knowledge fueled me all through the run. Every stride felt effortless, and even the hill out of the valley near the end didn’t register with me. I felt unstoppable.

While the run really wasn’t anything special (numbers-wise), it did set up an AWESOME weekend of training. For the past 4 days, I have been absolutely dialed in to my training. My Saturday workout produced some effortless climbing on hills that have never been effortless, and some of my most consistent and powerful tempo sets on the bike yet this season while still saving the legs for a strong run off the bike. Sunday’s run was also a “work of art”, as Tommy put it, where I nailed the race pace sections of my 75 minute run almost to the second, before turning over some quick 31 second 200m repeats on the track upon arriving home. I have a very tough week of training on tap coming up, but the confidence and power that I have received from the simple act of adding that Thursday run and the resulting weekend training results have me excited for it, ready to nail this week and next before heading to Welland to defend my title. I may have produced the same results without that Thursday run; that we’ll never know. But that run allowed me to get excited about the hard training of the weekend, and to have the strength to get out there and do the work that needed to be done. Thanks to Coach T at Ignition Fitness for talking me through this rough patch and helping me see the big picture again…I needed it.

Training is about balance. Hard work and recovery go hand in hand. Physically, that day off on Thursday may have been the right thing for me for one final rest before getting down to work. But equally as important as the physical aspect of this sport is the mental aspect. When you are out there alone for as many hours as you are, you have to believe in what you are doing. You have to be able to tell yourself before lacing up that you WILL walk out that door, you WILL accomplish what needs to be accomplished, and you WILL knock today’s workout out of the park. Because when you have that confidence, magical things can happen. You can lift impossible weights and run impossible distances…it just takes finding that one thing that makes you feel unstoppable. So do what makes you feel unstoppable, and then tell the world what you were able to accomplish.

Until next time…keep du’ing it.

On the grind…

Little bit of a new look for my online presence this year. New year, new look. Hope you like it!

The Polar Vortex is really doing a number on my training so far in 2014. I’ve been logging lots of hours on the trainer and on the trails, and even a few on the treadmill on the really rough days. Despite that, I have been putting in some of the highest volume I have done in at least a few years. Exciting times! It has been difficult on my body at some points, especially during some of the big focus weeks that Coach Tommy has thrown at me over the last 8 weeks, but I have more or less been delivering. No big breakthroughs yet, but it IS only February…and I think quite a few people will tell you they don’t want to be happening upon breakthroughs in February!

I am getting close to finalizing my schedule for racing this year. Tommy and I decided to spend the winter focusing on building the engine, and have been working towards a couple of half marathons (my first two ever) in late February/early March. The idea there is to give ourselves a goal to work towards while building a massive engine, one that I will need to be going full throttle come spring. A slight departure from last year, I will not be racing as much this upcoming season. I will have a longer season with more time in between races so that I can focus on performance on the days I do race. It works out because I will be doing a lot of championship racing this year that I will have to bring my A game to! Here’s where I’ll be in 2014:

February 17 Grimsby Half Marathon
March 2 Chilly Half Marathon, Burlington
April 5 Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8k, Toronto
April 27 Paris to Ancaster
May 10 Iron Hawk Duathlon, Harrow (Ontario Sprint Duathlon Champs)
May 25 MSC Woodstock Sprint Duathlon
June 14 MSC Welland Duathlon
July 19 USA National Duathlon Championships, St. Paul MN
August 24 MSC Toronto Island Duathlon
September 6 Esprit Duathlon, Montreal
September 14 MSC Lakeside International Duathlon (Ontario Duathlon Championships)

2014 will be about testing my chops against some high class race fields and seeing what comes out the other side. Fingers crossed for a healthy year (unlike last year) so that I can keep up the volume of training necessary to achieve the results I have my eyes on. If I can walk out of 2014 with a new half marathon PB, at least one provincial title, top 10 finishes at Esprit and US Nationals, and a spot at Worlds in Australia next year, I would be over the moon and ready for 2015.

I’m really very excited to see what this season brings, and what kind of results I am capable of. I have already had a glimpse of things to come last week, with my first FTP test of 2014. The bike has always been my weak point, and Tommy and I have been working diligently to get that part of my game up to snuff. I’ve spent some long hours in the saddle and on the trainer, hoping for some big things this year. The test was a big breakthrough. Coming in a little bit tired out from the Ignition Fitness Big Training Day the previous Saturday, I started off in a bit of trouble during the opening 5 minute set. The testing protocol we use involves a good warmup, followed by a 5 minute set building to max effort, then 10 easy minutes before a 20 minute TT. I settled right into a nice cadence on the 20 minute TT, however, and kept pushing all the way through. My power kept drifting upwards for the first 15 minutes after hovering around 215W for the first 10 minutes. A really good hard effort in the last 5 minutes pushed me on to my highest 20 minute power ever on the trainer (224.2W), and an 8W improvement on my FTP. It equates to a W/kg of about 3.72, which is miles better than I have ever been in the past…and it’s only February!!

Yes, I’m very excited for my 2014 season this year. I have some big races to come, and a good foundation of training built up. So thankful for the support I get from my beautiful girlfriend Emma, my family, and my co-workers. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them, or without my coach Tommy Ferris with Ignition Fitness. I’m going to try to put a summary post up once a month, as well as race reports, workout reports and general ramblings as they come. In the meantime, follow me on my social media!

Twitter: @duitjessebauer

Instagram: @duitjessebauer