2015 Season – Taking On The Best

My 7th year in this sport, wow…..Its insane to think of my life before I took my first strokes in the pool, my first legitimate ride, or my first run with a purpose. The difference in lifestyle is astonishing to say the least. I spend my days riding in amazing places where the pain doesn’t matter compared to the view. Running along the water or in the forest where my breathing is so harsh and the burning so real, yet the feeling of being alive reaches its pinnacle.  Days Swimming in lakes, oceans, and beautiful pools when I take those first strokes and I feel the water rush by my body from my fingertips to my toes, my technique finally flourishing and I am one with it. Swimming in the right surroundings has become no less than spiritual. It’s not all sugar plums and rainbows though. I have yet to profit greatly from my sport. I train by day, work in a restaurant by night. I have put projects on the back burner to give chase to my first and foremost goal. I have definitely missed social events that I wish I could have been at. The typical life progression that most follow went out the window long ago. I don’t love every single training session, and sometimes I am angry and frustrated after a race because I demand so much of myself.  However…..I have travelled to many places around the world doing something that I have a lifetime of enthusiasm for. I have raced in front of Buckingham palace, The White House, Ran through millennium old towns in France, ripped through the streets of Auckland, and tackled Caso di Campo park in Madrid. I have met so many great people and shared so many unimaginable experiences.  Sorry to be so cliche but I followed my passion. I am writing this first paragraph to tell you to follow whatever it is that lures you. Maybe doing it as a hobby on the side is just right, maybe it’s a big career move, maybe it’s just being outdoors more.  Whatever makes you itch, be sure you scratch it or you just might regret it.

My journey this year was a big step forward. It was my first as a full fledged Professional and just my second concentrating on the half Ironman distance(“70.3”-1.9km swim/ 90km bike/ 21.1km run). I knew it was going to be a learning curve and I was prepared for that. I trained hard through the fall and winter building into the early spring. I threw the UBC sprint in as a little tune up and was feeling pretty good. I targeted Ironman 70.3 New Orleans and 70.3 Texas to kick off the year.  Both races had stacked fields with some of the best athletes on the planet in attendance. This would become the norm for all of my races.  I was supremely humbled sitting in a room with those who grace the covers of the big fitness magazines. Surprisingly I was a lot less nervous than expected. I just knew I didn’t want to be the last pro to finish! This would also be the first time that I attempt back to back weekends of Half Ironman races. Getting down to New Orleans was a journey in itself.  Awkward flights and sleep patterns took a bit of a toll on me. I had a tough race in the extreme heat and wind but still managed to finish 16th out the 30 some odd pro men. it gave me the confidence to know that I belonged racing at this level.  We had a fun few days in N.O. before heading to Galveston where the next battle awaited. It was a very neat resort city on an island just off the mainland. We had a fantastic homestay there (Thanks Anne and Allan!) and in turn much better preparation for the race.  I was told it was the most humid place in the United States and it certainly felt like it. We lucked out and ended up getting great conditions for Sunday. I ended up finishing 15th among 33 pro starters, a great result and something to build from.

My next race was Mont Tremblant, Quebec. I checked out the city of Montreal with my  awesome friend Hana for a day and then headed out to a cabin on Lac Brule. Nick was incredibly accommodating, welcoming myself, my parents, and brother into his family estate. The organization of the event at Mont Tremblant is second to none. Another stellar field of athletes toed the line for the $60,000 prize purse.  The race was extremely tough as I struggled through the first half of the bike. I had a decent run and finished 17th. I had hoped for better but the experience was unreal. Heading to New York for a few days post race put the stamp on yet another fantastic trip.

I came home after Mont Tremblant with some anger(good anger!) in my heart and new training vigour. I did some shorter local triathlons to find my speed and those went well, coming 2nd in both races to two guys (Milic and Johnson) who are incredibly fast over their respective distances – sprint and olympic. I set my Eyes on Calgary 70.3 next. I arranged to stay with my friend Lise at her brothers place close to downtown. What an awesome family that is! A proper lead up to the race and a pretty solid result. The swim was an absolute mess for all, but the bike is where I shined. I took 6mins off my time from last year on a seemingly slower day and put my self through a lot of pain. The run didn’t go as planned as I couldn’t catch my breath, altitude? too hard on the bike? I’m not sure but I finished in 13th. A good result.  Fun trip all and all!

Last but not least was Challenge Penticton. The pro field was set for the Half Ironman distance so it worked out perfectly. The startlist grew and grew right up until a few days before the race. This ended up being one of the best groupings of Western Canadian Pros I had ever seen. A few of them have major championships under their belts and are amongst the best in the sport. Add a strong presence from international racers and this was gong to be a serious fight. The swim was a breeze for me, for the first time staying on feet the whole time and being totally relaxed. I came out of the water in perfect company but didn’t capitalize. It was a mental battle for the first 30km into the wind and I kept thinking that I was tired from all the racing and that I “didn’t have it today”.  I swore out loud at myself a few times before we hit the very steep gradients outside Oliver and I finally came alive. As I broke from the group through the hills I dropped my chain and had to make a quick stop to pop it back on. This pushed my adrenaline again and I attacked the wet downhills like I know I can. I struggled during the run on this very course last year and even with some changes, still didn’t agree with me. I would drop from 12th to 15th and finish there.  My family was waiting at the line as usual.  I was happy with my effort and maybe more happy just being done!! After 5 Half Ironman’s, 1 olympic distance, 2 sprint distance races, 2 training sessions per day, plus work…I was tired mentally and physically. I am still adapting to the rigours of triathlon, but I find I can take more and more each year. I spent a week at my cabin on Christina lake after Penticton to recover, pure heaven to me.

All in all this was an unreal season. packed with travel, great people, and lots of fantastic day to day training. In my first season as a Professional I was around the top 15 in every race. Not bad for a guy who is self coached and does the vast majority of his training solo. I learned a lot about pro style Half Ironman racing and what it takes to compete with the best. Next year I have my sights set on top 10’s or better.  I just have to continue to get faster and faster as I have done year in and year out. There is a lot of work in front of me  but I’m up for the challenge.

I have my ongoing helmet project to keep me more than busy this off season and I hope to balance both as I get it off the ground. It’s a massive undertaking but the career/creative side of things is starting to call. I recently got back from the Interbike expo in Las Vegas and am extremely excited to move forward.

I would like to thank everyone who has had a part in my journey this year. Thank you to Speed Theory for putting up with me, 2XU Canada for keeping me stocked with the best gear in business #heartnothype. Thank you to all my fellow racers that continue to push their limits and in turn inspire me. Thank you to all the people who put me up in their homes. Thank you to my family and friends for their continued support.  To Noa and the Pacific Tri Works crew who let me come out and join their tough workouts every now and again. And an especially big thank you to my parents Linda and Trevor, you guys have had my back on this journey since the start. I definitely wouldn’t be at this level without you.  THANK YOU!!

An organization my family is very involved with, watch out for my little brother in Special Olympics swimming, he’s already faster than me!! – Be Sotos aware! – http://sotossyndrome.org

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1 Week To 70.3 New Orleans!

In just one weeks time I will be toeing the line in New Orleans. My first race as a full fledged long course professional, and against some of the best in the world no less. To keep things interesting I will be racing 70.3 Texas the following week. Training has gone fairly well with a couple hiccups (I was sick, and still can’t kick a nighttime cough!) but overall it’s been great. I’m feeling strong throughout all 3 disciplines, and I hope that shines through on race day. I am trying to go in with no expectations and just concentrate on pushing myself hard from start to finish. Just pretty please don’t be an insanely hot day!

http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman-70.3/new-orleans.aspx#axzz3X1j99E6S

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Winter Training

It’s poor weather time here in Vancouver but it’s been great off season of training thus far.  I had a good flow going into late fall and took that momentum up to Whistler with me for Christmas. I had a great week of snowshoe running in the snowy woods and took in some great hikes. I also ate enough to feed a small country. With New Years and a few social events to start January it was tough to stay on track, but a well timed trip up to Kelowna was just what the doctor ordered. I would do 35km of high intensity skate skiing followed by a snowshoe run up and over the mountains.  The big bonus was to have the amazing hospitality of my fantastic mom. After an unseasonably warm January we were basically without snow up at Cypress Mountain, but this gave an opportunity to get some quality riding in.  I finished the month with my first 100+km ride of the year out to Porteau Cove and back. I am looking forward to a big February of training and most likely starting my season with back to back races in New Orleans and Texas in April. Happy training!! IMG_3190

a quick hike with the bro up at Whistler

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Climbing Cypress during The inversion

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Breakfast for a lucky son

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A couple of unpublished race pics from this past season to remember the warmer days!