Well we are on the threshold of another season with a winter of training behind us… again! It is amazing how quickly the offseason disappears. It seems like a week ago that it was getting dark at about 4pm and now I drove home in a beautiful sunny sunset at 5:30pm. I am pretty sure that spring is on its way to Victoria but I am not so sure about my poor fellow triathletes stuck on the East coast! How are the 3 hour roller rides going you guys?
I am off to Tucson in a week to train, which I am very excited about. Not because I have to go away to train because the weather in Victoria is completely manageable all winter. I am going because I need to put myself in a similar riding environment to what I am going to encounter in the Middle East. Yep, I am starting my season at the www.abudhabitriathlon.com.
The race is crazy. A 3km swim, a 200km bike (!!) and a 20 km run. If we could cut in half the proportions it would be much more manageable but there you have it, a huge money race in the desert, with its own distance and a fantastic marketing team. When I was invited, I could not say no.
This year is going to be even more of the evolution I have been trying to force for a number of years. I think I probably could have done better at more XTERRA races had I stuck to the formula that won me races three and more years ago. However, I always wanted to be one of the more well rounded athletes in the field. I didn’t want to hide my weaknesses, I really wanted to address and fix them. Triathlon is a game of push and pull where an improvement might draw from a strength to create weakness until that improvement is ingrained. I certainly have felt that has been the case for me. I believe if you stick with it, you can make a permanent gain.
Last year I had a horrible race at the one event that was the most important to me – XTERRA Worlds. However, my commitment to change won me my first 70.3 distance event, earned me the fastest run split at the Alcatraz event, a US XTERRA Champs win, a Canadian XTERRA Champs win by 16 minutes with the fastest run, European XTERRA Championships title and a 3rd place at the XTERRA 21km Trail Run Worlds with a more than 8 minute improvement from 2010. There was a lot of good in making changes last year even if the final event might have me question the entire plan. Certainly things went wrong in the end, but not everything was wrong. Definitely the intent was right.
So with that experience, I am again committing to making myself a better all around athlete with a focus on competing at both the XTERRA World Championships and the 70.3 World Championships. Right now I have all but one of the XTERRA events on my schedule and four 70.3s but since WTC enforces qualification, the 70.3 points race will take precedent. I need to qualify first and compete in the XTERRA USA series second. This is actually a tall order because the series is first and all the fun 70.3s I want to do are second but we’ll see how that goes… Abu Dhabi is a fact finding mission to learn more about the long distance racing and to see how much work I need to do on my TT bike to race with the best cyclists in Vegas later this year. I have found it very difficult to apply my strength on a mountain bike to my time trial bike so this year this is a #1 priority…. to be able to use my biggest strength. I have been doing a lot of work on my fitness and position on that bike so hopefully we find improvement.
Thanks go out to Specialized for 100% supporting me in my bid to establish myself as a solid, well rounded and versatile middle distance (2.5-4.5h) racer. If I can pilot the Shiv properly, I think my results on the road are going to be much better. Nathan, AVIA, Shimano, Sundog Eyewear, Maxxis, Profile Design, Titec, CycleOps Power, Genuine Innovations, USANA, ESI Grips, Justin’s, and Saltstick are all joining me for another year. The exciting new partnership I have to announce is my relationship with Powerbar. I felt that with my step to some longer racing, where my nutritional needs had changed, I also needed to change my partner in this regard. The folks at Powerbar had been helping me with some of my questions on longer distance racing and have now stepped up to support me and MelRad Racing for the 2011 season. Thank you to all of my long term and new sponsors for believing in me and my team and for getting excited about all these exciting disciplines of triathlon.
My 2011 kit thanks to the uber talented Mallory at Specialized!!
Thank you to Neil Harvey of Island Swimming for inviting me back to his swim program. Neil had me swimming sub 20 speed my first year of triathlon… since then I haven’t been close to what I could do. I almost feel like I just need to go to the pool and it starts happening. Neil’s zen approach is exactly what I need right now.. oh and a solid ass-kicking by a bunch of 15 year olds. My new swim coach who was my first swim coach 10 years ago is an essential part of the back to basics approach I am taking.
Also, thanks to Houshang Amiri for consulting with me again on the cycling. I felt my strongest years were in collaboration with Houshang, so although I take a lead role in all of my programming, having a sounding board who knows me better than any other coach is fantastic. I have participated in one of his winter training camps and I invite anyone to get to know Houshang at one of his camps: www.pacificcyclingcenter.ca. Canada’s best time trialist, Svein Tuft, works with Houshang. He can make us wimpy little triathletes faster if he can make a protour guy top 5 at World Champs.
So, another year and more changes. I feel like if you don’t make yourself uncomfortable you can’t improve. Every year I try something new and see what that approach will bring. I look forward to challenging the best girls on the road to see if I can rise to their level. I also really look forward to toeing the line with all the cool and fun dirt girls, especially our new XTERRA World Champ Shonny V for another season. I know what it is like to wear the crown and the target… but she isn’t getting any sympathy from me.