Montag, 12. Oktober 2015

Donnerstag, 28. August 2014

Challenge Penticton- pretty close to a good day!

It's been a few days since I crossed the finishline at Challenge Penticton on Sunday and I needed these few days to think about the race what was good and what went wrong. I have to say not many things went really wrong but most things were just not 100% prefect- and when it went wrong it was really bad!

The days leading up to the race were great. The training went smooth and we had fun at our homestay. Jenn and I stayed with Kelly Hopkins, who is the marketing manager of the race and with her stayed also Simon Cochran, a pro from NZL, who I met a few years ago in Denmark for the first time. We couldn't have more luck with this combination as it was so easy and relaxed but at the same time focused towards the race day.

The first big surprise happened at the race briefing on Thursday when they told us that the chances are really high that it would be a non wetsuit swim. In general a thing I don't mind but in this situation not ideal as I didn't have a speedsuit. The chances that you have a non wetsuit swim in Canada are very small so I never bothered my wetsuit partner HUUB to get a speedsuit. That changed with this announcement. I fired Deano, the HUUB CEO an email directly after the briefing and he forwarded me to Simon, the Canadian distributor. Simon was amazing and less than 24hrs after our first email could I hold the speedsuit in my hands as he overnight fedex'ed me a suit! THANK YOU FOR THIS AMAZING SERVICE!!!

The two days before the race were not really warm and it rained a bit so I was pretty sure that that this action around the speedsuit was for nothing- till 5:30am on race morning. Many of us were surprised when they announced that the pro race will really be a non wetsuit swim. That changed the tactics and the race directly. I knew I would not be able to swim with the former ITU guys but I thought I should be able to swim with the 2nd group while other guys would have to work much harder to stay in this group. I  was right. Directly from the start was a group with 5 guys going, I assumed that 3 of them were the ITU guys + Symonds and a guy I didn't know who it was (later I knew it was my homstay roomy Simon, who couldn't hold the speed and swam most of the 4km alone). 4km? Yes, the swim at in Penticton is around 200m too long. It was always a waterstart when it was still IRONMAN but it is a beach start now while they still use the same spots for the buoys that's why the course is a bit longer. I was leading the 2nd group for about 400-500m and everybody in this group was resting on my feed enjoying my draft. I decided that I will not do all the work alone and basically stopped swimming to force the others to pass me. From there on I just sat on Chris Bagg's feet for the rest of the swim. It was a bit slower than I was hoping we would swim but I decided to safe energy and and stay in the group instead of trying to take my share of the work and make it faster.
I started the bike in 7th or 8th position and felt really good. I wanted to go slower for the first 100km than I did last year as I burned to many matches during the first 100km in 2013. I got passed by Nathan Champness, who rode the fasted time of the day. I stayed with him for a bit but realized that it would be too fast if I want to stick to my plan. Next I rode up to my roomy Simon and we rode together for the next 80km or so... Riding up Richters Pass we could see that a group of 3 guys was closing up on us and we decided to wait for them instead of trying to get away. Shortly after we were 5guys getting ready to hammer over the rollers, but there was not much of hammering. I was hoping we would go faster but at the same time was I happy that it felt so easy. We rode together and caught up to Josh Seifert who was first out of the water and were now a group of 6. Most of us took their turn in the lead and all of us were trying to ride as fair and clean (maintaining min. 12m distance) as possible. At the special needs Simoan and Matt attacked and I couldn't follow directly as I was too busy with my bag...they were gone... the other 4 of us maintained in our group and rode fair and still not really fast. Coming from the out and back back onto Hwy 97 we got slowed down in the turn for safety as the Hwy was open to the public too. Our group got for about 200m closer together than the legal 12m and shortly after the turn did 3 of our group get a 5min penalty. NO warning  no nothing before for a situation that was kind of forced by the course and did not have any effects on the race... it is not worth it to start a discussion with the referee but I was mad!!! I rode up Yellow Lake as hard as I could just to make up some time and was about 2,5min ahead of the other two guys who also got a penalty- not that helped me at the end but it made me feel better in the moment :)!
I finished the bike in just over 5hrs (incl. the 5min penalty) and hit my goal to ride under 5hrs- technically.

I started the run, felt good and wanted to stay in my race. I didn't care if somebody passed me or not I just wanted to run to the best of my abilities. Everybody who is reading my blog on a regular base knows that I am battling with injuries for the last 2,5years and I could only run 4 runs over 1:30hrs this year in total. NOT enough!!! I knew I can run well just by staying focused and wanted to proof myself that I can run a race like this with the head-more than with the body. I did well and was mostly on pace until 25km into the run. At about 27km I started to throw up and I thought my body would shut down. I threw up 7 times between km 27 and 30 and this 3km took me about 45min in total. I wasn't able to take any liquid or food in for the last 12km but was determined to run this race home as good as I could. At the end I ran 40min slower than I wanted and 30 of this 40 minutes did I lose within this 3km. Frustrating but at the same time encouraging that I can really do it as long  as my body cooperates. I had no idea who many people passed me during this 3km as I was too busy with myself but it looks like as if the women's race was super exciting and close as a bunch of them passed me and I didn't even notice/remember all of them passing me...

Again, I missed my goal for this race, but I had one hand on it and I know that after all the changes I made this year and the lack of running I had to deal with for most of the year I am moving in the right direction and it is just a question of time till I will complete the puzzle and put the last piece into it during a big race! I will keep on trying!

A very special moment for me was after my own race was when my girlfriend Jenn crossed the finishline!  She is is my biggest supporter and help on a daily basis and I couldn't do all of this without her! She didn't race for 3years after a bad bike crash and it was great to be there and see her finish! I am very proud of you!

I will get another chance to do better in 9days when I will race the Esprit Triathlon in Montreal, an independent longdistance race in downtown Montreal. The course looks very special and I am excited about this different mental challenge!

Last but not least would I like to thank my partners who supported me again for this race Huub, energyLAB, FELT and Smith optics! I couldn't do it without your support!

Montag, 11. August 2014

A triathlete gets sidetracked!

Hi everybody!

The last weeks have been really busy as usually! I trained a lot and did a few bike races which was great fun! When I would have to pick my favorite sport in triathlon it would be cycling so it's not really surprising that I enjoy pure bike racing as well! I raced 4 races in the last 2 weeks had a lot of fun while I gained some good fitness and learned a lot about the differences in triathlon and road racing! The biggest difference (beside the fact that you can draft) is the permanent speed change... For me as a triathlete it is the goal to sit on the bike and try to maintain the highest possible speed for the longest possible time without building too much lactate acid so that I am able to run afterwards. It's a totally different story in road racing. The speed wasn't the same for longer than 2 minutes in a row as there is always somebody who things it is good to go harder or to slow it down... This permanent speed change was really hard on my legs and during the first races of the season I cramped up badly towards the end of the races. I made some nutrition changes and worked on this short and fast attacks on the bike and I didn't cramp up once this entire last weekend.

The last weekend I participated in the Jason Lapierre memorial race which is a 3 day bike event. It starts with a individual time trail Friday evening and is followed by a criterium on Saturday evening. Before the race weekend comes to an end on Sunday with a road race. I don't want to go too much into the details of each race but to recap the weekend I can say the time trail and the road race were fun and I was lucky that I could win both races in my category and I really suck at racing criteriums. This is the kind of race where the speed changes and riding fast corners are really important and these are also things I really have to work on if I want to be able to place better in these races next year.
I expected to do well in the time trail as this is the kind of race that comes the closest to my usual races in a triathlon. That I would win the race with a 1:30min lead surprised me a bit-but I take it! As mentioned the criterium was an experience and I am happy that I didn't crash and that I wasn't last (but fairly close to be last)! My goal before the weekend was to try to upgrade into the next category within one weekend. That means that I had to win the TT and place at least second at one of the other two races- as I mentioned now a few times, the criterium wasn't the place to do that for me.
So all cards on the road race! I drove the course with the car before the race and was sure that it would fit my skills very good. No too steep climbs and the last 13km of the lap which we had to ride twice was flat or rolling. Just the finish, which was on the top of a hill and wasn't necessarily my ideal finish-line. I knew that there was one spot on the course where I should start an attack and riding the first lap of the race confirmed my plan so that I decided to attack after a downhill with 13km to go to see what happens. It was an "all or nothing strategy". I could motivate 2 other riders to go with me and we were able to build a gap fairly fast. I didn't notice directly that I dropped the other two going up over a roller but decided to keep the speed high instead of waiting for them. My gap got bigger and bigger and at around 3km before the finish I started to believe that I could really bring it home. I knew the final climb before the finish would take everything out of me and there was still a good chance that I blow up and get passed- I didn't! I was really happy and couldn't believe that I really won two of the three races and that my plan worked out so well! I enjoy bike racing and I enjoy working with a team. I am lucky to have a great group of riders in my club and we work very well together.
My bike season is over now and my focus is full on towards Challenge Penticton in less than two weeks. I will also ride my bike there, alone, 180km and I am really looking forward to this great event! Until than I still have a few hard days of training and I can't wait to do my last long run on Sunday before race week starts and the excitement raises!

I also would like to thank everybody who wrote me after this weekend to congratulate me. It is really nice to see and feel that people are happy for me, when I do well!

I will give you an update before the race!



Freitag, 11. Juli 2014

it's been a while!

Hi everybody,

It's been a while since I last updated my blog. There are normally just two options why this is happening a. I am not motivated to write something or b. I am too busy to write something. Looking back I would say it was clearly the B option this time!

I was racing a bit, worked a bit and moved a bit... Everybody knows that a move should be a thing that is done in a few days but unfortunately the reality is bit different. Jenn and I moved almost 3 weeks ago and we are still living with a lot of boxes around us as we just don't find the time to unpack them (I could do it right now but I set my priorities for today). Leading up to the move the packing and all the things that come with it are not so much fun and fitting it in to a almost full 40hour coaching week and the own training is not so easy. Unfortunately the training was the part that I had to let go for a few days as I wanted to get the move done as soon as possible. We hired a company for the actual move but we still had to invest many hours packing and unpacking.

In between of all the packing I did my first bike race after a 13 years break of road racing the weekend before the move. It was in Devon just outside of Edmonton and we used the time to visit Jenn's parents who are living close to there too. The race was a lot of fun. We rode with 6 guys in the team and we all worked for our captain of the day. It started fairly slow and my job was it to keep the field together. I brought back the attacking riders and the most fun part was to ride the last 10km so hard that nobody would even think about attacking again. I wrote about 8km alone from the front and kept the pace around 50km/h. My legs started to cramp but the yelling of my team mates made me keep going till I totally blew up 500m before the finish. The sprint was open and our captain finished 3rd. and could collect important points to move up into the next category.

As I said the weekend after was all about moving and we finally moved on Monday. On Tuesday, July1st, Jenn did her race comeback after an almost 3year break due to her concussion she got during a bike crash. It was so great to see her back on a race course and I am happy to switch sides and support her during her races as she is always there for me when I am racing.

The next day we left to St Andrews in New Brunswick to be a part of the first Challenge race in the beautiful little ocean town. We were welcomed by Pat and Peter, our wonderful homestay hosts. The weather on Thursday and Friday was nice and we had some time to get familiar with the course and the area. I think there are not many places in the world that have a better set up for a race like St. Andrews. With some rain on Friday evening the weather shifted and during the night I experienced my first Hurricane. The wind and the rain were crazy and most parts of St. Andrews were without power for at least 24hours and many trees fell and crashed onto cars, houses and many fences. The whole race set up that the Challenge team put in place had to be set up again once the wind calmed down on Saturday evening and with lots of volunteers they made the impossible happen and the race could start as planned on Sunday morning.

My race performance was pretty much like I expected it prior to the race. My swim was solid and I was 4th after the swim. I can swim faster but with being alone for 1800m or the 1900m it was hard to pace myself all the time. Having a group around you would have had helped! The bike was a bit frustrating. I knew that it wouldn't be great as I have not spent much time on the bike the 2 weeks before the bike but of course you always hope that you can pull it off on race day even if the training wasn't great the weeks leading up to the race... well it wasn't the case and I got dropped and was 7th or 8th or something like that after the bike. And than the run. With 6 months of no running at all I just can't expect to run a sub 1:30hrs that's why my goal was to run solid and under 1:40hrs. I started and felt pretty good and was hoping that I will not blow up like I did 4 weeks ago in Oliver. I ran solid, had not too much pain and finished my longest run of the year in 1:39hrs. Not an awesome time but realistically all I can expect at the moment. I am very confident that I can work on my run shape in the next weeks and I am looking forward to it!

We are back in Calgary since Monday night and spent the last days with work, a bit of training and (big surprise) unpacking boxes. We will leave again on Sunday to head out west to stop first in Canmore where I will race at another bike race in the morning before we continue on and drive out to Penticton for a week of training. I want to be as much as possible on the race course of the Challenge course to know every pothole and just know the course inside out!

I will keep you updated how the next bike race was and which races are coming up between now and the big day at Challenge Penticton at the end of August!



Freitag, 2. Mai 2014

What happend the last weeks....and 2014 race plan

Hi everybody!

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog (like almost always)! The last weeks and months have been very busy and at times very crazy. Overall my fitness improved a lot and I am on a good way to get race ready. My knees are tolerating some solid training but I still have to make sure that I balance the stress-recovery for the knees well.

I am currently in Calgary, and after we had a few nice days it started snowing again tonight! I was suppose to be in Spain right now and run a training camp for the Talisman Centre triathlon club. BUT I am currently between two work-permits and while I am waiting for my permanent residency and an open work permit I am in a so called implied status. During this time I am not allowed to leave Canada. I had for the longest time a wrong information from my lawyer and that's why we started to plan the camp. Less than 48hrs before I was suppose to leave I became the confirmation from the Canadian boarder control that I can't leave the country even if I am going on a work trip for a Canadian company to serve Canadian clients. I could go on and on about all of this but unfortunately it change nothing. Beside the fact that it effects the camp it will effect my race and travel schedule for at 2014. The estimated time that I will hopefully receive my permanent residency should be the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015. All over this situation is very frustrating but I have to deal with it. Mallorca is probably my most favorite place on the planet and I just have so many good memories when I think about this island. Currently I have the feeling that I let my athletes and fellow coaches down that I am just sad not being able to train there with them.

I will make the best out of it and do my best to get race ready for 2014. The first race will come up pretty soon. In less than 4 weeks will it lace up my shoes to race the Oliver half triathlon. It is a first test to see where I am at before I will fly all the way to the East cost to race at Challenge St. Andrews. I am excited about this race as it will be the first time that the Challenge family will have a race in St. Andrews. In between this two half distance races I will try something "new" and do some bike racing at two weekends.
I joined the bicisport team here in Calgary and I am excited to be more involved into cycling again. The last time I raced a bike race is about 12 years ago :)! Beside the fun I hope that I will get some solid speed work out of this races...

I might do another half distance race at the end of July before the final preparation for my main race in 2014 starts. Challenge Penticton was a really bad day for me last year but the atmosphere and the course left no doubt that I will have to go back and do it better in 2014. Shortly after I will start to another trip to the East coast and will race 2 weeks after Challenge Penticton in Montreal at the Esprit triathlon which will be held in downtown Montreal and I will write more about this special course once we come closer to race day!

I really would like to go back to Palm Springs in December and try to defend my title but I have to wait what will happen with my papers...

It's been a stressful time in the last weeks and I hope to be able to focus more on the important things and having a lot of fun training, working and enjoying life!



Sonntag, 9. Februar 2014

The love hate relationship athletes have with their coaches

Hi everybody,

I had to smile when I read one of my athletes blog's. Cindy and I started working together not that long ago and I am helping her to reach her goal for the 2014 season- IM Arizona.

Cindy's blog reminded me on some of my own coaches in the past and how often I thought they want to kill me. When my athletes complain that the training is to hard I always tell them that I am not here to find new friends. This is actually something that one of my former coaches told my training group when I was a teenager. His name was Willi and I will never forget how we had our very first meeting with him and the team and he said "Gentlemen, my name is Mr. Belgo. I will be your new bike coach." He continued on and talked but one sentence sticks in my head till today: "I am not here to find new friends! We are here to be successful together and if we reach this goal and still talk to each other beside the training we archived more than we can ask for!" 

My approach is a little bit different than Willi's was but I still think he was right to a certain point and the coach should be your best friend and worst enemy at the same time. The athlete should always know that I, as a coach, always want the best for you, as an athlete. This also means that I have to help you to bring you out of your comfort zone and push you to new limits.

I am looking forward to share a great race season with my athletes!



P.S. If you want to read Cindy's blog click here!

Montag, 20. Januar 2014

January Challenge blog

Hi everybody,

Once a month I am writing a training blog for the Challenge Penticton. This January blog is about my opinion on gym workouts during the winter and if it makes sense to keep it up for the entire year or not... If you are interested to find out what my take is click here!

Have fun reading!