Reflecting on my 2016 Season

After what has been some epic time off from training, I wanted to sit down and reflect on what was my 2016 race season before outlining plans and goals for next year.  The easiest place to start is likely my 2016 goals.  To be honest I only had two goals, firstly to

Develop into a faster athlete

And secondly to

Have more consistent race results

Looking back on the year I feel I accomplished both of those.  Probably not the most glamorous of goals, but at the end of the day that’s what I was after.  The year prior I was so caught up on goal times and race placings and when those didn’t happen I was pretty bummed out.  Both of those things are so out of your control, you don’t always know who will show up on race day, what the depth of the field will be or what joyous conditions and race day snafus await.  My 2016 goals were much more productive things to focus on and I’ll likely look to set similar goals for next year.

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Whistler, BC – Photo Credit: Noa Deutsch

The highlights of this season for me were racing Ironman 70.3 Victoria, Ironman Canada and the Cultus Lake Triathlon.

Though I didn’t really realize it at the time, I was pretty “ON” at IM 70.3 Victoria.  I had a great swim, I was in control on the bike and I had a solid run start to finish.  I left frustrated as I finished 12th and was less than 3:30 out of the Top 6 (the podium).  Overall I was about 12 mins behind the winner.  Taking a step back now it’s insane thinking about how far I’ve come in the past 6 years.  I didn’t know how to swim, I had only ever ridden downhill mountain bikes and had no background in running.  This is probably where I should say I’ll cut myself some more slack next year, but I likely won’t 🙂

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Pemberton Meadows – Photo Credit: Noa Deutsch

Ironman Canada was conveniently scheduled on my birthday, and after the cold and the rain in 2015, we managed to luck out with perfect conditions.  Of all the races I have done, this course is definitely my favourite.  Partly because it feels like home turf, it suits my strengths and partly because I think it’s the most scenic course I have ever raced.  I wasn’t quite “ON” for this race but I still managed a solid 9th place finish.  Things that stand out from that race were swimming with the lead pack for the first 1000m’s or so before absolutely blowing up!  Towing my buddy Jeff (at legal distance) out to the end of Pemberton Meadows before letting him return the favour on the way back.  Trying to catch Maik Twelsiek on the run on the way back from Green Lake who at the time had a 3 min gap and was in 8th spot.  I managed to close the gap to 29 secs.

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Ironman Canada 2016 Finish – Photo Credit: Carsten Lapointe

The Cultus Lake Olympic Tri was something I decided to do on a whim.  I had been experimenting with some different types of training and I thought it would be fun to race something local.  I’ll be honest, I don’t always go to “mandatory” pre-race briefings but I do always read the race package and learn the course the best I can.  I have also never been in the position of leading the swim so it became apparent quite quickly that I had overlooked some key information when a boat pulled up beside me during the swim and informed me that I was swimming the wrong way!  I didn’t realize the buoy I was swimming towards was only for the half ironman participants that were racing that day.  I estimate I lost a little over 90 secs with that mistake but it made for a fun race.  Once on the bike I was on the hunt for local Pro Anthony Toth.  I rode well and caught him around the 30k mark but didn’t put much time into him between there and T2.  I ran really well that day taking the win and finished with the fastest run split which is a first for me.  It was a lot of fun racing a smaller local race, something I have got away from recently but will try to incorporate again going forward.

Some of the things I learned this year:

Progress as an athlete isn’t always linear. You’re not always going to see progress every race.  Sometimes you need to take a step back to look at the year or a couple years as a whole to see it.

You can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. I tried some new things this year, some worked, some didn’t.  I definitely won’t shy away from trying new things in 2017 but I also now know what my body responds better to and am excited to try some different training combinations.

Plan the length of your race season carefully. This was the second year I raced IM Arizona, a very late season Ironman.  Last year I raced from April to November and felt burnt out, this year I raced from May to November and was burnt out by October.  It’s just too long of a race season when you have a day job.  Even though I raced well in Arizona this year it was far from what I was capable of based off of training as mentally I wasn’t in it from the start.

In order to achieve peak performance you need to have the right mindset. I know which races this year I was fired up for and feeling confident about and which ones I wasn’t.  Arizona being a prime example.  Due to being burnt out I couldn’t get fired up race week.  The silver lining is I still swam and rode well despite this but it caught up with me on the run.

IM 70.3 Victoria Finish - 1- Photo Cred Chris Thorn

Ironman 70.3 Victoria Finish – Photo Credit: Chris Thorn

I’m pretty pumped to get back at it now, but man did I ever need a break!  I did good though, I jumped on the scale for the first time in 6 weeks today and the scale will concur I did awesome!!  After copious amounts of JJ Bean muffins, cake, chocolate, beer and bacon cheeseburgers, I officially have my work cut out for me but more importantly my head is in the right place again.

I definitely couldn’t have had such a successful season without an amazing team of supporters.  First I would like to thank Jenna, my wife, my biggest supporter and the first person to call me out when I need it!  My parents Bill and Cindy as well as my in-laws Jan and Pete, they are always there to help us out when things get chaotic during race season.  Noa Deutsch and the PT Performace crew for pushing me through the year.  The team at Spaso Sports – Felt Canada.  It’s such a privilege to be able to work with them and represent Felt bikes in training and racing.  Vision Tech USA for kitting my bikes out with industry leading aero wheels and components.  Sugoi Performance Apparel for keeping me comfortable and looking classy in training and on race day.  Dave, Gill and Nick at North Shore Road Bike for keeping my bikes running smoothly and helping me out with all of my cycling needs.  The crew at Kintec and The Run Centre for helping me out with my running needs.  Main Street Automotive for their continuing support, Polar Canada for keeping my pacing on point and Stong’s Market for keeping me fueled with great local and organic products.

Time to plot the grand plan for 2017, looking forward to sharing with all of you in the New Year!

 

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