Friday, 23 May 2014

April Update

April proved a very tough month for me. Although it was great to be done with school and to be back home in Barbados; standing on the sidelines at the Barbados CC, a race which I won last year, was anything but easy.            

The race was a huge success as per usual now with every athlete I talked to mentioning how much they loved the race, island and hospitality.         


 Not long after the race my physiotherapist, Jaime Trick, ventured down to Barbados to soak up some sun and help me with my ongoing neural injury. We had some great success but a week was not enough.


I am going to take some time off from the sport now and try my best to get this thing settled. Unfortunately that means I will not be racing in Dallas, Huatalco or Chicago as I had planned. I am hoping to be healthy and able to race Common Wealth games at the end of July. For the rest of the season that is hard to predict.




Jaime (physiotherapist) and myself on an easy spin   

Picture compliments of David Tricks Go Pro

2014 Race winner and training partner (Alexzander Hinton)







Thursday, 3 October 2013

2013 Breakthrough Season

Last week I was invited to speak at the Speer River Brunch. I thought it would be nice to share that speech with those who could not make it or could not understand my accent :)

2013 The Breakthrough Year

When I googled the definition of “break through” it said it was “A SUDDEN DRAMATIC AND IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT”
I thought about this for a while, about how if you weren't myself or Craig, this season may have seemed like a sudden break through, but it was anything but SUDDEN.

Everybody always says competing at home is a huge advantage. Have you ever competed in front of friends and family before? It’s tough.

I am always a million times more nervous when I have to race at home! And until recently I always saw competing at home as a huge pain. But I also recently have found a way to ignore those external pressures and reasons you have to perform here, now and today, and use that same pressure or reasons in another way to my advantage.

Every time I mention I am from Barbados the first thing I get asked is “why would you leave there to come here?”
 
The second thing I get is guys like Zander over there trying to copy my accent and doing a terrible job at it. Although sometimes it sounds like he is getting better.

That first question I still ask myself sometimes in February, so I can’t answer that for you yet. But I can say a huge reason for me being at Guelph still is you guys! The Endurance community here is one of a kind!
But enough about you and more about me.

I was born and raised in Barbados, living there until I was 19.  My parents still live there, and I go home two or three times a year.  I’m definitely a Bajan at heart, and even though I train and live in Canada, I’m still very proud to race for Barbados. I am very thankful my dad is from Canada and I am able to live and train here so easily, Triathlon Canada has also done a lot for me over the last few years.

When I first emailed Craig about coming to Guelph it took a while before I received a reply and it definitely wasn't without the good word Tyler put in for me. I think Craig was a little worried about an uncommitted guy from the island in his squad.
 In all fairness to Craig when I first got here I told him I was fit! A day later he put me through a threshold test on the bike and I produced some of the lowest results even among the girls!

But I am still here today, in my 3rd year of my Engineering degree, so I must have done something right after that.

I’m not sure people realize how small Barbados really is. A couple guys in here today have actually ridden around the entire island, they are fit guys, but still, it’s tiiiny!
Triathlon Barbados basically consists on myself, my dad/high performance director/manager/ head of logistics etc etc and Peter Gibbs the president. So we are small but what we are doing with the help of Craig is working.

I spent the last couple years trying to qualify for the London Olympics and was in contention right down to the very last race in Madrid last May, where I missed it by the skin of my teeth. During this qualification period my performances were usually mediocre; I had some highlights, including a 7th place at the PanAm Games in 2011, but based on how training was going I never really raced to the level I thought I was capable of.  

The 2012 season was particularly tough; although I was getting fitter and fitter I was still unable to crack a top 10 in any race I did. I didn't realize this until it was too late but I was putting so much pressure on myself every day, during every practice and every race that I would start every race tight and stressed out.
After failing to Qualify in Madrid I was a bit of a mess, as you could imagine anyone would be who put so much time and effort into one goal and failed to meet it.
I cancelled my flight back to Guelph and flew home instead. I sat on the beach drinking rum punch for 4 weeks trying to convince myself I didn't just waste the last 3 years of my life.

It wasn't until my first race back in October of 2012 that I realized I hadn't wasted those 3 years. Those 3 years although not at the time, but in the end had taught me how to deal with all that external pressure and  I had my best race in 2 years at the U23 World Championships finishing 7th.

After that I went on to win my first ITU race earlier this year, in Chile, followed by a 5th place finish the next weekend.
And that led to one of my most important performances so far; in April I won the second ITU race of my career on home soil, in Barbados!
Who would have guessed that by not putting a truck load of pressure on yourself would allow you to relax and preform at your best!

It wasn't until I failed at qualifying for the Olympics that I realized this.
Since I figured this out I have been on a roll so to speak. I spent the majority of my summer in Europe racing the European leg of the World Triathlon Series and competing for a French team in the French Grand Prix Series.  
The World Triathlon Series is the highest level of triathlon racing in the world, and the French Grand Prix is the fastest national racing series in the world.  

I was in Europe for 7 weeks and competed in 5 different races, all of them going better than expected. With the most outstanding one being Kitzbuhel WTS.
 This was the “mountain stage“ of the World Series and if there is one thing I consider myself good at it would be climbing. There was a lot of hype going into the race since it was the first time a race like this had been attempted. Articles calling it the toughest triathlon in the world and so on.

All the athletes must have been on the water and lettuce diet because when I got to Kitzbuhel everyone was as skinny as they could be, nobody wanted the extra weight going up the mountain. Some athletes even got bikes specially made for the race.

Like I do before every race now I studied this picture for a bit and tried to relax as much as possible before heading down to the race site.

As anybody who has competed in a race before knows once the gun goes all those nerves go out the window.

The swim went by quickly with a series of blows to the chest and head as 65 guys all try to take the shortest line around the buoys at the same time.
The bike was where it all went down. I reached the bottom of the mountain in a group of 40+ guys who all rode the first km like they were in the tour de France.
As boring as it sounds I rode my own race and slowly started picking guys off one by one until I found myself among the big dogs riding in 10th.
The bike I expect to be that tough but the run, the run was a different story all together. I had studied the race course and prepared very specifically for this race, but I under estimated how hard to would be to run 3km up a 15% grade mountain after that bike. It was more of a death march than a run. It made professionals look like armatures. I held my place on the run finishing 10th. Ahead of some big names like last year’s Olympic silver medalist.

I think it is safe to say that my results this year would have easily have put me on the start line at the Olympics had I been able to produce them last year.
But again the lessons I’ve learned from the last 3 years have led me to have the year of my life so far this year.

And I plan to have an even better one next year:  My two main goals next year are to have a strong race at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and to begin to score qualification points for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Thank you for listening and I wish you all the best in your own races and goals!

If we have time Craig has put together a short video of some of my highlights this year.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The World Championship Double



   Earlier this month was the triathlon World Championships in London England. It was my last year racing U23 and I wanted to do well. I was also ranked 34th in the World Series going into London and wanted to finish the year within the top 35. So I decided I would race both the U23 race and the Grand Final!

U23 World Championships

   I went into the race banking on a group of 8-10 guys getting away early on in the bike and riding away with the race. This did not happen. Instead it was a group of 20+ of us about 30sec up on a chase group. We quickly increased our lead to 80sec within 3 laps. Eventually the boys up front putting in the work got frustrated with the "children" sitting in the back being towed along for a ride and decided that if everyone wasn't going to contribute they weren't either. This lead to the pace turning into a "Sunday spin" kinda pace and in turn a series of attacks going off the front, myself instigating some of them. None of these were successful and our lead decreased back to 30sec in know time. I started the run frustrated and feeling very tight in my shoulders, lower back and hip flexors. I knew right away it was going to be a 10km struggle and so it was. I finished up 12th, disappointed with the result and frustrated with the lack of commitment by others on the bike.

Elite Grand Final

   Having only raced 3 days ago, I had know idea how this race would go. I had never asked my body to back up 2 Olympic distance races only 3 days apart before, anything was going to go down. Before the race I decided with Craig I would try to produce the lowest bike file I could. 
Photo
   I went into the race with nothing to lose. I had a great swim, barely missing the lead group. I got on the bike with a couple very committed guys and my plan quickly went out of the window. We work extremely hard early on in the bike to catch the leaders but were probably a couple legs too short and we were soon caught up by the massive chase group. I flew in and out of T2 recording the fastest T2 time on the day. I then proceeded to roll the first 2km of the run like nothing was going to slow me down. Little did I know my calves were still  torn up from the U23 race a couple days earlier and soon commenced serious cramping, hampering my running ability. I was able to finish the race in 41st and the year ranked 42nd in the World Series.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Palamos World Cup

5th race of my 7 week European trip

  Palamos was only a week after a big performance I had in Kitzbuhel. I was feeling a little sloppy and tired a couple days after Kitzbuhel but thought I found myself back and ready to go by the time the race briefing for Palamos came around.

  Palamos was the first time I have ever been ranked in the top 10 in a World Cup, getting a little intro on the line and all. I had a bit a of rough swim but not terrible. I found myself in a shitty spot on the bike, stuck in a group of 5 between to large groups. We did everything we could to try to bridge up but failed. We soon got caught by the group from behind and with the help of more legs bridged the gap to the leaders, without any  help from myself, my legs were no where to be found on the bike. The run was a little better but not much, the sun was high in the sky and it was almost 40 degrees outside. I finished 23rd in the end.

  Not at all happy with the race itself, but when I looked back at the 7 weeks and 5 races i'm pretty pleased with it overall! All my best results came from World Series races and that's what really counts!

  I had some time off, back home, after this race an as a result I am only now posting this.

Palamos:


 Barbados:





Friday, 12 July 2013

Every blog deserves a 2nd chance...

Kitzbuhel WTS 2013


  There was enough hype over this race to last a lifetime, WTS mountain stage, hardest triathlon in the world, gear selection, the dismount, how light you had to be, you name it and it was brought up.
I was in Vitoria Gastiez, Spain post Madrid and until Kitzbuhel training with some of the best athletes in the sport. Couldn't have asked for a much better scenario leading into this race. Myself and Ryan Bailey (who finished 9th) hammered ourselves and each other at times :) day in and day out up hills, both cycling and running. Great training partner!
  Kitz was a beautiful little town in the middle of the mountains. I rode the hill for the first time the day after I arrived and wasn't sure I was going to make it to the top. Thankfully by the time race day came around I was feeling much better.
  I didn't have the swim I was hoping for and found myself in a large chase pack with the majority of the field.    We lost almost 45'' to the leaders swerving through the small cobble town roads to the bottom of the climb. Once we got to the climb it was every man for himself there was really know benefit to drafting and know where to hide. I got into a rhythm and rode my own tempo to the top of the climb. Thankfully it was quick enough to get me to the top in 10th! I stumbled through T2 and ran with all the legs I had left to the summit. Finishing up 10th!




Monday, 27 February 2012

ITU Lima 2012

Unfortunately I haven't found any pictures for this event as yet, but will post a couple when I get them.

I usually go into a race most nervous about making the lead group out of the water, the moment I saw the swim course those nerves went out the window. Breaking about 40m off shore were so rather large waves. I was one of the first guys to get out past the breakers on my way to the first buoy 700m out. The buoys were difficult to see since they were so far apart and the swells so big. I was quickly joined by 8-10 other guys who moving very fast through the water. I hung on the back on the group for as long as I could, hoping we would get back to the breaking waves before I got popped off the back. I made it to the edge of the break when a big set started to come through, I caught the first wave going straight over top 2 other athletes and continued to body surf it up onto the beach. To my surprise I was the guy onto the beach. I hustled out my wetsuit and started the 800m run to the transition.
The bike course consisted of a "small mountain" they called it. There's probably know better way to explain it, it was steep climb up through the rocks, a short windingroad along the top and then into a steep decent with 4 switch backs just before we reach the transition again. We did this 7x.
I started the run feeling pretty good, trying to stay patient and slowly start building into it after 5km. 5km came and 5km went and I wasn't able to pick up the pace. I held my position and finished 11th.
Once again I am not very please with the overall result. I know I am capable of a better result, I just haven't been able to show it yet.
On a better note the result in Lima has moved me into 2nd in the New Flag ranking in order to qualify for London.

My next race is another ITU sprint distance event this weekend in Clermont.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Bridgetown Continental Cup 2012

This past weekend Barbados hosted its first ITU event. The men and women's fields where small, 18 and 16, respectively, but very strong.

The race started out better than I could have hoped. I came out of the 750m swim 3rd just behind Daniel Unger (2007 world champion and 6th at the Olympic Games ), I.Polyanskiy and Lamar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

On the big a group of 10 of us came together. The pace was pretty hot for the duration of the bike.

We all came into T2 together, the second I started the run my legs were know where to be found. I suffered through each step of a very uncomfortable 5km run to finish 12th overall. This was know where near the result I was looking for nor the performance I believe I was capable of doing.

 I have gone back to the drawing board and next weekends race in Peru, Lima will hopefully have a whole different outcome.

That said. I would like to thank Peter Gibbs, president of Barbados Triathlon, all the many volunteers and sponsors such as BOA, BFIT, CIBC, Fortress and Powerade for helping to put on the race, it was a huge success.

See below for Ricarda's and Lauren's views.

Ricarda Lisk: http://www.ricardalisk.de/index.php?id=25&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=322&tx_ttnews[backPid]=10&cHash=7032fb1a55

Lauren Campbell: http://laurengroves.blogspot.com/2012/02/barbados-itu.html

 Peter has been dedicated to the sport of Triathlon in Barbados since my very first race almost 12 years ago. He has ensured that once a month there is a series of kids races taking place, Sunday morning, at the gymnasium. This is were I took part in my first triathlon. 12 years years ago I don't think either of us ever imagined having myself looking for a start at the 2012 Olympic Games nor BFIT hosting an ITU Pan American Cup.









Photos thanks to Mark Harris.