Since training takes up the majority of my day, it's no surprise that I spend most of my time in workout clothes. However, this is not always the most flattering. Awkward true story: one time I arrived at the meeting point for my club’s weekly Saturday bike ride and while I was looking down to fix my brakes, a teammate asked the rider next to me: “Oh did you bring your son with you to ride today?” (To be fair I was in a helmet and sunglasses, and if the person who asked if I was a boy is reading this, don’t worry I didn’t take this personally at all and we laughed it off).
The following image describes the World Triathlon Series Edmonton in numbers:
Yes, the conditions of WTS Edmonton were almost unlike any I’d ever experienced before, (except perhaps European Championships in Kitzbühel 2014). The athletes tent was a like a strange scene out of a war movie with an army preparing for battle against the cold, wind and rain. Except, in this case, the armor of choice was tin foil or plastic wrapped bodies, helmets and cycling shoes, arm warmers, duct tape and thick layers of Vaseline and warming creams.
Here’s a little update for the rest of the season. After missing so many races due to crashes, illnesses, slips and subsequent injuries, I see this as Triathlon Season 2015, Part Two: The Redo. This Sunday, Aug 9th I will compete in my first European Cup in Riga, Latvia at 13:00 local time (watch live streaming here). Since I’ve only been back running for 10 days after nearly 2 months off I’m not setting any particular expectations, but remain excited for the chance to race and to get in a competitive effort.
How to describe my experience at the first European Games in Baku? It would be like getting that first lick of sweet ice cream before accidentally letting it all fall on the floor…let me explain.
This was my first multi-sport event and it was an incredible experience to stay in the Athlete’s village, eat in the massive dining hall, train in the numerous brand new sport venues and meet athletes’ from all disciplines across Europe. The organization by host nation Azerbijan and by Team Belgium was impressive to say the least and I felt fortunate to be a part of the historic first-ever European Games. Since the triathlon was on the first day, I did not participate in the opening ceremony, but heard the fireworks and Lady Gaga singing from my room.
If there's one thing I've learned from the start of this season, it's that obstacles are just part of the game, overcoming them is the true test of an athlete's character. As such, a mixture of emotions went into explaining another Did Not Finish (DNF). After staring at a blank curser for a while, I decided to just outline what happened and broke this blog into five parts: the swim, the missed opportunity, the crash, the hospital and next steps. Feel free to skip directly to the part of interest for you.
DNF. Three little letters I hoped to never see after my name, yet there they were: Did Not Finish. Walking off the course with my broken bike, bruised hip and scratched knees, the sinking realization set in that I had just quit my first race ever. Although it was probably the smartest decision, it was a very difficult one to make. Before getting into what happened on race day, here’s the back-story.
Throughout the week leading into the race I was battling some micro tears in my left calf. This injury was leftover from a calf cramp during last week’s New Plymouth World Cup race. On the eve of the race, my coach and I decided that, given the residual pain and tightness in the calf, if I was in a position to do a top 15 keep running, if that was not the case and the pain was high, stop to avoid a full tear or real long-term injury.
Belgian teammate Marten Van Riel reminded me of a term I haven’t heard since university: “the rustbuster”. The rustbuster - as the phrase was employed by my previous coaches - is used to describe the first race of the season that probably didn’t live up to your full potential, perhaps, in part, because it's been a while since your last competition and it's time brush up on those racing skills. As my first triathlon of the season, here are a few things I was reminded of while ‘busting my rust’ at the New Plymouth World Cup.
48 athletes, 14 days, 3 swimming pools, over 810 km of biking, running and swimming, too many smiles to count and 1 common goal: Rio. In a nutshell, this describes my first training camp with Team Belgium at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. To find out what really happens behind the scenes from a triathlete's point of view check out this 2 minute video:
When the racing shoes are put away and the bike is warm in the garage, it’s time for the long awaited, yet short-lived, end-of-the-season break. This rare annual occasion consists of two to six weeks during which an athlete has a real break before starting winter training again. This is that moment when you don’t have to respond to friends “I can’t, I have [fill in respective sport].” So a question I often get is “What do you do during your time off?” The following is my own personal version for enjoying your time-off to recover mentally and physically and ready to roll for winter training.