2018 Reflections, 2019 Motivations

What a season it has been. Certainly my best yet, with significantly better results than 2017. This year has left motivated and wanting nothing but better performances in 2019. Here is a look back at some highlights and low points of 2018, and what I have learned that will help me achieve 2019 goals.

 On the bike course at St. Anthony’s Triathlon. Photo by Paul Higgins

On the bike course at St. Anthony’s Triathlon. Photo by Paul Higgins

It feels like ages ago that I rushed for the ocean and dove in to my first race of the season, Ironman 70.3 Campeche, Mexico. I had a good swim, only 52 seconds behind the leader in a non wet suit swim. The first half of the bike was great, I rode my way all the way up to the front of the race, only to go backwards the rest of the day, ending up in 7th. I didn’t pace realistically for the fitness I had in March, especially considering the debilitating heat, lesson learned.

Six weeks later I lined up in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the Saint. Anthony’s Triathlon. I missed the lead group and led the chase pack for the whole swim, coming out 1’17” down in 9th place. Rode my way into 3rd, and ended up 4th after being passed early in the run by Jason West. This result was similar to my 2017 race, and left me hungry for something better to prove that I had built upon my 2017 fitness.

Chattanooga 70.3 was next. This was an hugely motivating result for me. I had a great swim coming out only 42 seconds behind the leader. I rode well, passing everyone ahead of me except Starky, who was nearly 7 minutes ahead of me to start the run. Many fast runners were close behind, but I had a breakthrough run of my own, 1:16:27, to hold on to second place. I finished 48 seconds behind Starky, This result validated my belief that I belong at the front of the race.

Ironman 70.3 Raleigh was next on the calendar. Having finished 3rd there in 2017, I knew the course well and it was a good one for me. I swam with the main pack, only Matt Chrabot swam alone off the front, 1:06” ahead. I worked hard early on the bike to drop the big group I swam with, then I bridged up to Matt. We rode together from 30km until 80km, where I put in a big surge and held a 1 minute lead to start the run. I ran well on the hot course, slowly getting away from Matt for my first 70.3 win. My dad also finished his first ever 70.3, ending up 2nd in his age group. I’m sad to see that this race is cancelled, as it was my best result 2 years in a row. It seems that the tougher courses are all less popular and get cancelled. I’d like to see that change. I challenge age group athletes to jump at the chance to test themselves on hilly and hot courses.

 Coming down the finish chute at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga. Photo by Finisher Pix

Coming down the finish chute at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga. Photo by Finisher Pix

 Ironman 70.3 Raleigh Finish. Photo by Ironman

Ironman 70.3 Raleigh Finish. Photo by Ironman

Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant was a great swim for me, I stayed with the lead group of 6, which whittled down to 3 throughout the ride. Lionel stormed past us half way through the bike and went on to win. Brent and Rudy ran away from me and I settled for 4th for the 2nd year in a row.

The New York City Triathlon was my most disappointing result of the season. I battled all day to try to stand on the podium, and lost focus when Jason West passed me with 2 miles to go. I got passed again in the last half mile which shouldn’t have happened. I eased off the gas and paid the price, finishing 5th. It’s not over till it’s over, and I need to keep the pedal to the floor until the positions are set in stone, that’s a mistake I will not make again.

 The bike course at Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa. Photo by Paul Higgins

The bike course at Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa. Photo by Paul Higgins

Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa was next up. The swim was cancelled due to heavy fog, but the time trial start bike-run format suited me well. I had the 2nd fastest bike behind only Sam Appleton, and a PR run of 1:15:33 to come in 2nd once again.

At Ironman 70.3 Steelhead, my weakness of choppy water swims was exposed. I finished the swim in 9th place, nearly 3 minutes behind leader Eric Lagerstrom. I rode well and quickly moved in to 4th place where I would stay for the rest of the race. The group of 3 guys including Andrew Starkowicz just kept getting further away, and I just didn’t have the legs to make up 6 minutes on the run. Choppy water swims have always been a weak point for me, and I plan to make that a big training focus for 2019. Also, as my career progresses, I can choose races more based on what courses suit me, rather than how cheap is the race to get to, so I’ll likely avoid choppy swims and flat bike courses when possible until this weakness has become a strength.

Next was Escape Nations Triathlon. I was stoked for another crack at the now retired Cam Dye, but the race was cancelled due to flooding. I quickly refocused on training, and won the Barrelman Triathlon the next weekend on tired legs. It was a good battle with Taylor Reid nipping at my heels all day, and great to get the win at this awesome local event.

 On the run course at Barrelman. Photo by Brad Reiter.

On the run course at Barrelman. Photo by Brad Reiter.

The next weekend was Ironman 70.3 Augusta. A stacked field as per usual, I often thrive when given the chance to bring out my best against tough competition. I had a poor swim start but recovered well, I came out in 6th, 1:09 back of the leader. I put in a big effort at the start of the bike and bridged up to the two guys off the front, Hunter Lussi and Tim O’Donnel. The three of us built up a 3:40 lead on the chasers, Tim had an incredible run for the win, and I ran well to hang on for another 2nd place finish. The icing on the cake was earning my qualification for the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

 On the bike at Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires, photo by finisher pix.

On the bike at Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires, photo by finisher pix.

I had a 6 week break before my last race of 2018, Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa. I felt I got into my best shape of the season. Some bad luck and also mistakes made were overcome to finish 4th yet again, 26 seconds back of 3rd place after my 2nd best run split of my career. I’ll be more diligent to try to avoid getting sick when traveling in 2019, as this was the second time I was sick this year. I’ll also expect chaos at South American races and be as prepared as possible when it ensues. I still know what I was capable of that day and I’ll bring that with me into next season.

Overall, the 2018 story was: Hit and miss on the swim, Consistently strong rides, and much better runs than 2017 . Here’s how I will build on this for 2019.

2019 Plan and Goals

For 2019, I plan to carry out my season as 3 blocks of races. My early season block will be early April to mid May with 4 races. I still haven’t finalized the races, but I will definitely go back to St. Anthony’s and Chattanooga 70.3. The mid season block will be from late June to Late July with another 4 races. I’ll be back to some familiar races, Mont. Tremblant, NYC, and Santa Rosa, and 1 more race if I can make it fit. The last block will start with Ironman 70.3 World Championship in early September, and I’ll add 1-4 races after that depending what opportunities arise and how my body feels at that point in the season.

 Starting the run at the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga Tennessee.

Starting the run at the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga Tennessee.

In terms of performance, I’d like to be more consistent in the swim. I need to be very motivated and focused on the start line to give myself the chance to make the lead group, I feel I went in too relaxed at some races in 2018 which may have cost me in the swim. I rode well in 2018, the consistency was there, I hope to just add a few more watts from more built up fitness. My main improvement will likely be in aerodynamics. I will be working with STAC in their virtual wind tunnel to optimize equipment and positions. I think I can ride significantly better in 2019 with lots of little things adding up to make a significant difference. The run will continue to improve, I think I will run 1:14, and maybe 1:13 in 2019. Of course, this depends entirely on the course, conditions, and race tactics. Running faster relative to the field is the primary run goal.

My results based goals for 2019 build upon what I accomplished this year and in 2017. I finished 19th at Worlds in 2017, I’d like to get top 10 in 2019. This year, I had 1 Ironman 70.3 win and 3 2nd place finishes for 4 total podiums. I’d like to build on that and get 6 or more podiums and 2 or more wins. I also won the Niagara Falls Barrelman Triathlon in 2018, I’d like to win that race again, and race at least 2 local Multisport events to support Triathlon in Ontario.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so much support this year, and since I started in this sport. Thank you to all my Sponsors who have helped me get to where I am today. I couldn’t do this without you guys!

I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings, thanks for all the support!