By Jesse Bauer
2013 Ignition Fitness Athlete Team member
Ah… finally some time to sit down and reflect on this whirlwind of a year that 2013 has been… lots of new in my life! I’ve moved my permanent base from Windsor to Hamilton, following my new job with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Not that that means I spend all my time in Hamilton… without a stadium, the Tiger-Cats are spending the season in Guelph, so that has made for plenty of trips up and down Highway 6 for set-up and game days. Needless to say, it has made for an interesting last few months of working my training in between the work I have to do getting ready for games and going back and forth to Guelph. On the plus side…I’ve been able to get some great training done in two great training centres!
During every season, I usually like to schedule a big block of time between two races, especially leading up to a goal race. I go into hibernation, get some great training done without having to worry about tapering for races, and I have some time to reflect. And it’s been an interesting season to reflect on. This is my first year with Tommy Ferris’ Ignition Fitness Athlete Team. I applied to Tommy’s team hoping to find someone I could learn from, and start making some huge gains in my bike fitness. Having the type of running ability that I do can be of huge benefit, but when you’re racing guys like Erik Box, Scott Finch, and Larry Bradley, it would be nice to only have 1 or 2 minutes to make up, rather than 3 or 4 minutes. The season started off with a tough adjustment period, but I think I’m starting to round into form just in time.
I started off the year by using my last year of indoor track eligibility at Windsor before heading out to the roads for good. I had a bit of a tough time balancing all the bike volume and interval work on the trainer (something I had never done before!) with the high intensity work I was doing on the track. We got within 1 second of going under 9 minutes for 3000m, but came up just short. I wasn’t overly chuffed by this, because I really only wanted to use indoors as an opportunity to train with some guys who were faster than me, and get some more fitness out of that. I was out to the roads for what I hoped would be a successful kick-off to my season.
Unfortunately, the tough indoor season wouldn’t let go. After some rough workouts and a less than inspiring 5k opener at the Chilly Half, Tommy and I decided to back off and let my body recover from the beating it took indoors. I really think I needed the break. When things don’t go well for me training-wise, I really have trouble keeping my confidence up, and everything kind of starts spiraling downwards. I felt kind of useless, seeing all my teammates and competition training hard while I was sitting through easy, slow recovery volume. And on top of that, just as I was getting back into training… BOOM, IT band syndrome flare-up. There goes another three weeks.
We basically had to scrap my whole outdoor season and just start getting ready for du season. At first it was really tough on me. I was pretty set on breaking through that 15 minute barrier, and I love the running training I would have been doing. In hindsight, we were able to get some training in that I really needed, and that has paid big dividends already this year. But still, I went into my first race in Woodstock with a race plan of bluffing my way through the first run, getting a good bike in and seeing where my bike training was at, then if the leg wouldn’t allow it, call it a day. I would also be racing with power for the first time, which was kind of a big deal for me. Anything else was a bonus. I managed to finish and stay competitive, even though the result was less than satisfying. My run was still catching up with a bike that wasn’t where I thought it would be. I had to be talked back off the cliff a little bit after that one! But the sprint distance has never been my thing. No matter, won’t get into that one any more than I already have.
2 weeks later, we went up the mountain to Binbrook to try out something a little more my speed. Race was a little bit better, I had a much better bike and felt much more in control of myself. The fitness felt like it was coming back and I gave Larry quite a scare all through that last run! This was a big boost for my confidence, because I felt like I could race and be competitive again, despite all the setbacks I had earlier in the year. I was starting to feel ready for my build to Worlds, and confidence is usually the biggest obstacle I face in my building process.
Next up was Welland. Nailed it. If I had any doubts coming into this one if I would be ready for Worlds, they were all gone after this one. On a tough humid day in Welland, I was able to break through for my first win of the season. The run was razor sharp, and I put together the ride of my life. Never have I been so consistent and strong on the bike, and still able to run like that at the end of the race. I seem to have started to pick up this training and racing with power thing. I still have a long way to go, but I’m really starting to believe in a data-based approach to training. It has opened up a whole new world for me!
After Welland, I had a 4 week break in between races. Partially by design (so we could get some of the most difficult training I have ever experienced in) and partially out of necessity (3 football games to work in 5 weeks. Those 16 hour days on your feet are a killer!). It’s given me a lot of time to reflect and explore myself as an athlete. I’ve had some unreal workouts the last few weeks, and have even started to rediscover some of the speed that I had in years past. That coupled with the much improved feel for race pace on the bike leaves me buoyed with confidence heading into Ottawa. It’s been a long journey, but things are starting to pay off. Hopefully with a few more weeks of some good training, I will be standing on that podium at World’s, likely wearing a flag around my shoulders, surrounding by all my friends, family, and teammates.
I believe that time for reflection is also a time to be grateful for the people who helped to get you to that point. Even though my sport is an individual sport, I could not have done it without some people. Coach Tommy, for doing a great job of kicking my butt every day, and knowing just when he needs to back me off and talk me down, and when he needs to be a little bit hard on me and make sure I’m not slacking off. My parents have been great, even from across the country. Putting up with my late-night phone calls and our very one-sided conversations about what’s going on in my life (and oh yeah, how was your day? Oh really? Well, gotta go to to work!). My boss Greg has been great at being flexible, and letting me go do my training thing when I need to. But the person who has had to put up with the most, and has had to deal with me being difficult almost every day of 2013 is Emma. Thanks for putting up with me, even when I’m impossible. Thanks for bending over backwards to make sure I’m eating right, and getting enough rest, and finding me ways to get to all my races with the imaginary car that I own. I definitely could not have done it without any of you.
I know I can’t settle for what I have now. I want more, and I know it. It’s time to get back to work. See all you in Belwood for what is looking like one heck of a duathlon, and then three more weeks to get ready to represent my country. Let’s do it, see y’all somewhere along the way!!