Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vo2 Athlete Profile - Damon Barnett

Over the coming weeks I shall profile athletes on the Vo2 roster and review their year and upcoming season. It is at this time of the year that I evaluate athletes race results (whether they know it or not!) and try and address their limiters going forward to the next season of racing. This is an important process to go through and one which yields (after close inspection) some surprises. Reviewing Damon's was no different.

Damon and I started working together in June this year and to date the relationship has been a very successful one. I cannot hide the fact I was excited that Damon chose me to coach him after contacting several other equally capable coaches in the area. I saw immediately that he had the potential to do well in the sport. He could swim well and was in overall good aerobic condition. A little raw when it came to cycling and running, but skills I was confident he could master in a short period of time.

Damon qualified for AG Nationals at the Moses Lake Olympic distance race on June 7th. He finished in a time of 2:12:39, good enough for 24th Overall and 2nd in his AG (Damon is 21). The overall winner Winslow Tandler, won in a time of 2:01:49 and took the Gold in Damon's AG. This was a solid race with little or no structured training. After seeing this result I knew Damon with a little direction could eclipse that result so after agreeing to coach him (and vice versa) we set a target of qualifying for AG Worlds in 2009 to be held in Noosa on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (a nice location!). This required a top 16 AG finish on the challenging Hagg Lake course in Oregon on September 20th.

Damon adapted to my training protocol well and in no time made significant progress across all disciplines. I wanted to work hard on Damon's run knowing that this would be the difference between top 16 and top 30 in the very competitive field he was likely to encounter at Nationals. Always mindful to not push to hard to soon I had Damon run using the Daniels formulae (adpated for a multisport athlete). It worked well and with perhaps a little more 'T' pace running than I might usually incorporate Damon was running fast off the bike in no time. A test race at Beaver Lake highlighted just how far Damon had come in the short time we had been working together. He finished 6th overall winning his AG in a decent field of athletes. Not only that but he beat several athletes from the Moses Lake race who had raced close to 10 minutes faster than Damon back in June, progress I think you would agree!

Knowing how valuable course knowledge would be for this race Damon traveled down to Hagg Lake to swim, ride and run at the race venue on the course that would be used for the race. This proved useful and Damon even jumped into the Scoggins Valley race that uses much of the same course as a test event for the big day. It proved useful and Damon finished 4th overall again securing the AG win and taking several notable scalps in the process. I thought long and hard about next steps and decided it would be beneficial for Damon to race Black Hills early in September. I knew this was something of a risk as a bad race and a loss of confidence could have hurt Damon's preparation for his 'A' race but to me the positives outweighed the negatives so race he did. The outcome - 1st Overall and even more notable scalps taken in the process. What was pleasing was the way he ran coming off a strong ride. I knew then that our goal was within reach and provided Damon executed the race he was capable of a good result was there.

I loaned Damon my disc wheel for Nationals and we ran through every possible scenario for the race. Unlike long course races there is less time to make up for errors in transition or by going out too conservatively on the run so with less margin of error execution needs to be flawless. Thank goodness Damon delivered and finished 14th in his AG, just 1 second in front of the guys in 15th and 16th! A perfectly executed race and the desired outcome achieved. Australia here we come! Even more pleasing was the gap to Windslow Tandler who beat Damon by 11 minutes back in June at the Moses Lake qualifier taking the overall win. That gap was reduced to just 30 seconds!!!

Going forward Damon needs to work on his technique in all disciplines and more importantly remain healthy and injury free through to next season. With World's in September this gives Damon the chance to try his hand at the 70.3 distance and he intends to debut in that distance at 70.3 California in April 2009. Watch this space.

An awesome season and I am excited for what the future might hold.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Black Diamond Olympic

My first Olympic distance race of the season and a fine day it was. Black Diamond, located near Enumclaw in the shadow of Mt Rainier is a great venue but the weather for the September race (there is another race at the same venue in June) can be a little hit and miss. Not so this year. The day dawned with clear skies and by the time the race start came around (9:15) it was a balmy 60 degrees, perfect!

The team I race for were represented well. We did not have numbers but we had talent. Michael Gordon, Bryan Urakawa, Mike Pritchard and myself on the mens side and Kara Nielsen in the womens race. There was also ROn Stadick (far right in the picture) racing in the Sprint fresh from a PR at Ironman Canada (in fact Michael, Bryan and Mike had all raced in Penticton at the end of AUgust).

The race went well. I knew I was racing for 2nd with Michael in the field and my aim was to stay out in front as long as I could in the hope of keeping others at bay with a good solid showing in all three disciplines. That is pretty much how it went. I was third out of the water, first out on the bike and then held this postion until around mile 22 of the bike when Michael passed me. As I was racking my bike Michael was just leaving the rack to head to the run exit, I guess I was maybe 30 seconds down. I really wanted to run sub 40 minutes but this course has some funky off road sections that were going to make that a real challenge. I ran consistently despite a little cramping of the vas med and knew I had 2nd locked up after seeing the other athletes including Mike and Bryan (both of who were looking good and in the top 10) too far behind to catch me unless something dramatic happened.

I crossed the line 2nd overall in a time of 2:06:32 just under 4 minutes behind the winner (Professional Triathlete Michael Gordon) so I was happy. The next guy was just under 5 minutes behind me. Bryan and Mike had another epic battle (they have been close in all their races this year) with Mike posting 4th fastest run of the day to beat Bryan by 37 seconds! On the men's side we finished 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th overall.

Kara had another strong performance and locked up the overall win in a time of 2:22:29, her margin of victory 5 minutes. Ron managed 10th overall in the Sprint race winning his age category handily.

All I wanted was to post consistent splits in each discipline and not have a bad element to my race. I achieved this. My transitions could have been a little slicker and I struggled to get my nutrition down on the bike which may have impacted my run a little but to post the 3rd fastest swim time, 3rd fastest bike time and 7th fastest run time was in my mind solid execution.

Congrats to Vo2 athlete Scott Hill who had a fine race and finished in 2:48:42 despite a crazy week and training through it.

Thank you to my wonderful wife Cindy who took the photos and shouted encouragement to everyone throughout the day. My next race will be an open 10km, my prediction 37:47. Watch this space!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tucson Warm Weather Camp Dates 2009

Dates have been finalized, please email me through my website www.vo2multisport.com to register your interest
  • CAMP 2 FEBRUARY 9-14
  • CAMP 3 FEBRUARY 16-21
  • CAMP 4 FEBRUARY 23-28
Camp will be co coached with Mark Van Akkeren.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Congratulations IMC Athletes!

I am so proud of my athletes and took huge satisfaction in seeing everyone cross the line. Here is a brief summary of the results:

  • Michael Pritchard - 10:12:59, 16th AG, 104th Overall PR by 00:57:26
  • Cindy Bigglestone - 11:00:53, 8th AG, 321st Overall (40th Female) PR by 00:16:36
  • Win Van Pelt - 11:05:07, 15th AG, 345th Overall PR by 00:18:10
  • Ron Stadick - 11:19:48, 24th AG, 426th Overall PR by 02:59:12
  • Ed Bullock - 12:12:33, 56th AG, 812th Overall PR by 00:41:30
  • Jeff Platt - 12:45:47, 62nd AG, 1067th Overall 1st Ironman Finish
  • Deb Rubens - 12:47:12, 49th AG, 1077th Overall PR by 00:23:16
  • Chris Esposito - 13:58:54, 182nd AG, 1526th Overall 1st Ironman Finish
  • Tami Prock - 16:17:32, 103rd AG, 1988th Overall 3rd Ironman Finish

This was the first year in the last five that I had not raced, I wanted to be there to support and cheer on my athletes on their big day. I was glad to not be racing and in fact thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being out on the course on race day and trying to track down where everyone was.

Being fortunate enough to work for TYR I had VIP access to transition and other normally off limits areas for spectators, this meant I could be right at the swim exit and in transition helping pump up tires on race morning. I also really got to experience the energy of all the athletes right before the cannon fired and started their day. Truly awesome.

Thank you to all our sponsors and thank you athletes for making this a most remarkable day for me. You are all rock stars.