Larry's Blog Pages

June 30, 2010

10 Questions with Brent Poulsen

As my training dipped before last weekend’s race, I found a few extra minutes to add to my interview collection on my blog. I wanted to keep with the Canadian Triathlete theme and one name I see quite a bit on my blog updates, and the Ironman 70.3 stats, is Orillia, Ontario native, Brent Poulsen.

I have actually had the pleasure of seeing Brent in action but really did not know too much about our home grown 70.3 star. I did know, from his blog, that he was getting ready to race the Buffalo Springs 70.3 in his new home state of Texas on the weekend (where he placed a very respectable 8th in a super tough field) so I asked if he could answer a few questions some time after his race.

As with so many of our top athletes, Brent delivered above expectations and completed the online questionaire almost as soon as he crossed the finish line of his grueling race. I realize that I write this very often, but our athletes are the most down to earth people you will meet in the sports world. It is so refreshing to have such approachable leaders to help promote and grow the sport.

Q1- What would you be doing if you were not a professional triathlete?

A1- If I wasn't a professional triathlete; I would have a lot of spare time. I would probably be focused on a career in business and trying to play as many rec sports as I could to stay in shape.

Q2- On your blog it states that you are in Sales (Gymnastics Equipment), how hard was it to find an employer that understood your needs for training and travel (for races)?

A2- Luckily, I work for a family business so there is a bit of flexibility with traveling to races and missing a few hours a week to get in some longer rides. It's a great gymnastics business based out of Ontario and has been in business for 40 years.

Q3- Flipping through the stats sites, it looks like you officially started racing Pro in 2004 after coming up through the competitive junior ranks. Did you have an injury set backs in 2003 (no stats)?

A3- No injuries to-date, knock on wood! I did a lot of ITU racing back during those days, and some Subaru Series races. It wasn't until 2007-2008 that I really started to enjoy longer distance races. Sometimes, results on the internet are a little hard to find, but they are there somewhere.

Q4- Who were a few of the early influences on the Ontario triathlon scene that motivated you during this development stage of your career?

A4- Adele Lemare, Mike Hay, Steve Arsenault. The list goes on of people in Ontario that really helped me develop. I really started to get a bit more serious in the sport, training and racing, with Colin Jenkins. We were roommates at Laurentian University along with Alicia Kaye. They were huge motivators. My parents were also huge motivators for me.

Q5- What is your greatest accomplishment to-date in this sport? Outside of this sport?
A5- It is pretty hard to pin-point an exact accomplishment that I am proud of. I think, as athletes we are usually only as good as our last race so we are always thriving on better results in bigger fields. Outside of the sport will come this September as I will be getting married to my beautiful fiance, Carley. She is a huge motivator for me and has really helped me out with finding balance in the sport.

Q6- For your specialty (Half Ironman, 70.3), many triathletes do not find their calling until they reach their twenties, after they graduate from the Sprints and Olympic distances. That makes it tough to tell who may take this path (longer distance triathlon) but is there any up and coming Canadians on your series that have really impressed you?

A6- I think Canada has a huge amount of talent in the sport. It's pretty hard to pick one individual at that age. People come and go in the sport and in longer racing, it really comes down to putting in the work. Take Ontario, for example, you have C3, a Training Centre in Guelph, a Kids of Steel Program and a few really good racing series'. Victoria has a huge program, as well, developing amazing athletes! As far as long distance racing goes, I think from what I have seen so far, Jeff Symonds will be the man to beat in a few years.

Q7- Is there anything you would like to see introduced to the sport to make it even better?

A7- I can't think of anything I would like to see differently about the sport. Many of the athletes seem to complain about prize money, entry fees or this and that. I think if we step back, and really look at why we enjoy racing, most people would agree that it's a wonderful and healthy sport.

Q8- What workout do you look forward to the most during your weekly training?
A8- Any key session I really look forward to. For the swim, it would be a race simulation set where I get to smash myself. One of my favourites is 3or4x (100 start speed, 2x300 @ race pace, 100 ez). As far as a bike set goes, I really like any workout that makes me focus on the wattage I would like to hold. For example, my Tuesday and Thursday rides usually have some sort of goal. One of my favourite sets is 2x(20 minutes,5 ez,10 minutes,5 ez, 5 minutes) done on the comp trainer at the right wattage can really be a hard set. The run workouts I look forward to are long runs with tempo intervals. Last week was a good hard run session that was 1hr 45minutes, including 5 miles @ 5:30per mile, and 3x1mile @ 5:15 pace, with a long warm up and cool down. I run with some fast training partners so I am usually left spent.

Q9- Do you get nervous before an event? If so, how do you deal with the nervous energy before the horn sounds?

A9- I really don't tend to get too nervous before races, until right before the start. I usually stay really confident and my new coach, Cliff English, really has me doing some solid sessions that leave me confident. I have only started working with Cliff the past month and already I have had a 6th place and an 8th place finish in June (in very competitive fields) with one of the fastest run splits in each race. I think the athlete really needs to believe in what they have done in training and take that confidence to the start line of the race. Red Bull also helps in nervous situations. Even if you can't hang with someone, Red Bull will make you believe you can. :)

Q10- What do you think you will do after your pro racing days have wrapped up? Race local elite, Age Group, coach or try master a new sport?

A10- I am really just starting to get a feel for long distance racing so I have a few years left. I don't think I will race at an age group level but I will most likely participate in some rec sports, or ride my bike. I also enjoy the coaching aspect of the sport and may look further into coaching options.

If you would like to follow Brent on his journey through the Half Ironman ranks, please check out his website (link below). I am sure Brent would appreciate even more support and if you are able to help him out in anyway, there is an email link on the right side of his blog that you may use to contact him.

Many thanks to Brent for being so kind to grant this interview!

Best of luck!

June 27, 2010

Welland Half Iron Distance - Race Report

This one will be short and sweet tonight. Just wanted to get some news out there as my stats for this race so the DNF.

I will send out a longer version but here is the short one as I have to take care of a little flooding in the basement. Nice!

My swim went pretty much as expected from an effort point of view. You can tell by the other athletes times that this was a quick swim so for me to better my pre-race goal by around three and a half minutes gives me the feeling that I would have been right around the forty mark in the pool. I was 109th out of the water so I am amazed at how many great swimmers are out there. Awesome job everyone!

The great addition to this swim portion was the timing mat down at the water which helped grab the real time instead of the time plus run up to T1. Great planning Multisport Canada!

On to the bike, I was clipping along at a very repectable pace. I was passing a lot of riders and making my move up the results page averaging around 39km/h aftert thirty kilometres. Even though my speed was pretty near my target, something wasn't right as I could not get comfortable in the saddle. My butt hurt at first, then my front went numb. I started to lose focus and speed just as we approached the only hill on the course. Thankfully, I spun up and started to feel good again. I was back in the race mentally and picking up more spots.

As I got closer to the 45km turn around though, things started to fall apart as my lower back became very tight. I used the turn to get out of aero and try to stretch it. This little slow down allowed three riders that I had just passed to get back in front of me. I tried to pull them back but I was getting more and more stiff and staying aero was becoming very difficult. It finally got to the point where I could not stay tucked for more than one minuted at a time so I waved the two guys chasing me down passed and pulled over to stretch things out.

It took around ten minutes before I could return to the bike but by the time I got back on my upper portions of my legs had seized up now. I had absolutely no power and still could not stay down on the bars. My day was down for sure as I would never be able to run at this rate.

On the way back I passed the crash scene of one of the elite age groupers and this area was chaos with cars all over and cyclists on both side trying to figure what they should be doing. Stopping, going, slowing down, etc. I knew I was not going to be chasing any time so I slowly made my way through the area before continuing down the road.

At this point I would like to wish Richard Pady a quick recovery. I don't know the whole story so I don't want to post any assumptions but I heard he was going to be OK. My hat goes off to Nigel Gray for stopping his race to care for Mr. Pady after the incident. I have never met Nigel but know of him and knew that he was having a very strong race to this point. He would have been very close to top spot if he would have kept going so he showed a whole lot of class with this display of care.

After I returned back to the transition zone, I decided that I would be a lot more useful helping out at home as my wife was holding a dinner for her family. I wanted to stick around and see how everyone faired on this day so I hope nobody thinks I was being a bad sport by leaving early?

I was a little disappointed that I did not get to finish the race but I was actually in good spirits knowing that I tried to compete to my best but my back just was not cooperating. This is the first time in a few years that I have had this issue. I have a few ideas as to why (need a bike fit, not enough hours in the aero position this season because I have been training on road bike, went out too aggressive trying to make up for slower swim, etc.) this happened today but I also know that I need to step up the volume in training.

This is tough with my availalbe training hours but I am going to have to get there if I want to complete a much tougher course in August. I also want to race in this event and see how things pan out. Obviously, two months is not very long so I better get my game plan out asap.

Congrats to all those that raced. I see some super quick times posted even with the humid run that presented itself. Hope to see everyone out on the race couse soon!

June 21, 2010

Welland Half Iron Distance - Pre-Race Report

This weekend will mark my triathlon debut at the Half Iron Distance. I am feeling pretty good thinking about it today but I am sure the nerves will kick up as the date gets a little closer.

This will mainly be a training race to get use to the distance in prep for Timberman 70.3. I am going to take the swim very easy and make sure I get to the bike with enough energy to put in a respectable bike and run combo.

There are a bunch of the area's top triathletes making an appearance in this event so I will have to be satisfied looking down the results page a touch to find my name. It is something I need to be ready for as I have been lucky enough to be competitive in the local duathlon scene over the past few years. The fields were not as big in those races but it was still a nice feeling to be successful.

I knew jumping into the triathlon that I would have to be ready to take a back seat for a few years but it is tough somedays to give up so much time in the starting portion of the race. In the duathlon, the first run was one of my strong sections and I was getting very comfortable reaching the bike in an exhausted state of mind only to find my next wind shortly after the mount line.

With the dangers of the water thrown into the mix, I am not ready to push as hard before making it into transition. This will take some practice so for now it is slow and steady in the swim and then make up time on the bike and run.

In Welland, I will not attempt to burn up the bike and run but I have set some tough goals for these two stages of the event. I know that I could push for faster splits but I think my lack of experience (and the current training distance) at this point of the season would lead to failure so I figure it is best to pace the day and see what is in the tank for the final 8 to 5 km of the run. If I am still feeling energized than maybe I will turn up the pace a little and bring it home in strong fashion.

Wish me luck!

June 14, 2010

Binbrook Sprint Tri - Race Report

Finally got my first triathlon in for this season on Sunday. I raced the Multisport Canada event in Binbrook and had a pretty respectable showing for my first real race with a winter of swimming under my belt.

The conditions were not perfect as we had overcast skies and touches of light rain on and off during the morning. It did not cause any problems but just had you act a little more cautious in the corners on the bike. The run cause on the Conservation Area trails was also muddy and slippery due to the recent damp weather but it made for a more challenging event.

The swim went well as I stayed in freestyle form for the entire 750m, the first time I have been able to hold form in competition. My relaxed approach was not speedy by any means but I saw large improvements and ended up as the 50th person (of 257) out of the water and feeling strong for the bike.

On the bike, I hammered out the best split for the triathletes and duathletes (Wolfgang had a better time but he was in the relay) and averaged, on my computer, 39.5km/h for the distance. I think we ended up a little longer in actual distance compared to the stats page so there is a reporting variance. My computer is usually pretty close so I am pretty certain that I was hitting higher speed than what the results average shows. Not really important but I like to compare to see how close I can get to my TT averages in our weekly club events.

After a good transition, I started to roll on the run through the mud and wet grass. I felt energized and was ready to catch some people ahead to move up the results page. Before the 1km marker on the damn, I had secured two positions and could see the other runners stretched across the other end of the curved water barrier. I had four (plus one from the Wolf's relay team) people ahead of me at this point. At the turnaround, around the two km area, a made it past one more runner but could now see my chasers. There were some strong looking triathletes coming up on my tail so I had to push hard.

By three kilometres one of the younger speedsters caught me and started to create a gap. On this day, I was not going to go down that easy so I stepped it up and his pace pushed me past another athlete into fourth. First and second were well out of reach so I was just trying to stay close with the youthful legs that was a few steps ahead of me.

On the final couple of km's we headed into a forested loop where we stayed in check so I didn't think I was going to have the mustard to get past him but luckily he didn't have the gas on one of the final uphill sections and my strength in this area paid off. As we flattened out, I stepped on the accelerator to push up the pace and he was not able to answer so I made it through the final few hundred metres alone and race up the finishing area in third. I just had to hope that the starting waves behind us were not as fast.

Thankfully, my time held up and I posted the third overall time and first fastest for my AG. Next up is the Welland Half Iron Distance in a few weeks. Should be a good training session for Timberman in a few months so that I can see how 2k in the open water feels.

After the race, I met up with Running Free team members Roger Hospedales, Peter Geering, Steve Good and Karen Gamble and had some time to catch up and share racing stories. Great work everyone!

Also, I had the opportunity to meet a very promising future star, Robbie Chapman. This young racer from the Cornwall area is really dedicated to the sport and dreams to be a top triathlete on the Ironman circuit in a few years. I don't hear or see many inspiring examples from the teenage population everyday so I was very impressed with his outlook on life and hope he sticks with his goals. I realize it is not for everyone but it is so much better to have this influence in their lives to keep them out of trouble.

June 11, 2010

Mid-June Update!

Hey Gang,

Just wanted to promote my new blog that Multisport Canada is carrying on their website. We are trying to keep the material exclusive to their site so if you enjoy my writing, please drop by their site to check things out!

Have to send out a huge thanks to John Salt and Roger Hospedales for starting up this project! I really appreciate their support and look forward to getting out on the MSC Series to get in a bunch of races this summer.

Carrying on with that theme, I will be heading out to Hamilton this Sunday to put down my first Triathlon of the season at the Binbrook Triathlon. I feel really good these days and expect a fun event as I look to build on my swimming experiences.

I have some goals in mind, especially on the bike and run, where I would love be close to the top of the field for the last two legs, combined. The biggest thing for me is to remind myself to push through into the next gear. Sometimes I get stale or stuck in a pace that is below my real potential, almost afraid to blow up half way through the run. I have to start to trust my training and hit the pace that I am capable of each time I am out there. I hit it a few times near the end of the year but missed it a bunch of other times during 2009. Time to step it up mentally on race day and hammer through the pain!

Have a great weekend!

June 7, 2010

Looking Forward...

Must stay positive out of this weekend or I will end up blowing an incredible opportunity.

Decided to stay home and not venture into the rain and cold wind on Sunday for the Milton event. From what I have heard from friends, it ended up being a pretty decent day and the guys and gals had some very impressive results. Congrats, your are all very brave souls for making the trip.

That being said, I am now turning my attention to next Sunday and the Binbrook Triathlon near Hamilton, Ontario. It is nice and close to home and is the site to a one of my first duathlons back in 2007 (I have a score to settle with the bike couse). I got to the bike first and actually had the police escort leading out (that was pretty neat to experience) but was soon passed as my rookie cycling skills died in the wind. Lessons learned!

So, it may feel like a long week leading up but I am going to work my butt off to prepare for this weekend, rain or shine!

Wish me luck!

June 3, 2010

Milton Sprint Tri - Pre Race Report

This week has been a horrible lead up to a race. One of my worst training weeks in a long time, for sure.

Monday got off to a strong start in the pool as I was swimming well and working on my form. I was then super excited to get a chance to participate in my first FMCT TT this season and made the trip up to Brampton under cloudy skies. The rain stayed in the clouds but my night was cut short by an incident on my bike. The rear skewer came loose on the ride to the start and when I applied the rear brakes it jammed the wheel and the rubber slid along the pavement, popping before reaching the start area. I stayed to helped out but was disappointed in my luck. I then had to make up for the lack of workout by putting in a late night run after I returned home and put the kids to bed.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I had big work commitments which took away my usual lunch workouts. At night, I was so blasted from the work load that I ended up crashing well before my regular bedtime. With my better half having an early meeting on Wednesday, I could not slip in a training session before work. She then had her sports fun that night so I was on kid duties until she returned from her much deserved post game social. I was thinking about getting to the gym after she returned but I just could not find the energy to pull myself from bed.

So to get myself out of the funk, I slapped on a smaller backpack this morning and set off a little earlier to work. I ended up running 13k on the Meadowvale trails and pushed pretty hard on the final half of the run. I am now hoping to get away from work in time to put in another swim at lunch and then, if all goes to plan, get a ride in tonight.

On Friday, I plan to swim at lunch and then do a short, easy brick workout before taking Saturday off. I have found that, at my age, I feel the effects of even lighter workouts the day before races. I tried them in the past and my results were never what I expected as my legs were always tired and sluggish. A lot of this is mental as I know they could not have been drained too much from those light efforts but in my head I always used it as an excuse for the power outage on race day.

We are about 72 hours out from the first triathlon of the year and I can't wait to see how things play out. I admit that the pressure I felt before the duathlons last season created a heck of a lot more nervous energy. I knew that I would consider the race a failure if I did not finish in the top 3. In the triathlon though, I cannot expect those type of results with the size and calibre of the fields on that side of the multisport event. I guess deep down I would be satisfied with a top 20 placing this weekend and top 5 in my AG. I would love to post a PB on the bike split (the course is always the same and I have been a touch slower every year since my rookie season) and run under four minutes per km on the tough 7.5km run course.

Best of luck to all those racing this weekend! There are plenty of different events taking place so best wishes to everyone in all reaches of the racing world!