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. http://www.sasportonline.com/
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!