Russell White's American Adventure

Elite High Performance athlete Russell White has had a breakthrough season in 2016 - equalling the best ever performance by an Irish male triathlete with his 11th place at the Leeds World Series race.

He followed this up by a podium finish in a continental cup race Singapore and most recently with a superb 14th place finish last weekend at WTS Edmonton. In a guest post, Russell talks us through his season and his plans for the future.

Russell White Pikes Peak 2016

I guess I might as well take this opportunity to talk a bit about what I have been up to for the past month or so.

As I said in my last post I was selected as the reserve athlete for Ireland at the Rio Olympics, I was also a training partner for the lead up to the Games.

So I'll start where I left off in the last post after returning home from my Asian adventure in Japan and Singapore. Shortly after getting home I traveled down to Dublin to train with Bryan Keane for five or six days which was very hard as I was still very tired from the travel and racing but it was very beneficial as I was aware that I had lost a decent amount of fitness due to racing four weeks out of five.

I would have stayed longer but I traveled back to Stirling, Scotland to move out of my house and pack it up as it was costing me too much money to pay rent in somewhere I wasn’t spending a lot of time in the coming months. After sorting all that out I traveled with Bryan, Aileen Reid, Tommy Evans (TI Head Coach) and Marty Loughran (Physio) to Clermont, Florida for Triathlon Ireland's Rio prep-camp.

Aileen, Russell, Bryan Clermont 2016

It was a great experience being immersed in the lead up to an Olympic Games. I learned a lot from the experience and hopefully it will stand me in good stead when it's hopefully my turn in four years time. I cannot express how beneficial it has been this season attending training camps etc as a training partner for the lead into Rio; I would not have had the results the season otherwise.

Colorado

After 12 days in Florida it was time for me to part ways with the team as they headed to Rio and I boarded a flight to Colorado. Splitting off and walking in opposite directions to the others in Orlando Airport as we headed for different flights was tough. Walking away from the guys who I've spent so much time with this year as well as the fact that in my bag I was carrying my own 2016 Olympic accreditation that I knew would never be laminated or ever hang on a lanyard around my neck.

I was able to content myself knowing I wasn't quite ready, it wasn't my time and that I still have much work to do in what I would like to consider my breakthrough season... I'll be more than ready in four years time.

The adventure continued for me as I traveled on to Colorado Springs for 18 days leading into Edmonton WTS (Canada). I was lucky enough to be welcomed into Ian O'Brein’s ‘Origin Performance’ squad. Ian is someone I had bumped into at a few World Cups over the past year and I was very appreciative of him allowing me to train with him during my prep for Edmonton. Not only was it a great opportunity to train with a great squad but it also saved me adding the extra travel of two long haul trips returning home between the Florida camp and the Edmonton race.

Ian has a great set up training out of the USA Olympic Center and the fantastic training environment that is Colorado Springs; a lot of solid work was done to get my fitness back up after my last period of racing.

Russel White Edmonton 1

After 18 days in the thin air it was back to chasing the blue carpet around the world, this time heading north to Edmonton, Canada. This would be my third time in Edmonton and I can thankfully say it has always treated me well.

My 1st race there was 2014 World U23 Champs where I finished 18th, then last year I finished 28th in what was my best WTS performance before my 11th in Leeds earlier this year; I always like returning somewhere that I felt I raced well.

Russel White Edmonton 2

The Race

Going into the race I was ranked 19th; my highest ever WTS start number. Besides optimistic aims for the race, the aim of most of my races is to beat my start number, which usually means you're moving in the right direction, climbing up the rankings and beating others currently ranked ahead of myself. If I was to achieve this aim it would result in a top 20 WTS finish which I would consider pretty impressive, although after finishing 11th in Leeds, deep down I was really wanted a top 10.

Although realistically I knew that it would not be that easy, as this time around it was a sprint distance race and currently I have had much better performances at the longer Olympic distance. I can say with great pride that I managed to finish 14th, maybe not a top 10 but I beat my start number and it's still a top 15 in a World Series race. If someone had told me I would have two top 15 WTS results this season I would have laughed at them- thankfully it's now true.

Russel White Edmonton 3

Ballistic

The race was ballistic from the start. I didn't have the best of swims as on the run into the water I managed to get hit in the rough and tumble and my left goggle filled with water, with no time to fix it I swam on with no vision to my left. When I had the bad start I bailed out wide (which I don't advise) but this time it paid off and I was swimming well and got to the 1st buoy in a half decent position. I moved up slightly in the second half of the swim to exit the water in 7th (might be my highest WTS swim position).

Out of the water and it was all about trying to get a smooth transition and onto the bike when the body was shocked into acclimatising with the 7-8°C air temperature.

Russel White Edmonton 4

Once out on the bike a small group of three, with huge fire power of Johnny Brownlee, Richard Varga and Aaron Royle were up the road. It was a group that nobody wanted to get away as it would be a podium for that trio. The chase was on but the pace was never full on and the gap wasn't really closing down very fast, I just tried to be smart and position myself near the front I do what I needed to do.

We didn't quite catch the trio but we enter transition only a few seconds apart.

Russel White Edmonton 5

Fastest T2 leads to 2nd

With the fastest transition time of the day it saw me exit onto the run in forth and I quickly moved into 2nd ... 2nd on the road of a WTS, really? I just rolled with and did what I felt I could do without over extending myself. When Richard Murray comes past you and setting the pace it's time to buckle up and see how long you can hang with it, it wasn't long but it allowed me to be stretched away from the massive stampede of guys behind.

I settled into a rhythm I could sustain and although I struggled around the half way mark of the run I don't feel I faded too much and was able to finish in 14th. On the coverage it was a photo finish for 12th,13th,14th I knew I hadn't got the others, as I had ran out of road, but it just shows how I was even so close to 12th which does fill me with a lot of confidence.

Russel White Edmonton 6

More big news is that I have now got a start in the Grand Final which will be my 1st ever senior World Champs, in two weeks time in Cozumel, Mexico.

So currently I'm heading back to Colorado Springs for one week before traveling onto Mexico. I'm currently carrying a lot of confidence and already looking forward to racing Worlds. It will be over the Olympic distance and hopefully I can produce another strong performance. Heat will obviously be the biggest factor for me to overcome, but if I do, I know there is still another good result in the tank.

You can follow all of Russell's training and racing on his blog: http://www.russellwhitetri.com/