Monday, March 14, 2016

Moving forward & apprenticeship in Gran Canaria!

Hey readers - for those who might not be in the loop, I don't work for the Alaska Milk Corp anymore and am back working for my old coach, Brett Sutton. Incidentally, he was key in me getting this position in the first place, were I believe he will be key with my next set of opportunity's!

The past 8 years I spent in the The Philippines were a life molding experience. From the early days in Olongapo living on 14th street with ~400 USD a month as a wanna be pro, all the way to having my own successful triathlon team, winning Asia Tri coach of the year in 2014 and living a pretty good life.

I saw the community prosper at a quick and incredible rate. I was fortunate with the timing, which was almost perfect, I just wish I would have still raced in the past couple years. My influence may not have been in quantity, but in quality.

The last 4 years with Alaska were challenging, rewarding and somewhat disappointing in certain areas. The training/racing part was the simplest and most successful. It was a unique opportunity of which I am forever grateful for.

How-ever, a series of recurring issues, the short-comings a no bullshit approach and realizing that I would not be able to influence the high performance culture as much as I wanted too, made me take the decision to move on forward and upwards.

I did not make up the principals of athletic excellence, I simply enforced and repeated them, louder and louder. It seems that my experience living and training with the top 1% of the sport made me blind to certain limitations of local athletes - most of which were psychological.

Along the way, there was promising results and good times. But in the end, it seems like the expectations were too high, the athletes willingness to change too low and their focus inconsistent, as well easy to sidetrack.

I'm critical on how a lot of things are handle when it comes to the elites athletes in the country. It seems to me that the short term success of the talented, skews the mentality of many, especially of their peers. Telling the truth and pointing out the obvious, can turn you into the bad guy pretty quick.

A country's ultimate sporting abilities is quantified at the world championships and Olympic Games. The lack of results, speaks for itself. Selfishly, I never played the role I believed I could have - I probably didn't earn it through lack of maturity.

Was I wrong to try and build warrior type athletes who would be fearless in the face of international competition or that could stand strong between China and the Spratly Islands?

Should I have been "buddy's" with my athletes, cared a little less and spent more time calling attention to myself on Facebook?

Did I spend a little too much time in "the trench" trying to connect with the athletes face-to-face, when nobody was watching? Should I have had more sympathy towards the complacent and unruly?

I should have certainly handled some situations with a more positive attitude and soften a bit around the edges, all the while having a different outlook towards individuals who I did not see eye-to-eye with.

In the end, I definitely know now that if I want to coach to the next level, it wont happen in The Philippines. For a time I was un-happy, my relationship suffered and I struggled with certain inner demons, of which is a relief to get rid of. Living for so long overseas, is no easy task.

So for the past 6 weeks I have been on the Island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands of Spain for a coaching apprenticeship, back to training for myself and a change of atmosphere. Yes technically this is Africa, which makes it the warmest spot in Europe at this time of year!

I have very much enjoyed the environment here, there's this ease to the food, fascinating infrastructure and style of the locals. The city here, Maspalomas is also a bit of a "melting pot" with many different Europeans!


Local alley in San-Fernando.
Fried spinach tapas - has to be healthy, right?


Everything here is artsy fartsy!

These don't need water!




A metallic ostridge!

Very bike friendly.


Vegueta at night.



In Las Palmas!

At night!

The Spanish are surely the warmest of Euro's but not the hardest of working. I see a trend that old people are willing to smile at a stranger, in a way that every used to know each other?

So after crossing the same old folks, over a few consecutive mornings at the same time heading to the pool, I started to greet them HOLA BUENOS DIAS!

Of which solicited some smiles!

Most young people (bellow age 30) I see around, are too busy to mind me. They are pre-copied with their electric gadget and are in too much of a hurry to give face time.

I also never realized until now, how much Spanish has influenced the Tagalog language!

The prices are low, but not as low as on the main-land - go figures. I find it amazing on how much produce and dairy products are cheaper than in Asia. Where I had to be disciplined with my bread and chocolate intake, because it's just so very abundant and low priced!

The local baking is of note, the fresh mountain water from the volcano plays a big role, where the "few hours fresh" stuff is just so delicious. A double espresso or large bagette are less than 1 Euro - the wine selection is very abundant with a wide range in price.

Anyway, working with trisutto here has been great, I learned, re-learned and affirmed a lot of things. Stuff that you cannot learn in school or from a book. The environment, simplicity, attitude and familiarity is without a doubt the most important aspect to high performance sport. Making new friends, gaining new clients and being able have intelligent discussions as made it all worth it!

I look forward to the up-coming endeavors, where-ever they maybe. I'm not interested just yet in settling down or getting comfortable. I did a big move when I was 20 years old - now that I just turned 30 years old, I'm exited to see where the next few years will take me, before I eventually end up back in Canada.

I like to believe that specific knowledge and global experiences will give me an edge over those with formal education.

One step back...who knows how many steps forward!

Helping out during one of our camps.
A couple very strong ladies!

Pre ride instructions.

My beloved Canyon route.

This is a Pespi country.

Going coastal on a rental bike.

Hanging on the trisutto boys from GB.


Morning brick on "the loop".

Playa Del Inglés.

It means beach of the English ;)



Anfi Del Mar.

Who said the economy is struggling here?


The famous dunas.


Foot prints...

-Sunset-