Back in April, Sweden's Patrik Nilsson tamed the heat and humidity to win IRONMAN Texas, the North American Regional Championship. So maybe not surprising the lanky Swede decided to use The Woodlands, in North Houston, as his springboard to Kona.
Photos by David Reynolds of @digitalknightproductions
After three consecutive days of hard cycling training, we trailed Nilsson on a day where his key session was his run. In full disclosure, we went back the following day to capture some additional photos of him riding outside.
When we arrived at Nilsson's homestay, he was sharing a coffee with host Maureen Gibbons and finishing up his breakfast. The Gibbons family have hosted many heavy-hitters over the years and Patrick Lange with wife Julia were also repeat house guests.
Nilsson double checks his coach's orders for the day much to the amusement of the Gibbons' family cats. His wife, and coach, Teresa Heimann Olsen, is back at the couples' home in Copenhagen, Denmark with their young son, Matteo.
Following an easy ten minute warm up, Nilsson had three intervals to complete (5k, 2k, 1k) at slightly faster than race pace.
Two minutes complete rest in between each interval. His tag along crew served as bottle feeders.
The lanky Swede tapped out each interval showing little sign of any fatigue. Back in April on this same Waterway in The Woodlands, he sliced through the muggy conditions on his way to a 2:42 closing marathon enroute to a definitive 11-minute win.
Once back home it was right into the fridge in search of a snack.
Nilsson tried a vegan diet but said it was quite difficult with all of his travel in different locations but is still a vegetarian. He prepared an almond butter sandwich and washed it down with a glass of almond milk.
After snack time he launched into an easy 90 minute spin on a trainer set up on the backyard porch.
Nilsson is on the BMC - Vifit Pro Triathlon Team Powered by Uplace so while bike, apparel, nutrition, components and wheels are through team partnerships, Speedplay pedals and Bont cycling shoes are personal preferences.
Sensing an opportunity for shenanigans, housemate Patrick Lange, messes with Nilsson's shifting, turning an easy spin into a momentary big ring mash.
The 2x defending Kona champion is not the only one amused. Gibbons' family dog, Terrwyn, a mini Airedale Terrier, entertains with a series of hot laps in the backyard.
Following the 90 minute spin it was time for lunch at a nearby Whole Foods.
With some downtime before his afternoon swim session, Nilsson decided to hit the aisles to do some shopping for his family.
Nilsson does his swim sessions at VillaSport Athletic Club and always starts out with some light stretching and band work. One of life's mysteries is how all of that hair fits under a swim cap.
Evidence of a cupping session earlier in the week.
A competitive swimmer since childhood, Nilsson spends considerable time each practice working on technique.
Thumbs up once the session is complete. Time to rest up.
The next day Nilsson took to the wide open roads of Montgomery County for another big day in the saddle.
September has seen a number of top pros roll in to The Woodlands to set up their pre-Kona training camp. While out shooting Nilsson, recent IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds third-place finisher Imogen Simmonds from Switzerland rolled by.
You can follow Patrik Nilsson on Twitter via @PatrikTriathlon and on Instagram via @PatrikTri