Saturday, September 27, 2014

RACE REPORT: Ironman 70.3 World Championship



In my last post I wrote about 'chopping wood' (a.k.a Doing The Work) from the 'Winter Window'. I had 6 months between Wollongong Oly/NSW State Champs to put my head down and,with the guidance and support of Alex and the AP10 team, put in consistent work ahead of the season. 

Last month I toed the line at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, in my first goal race of the year.

Having qualified on a roll-down slot in Auckland in January, I considered myself privileged to be racing. But, at the same time, I knew I merited that place. Alex encouraged me to take on higher expectations of myself: "you're a different athlete now."

With that in mind, I was excited to get amongst it and test myself. It would be a lie to suggest I didn't have some high expectations of myself - not in terms of a time, or rank, but performance. I expected to be able to swim faster, push more watts on the bike, and run better. Simple: get the most of out myself, leave nothing out there.

Race week approached quickly, and with vigor. On Tuesday, I awoke with rapidly-progressing head cold which wasn't promising to be a great travel companion. As it turned out, the plane's AC may have dried out my sinuses enough to give the cold a good kick in the viral guts. Arriving in Ottawa on Wednesday evening I felt considerably better, just carrying a bit of a sniffle.

We headed up to Mont-Tremblant on Thursday and excitement was running high. 

The few days prior to the race were really nice - gorgeous weather and plenty of time to hang out with friends and enjoy the atmosphere. Once check in was completed, things felt pretty real!

Checked in - it's getting real.

Race morning:
With a 8:40 start there was plenty of time to get things done race morning. I woke up, made a coffee and a bowl of porridge, then headed down to transition to do a few things. I was back by 7:30, made another coffee then the crew and I headed down to see the PRO start at 8. 

After seeing the F-18 fly over and the studs take to the water, it was my turn to put my wetsuit on, and warm up.

After getting a good warm up in, I was one of the last guys to make it to the starting corral. Trevor was there marshaling folks in, was good to see him just prior to the start. He snapped a quick pic of the AG prior to the gun going..

SWIM (1.9km): 29:54

It was a bit of a puzzle where to place myself among the guys on the beach. Being a World Championship, I expected most of these guys to be swimming in the 27-30 minute range. I swam under 30 in Auckland on a more technical course in a smaller group, so I hoped for a bit better on the feet of some of these guys. I lined up about 3 rows back, mid-pack.
The gun -well, the fireworks and military cannon- fired and we were off very, very quickly. Lots of fast guys in front of me, but none of them very good at a running start into the water - they kind of fell down in front of me and started thrashing. No duck dives and very little running into the water. Made it a bit weird when I dove onto a dude right in front.
After the chaos of the entry, it was the most hectic first 300m I have ever swum (with the exception of Ironman Melbourne last year). There were a lot of limbs flying and 200-odd guys fighting for position in a pretty tight field. M35-39 had just started ahead of us with 400+ guys - I certainly didn't envy them!
I tried to stay on some sharp feet but the faster guys had already put a big gap on. Train had left the station, unfortunately.
There were always a bunch of guys around swimming the same pace so that was handy to jump on feet as much as possible and save some pennies.
Exiting the water, I was a bit disappointed after hoping to swim a low-29. Still, it was nice to be a minute faster than my 2012 swim on that course.

T1: 4:57

Obviously a massive T1! Wetsuit strippers fumbled a bit helping me get my suit off, not too sure it helped in the end. Being right at the swim exit, I still hadn't got my top-half off so that was probably a poor decision.
Not sure how far exactly the run from the swim exit to the Transition is, but it's certainly a few hundred metres. This time, the AG competitors had to detour via the banquet tent to pick up our T1 bags. I found mine, chucked on my helmet and stuffed my wetsuit into the bag before legging it out of there to the bike.

Bike (90km): 2:26:48

With Alex's guidance, I'd made some pretty solid gains on the pushy over the winter. So, I knew I would be in a position to ride well. My goal was to ride strong, 230-240w, but within limits, as I knew shredding the pins on the bike wouldn't be a good idea ahead of the run course Marc and Dom had put together.


The course in Mont-Tremblant is gorgeous. Rolling out on Montee Ryan, turn right onto the highway and gun it out to the turn around, return via a quick lap of St Jovite's main street, and then head up a few climbs towards Lac Superior before flying back down to T2. It's 1000m-or-so of climbing don't tend to stop it being a fast bike course.
With a head cold in race week,
there was a fair bit of this happening

The problem, though, is that, until La Conception at 50km, it's flat enough for people to draft (intentionally or not) and get a free ride. I certainly found this to be the case, particularly given the thin spread in swim times.

Heading out on the initial rollers of Montee Ryan (the first 7km), it was nuts. It's a very narrow section (relative to the hwy and Lac Superior sections) and there were folks riding 3-wide and not passing. Most folks were pretty happy to roll through to the hwy like this, it appeared. You could either sit on the right and be blocked continually, or get on the pedals and pass folks continually. I chose the latter, but it did mean a few bigger power spikes early on.

Onto the hwy we were faced with a mild head wind out to the turn around (from km 7 to km 30). It became pretty clear that it'd be one of the those days with a bunch of packs hanging around. The first big one I saw was m30-34, who were the first AG to start. Riding behind the pros, there was a massive pack of 50+ guys heading south. Could only shake my head.

I think the headwind must have encouraged the poor decisions for a lot of these people on that way out. I passed two large packs (20+ competitors) all riding with little respect for the drafting/blocking rules (p.s. 7m is not enough, WTC).

At the 30km mark, I was right on target, averaging 230w and feeling good. Heading south, the packs tended to spread and the pace quickened. There were 4 of us riding together in a legal pace line set up until La Conception where I climbed ahead of them and didn't see them again after cresting the hill.

All remained pretty uneventful after that somewhat 'busy' start to the race. I was pretty solo through the village of Ste Jovite and then back into town, again over the the undulating Montee Ryan. Up, then, towards Lac Superieur for the final ~20km out-and-back section which is the hillier part of the course. I pushed up strongly, but tried to remain under CP. 

After making the turn and heading down, I was passed by a small pack of 10 or so guys (mostly Europeans from what I could see on their kits) riding very tightly. I was blocked by them a couple of times, which was really frustrating and, frankly, pretty damn dangerous on a fast, descending section of the course.

*There are quite a few other disappointing reports from the race, regarding drafting amongst both professionals and age-groupers. Take a read.. ST Thread.. Josh Amberger's Race Report (best pro recount I've read - because it's honest!)

T2: 2:06 

Nothing to report here. 

Run: 1:36:33

This was a disappointing end to the day. My run has always been my strong suit and not being able to deliver was a bit heartbreaking, particularly having worked so hard over winter. 


I figured I was in shape to run a 1:28+/-1min. I'd run 1:27 to qualify and figured I was in better shape and likely wouldn't run into a big pole this time on this course (which happened in Auckland!). 

The first 5km or so, out to the turn-around, I felt great and thought I was on-track to post a great run. I clicked off the km's at a consistent effort (though the splits are a bit more varied due to the hilly nature of the course) averaging about a 4min/km pace on the [net] uphill to the turn-around.

On the way out, lap 1. 

It hit pretty quickly: after turning and beginning the trip back into town, my began to feel like they were burning. I tried wriggling my toes a bit and getting on with it, but it was to no avail. The downhill sections were brutal. I wasn't sure how, or why, this was happening. I had done a bunch of runs off the bike in this same sock-shoe combo, never having this pain - though I'd never done more than 30 minutes in them. 

The burning stayed with me for the rest of the run, and I tried to walk a few times at aid stations to give them a brief reprise, but it didn't really help. In the end, I failed to really push through the pain and get on with it. 

Despite the pain in my feet, I was still having a pretty good time on the course. It was nice to see Trevor, Gilly, Morgan, Diane and MC on the course and cheering. The cobblestone section (which was insane, by the way) climbing up to the top of the first ski lift, was amazing to run due to the crowd support. 

Crossing the line, it was hard not to be dissappointed with the thought of not leaving it all out there. But, I was really stoked to have had the opportunity to be out there and amongst it all. It's not every day you can race the best in the world. It's fair to say the calibre of age-groupers is mind blowing at events like this. We had 20-odd guys go under 4:15, including overall AG winner (yes, ignoring Colom's result) Robin Schneider. Those 20 first guys in my AG made up 1/5th of the first 100 finishers overall, including the 40-odd Pro males. Pretty stacked. I think, looking at the results, on my best day, I may have been around 70th. 
Top of the cobbles - awesome atmosphere!

That sets a solid benchmark for 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships on the Sunshine Coast, for which I'll try and qualify along with the guys from Ottawa - it's on boys!!

In the meantime, onwards to Port Macquarie 70.3 in a few weeks. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

From The Window, Looking Forward

It's been a while since I wrote up any sort of update so here goes.

Right now, it's about three months since my last race in Wollongong, and about three months out from the next big dance on the agenda- smack-bang in the middle of the 'window of opportunity'. So time for some reflection and forward thinking about the goals for the next twelve months.

Training has been very solid since the Gong. Settling into a good routine (of chopping wood and carrying water) and getting plenty of great AP10 group sessions in. This time last year I had pulled up stumps with a stress fracture that put me in quite a pickle over the winter! So, ticking lots of boxes this winter and getting it done!

Do what you've always done, and you'll get what you always got!
We've been busy pulling apart the swim and working with a strong focus on technique. Early days but it's going to pay dividends. Jordan Rapp wrote a great article recently regarding breaking through swim plateaus and getting to the next level. Some key elements, he wrote, were: to take the opportunities to swim with purpose; to swim with a group of people who push you, and; to swim with a good coach on deck to watch you swim (and throw pull buoys at you). To that end, couldn't be happier to have Alex on deck and the AP10 Team to swim with consistently!

Been plugging away on the bike and making progress; strength is improving and riding better. Looking forward to getting amongst it at a few local run events too to keep the run legs on top of things. The big goal for the winter is to improve across the board, and get stronger as next season will be long.

Pondering Yuko's situation on the ever surplising Saturday AP10 ride!
Epic runs with JT!
Strength and conditionning work! 

So, looking forward, here's what I have pencilled in..

    Ironman 70.3 World Championships (September 7th, 2014): This is the first big goal, or 'A-Race'. Focus this winter will be preparing for this. Can't wait to toe the line with JP, Lou, Nick, Dan and the other 2000+ athletes!

        Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie - Australian Age-Group Championships (October 19th, 2014): Will head up to Port Mac for the first time to scout the course (for May) and take advantage of being in race shape.

          Nepean Triathlon (October 26th, 2014): Had a lot of fun here last year and will go around again - should be a cracking pro field with an increase of prize money (again!).

            TriHusky (Nov 10th, 2014): See how we go, but would like to do this again as it's always fun rolling through Husky. May end up being an and/or situation between Husky and Shepp, or Shepp and Callala.
              Challenge Shepparton (November 16th, 2014): Had a great time last year down in Shepp at the 70.3 event. With the change in location to the bigger lake in town and a new course, it should be a good event by the Challenge Family. 

              BREAK TIME! Will have a rest after Shepp and eat a few pies before rebuilding.
                Husky Long Course (February, 2015): How can you resist the beauty of Jervis Bay. Always a great field, too. 
                  Wollongong (March, 2015): Bit of short course to keep the legs sharp! 
                    Challenge Bateman's Bay (March, 2015): Should be a tough race and great prep for the big one in May.

                    and lastly...

                      IRONMAN AUSTRALIA (May, 2015): YESSIR! Doing another Ironman has been on my mind. What better place, or time, than at Port Mac for the 30th anniversary of Ironman Australia, one of the toughest on the circuit. Goal - make it onto *the* video 

                        Quick stats:
                        2 - The number of beers it took to write this post.
                        0 - The number of times I moved from the lounge whilst writing this post.
                        0.5 - The number of slabs of Dark Chocolate consumed whilst writing this post.

                        Thursday, March 20, 2014

                        Race Report: Wollongong - NSW Standard Distance Championships

                        Last race of the year, done. After battling through Husky with a bit of a bug in my system, I was looking forward to another crack at expressing some of the hard work I'd been doing. Combine it with the fact it was the one and only Olympic race I'd do this season, I was excited to have a bit of fun over the distance.

                        Swim (1.5km): 24:07

                        Felt great on the swim - even after sitting on the beach for over an hour after we got the boot from transition quite early. Started on the beach at the far left with fellow AP10'rs Jordan and Scott where we had a clean run out to the first can. We hit the water at pace and got stuck into it at a good effort out of the harbour and around the first can. We settled into a good rythym and had a good-sized little group.
                        Emo decided under 30 men merited a bit of pink. 
                        After the second turn, to head south, I had a bit of a lapse in focus and fell off the pace a fraction. I picked it up towards the end and excited the drink in 11th place alongside guys who were minutes ahead of me in Husky. Happy with the swim and I think it shows I have a bit more potential in the water than prior form suggested.

                        Bike (40km): 1:01:43

                        Out of the blocks, I pushed hard. Chasing a bunch of guys who gapped me in transition, I didn't want to let them get away. At the turn around on the first lap (about 8km in) I noticed there was a bit of a group riding well a minute or so ahead. I used this as motivation and tried to manage the gap as much as possible each lap.
                        By the third lap, the sea breeze was beginning to pick up which I was pleased about as I felt pretty slippery on the bike.
                        Great to have the AP10 support crew blasting the encouragement as we rolled into T2.
                        Happy with the numbers: 248AP, 261NP.

                        Run (10km): 38:22

                        The run felt a lot like dying. I took off at an alright clip but soon felt like crap. It was as though I couldn't get my cadence up and my legs and hips felt quite tight. I really had to focus to hold form together and had to stop to walk a couple of times to massage out a little stomach cramp.
                        Nevertheless, I ran well. To put it in perspective, I ran 38:22 off 248w of AP for an hour (I.e. >90%). At the Nepean Triathlon in October, I ran 37:53 (about 30 seconds faster, on an almost perfect run course) after about 51 minutes at 207w AP.
                        Shows I rode a lot better, and likewise improved run strength despite it being a fraction slower and feeling like death.

                        I ended up in 6th behind a lot of fast guys. Our AG winner was 2nd overall, not far behind AP10 Pro, and Coach, James Davy. So, I find it was a good way to the end the season and gave Alex and I lots of things to feel positive about, and to work on, going forward.

                        For now, looking forward to getting stuck into some training and getting a good winter under my belt. Ironman 70.3 World Championships now less than six months away, and the Australian Age-Group Ironman 70.3 Championship in Port Macquarie not long after that.
                        AP10 support crew thinking of their next encouraging line..

                        Special Thanks To...

                        Thanks once again to Gareth and the rest of the amazing USN Australia team who have shown me so much support - its an honour to work with such an innovative and hard-working company.
                        Also to Saucony Australia who have been fantastic and allowing me the chance to get my hands on the best running gear around.
                        Finally, to Alex Price and the rest of the AP10 team - great to finally be offically part of the squad and looking forward to getting out of 3rd gear with your guidance.

                        Wednesday, February 26, 2014

                        RACE REPORT: 2014 Huskisson Long Course Triathlon

                        Short Version: 4:16:02, 11th M25-29, Lot's of hurt.

                        Long Version: I was always looking forward to rolling around at Husky again this year. After having a mixed race here last year (Here's the 2013 Report), I thought I had the tools to need to really give it a good shake and see if I could improve on last year's tenth. Once again though, it was a mixed day, but there were some great positives to draw on.

                        PRE RACE

                        Since Auckland 70.3, I had been getting in some great sessions and was beginning to get some confidence about my cycling. Improving my riding has been a focus (and will continue to be) as its was the difference between my result and a Top-5 in 2013. The sessions laid out for me by Alex had been great and even in a short training block, were enough to give me a needed boost.

                        Race week is, ideally, pretty stress-free, restful and exciting. Mine was, however, a bit tiring. I worked the 6 days leading into the race and picked up some kind of cold bug late in the week. I felt like trash on Friday particularly, and generally felt fatigued. But, sometimes that sort of stuff happens and you just have to learn from it and deal with it.

                        Alarm was sounding at 4:30am Sunday morning and I was sipping coffee minutes later. I drove the lazy 20-30minutes down to Husky and wandered over to transition with about an hour until my wave start. No problem, I thought.


                        I race on latex tubes. Latex doesn't hold the air in tyres perfectly and you lose a few psi overnight (enough to necessitate a quick pump up). My valve extenders didn't want to play ball and ended up inside my rear rim (partly due to my fumbling around in the bad light). Trying not to panic, I got a quick warm up run in (two birds, one stone) over to the Shimano Support guys and got a Dura-Ace box wheel off them. Running a training tyre, butyl tubed, training wheel would be undoubtedly slower, but at least I could race. Deal with it, I told myself.

                        Panic over, I got the rest of my stuff ready and headed down to the beach for a warm up.

                        2km SWIM - 33:35

                        That's 31st out of the water - not great. I started 2nd row and just tried to stay in the game, but couldn't mix it with the fish, or anyone for that fact. Swam comfortably, but I didn't feel sharp at all, which I'm chalking up to feeling under the weather with that cold.
                        At least I didn't go off course like last year. Plenty of work to do in the water though, if we're honest, and hopefully will get some more things sorted soon.  
                        My gut instinct is that the two-lap course this year was a fraction longer than last years three-lap course. The two-lap course was much nicer than last year's three - less congestion and mucking around. 
                        Photo: Scott Krauss

                        Needless to say, though, it's the most enjoyable swim course ever. How can you beat Jervis Bay at sunrise? 

                        T1 - 2:18 

                        That needs to sharpen up. My wetsuit is a piece of junk which will cop a bit of the blame. Will be visiting Karl and the team at Northside Runners for a new Huub Wetsuit soon, I reckon!

                        83km BIKE - 2:16:33

                        I'm proud of this ride - something that rarely occurs. Despite feeling as flat as a steam-rolled tortilla wrap, I wanted to push the ride and do justice to the build up.

                        Last year my split was a clean ten-minutes slower (2:26:32) after falling to pieces on the 2nd and 3rd laps. It was a bit of different story last year, though, as I trained through the event without really tapering at all.

                        In 2013, I rode 47:44, 49:06, 49:35 each lap versus 45:18, 44:59, 45:33 this year on pretty consistent watts each lap.

                        Power numbers: 225AP, 231NP, VI=1.03

                        In any case, I felt strong on the bike despite running on 4 cylinders. On track!

                        I love the bike course down in Husky. I ride it a fair bit and it's a good, fair course. Despite that, there were definitely a few wheel-suckers hanging around and each time I passed the penalty tent I was sad to see it empty.

                        T2 - 1:25

                        20km RUN - 1:22:09

                        Well. This was a tough nut. I was hoping to run around the same pace as in Auckland given the flat nature of the course. And things we're looking good after the first 2km which I ticked off in 8 minutes flat, feeling good. Slowly though, the my energy seemed to fade despite staying on top of my nutrition and the km's felt longer, and were no longer so comfortable.

                        By the first turn around at 5ish km's I was feeling pretty crap, wanting for it to be over. It was a matter of gritting my teeth and getting it done from that point on.

                        I held it together and trotted through the second lap with a grimace and the support of the AP10 crew yelling encouragement to clock a 1:22:09 run, a full nine seconds quicker than last year.

                        In hindsight, I rode a lot better and ran the same on an empty tank. Happy.

                        Anyway, no excuses. Everyone's job to get to the startline healthy.

                        Looking forward to  having a crack in Wollongong in a couple of weeks!

                        Monday, January 20, 2014

                        Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Auckland - Asia-Pacific Championships

                        Mission accomplished, I'm going to the big dance in September. Some time ago, my good friend JP and I set out to race the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Champs, and the 2015 Ironman Worlds in Kona, Hawaii. Well, the first part of that pact is now real (for me anyway, JP you had better punch your ticket in April!).

                        Still holding water: The Contract

                        I was lucky enough to get the last slot on offer in Auckland on Sunday, and as it was my second attempt, I'm glad I don't have to sit through another roll-down ceremony for a while!

                        Anyway, short version of the race report goes like this: 7th AG, best 70.3 to-date - first sub 4:30 effort (JUST!), 70.3 WC Qualification.


                        I had a pretty good lead-up to the race, to be honest! After Shepparton, I got stuck into training and nailed the key sessions in the last 8 weeks or so without over-cooking my body. I had also spent quite a bit of time in the gym at Jetts Nowra doing some specific functional strength stuff which I think really helped my keep strong form the entire race.

                        I arrived in Auckland late Friday evening and tried to get a good night's rest but the time difference was frustrating for my body clock (small, but big enough to be annoying when you've got to get up on Sunday at 2:30am on your body-clock's time).

                        Built the bike up on Saturday morning and went for a quick spin to make sure all was well. This made me pretty pumped for Sunday as the legs felt pretty good and the scenery around Auckland was pretty specky.

                        In my experience, rice based dishes are the bomb for carbo loading, so I smashed down a whole lot of sushi packed with avocado and salmon for lunch on Saturday - boom. Quick swim at the hotel pool and bed at 9 (only to lay there for a while.. damn body clock!)

                        RACE DAY

                        Woke to the alarm and got cracking with coffee and breaky before heading down the street to the race site in my PJ's (yeah, only long pants I brought with me, whatever). Got set up in transition before realising I left my timing chip at the hotel. Not too worry, it was a 15 minute walk and I had over an hour before my start - just a pain in the butt. So walked the streets a bit more in my PJ's.. #yolo.

                        SWIM: 29:49 (1.9km)

                        I got to the swim start with plenty of time to spare. The race director had made some pretty solid efforts to give each wave their own race and minimize congestion with 7-10 minute gaps between waves. This gave us plenty of time to warm up and get positioned on the start line for the deep water start.

                        Pete Murray talked us through a few things (as usual) and laid on a fair bit of his banter (as usual). We good a good start and took off towards the first can which was a few hundred metres straight out. I missed the feet of the front group, and by the turn I was swimming solo alongside another guy.

                        The course was a simple enough design with a few lefts and a few right turns, but pretty straightforward. Just one section where we headed into the sun and couldn't see much.

                        I excited the water in the Viaduct Harbour in 29:49 which is a PB 70.3 swim for me. I'm going to chalk that up to excellent conditions and a potentially short course (First pro group was out in under 22, which is exceptionally quick) so it might have been 50-100m short. Anyway, happy with how it went!

                        BIKE - 2:28:48 (90.44km)

                        I was pretty excited for the bike course. We were to cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge, do a lollipop loop with a few little hills and a couple of longer climbs (nothing extreme), then head back to do a few laps on fast and flat out-and-back section along Auckland's waterfront after a technical loop around the harbour area of the CBD (cobblestone-like sections, rail tracks, tight turns).

                        Heading over the bridge, it was hard not to want to stomp the pedals too much and crush the climb. But, in an effort to produce the best overall result I could, I tried to stay at -or close to- my critical power output and not burn too many matches. I got passed by a few guys over the bridge, but they came back to me eventually.

                        Without doubt, coming back into the City over the bridge was my favourite part - postcard material. Beautiful, sunny and still morning and an epic view - what's better?
                        Just wow...

                        I passed a few guys in my category on the bike leg, and knew I had ticked the boxes with regards to my effort, with an Average Power of around 210 watts (bang on 0.8 IF). Still, I have the slowest bike split in the Top 10 so I know where the work needs to be done. Long term goal is to really improve that power output and get my CP above 4w/kg. To qualify for Hawaii that's going to be critical.

                        The bike, for those who like that sort of thing.

                        RUN - 1:27:47 (21.45km)

                        The run has always been my savior. Despite a, frankly, crap year of running, my running was in pretty good knick - I hadn't lost anything since last season, just a bit of conditioning.

                        I took off out of transition and felt great, ticking off the first few km's around 4 minutes each at a steady comfortable effort. I settled in and ran to that comfortable tempo for the first lap for a 4:05 average.

                        The first lap wasn't without it's drama, though. I absolutely smashed myself on a pole. Coming out of the corridor set up on the ferry terminal onto Quay St, there were a couple of waist-high posts across the course. There was a guy right in front of me and, a quick glance at my watch was enough for me to totally miss the posts - I hit the deck hard and let's say I'm lucky I didn't make contact a few inches to the left.

                        I had decided to try gels for the first time on the run, in an effort to keep the calories coming in. I took on two over the first lap and it worked really well. But, I didn't have one early in the second lap and suffered. Between around 13-18kms I was hurting. The pace dropped off and I ran a few km's at around 4:15. I picked up another gel and got stuck into the Coke, and pulled it together to grit the teeth and run the last few kms in hard, under 4-min pace.

                        I finished the run in 1:27:47 which is a PB for a 70.3 run. Pretty happy with that overall. I reckon I can take a few minutes off that in the next few years between nailing the nutrition and the training.


                        Got a massage, some fruit and a protein bar I had packed in my bag. Sat, waited for Audrey and Dan to finish. Plenty of water and chatted with a few of the other finishers. 

                        Dan and I with out tickets to the Champs!
                        I destroyed lunch and we got cleaned up and went down to the roll-down ceremony. It was really cool seeing the emotion on the faces on the Kona Qualifiers. Hopefully that'll be me one day (although admittedly I don't know how - they are freaks!).

                        Our catagory was allocated two Hawaii slots, and three for Mont-Tremblant. Bacon and Gerard took the Kona, and third-place took the first 70.3 WC slot leaving two slots to roll down. It was nerve-wracking sitting there as Pete called through the list. After one guy took the first slot, the last one was put up for grabs. 

                        Pete asked all the m25-29 guys in the room to come up and front and I think there was 5 or 6 of us. He asked for our times (as the fastest would get it). I knew there was only one guy who could have taken it ahead of me, but I was still sweating bullets. As luck would have it, he wasn't amongst them. The other boys congratulated me and I headed over to drop $450 to WTC for rego - stoked! 

                        Dan got in on roll-down in m35-39 in one lucky ending to a very ordinary week for him. Too happy for him! Poor old Audrey missed out after getting close, wasn't meant to be I guess.

                        Now looking forward to seeing JP nail his qualification in either Florida or Mont-Tremblant and keep the contract alive. Meanwhile, Coach Alex will hopefully have me on track to make the changes I need to really hit the next level!

                        Thanks to USN Australia and Saucony Australia for the great support on this journey, and to all the family and friends who were supporting me near and far - you're all appreciated more than you know! 

                        Tuesday, December 24, 2013

                        2013 in Retrospect: A Year of Change

                        The festive season is often a time of reflection, and this year is no different. Rewinding the clock 12 months, and I'd just landed back in Australia and was looking forward to summer, Ironman Melbourne, and becoming a teacher. I ticked all of those boxes and then some.

                        After a number of years in Ottawa doing the 'same-old', this year has indeed been a roller-coaster on a number of levels - on a personal level particularly, as some of you may know.
                        Ironman Melbourne in March this year - a massive learning experience.

                        Most self-conscious moment of 2013: My mug in Australian Triathlete mag.

                        Athletically, it's been a tricky year with a stress fracture being most frustrating. But, things are looking up as I've made good progress on the bike and my run fitness and conditioning is coming back after a couple of consistent months of regular running. In fact, I've been able to do weekly 90 minute long runs in the last 4 weeks which I haven't been able to do since May. 

                        Hopefully I can carry some momentum into the new year and make 2014 even better. To help with that, I'll be enlisting the help of Alex Price of AP10. Alex is one of Australia's most respected triathlon coaches and physiotherapists with a long CV which includes work with Olympians, non-drafting champions and the like.  I've been lucky enough to do some riding with the group, based in Wollongong, this year which has - I believe - been key to having the confidence and the ability to ride harder than I ever have. 

                        On the racing menu for 2014 so far is Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships in Auckland in a few weeks, Elite Energy Huskisson Long Course in February, and the Wollongong Olympic Tri in March. As you know the main goal for 2014 is racing Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont-Tremblant so with a bit of luck, I'll get my slot in Auckland. 
                        Petrol for 2013
                        Big thanks again to Saucony Australia and USN Australia for the ongoing support. Being an ambassador for these guys is unreal and I consider myself very lucky to have the chance to work with them. 

                        As for the rest of the year, anything else is possible! In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

                        Sunday, November 17, 2013

                        Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Shepparton

                        Reader's Digest Version: Good day, 4:30 and change, 10th m25-29, 60th Overall (1400 competitors), 42nd Age-Grouper. No WC ticket :(

                        NB: In interest of keeping this race report succinct, I wrote separately about the lead-up to the race HERE.

                        NB #2: Not many pics at the moment, I'll update soon :)

                        Lead Up:
                        This week we had a couple of days of Professional Development at uni - which then I spent Thursday and Friday building my new bike (which was a bit stressful and took trips to no less than four bike shops!). Packed up Friday night, then headed out for a cold one to relax before hitting the hay. 

                        Saturday was spent on the road, mostly, arriving in Shepparton around 3pm for check-in. Bed early to catch some Z's.

                        4am alarm. Ugh. We stayed in Benalla, about 45-50 minutes away, and had to hit the road early to make it there on time. Got to transition by 5:30 and got my race morning 'needs' out of the way. Phil announced shortly thereafter there were some changes made to the wave starts, and athletes should be looking for update start times posted around the site. m25-29 were initially set to go at 7:02am - just after the PRO wave - but instead would now be the second-last wave at 7:31! Still don't understand how the waves were re-shuffled like that the night before a race which was sold out for 6 months. Disappointing. This would have a few implications, with the main one being 'traffic'.

                        Nevertheless, can't stress about things outside of our control - so roll with the punches. I said goodbye to my folks and set about walking over to the swim start. Got to see the first few waves take off. Clayton and Josh stretched out the pro's right from the get-go. On their way around past the start, the lead kayak lead them off course, then proceeded to tell them to backtrack around a can - what a joke - poor girl was mortified. They kept most of their advantage over the main pack, but Hodgy got back on their feet in the process.
                        Cool and glassy conditions on the lake race morning.

                        What was evident at this point, was the congestion in the lake, as the boys began navigating their way through large packs of lapped swimmers. It's not a big lake, and to get 1.9km out of it, the course loops around 1.5 times and has a pretty awkward shape, hugging all the lake's edges. 

                        So my day began there, in the turbid and cold water with 1400 pairs of thrashing arms.

                        SWIM - 1.9km: 32:01
                        As I've said, the water was really flaming turbid (that's muddy, for you non-geographers) and pretty chilly (18 degrees). I jumped in and did a quick warm up, but nothing huge. We took off and it was an absolute shit-fight from the horn.
                        Old-mate Lake. Pretty cramped with 1400 athletes spaced out over only 30 minutes.

                        A couple of guys lined up on the front row in front of me and after about 10m it was pretty evident they shouldn't have been there. I got stuck behind them for the first 100m or so as the pack took off. Anyway, we merged in to a bit of traffic and began working our way through a lot of slower swimmers from prior waves. This continued and throughout the whole swim it felt like there was always someone to navigate around. 

                        Anyway, was chuffed to get out, even though my split was a few minutes slower than I hoped for.
                        Getting out the water with folks.. look at that milkshake of a lake

                        T1: 2:18
                        Classic T1 for me - pass people on the run in, lose a bunch of time struggling with my wetsuit and fumbling with my helmet. Quick bike mount and we're off.

                        BIKE - 90km: 2:24:40
                        I was really happy with my ride, for once. Without a good prep, I was lucky that the course was very fast and flat (allowing undercooked people like me to get away with it, to a certain extent). 

                        Having been in the last wave, there was a LOT of traffic on the course. A lot. I passed a huge number of competitors on the first lap - and a lot of them were in packs. For the entire first lap I didn't see a single Technical Official. Just a bunch of wheel suckers. To be fair, there were a lot of folks where were just 'stuck' - not intending to draft, just stuck without anywhere to go. The road was very narrow in certain sections, making it often unsafe to pass.
                        I know, I know, aero weenies - no disc and not a very good 'turtle' 

                        I rode to my watts, but was often soft-pedaling to keep a good distance back from those in front, before passing or whatever. A dude on a Shiv Tri and I kept passing each other, taking turns to pace and guide us through the field. He fell off about 10kms into the second lap though. 

                        Final numbers were 187 AP, 188 NP (i.e. steady effort), IF=0.75, 1605kj of work, and two pisses. I wasn't quite in shape to push more watts, though it would have been nice to get a few extra minutes. Next time.

                        Oh yeah, new whip was a dream! 

                        My Garmin shut off (no idea why) for a minute or so, right where it looks like I cut a corner through the paddocks ;)

                        A few notes on the course: The roads were chip seal, not the quickest, but still in pretty good shape and very consistent.  Some sections were pretty darn narrow. 

                        T2: 1:59
                        Fumbled with my socks a bit, but otherwise pretty standard.

                        RUN - 21.1km: 1:29:28
                        3 lap course around the lake and along the creek, plenty crowded. Bring it on.
                        I felt pretty ordinary from the get go. I drank plenty and got in 250g - 300g of carbs on my ride so I knew it wasn't that. Just fitness I think. I due to the stress fracture this year and lack of run prep, it was always going to be a battle. Jog on.
                        Dem crowds

                        Lap 1 was probably the toughest, mentally. Felt like it was going to be a long one. There were a lot of people on the course, and on the out-and-back section it was a constant battle getting around people. Most people stuck 'on-the-right', but it's certainly not a course where you can jog alongside your mate two abreast.

                        Was really cool seeing Terenzo, Bergs and Hodgy heading for home, then being passed by Matty White as he trucked it in for fourth.

                        Lap 2 hurt the most, physically. Gut was a bit bloated so getting in the coke was a little bit of a struggle. Suck it up. Was feeling the heat quite a bit, too, by this stage.

                        Lap 3 was the best. My legs felt great for the first half of it and I felt fit for a while, which was fun. I took on a bit of coke at the turn around, gritted my teeth, and headed for home.

                         Didn't start my watch until a few minutes into the run. Dem satelites.

                        Crossing the line was really satisfying. Before the race I was a bit anxious with regards to how I
                        would actually go, but I was relieved to be able to run an OK half-marathon on crap preparation.

                        This felt good.

                        Off to get some water, protein and a massage (AMAZING!) as soon as possible. Felt pretty good, certainly not too dehydrated like my two previous long-distance races. Mum showed me the tracker, which indicated I had finished 10th in my AG. 60th overall, but only 10th in my AG. So take out the pro field (18), and 10/42 top age-groupers were m25-29 and we only had one slot for the World Champs. Ugh.

                        I went to roll-down anyway, knowing miracles can happen. Unfortunately (for me), Gerard Wild (1st in m25-29) also showed up and grabbed the slot, leaving the other five guys in our AG a bit heartbroken. But, hope remained as there were 25 slots, and only 28 people who showed up to roll down, meaning only three people would go home empty-handed. After all initial slots were allocated, including two m35-39 slots to a couple of chuffed competitors who finished 69th and 120-something-ith in their age-group, there were four roll down slots. We got an extra one, but old-mate who finished fourth grabbed it. Spewing.

                        At the end of the day, I'm still very happy with the outcome: I came to lay down all my cards, and I'm confident I got the most out of my body today - I just didn't have the fitness to go to that next level.

                        Now I've got two-months to prepare for the Asia-Pacific Ironman 70.3 Championship in Auckland, NZ. There will be a lot more spots there, so I'm crossing my fingers I'll get a shot at competing next year in Mont-Tremblant.

                        Finally, I must acknowledge Shepparton Tri Club and the rest of the team including the fantastic volunteers, and the town of Shepparton and the amazing residents - this was, in terms of atmosphere and athlete experience, one of the best races I've ever been in.