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.
PRE-RACEI 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 DAYWoke 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?
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!|
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!