Yes, I am once again in Phuket training at Thanyapura. I am excited to partner with them as a brand ambassador for 2017 and when my brother decided to get married in Thailand I thought it would be a waste to not swing by Phuket.
The last time I was here I was here to compete in two races. This was great but it meant I was not really able to train properly. In fact it was a bit of a balancing act between getting used to the heat and tapering and recovering for the races. This time I am here to train. Now when I say train I really mean train. If you have been reading my ramblings for a while you will know I cannot speak highly enough of the facilities here. So combine incredible facilities with a fantastic group of coaching staff and Thanyapura really is a great location to lay a solid block of training down.
One of the other big changes to Thanyapura is the growth of the Professional Triathlon Team, a group of international athletes from around the world who really have an incredibly impressive athletic resume between them. Apart from being here to smash myself this time there has been another change and that is a change in me.
Since I was here in November I delivered a result that I am incredibly proud of in Tauranga. That result has really made me believe that my goal of achieving a 4:05 70.3 is going to be achievable. Since them I am training with a new intensity. With the exception of the day after my brothers bucks party I have not missed a single training session and man there have been some tough ones. I am training harder and longer than I ever expected. I have ridden over 500km every week and it has become a sort of personal challenge. But while I have been here at Thanyapura I have forced myself to try and train with the professional team as much as possible.
On Sunday there is the standard long ride at Thanyapura. As we rode North I had the pleasure of riding with Imke ‘Immy’ Oelerich, the newest member of the pro team. We were right up the front of the pack and were having a good laugh as the two Thai guys leading the group seemed to be racing each other. When we reached the turn around I wanted to go a bit further but assumed that I would just do some of the loops near the hotel when we got back. But, some of the pro team were going for a longer ride. Now I think before my Tauranga result I would not have had the confidence to ride with these guys. I mean they are seriously good athletes. But I asked if I could go with them and I am so glad that I did. Apart from meeting a great bunch of people I managed to ride 180kms at an average speed of 32.5km/h. Now this isn’t any sort of land speed record or anything but I have not ridden that far in maybe 5 years and to hold that pace over that distance and have it not kill me was awesome (and no I didn’t sit on the back the whole day.) It was also impressive to see the masters perform their art. The longest serving member of the team, Antony Costes was doing 10 min efforts and man did he move!
Over the next few days I have made an effort to train with these guys as much as possible. On our Tuesday long ride I spent probably the last 60km riding on the front of the group with Ritchie Nicholls and was excited to hear that he had won one of my favourite races, Haugesund 70.3. His lovely wife, Eimear Mullan was also there for every km of the ride and was so modest about her seriously impressive list of results. Plus she tolerated me giving her a hard time about wearing arm warmers in Thailand (apparently they really cool you down.) At one point on our ride yesterday as we were going up a hill I attempted to go with Lucas Amirault but that idea lasted for about 10 seconds before I realised it was impossible.
The reason I really want to make a point of mentioning these people is because I am in a situation at the moment where I am able to train with a group of people who are really able to push me out of my comfort zone. I never would have ridden 180kms for a long ride or spent the majority of Tuesday’s ride on the front. This is something that I think can be important for everyone. No I am not saying jump on a plane to Thanyapura to train with the pro team (but I would highly recommend it!) Instead I am saying whatever it is you are and whatever your goals, I recommend you try and train with people who are better than you are. I am really trying to use this as an opportunity to give myself the best chance of a fast time in Melbourne in April. If my training keeps going the way it is, I believe I will line up there confident that I have prepared as best I can.
This morning I took my training to the next level. Training not only with the members of the pro team, but with a seriously fast German athlete who is in town at the moment. I mean holds the World Record for a 70.3 fast. Michael Raelert is here and we were also joined by Freddie Croneborg they gave me an absolute hiding on the bike and then on the track. Training with these guys really forced me to dig deeper than I normally would. I mean who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to train with this caliber of athlete?
This is also one of the things that I love so much about this sport. Here am I, an age grouper with big goals but nowhere near the talent that they have and I have been made to feel so welcome training with this incredible athletes. There are very few sports in the world were amateurs get that sort of opportunity. So I am going to jump in the deep end for the rest of my time here and take every opportunity I can to be pushed, humiliated, destroyed and smashed because I am lucky enough that I can!
So on that note, try and find a good group who can push you out of your comfort zone and if you are able to, spend time training with people who you can help too and above all else, Remember to TRI!