I'm not going to go for a race report from last weekend's race this time because to be honest, I am not very happy with my performance. Not because I wasn't fit or anything and to be honest I was actually pretty happy with my place (15th overall). No I am disappointed with the result because I lost the mental battle. What do I mean? I listened to the voices in my head which told me I couldn't, shouldn't and wouldn't. This is something I have worked very hard to overcome in the past. Last weekend it was different.
Normally when I race those voices start when things start to hurt. When you are pushing hard and suffering it is only too easy to listen to the thoughts that tell you that you don't need to push so hard or it is ok to give up. I have heard those voices in most of my races to date and I have gotten used to it. I know when they are coming and I know how to deal with them. So what happened to me on the weekend? I signed up for an Olympic Distance race. I don't love racing this distance because the pace is furious. 2+ hours of going flat out. I did however expect to make a significant improvement on my PB for an OD race. I have been training hard this year and I have been seeing improvements. Therefore it is only natural for me to race an OD faster right? I didn't care about whether I came first or last. All I wanted as to go faster than 2:12. Maybe it is a little arrogant of me but I genuinely believe I am much faster than this. Anyway, come race morning and I wasn't nervous or stressed. It wasn't really that big a deal to me to be honest. The biggest issue I was having was about my new bike. I got some amazing new ZIPP wheels to go with my new Trinity. I had them in at Giant Sydney to have them made ready for racing and I didn't get into the city until Friday evening to pick them up. When I tried to fit the wheels, the disc was too thick for the brakes and I could not adjust them any wider. I went for the 808's instead which only just fit. It was so freaking close but I thought it would be fine. I had everything sorted in transition when I went to the swim start.
Now Elite Energy races are notorious for having all manner of distances for their 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. Sometimes they are long and sometimes they are short. When I stood on the beach I thought man it looks like a big course and we have to do 2 laps of it! The beach that the swim was on had an obvious current but I didn't think too much about it. While I was swimming the first lap I thought it felt like a long way and when I got out of the water at the end of my first lap my Garmin had measured over 1km! That was it. I knew it, no chance of posting a stellar time today when the 1500m swim was going to be 2km! I instantly lost interest in the race. I walked back into the water and didn't even duck dive out past the waves and coming back in I did the same thing. I got into transition annoyed. Annoyed the course was long and annoyed because I knew I had slacked off. I was determined to ride well and post a strong run. I left T1 and started riding. about 3km into the race I went over a bump and the front wheel started making a noise. A rubbing noise which meant only one thing. The brakes had moved. I had to stop to try and re-align the brakes. I did this and took off. The noise was still there so for a second time I stopped to try and fix the brakes. I thought I had done it and when I took off again the noise was still there. That was it, whatever interest I had in the day was gone. The only reason I kept riding was because I wanted to run off the bike. I finished the bike leg and got out on the run.
1.5km into the run I got a bloody stitch. It hurt so bad I had to slow right down to try and breath it out. I could not believe it. Every fucking leg had something go wrong. Now I am not making excuses for my result, in fact looking back on it I think it is almost funny. But I was broken. Not physically but mentally. I ran a shocking run split and finished the race. I was amazed by how disappointed I was with the time. The weekend before I smashed my half marathon PB and was on top of the world. My training was working. I was getting faster. Then 6 days later I was convinced I was useless, slow and never going to get any faster.
It wasn't until that afternoon when my good mate Mike 'Robo' Robinson told me 'mate who cares if the swim was long, everyone swam the same distance.' I told him that I do not care about where I place, I wanted a good time. He told me that I am no longer a middle of the pack racer, I should not only focus on my time. Instead I need to realise that I need to start racing the field. This was the exact same thing my coach told me. I hear it and it starts to make sense but it is a massive paradigm shift for me. If I had of focused on the race instead of the time I wouldn't have lost interest in the swim and I would have kept pushing the whole race. Instead I lost the mental battle with myself and have been dealing with the consequences ever since.
I suppose like most changes it will take time. Time to get used to racing with different priorities. Even writing it down now makes me feel uncomfortable. But maybe by shifting my focus onto the race as it presents itself there will be a number of positives. I mean triathlon is the sort of sport where all kinds of things can go wrong. The weather can have a huge impact on your result, some courses have a long run to and from transition. There are so many variables. By racing the field, or accepting that we are all doing the same race, there is perhaps less chance of this sort of mental weakness presenting itself again. Who knows! But what I do know is that there is still a lot more for me to learn about racing the sport I love. But that is like most things, there are always going to be new issues and hurdles which present themselves. How you deal with them can make a huge difference.
So moving forward I am going to try and focus on racing the race instead of the clock (I am still going to chase that 4:05). By doing this I may see better results and be less likely to give up. I am certainly hoping so.
Have a great weekend everyone, stay tough and remember to TRI!
It is going to be one of those weeks where I deal with what I think is a pretty serious issue. This blog may get a little deep and maybe a little dark. I do however think that it is something that I need to get off my chest and it is my bloody blog so I will write about what I want :-)
So before you see the title this week and think "Oh poor you! People are telling you that you are too skinny" I want to get something out of the way. I am happy to admit that I have some issues with my body image. I say it time and time again that I do not think you can go through a major physical change without some psychological side-effects. It is something which I am getting better at dealing with but I would be lying if I said that I do not have issues with my body image. I look in the mirror and find it hard to see the person I have become instead of the person that I used to be. I can say that after 5 years this is becoming easier to manage, but it is still something that I have to deal with on a daily basis.
So having said that I am getting sick of people telling me that I am too skinny. I get it all the time now. Comments like "eat a pie" or "you're wasting away" do not make me feel good about myself. They do not make me think that I am too skinny (because I know that I am not). All they do is make me self-conscious. They make me think that I am not the only person looking at my body and not liking what they see. I am an endurance athlete. Guess what, here is a shocking piece of info, if you train more than 20 hours a week there is a good chance that you will be lean. I have a coach who allocates my daily sessions and I do not do any extras. I eat a healthy and balanced diet so I am confident that I do not have an eating disorder. The simple fact is that for the sport I choose to compete in, some people are skinny. If you lined me up next to other triathletes you would see that I am not the exception. Nor am I the leanest athlete in the field. I can appreciate that I am not every other triathlete though. I know that I used to weigh over 120kgs. I know that I look very different now.
What baffles me the most though is that when I was overweight no one ever said anything to me about it. Literally no one. These days I go for a meal with my family and I have to say "I don't want anyone mentioning my weight." I think if my wife Dez ever says anything to me about it I would take it seriously. This is because she sees what I eat and knows how much I train everyday. If she thinks something is wrong then I would actually look at my diet. She literally has been with me through the entire journey. I assure you I wasn't at my biggest when we met. It is something that I am aware of too. About a month ago my weight dropped to a level which I believed was too low. To remedy this I started to increase the number of calories I consumed daily. I didn't start adding a pizza to my evening meal. I just started to eat more of the same food I was already eating.
What really annoys me though is why it is taboo to tell someone who is overweight that they are too big but it is almost considered a compliment to tell people they are too skinny? Newsflash! There are serious health hazards that people who are too skinny face. If you think telling someone they are too skinny is a compliment you are wrong. I am aware that I have advocated before about as a society we should not be afraid to talk to people about their weight. Weight can be an indicator of other issues a person is going through and there is nothing wrong with asking if a person is OK. But once you are told that there is nothing that needs to be worried about leave it alone. It is not the sort of thing that needs to be mentioned over and over again. Apart from the obvious body image issues the knowledge that certain people are likely to mention your weight when you see them can create anxiety and make people feel uncomfortable.
So why does it bother me so much? The answer is that when someone tells me I am too skinny I do not think it is a comment about my weight. Instead, it makes me think that there is something wrong with my body. This is the last thing that a person who has body image issues wants to hear. Because when you have issues with your body, the problems can sometimes be the only things that you see. It is a slippery slope and once you start sliding it can be hard to stop. It is ridiculous I know. I am literally sitting here writing this and I know how ridiculous it is. But it is real. If I have a rest day or go out for a big night with friends it has an actual impact on my mood and my self-confidence. Before I followed a structured training plan and would sort of haphazardly train Dez used to almost kick me out the door to go for a run or something because of the impact it would have on my mood. Who knows. Maybe I am the odd person here but I wonder how many other people out there who have issues with their body image can understand what I am talking about. I just don't like it when people make comments about my body. Especially when it is something that is repeated time and time again.
Honestly I know people are not saying these things to be harsh or to upset me. In fact I am probably as much to blame because I do not tell people to stop doing it (this is pretty out of character for me because I like to speak my mind) or even that it makes me feel this way. Sometimes I also think to myself that the comments people make are a reflection on themselves more than me. It is easy to say things to a stranger via the internet who you don't know. Maybe this is because you are unhappy with your own body? Maybe, like me you suffer from your own issues in relation to body image. I can't be sure.
At the end of the day, this body is mine. I am the one who lives in it. I am the one who trains it to be able to accomplish certain things. I have experimented with all kinds of different types of training and diet. I have had times where my weight has started to go back up and when it has dropped very suddenly. I know how my body works and I know that if I race at a certain weight I go faster and recover faster. This weight may not be what other people consider to be aesthetically pleasing or a weight which another person would want to be and that is absolutely fine. But it is my decision to make and I know that I approach my weight in a way that not only allows me to race and train in a healthy way but also minimises the issues that I have with my own body. So let it be. I get it. I am a lot smaller than I used to be and if you haven't seen me for a long time it can be shocking. But please, stop going on about my weight. It isn't an issue. I want my weight loss story to be an example of what hard work and persistence can do. Not a story of a person who pushed them-self to an extreme or achieved weight-loss in an unhealthy or dangerous manner.
Body image is an incredibly serious issue for both men and women and I have learnt through my own experience that it is not something that is easy to get rid of. It is not a matter of wanting to lose weight and thinking like in the fairytales that you will live happily ever after. It is a a bad habit that is hard to shake. But together we can all try and play our part. How you may ask? Simple, stop bringing up other people's weight. If you are seriously concerned about a person then have a serious conversation with them. Don't say it in front of other people and absolutely do not joke about it. Understand that it is hard, irrational and completely ridiculous. But also understand that it is very very real.
That will do this week. I ran a new half-marathon PB today of 1:21:33 which I am over the moon about. If I was too skinny or suffering from an eating disorder I don't think that would be possible...
Stay safe, don't call me skinny and remember to TRI!
Some exciting racing over the weekend in Australia and around the world. Hoping those of you who did race had a great day out. I also want to congratulate all of the people that I know who were completing their first IronMan or 70.3. I love to see people out there having a go and on the weekend I got to enjoy the race day experience for the first time as a spectator. What I realised after my day of spectating was just how hard it is. As an athlete it is very easy to assume that I am the one doing the hard work and it is easy to see why. But I was absolutely exhausted after a day on course. It has certainly made me appreciate what those people who stand on the sideline cheering for me go through.
So for my first day of spectating duties I watched the events unfold at IronMan Australia and Port Mac 70.3. Months ago one of my good mates Matho decided to race the full IronMan. The same legendary bunch of blokes who I went to Taupo with last year for the 70.3 all agreed we needed to be there to cheer him on. I was particularly excited to go to Port Mac for the weekend because I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to put in some serious training surrounded by other athletes. In the lead-up to the weekend both Robo and Scotty were able to get late entries into the 70.3 which would be held on the same morning giving us even more people to cheer for. Once I got to Port Mac I definitely made the most of the area for some serious training. I managed to rip in and complete some serious volume up there. The best part was being to be able to experience the race course for myself. The riding was honest and left me absolutely shattered and running along the iconic beak wall gave me the extra motivation to push harder.
In preparation for race day the boys had all started to organise what we would do on race day to help bring Matho and the other IM athletes home. Azza, who is a bit of an expert spectator was giving a number of tips about how to manage the day and many other people were telling me how hard a day of spectating would be. I thought that I am a bloody fit triathlete. How hard can standing around watching a race be? I was shocked to see how much it took out of me.
What I realised early on was that spectating does not only happen on race day. As a spectator your role is that of support. In the lead up to race day we wanted to make sure Matho was in the best possible headspace. There was course recon, last minute trips to the shop and changes to dinner plans. It wouldn't have mattered what was requested to be honest. We were there to make sure Matho was in the best possible way come race morning.
Race day itself was a huge undertaking. Up at 4am and out the door at 5am. Loaded with my SLR camera, go pro and phone I was ready to rock. For the first half of the day me and Azza would work in tandem to cover the course as much as possible. That whole morning I was surprised to see that I had the same usual nerves I would as if I was racing. The nervous energy at the race start was palpable. There were athletes in tears, hugging their loved ones. There was a huge contrast between the front and back of the field. The faster athletes at the front of the swim start were serious, composed and not a lot were smiling. At the back there were people laughing, joking with each other and enjoying the experience. Scotty told me the back of the field is what triathlon is really about and I understood exactly what he meant. I was also surprised to see how tense I was before the race start. When I saw Matho run into the water to start his 226km race I literally felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
The next few hours saw me and Azza scout out different areas on the course so Matho, Robo and Scotty would see us out of the water and on the bike. As had the timetable down pat. We knew after we saw the boys off on the bike we had a few hours to ourselves. I ducked to the pool to get my workout for the day done (a casual 4km swim). Then it was right back into it. Here me and Azza really split up. After seeing Matho complete the first of his 2 90km bike loops, Azza and Matho's parents jumped in the car to drive the 40kms to the far end of the course to see him at the other end. I headed back into town to cheer on the boys on the 70.3 run. The IronMan website is notorious for being useless for tracking athletes and I now completely understand what they mean. I waited for 20 minutes to see Robo come into town on the bike. I was refreshing the live tracker the whole time only for it to suddenly announce he was already 7km on the run... I jumped in the car and raced down there. This is also when the rain started.
I made my way down to the run course where I was able to see the boys pass multiple times. I also saw some of my other friends racing as well as cheer for some people who I know via Instagram but had not actually met before. This period of spectating is also when the rain really set in. It looked like our evening of fun was going to be a bit damp. After seeing the boys come home in the 70.3 we all met at the apartment to get ready for Mathos run. We had ordered ninja turtle costumes an had water guns and music and were ready to rock the course.
The rain meant we left the water guns home and we almost decided to leave the costumes at home too. As soon as we arrived on course though we knew we had made the right decision to wear them. People loved them. We had our photos taken with people and athletes who were racing the full IM were running over just to give us a high-five. We were pumped and ready to see Matho. After about 45 minutes on course Matho came through. He was hurting. Im not sure if he even noticed that we were dressed as ninja turtles but requested we make our way to the far end of the course where it was darkest and loneliest. During the next 3 hours we moved around the course as much as we could to see Matho as many times as we could. We tried to keep the energy high dancing and singing along to some of the worst music you can imagine (we were even doing the Gangnam style dance) and as the night got later we got hugs from people who were nearly finished and chased some people who said they couldn't run anymore.
The last lap for Matho was hard and we did as much as we could to help make it easier for him. I was so impressed to see that despite how much he hurt and the fact his body would not allow him to run, he did not give up. We said goodbye to him with 2km to go and raced to the finish line. Watching that young legend of a man cross the finish line and hear Mike Reilly say "You are an IronMan" literally gave me goosebumps. Matho was home and he had become an IronMan. Standing at the finish line watching the emotion of the finishers almost made me want to do one. I still think it is a way off yet though.
After the race we got Matho home and started a debrief. I was feeling guilty because I was absolutely exhausted and could barely stay awake. In the end I had to go to bed. I was the first of the lot of us in bed and I had not even raced! I realised that being a spectator and supporter is hard. It is not only physically difficult but it is emotionally draining. You go through a wave of emotions throughout the race and do a surprising amount of running to get between the vantage points. It has certainly make me appreciate what my wife goes through when I am racing.
While the day was long, wet and cold I had an absolute blast. I was very lucky to be surrounded by some of the best blokes I know who helped to keep the energy high. But what absolutely made the day easier was seeing all of those legends out there racing. I saw it all. I saw the pro's fly past multiple times followed closely by some of the top age groupers. I saw middle of the packers giving it their all. I saw people dressed up, I saw people with broken bones and countless legends of IMOZ who had completed the iconic race more than 10 times. I was lucky enough to be at the finish line when one guy crossed the line of his 100th IM! Honestly, anyone who says they cant do a triathlon, go watch the finish line of an IM. You will see people of all shapes and sizes out there having a go. My day of spectating made me realise that the IM tagline 'Anything is Possible' really is true.
It was a long day but a day that got me rearing to go again. While it left me absolutely exhausted it also made me extremely grateful. Grateful that I somehow stumbled into this crazy world of triathlon. This world where I have made incredible friends. This world where you see people out there having a go. Where random people will cheer each other on and no one has a go at anyone for having a crack. A world where we all race individually but compete together.
Once again congratulations to everyone I know who raced. Especially to Mathieson Jenkin and Tom Luxton who completed their first IronMan. To Morenna 'Momo' Burn and Lauren 'Buffy' Blume who completed their first 70.3 and to Matt Bragg, Mike 'Robo' Robinson and Scotty Norrish for getting out there again.
What an experience, get out there and have a look and remember to TRI!
I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.