Where to start...
Triathlon can be a cruel mistress. Sometimes she will slip her hand down your pants and give you a little tickle. Other times, she will grab hold and give you a hard yank by the balls. Unfortunately the later occurred for me yesterday. I didn't have the ideal race. I didn't get the result I wanted and the worst part about it was that it was completely out of my control. About 40km into the bike leg I had a mechanical issue which saw me out of action for just under 20 minutes. But we will get to that later. I was coming into this race with some high expectations. I have felt really strong the last few weeks and believe that I was peaking at the right time. The heat hadn't been affecting me too much when running and my bike has never been stronger. I was equal parts nervous and confident that I was going to drop a fast time. I knew all I had to do was put in a semi-decent swim (for me) a strong bike and a consistent run and I would do well. Alas, the triathlon gods had different plans.
The swim course was completely changed from last year with the lagoon section being removed and the entire 1.9km swim taking place in the warm ocean waters. There were no wetsuits and there was no need for them with the water so warm. The race had rolling starts which meant athletes went off every few seconds. I was probably one of the first 25 athletes to start and as I started swimming I could tell I was going to have a good day. This is the first rolling swim start where I have not had any issues. I swam in a lot of clear water, followed some feet and generally found the course easy to navigate. There were a few jellyfish in the swim which spiked my heart rate and the usual sea lice gave me a few nips as I went. As I turned the far buoy I was surprised how quick I felt I had gotten there. I am not sure if there was a tide or anything. On the trip back I found the sighting a little harder as there was a decent swell and the sun was coming up directly behind transition. As I exited the water I was very happy to see I was exiting about the same time as many of the people who I went into the water with. I swam a 28:16 and measured the course almost exactly 1900m.
Transition for this race was on the beach with some carpet laid. It wasn't great to be honest with sand everywhere. They also did not have bike racks but instead had a box which your bike wheel sat in with a box for your stuff. A cool idea but man it was cramped. I ran into transition and decided I would run with my shoes to the mount line in my hand. There was a bit of running on sand and I didn't want to get sand in my cleats. This worked quite well but I ended up having my feet covered in sand for the bike. The run itself was quite a distance so I was pleased with my split of 2:04.
This is where things get interesting. I was determined not to over-bike this course. I wanted to stay in control and make sure I had decent legs to run well off the bike. The first 19km to the highway was quite technical with some rough road surfaces and sharp turns. Despite that I was able to minimise any spikes in my power and felt like I was riding strong. Early on I was joined by Daniel and David, some of the coaches from Thanyapura and found that the three of us were legally riding quite well together, each taking turns at the front. We crossed the pedestrian bridge and as we did I saw the lead group of maybe 8-10 athletes were maybe 2 minutes up the road from me. I was confident that we would be able to ride up to them. Once we got onto the highway the speed increased but the power didn't. I was really focusing on my aero position and maintaining good cadence. I felt amazing. It is probably the strongest I have ever felt on the bike. I was surprised that the road surfaces were again a bit shit but it was turning out to be a dream ride.
The pace on the bike remained the same all the way up to the loop we had to complete. We went through a checkpoint and I lost part of my hydration system going over a series of bumps (its a piece of rubber which holds your straw in place). We got onto a cycle path and just kept doing our thing. As we approached the 2nd last u-turn of the race I was excited to see that we had really brought the lead group a lot closer. Things were going really well and I still felt super strong. As we made the U-turn Daniel shouted "It's sharp". Oh how right he was. I took the turn and noticed my bike starting to shake. I hoped it was nothing, then it got worse. Fuck! A puncture! I stopped and yep, my rear wheel had gone. At the time it wasn't that big a crisis to me. I knew it would cost me a few minutes but it wasn't the end of my race. I removed the wheel, checked inside the tyre, replaced the inner tube and inflated it with my CO2 canister. I got the wheel back on and started riding maybe 3 metres when I heard a god awful BANG! The inner tube had blown up and was shredded. I used all manner of language because I didn't have another spare. Maybe I had been dropping too many watt bombs all day and one finally exploded! I stopped, took off the wheel and removed the inner tube and was lost. What the hell was I going to do? I didn't know what to do. Were their mechanics on course? A marshal stopped after a few minutes and told me to move off the road so I picked up my stuff. I then started shouting at all the passing cyclists if they had a spare inner tube I could have. Looking at my watch (which paused) I think I spent about 16 minutes stationary and the whole thing took about 20 minutes. I thought my day was over and started to wonder how I was going to get back. I had tears in my eyes. I was lost.
Just when I had given up hope, Carolyne, who had been staying at Thanyapura this week rode past and asked what I needed. When I told her she stopped and gave me a spare inner tube and co2. I was going to be able to keep riding. It is just another example of why I love this sport. So much generosity! I got it all sorted, wheel back on and started riding again. It is funny what your mind does when you are under pressure. I had seen the lead group after riding North and turning around pass me just as I started to ride again. I wasn't sure how long I had been waiting or how far ahead that meant they were. But in my head I thought I might be able to try and catch back up to them. I went ballistic. I rode as hard as I could for as long as I could. The only thought in my head was that it is hot and people might fall apart on the ride. In doing so, I forgot everything I had told myself about this race. I needed to be conservative so I could run well in the heat off the bike. I came into T2 and as soon as I jumped off the bike I knew I was in trouble. My bike split was 2:37:22
As I ran my bike back into transition I was slightly happy to see that there weren't a lot of bikes in yet. I grabbed my stuff as quick as I could (forgetting to remove even more sand from my feet before putting on my shoes) and took off. The first 200m were on soft sand which wasn't great fun but I completed T2 in 2:20.
The run was a disaster. The new course was not very pleasant and they had no cokes at the aid stations. I don't know why but the 10.5km loop felt very very long. It wasn't too hot but it was muggy and there were some sections on the run where you had to dodge giant puddles and uneven surfaces. I felt kind of ok for my first 2 kms and again, I spotted some of the guys in my age group and thought that maybe they weren't too far ahead. I had a glimmer of hope that I could pull of something extraordinary. Those thoughts were short lived. The bike ride had cost me a lot. My legs fatigued super quickly and my pace dropped from 4:10/km to over 5min/km. I tried to lift a few times but just couldn't increase my pace. The damage had been done hours before. I tried to focus on my technique and had a friend tell me to now treat the race as a training day, something I hate to do, but honestly there was nothing else to be gained. I went through the motions of the run and am happy to say that despite all the setbacks I was never super negative during the run. I didn't really want to quit and I certainly didn't even think about giving up triathlon like I normally do when I am suffering. Let me assure you, suffer I did. I made the final run along the sand to the finish line where they held up the finish tape for me as I crossed. I threw it away in disgust. My run time was a dismal 1:40:12. I finsihed the race with a total time of 4:50:14, which was about 30 minutes slower than I had hoped to go.
After the race I became very angry very quickly. I was surprised. I have been sad and emotional after a race but never angry. It was weird too because I knew I was angry, I was almost external to my body and wanting it to stop. I am really ashamed of this because so many of my friends had amazing results and I was too caught up in my own bullshit to be happy for them. I am actually quite disgusted with myself about it. But even now, I am still pissed off about it. I really feel robbed. I had the opportunity to put together a fantastic swim, bike and run and wasn't able to. I had received many messages during the race from people asking if I was ok and instead of comforting me, it pissed me off even more. I really wasn't being rational. I even said to my wife, I am sick of people telling me that this stuff happens and at least I am not hurt. I just wanted people to leave me alone to feel sorry for myself.
At the end of the day, the puncture thing was always going to happen at some point. Yesterday was my 19th 70.3 and probably my 40th triathlon and it is the first time I have punctured in a race. So it is probably good to get it out of the way. Another silver lining is that because I didn't run hard I do not think my legs will be as fatigued. So I am going to focus all of my attention on Taupo 70.3 in two weeks and try again to deliver a strong performance.
Despite all of my feelings about the day I am just happy to be able to race. I had a shit day but a shit day on the beach in Thailand isn't too bad if you really think about it. Dez volunteered at Western Sydney 70.3 and had a man have a heart attack right next to her. So in the scheme of things what are a few punctures? I think it all just comes down to the high expectations I have for myself. Oh well, onto the next thing. I am leaving Thailand tomorrow after what has been an amazing two weeks here with some very high highs and some incredibly low lows. This trip has been so valuable to me as a person and athlete and I look forward to coming back again next year.
That will do, the report is long enough!
Have a good week, thanks for checking up on me and remember to TRI!
Hooked On a Feeling
Déjà vu - the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past. I am sitting in my hotel room at Thanyapura on a Saturday afternoon with a race tomorrow. It's like last weekend is on repeat. I am going to head down to transition in a couple of hours to rack my bike and then there is nothing left for it but to step up and deliver the goods tomorrow.
Since my last entry I have had a pretty amazing week. I was completely blown away to discover post race that I had managed to win the 30-34 age group last week at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon. I thought I was chasing a group of guys all day but it turned out they were in the 35-39 age group (they must take good care of themselves). The race itself was as epic as I remember it being. The bike course was almost an exact opposite (with some slight modifications) which gave it some nice variety. If you read last week, I talked about how easy I found the hills when I rode them last week. I certainly did not find them very easy on race day. But I was delighted to run quite well off the bike. In fact, my swim and run splits were much faster than my 2015 time and while the bike course was shorter and different, my average speed was over 3km/h faster than last year. All real positives for me. To top the race off with another age group win was fantastic. I really wanted to make a podium again this year in a triathlon and have come frustratingly close at several races ( I think I have come 4th 3 times). So it really was a great start to my time here in Thailand.
So this weekend I am tackling the new Thailand 70.3. The race is completely different to the old Challenge Phuket. The only similarity is that athletes need to dismount their bikes and run over a pedestrian bridge. It really isn't that big a deal as all athletes need to do it, but some of the comments on line have been quite funny. so what am I expecting tomorrow? I hate to give the 'stereotypical' answer but I really don't know. My swim has really been all over the place. I feel like I am biking very strong at the moment and have adapted to the heat very well which should make my run much better than previous years. I will break character a bit and put something out there. I want to make the podium tomorrow. I really do not care if it is 1, 2 or 3 but to get up there in the age group would be really rewarding. Will I be crushed if I don't? Absolutely not. I am always so grateful just to be able to do the things I can now do, especially in a location as beautiful as Phuket. It is funny but I have had a few people ask me the same question this week about my weight loss. People ask me what was the moment that I decided to make a change. The truth is completely un-sexy. I didn't. I wasn't struck by lightning and suddenly determined to make sweeping changes to my life. It just sort of happened. So that is one of the reasons why I am able to race happy, even when things don't go the way I want them to.
I am super curious to see what sort of performance I am able to deliver tomorrow. I will be giving it everything I have as I always do. I know there are a number of very strong athletes here racing in my age group. One of the guys I am really excited to share the course with tomorrow is a Dutch guy called Kelvin. Kelvin, with his wife, Marloes, are travelling the word for 12 months and training and racing. Apart from being two of the nicest people I have met in a long time, I love that they are grabbing life by the horns and having a go. They are writing about their trip on their site projectsixsix.com (some dutch - crazy bloody language and some english.) Anyway, Kelvin is a very similar level to me and is chasing a slot to the 2017 70.3 World Championships. I know how exciting that can be and am excited to see how he goes tomorrow. It would be fantastic to share the podium with him. But back to me (this is all about me anyway), I have tried to carry some form from my last few weeks but I really feel like this race has so many unknown elements. The first part of the bike is quite tricky and the pedestrian bridge will also impact speeds. I am just going to focus on my own race and as my coach told me before Sunny Coast, not let my ego get the better of me. I know by now I am able to run quite well off the bike in the heat. But in order to do that I cannot be sucked into the trap of over-biking. So that is what I am planning to do. I will be watching my power numbers tomorrow and will make sure I ride to the conditions. I think that if I race smart I do have the potential to drop a decent time. This is 70.3 racing though and anything can happen. I think it is going to be a race which will need a decent race report so I promise to put one together next week.
I also wanted to give an update on how I used the meditation last week before the race. I managed to fit in a decent 30 minutes of meditation Saturday evening last week and had a good nights sleep. I also managed to spend most of the bus trip to the race calming my mind and I absolutely felt better for it. I will be following the same protocol today and tomorrow and hopefully I have the same success.
So whatever happens tomorrow I know the race is going to be as tough as always. It is actually going to be my 19th 70.3. Even writing that I am a little shocked. So that's all there really is left to do. Go out tomorrow, follow my race plan and make sure I enjoy the experience.
Have a good weekend, track me (number 179) tomorrow and remember to TRI!
Greetings once again from Thailand. I don't know about you but I cannot believe it has been 12 months since I was here last getting ready for two of my favourite races. Tomorrow I am racing the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and next Sunday I will be racing the newly rebranded Thailand 70.3. The 70.3 is basically a completely different race with all three legs being held in completely different areas. In fact the only remnant of the old course is that we still have to run over the pedestrian bridge two times on the bike course. Ah well, everyone has to do it. So 12 months has flown by and I find myself back in Phuket and back at Thanyapura. It is funny how much it feels like coming home here. I have now stayed here enough times that a lot of the staff remember me. It is a really nice feeling to be so welcome here. It also doesn't hurt that the facilities are still world class and I get to access all of them!
So 12 months on and I am back going through the same motions as I did last year. My sessions have almost been identical to last year over the last few days as well. I really feel like I did the right things at the right time last year and am keen to replicate it as closely as possible. There are however a number of things that I am noticing have changed over the last 12 months. The first real difference I have noticed is how little the heat has been affecting me. As I am sure you all know I have worked really hard over the last few months to drop my body fat percentage to get lean for the races here. I think the effort has paid dividends. While it is definitely hot, it isn't bothering me too much. I have been on multiple runs and it hasn't felt like death. At some points it has almost felt comfortable. It is a bit weird really because the weather at home hasn't been super hot like it was last year. So I really am putting this change down to my lower body fat.
Another massive difference I am noticing is how much stronger I am on the bike. The first ride we did here we rode the LPT course. They have made sweeping changes to it this year which means we tackle the dreaded Naithon Hills in reverse, or the same way we did last year at the Challenge race. I literally cruised over them well under the sort of effort I will be dropping tomorrow and when I uploaded my ride file I was shocked to see that I went over every single climb faster than I did during my race last year! I know I have really worked hard on my bike strength this year and I am so excited to see what sort of result I can deliver next weekend over the 90kms.
One of the other changes I have noticed is that I have put a lot of pressure on myself this year. Now up front I have ZERO expectations to win the 30-34 Ag this year. I would however love to make the podium. A lot of people ask how I went last year and when I tell them I won my AG in both races they expect me to do it again. I have spoken about this a bit before but the difference is I really do want to make the podium this year. I wont be devastated if I don't but every time I see a super fit looking athlete around I have a mild panic attack that they are in my age group. At the end of the day all I can do is focus on my own performance and see where the cards fall. This may sound a little odd to some people but I have actually stated meditating over the last few weeks and this is something that I have been doing to help me deal with these feelings in the lead up to the races. Tonight I plan on doing a decent session to try and calm myself before I go to bed.
To be honest, I am just super happy to be back in Thailand. I am a little sad that my wife isn't here with me but I am happy that she is at home with our little cat Susie. I really love coming to train in Thailand. I think it is an amazing place that would exceed most people's expectations. My brother is getting married in Thailand next year and I have been shocked by the reaction of some members of my family who have this perception that Thailand is a dangerous or unsafe place. I cannot recommend the place highly enough. The weather is beautiful and hot, the people are incredibly friendly and helpful and the food is cheap and delicious. To top it all off the training is out of this world. The first time I ever came here I was so sceptical about training in Thailand. I am happy to say that is probably the biggest change I have noticed since I first came here. Thailand is my favourite place to train. Do yourself a favour and spend some time here. It doesn't have to be triathlon training either. Whatever is your poison, have a go. There is something here for everyone.
That will do. I have to get my stuff together for tomorrows race. It is as always an early start so I will be off to bed early tonight. I may try and avoid some spicy for this evening. Instead go for something a bit more neutral. I'm also really looking forward to catching up with my Team MaccaX gang for the camp this week.
Have a great weekend, check out a training trip to Thailand and remember to TRI!
I find myself sitting at the airport on the Sunshine Coast with a sudden 6 hours up my sleeve so what better time to write a recap of my race on the weekend. I have been limiting my race recaps lately because I have done a large number of races. On the weekend I took part in the iconic Noosa Triathlon. I believe it is officially the worlds biggest triathlon festival now and having experienced it myself it is definitely a triathlon on steroids. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I am not a huge fan of racing shorter distance triathlons. I don't know what it is about them but I just don't find like I am able to deliver to the level I am capable of. Having said that, I also don't love to make excuses. In short, I did not have the race that I expected to on Sunday. But there were some real positives to take away from the race. I actually feel guilty writing this, I feel like all I have been writing about lately is races that don't go according to plan. That's just part of racing, sometimes they don't. I try to be honest and this is honestly how I have been feeling lately. So with that out of the way here is how my Noosa experience unfolded.
We came up to Noosa on Thursday. There was a big group of us coming up and I wanted to make the most of the trip. I was staying with some of my favourite tri people and was really looking forward to having a good time. On Thursday I was going to be up early to get to the airport without too much traffic. I was however, woken up by this random pain in my back, between my spine and shoulder blade. It was so bad I couldn't lay down. When I rolled on my side the pain went up my neck and across my ribs. Come Friday and the pain in my shoulder (which kept me up for a second night in a row) had become so bad that as I attempted to swim back from the coffee pontoon I had to change course and doggy paddle to the shore. I found a masseuse at the expo and man he was a genius. He knew his stuff and told me he would take care of it for me. He certainly did. I managed to swim in the 1000m Ocean Swim later that day (crazy waves and conditions). I was aware of the pain in my shoulder a bit but it wasn't as bad. I thought it was fixed. When I woke up on Saturday morning the pain in my shoulder was now permanently located in my rib cage.
I have broken ribs before and I have raced a 70.3 with busted ribs before and this is what it felt like. I couldn’t take deep breaths. I noticed though that as I warmed up the pain would almost go away. I seriously considered pulling the pin on the race but I had so many people donate to get me to the start line and I was going to do the race for them. I racked my bike on Saturday and honestly just hoped for the best. Sunday morning rolled around and I was in one of the first wave starts which meant there hopefully wouldn’t be too much congestion on the course ahead of me. I got everything set up and despite a last minute panic where we realsied I had left my drinks at home so my amazing wife ran home and then jumped on a razor scooter to get back 1 minute before transition closed, I was ready to race.
I really like swimming in the ocean so was excited for the Noosa swim. My swimming has literally been all over the place this year which is really annoying. I felt like I really found top swim form last year and since then it is all over the place. So knowing this I wasn’t too sure how I was going to go. I went out hard at the start and found myself plenty of clear water. This made me think that I was swimming ok because I know how good the swimmers in my age group are. The course was well marked and I was confident I would swim pretty accurate. As we approached the first turn can I started to notice there were many swimmers from the wave start before us, the Smiling for Schmiddy group, a great cause. Unfortunately being a charity wave there were many swimmers relying on breastroke. I spent the majority of the race dodging these swimmers and still managed to get a kick in the face and chest and leg and shoulder. I actually felt I was swimming ok. When I came out of the water I was happy that my shoulder had remained relatively pain free and while my time was well off what I was expecting and am capable of, it wasn’t a complete disaster. My swim time was 26:59 (about 4 minutes slower than I had hoped for).
There is a decent run down to transition from the swim but luckily my bike was in a great location within transition. My biggest struggle was to get the top half of my sleeved tri suit on and done up. I managed to have it basically done by the time I was on the bike. I was pretty quick getting ready to go, if anything space was a little tight which made it a bit difficult. My T1 time was 2:56.
This was the leg I was really looking forward to. I have really put in some serious work on my bike this year and was given the go ahead by my coach to drop the hammer on the bike course. So that is what I tried to do. We have really worked on improving my bike strength to allow me to ride faster and still run well. I was going to be conservative until the top of Garmin Hill (a 3km climb in the middle of the course) then unleash. The course is very good with some great road surfaces and an epic down hill. I was comfortably holding over 40kmh for the ride but knew that the long climb would impact average speeds. The advantage of starting quite early was that there were not too many people on course. The worst section for me was going up the hill. People were all over the road. They seemed to ignore the whole keep left rule. A big highlight of the day for me was seeing a bloke towards the top of the hill sinking Coronas at 7:45 in the morning!
At the top of the hill I tried to settle in and be as consistent with my speed and power as possible. I also really tried to focus on holding a good aero position. After a long out and back section it was time to go down the big hill. I had ridden the hill in the days before the race and found it quite scary to be honest. On race day, with the roads closed it was AMAZING! I hit a top speed of 86km/h and think I held over 50kmh for a long time after finishing the decent. I came off the bike and was sure I had ridden under 60 minutes. I was stoked to see my result after the race, I rode 58:58!!!
Off the bike and into transition. My mate who had racked next to me started much later and hadn’t even made it onto the bike yet, this meant that I was still quite cramped for space. I managed to knock all of my stuff all over the place which maybe added 10-15 seconds to my transition time. It was then a decent little run out of transition on the run. T2 time of 2:13
Onto the run and I felt very comfortable. My ribs were causing me a bit of grief but as long as I didn’t breathe too deeply it was ok. I was aiming for 3:45-3:50kms but it seemed as though it wasn’t to be. My Garmin kept telling me I was running almost right on 4min/kms. Some of my friends asked if I overdid it on the bike and I really don’t think I did. I have noticed in all of the short races that I have done this year that I really struggle to run super quick off the bike. Instead, the good news is that I feel super comfortable holding 4min/kms. So much so that I believe I would have no problem holding this pace in a 70.3. The run course at Noosa was probably my least favourite part of the race. The further you get away from the finish line the less people there are out there. I think that is one of the only disadvantages of starting so early, everyone is still at the beach watching the start.
As I approached the finish line I really wanted to try and save the run a little bit by managing a sub 40min split but with about 500m to go I got hit with a bloody stitch. I crossed the finish line but didn’t really get to soak in the atmosphere as I was in a bit of pain. My run split was 40:02 (Damn you stitch!)
My total time for the race was 2:11:10, which was a PB for me. I am getting a little frustrated by the fact that I am unable to deliver the sort of swims in races that I am doing in the pool. I am also sick of having problems with my shoulders, which is why I have booked myself in to see a physio from Balmain Sports Medicine once I get home. I am however incredibly happy with my bike time. I wanted to hold over 40km/h and did so. I am really excited to see what sort of result I am able to drop in Phuket on the new bike course next month. I am also quite happy to have run so consistently. I am a 70.3 athlete and if that means I do these shorter races at 70.3 pace I am ok (as long as that is my 70.3 pace). But more than anything I am really happy that I got to experience a truly iconic event. I was surrounded by friends and had an amazing time in one of the most beautiful areas of the world. I was also able to raise about $1400 for the RSPCA in the process, which makes the whole thing even more worthwhile.
so the true test of the weekend is would I do this race again? The answer is an absolute yes. The whole experience of the festival has been amazing. Seeing so many people I know and catching up with people I haven’t seen in a long time was great. If you want to experience a really well organised event and have a blast at the same time then do Noosa!
That will do for this week. A huge congratulation to everyone who raced, it was a pleasure to share the course with you and a special shout out to everyone who completed their first triathlon or triathlon of this distance. Welcome to the club! I also want to thank each and every person who donated to get me here. THANK YOU!
Have a great week, enjoy those small victories 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.