Freedom! Another semester of my law degree is behind me and as of next semester I am a final year law student. Exciting and equally scary times ahead. The last few weeks have been a little all over the place with some big assignments and exams to get ready for. I had an exam yesterday and I was actually surprised how similar I felt before the exam to my race morning nerves. It is done and now I have a month to focus on all things triathlon. First up in my month long adventure of triathlon is to jump on a plane to the land of the midnight sun, Norway. What can I say about this place? I have a real love-hate relationship with the country. When I left there in 2012 I was so happy to be leaving. I despised my time over there. As I boarded the plane from Oslo I turned back up the tunnel and pronounced loudly "Fuck you Norway!" with a 2 finger salute. In hindsight it was not actually anything to do with Norway but instead a lot more to do with myself. The country is incredibly beautiful with a great sporting community. Norway was also were I experienced my first 70.3 and needless to say I fell in love with it. So when Dez and I decided it was time to head back you better believe that I tried to plan the trip around the race in Haugesund.
So yes, I will be lining up on July 3 in Haugesund. At the scene of my first 70.3. I still think this race is the most spectacular I have ever done. Maybe it is the romance of my first event. But I have such fond memories from Norway 70.3 I am so excited to race again. Yes! You are reading this correctly! I am actually excited about suffering for over 4 hours. I think there are a number of reasons why I am genuinely excited to get back there. As I said, Norway was my first 70.3 and I had no idea what was in store for me at that first race. I arrived in town at 5pm the night before the race. Raced on my road bike and had massive knee issues because I had not yet set foot in my magical Mizuno's. I walked away with a time of 5:08 for my first and I had no idea what this meant. I just wanted to get to the finish line. Now this is when I realise I have been doing this for a while. I am lining up 4 years later and 16 70.3's later. I am a much different athlete. I am the epitome of all the gear now with my crazy fast bike and aero helmet. Fancy aero race kit. I might not go as fast as the pros but I certainly look the part. In all seriousness, I have done a crazy amount of training this year. I looked at my training diary and I have already done nearly the same amount of training this year that I did for the entire 2015! The training this year has been much more structured and while the focus is firmly on Sunny Coast in September I am expecting to put together a significantly better performance than I did all those years ago.
It is important for me to realise that this race is in effect a test event. It is still a race! I hate it when people say they are 'training' when they race. Every time I line up to race I give it 100%. I may not always go as hard as I could or can but you better believe I am not someone who spends hundreds of dollars to train. But this race will be one I attempt on tired legs. Something I have always struggled with is how to get my taper right. I have had races with a proper week long taper where I have been fully rested and ready to go. Those races have usually ended in disaster. Then I have had races where I have not even stopped training until the day before doing huge volume in the weeks leading up to it only to put together some of my better performances. So this race will be that. I mean come on! I am going to be in Europe with those amazing Norwegian roads to go riding on. You think I am just going to sit around tapering with all of the outside my door (not to mention the sun is basically up all night!) So yes, I will train in the lead up to the event to see how the legs respond. I am also excited because my wife's family will be coming over to Haugesund with us to watch me race. I love it when those people in my life decide to come and see what all this crazy triathlon stuff is all about. I am sure they will have a blast!
The Norway 70.3 race to this day had the most spectators I have ever seen on a course before. The finish straight which you run past 4 or 5 times is packed with people and the atmosphere is electric. There are crowds on the bike course as well. I remember at one point when I was racing I nearly crashed my bike because I was too busy looking at the incredible water views as I rounded a bend. I suppose my biggest concern (apart from crashing for real this time) is that the race will not meet my expectations. The year I raced it was the inaugural event. Did this mean that they put in extra effort? We will see. Honestly, this race was so good that when I lined up for my 2nd 70.3 which was Canberra I was disgusted by the difference. Norway set the bar so high that I am yet to find another event that even comes close to the levels of professionalism displayed by the event team. Fingers crossed it is still just as good.
That's not all I am going to do in Norway. I am not going to fly all that way and only do one race and some training. I said that I want to make the most of my time in Norway. So when I found there was a triathlon on this Sunday you better believe that I signed up. The race is the Østfold Triathlon. I have also done this race before. It is a local Olympic Distance event. The biggest challenge I am going to face with this race is that it is literally the day after I land there. After 20 something hours of travel I will have one night to get my stuff ready before lining up for an Olympic Distance triathlon. Again, I am excited to go back to this race. Similarly with the 70.3 I am looking forward to see how I have developed. I am hoping to see some significant improvements but more than anything I am just excited to race in another country. I have done a heap of races in Asia now and Europe presents a whole number of different challenges. It may be more like racing in New Zealand (just with nice roads). The riders are usually stronger but the courses are also honest. Whatever happens though I am going to make the most of every second of both races. I remember that this race had one of the coldest swims I have ever completed. It was pissing down raining the entire race and when I came out of the water my hands were so cold I cold not use them to get changed. Surely it wont be that bad this time?
So I am going to use my little respite from our Australian Winter to get another couple of races under my belt as well as some serious km's into my legs on the bike. I will be riding the same roads I used to ride and following the same run trails that I used to struggle on. If I am able to keep the nostalgia under control I may also get some decent training in. I am the sort of person who breaks my year into sections. Usually by significant events. For me, this trip and the races in Norway will end a period and it will mark the start of the real period leading up to Sunny Coast. I have no idea what to expect out of that race but I know I am doing some absolutely horrible training to get myself ready. While Sunny Coast is but a step in my march towards my goal of a 4:05 70.3 it is a pretty big step to race against the best in the world. So when I get back from Norway (after yet another sneaky trip to Singapore) things are going to get hectic. I don't want to line up on September 4 and wonder if I did everything I could. I want to know that I did. Whether I am the first or last or anything in between, if I go out there and give my best performance that will be enough for me. That's all I ever aim to do.
Have a great week, I will be writing next week from Norway! Remember to TRI!