Monday, 5 February 2018

Hell Of The West 2018

Couldn't have asked for a better start to 2018, finally securing myself a coach for my long course career. This guy is one of the top professionals in the world, recently been crowned 2016 70.3 World Champion, you'll find him at the pointy end of the field in every race. He is also a husband and father to 2 kids and I'm incredibly lucky to be one of 3 athletes he looks after. Stoked to say my coach is Tim Reed for 2018 and beyond.
There were some big changes over the Christmas and New Year period, it was tough at times but I was keen to push through and see the results on the other side. After a good block of training through January I headed inland to Goondiwindi for Hell Of The West to kick off my racing for the year. I had heard some great things about this event but also it can be one of the toughest races of the year due to the tough course and extreme heat. This year was a little too kind.

I headed West on Friday morning in the car with Dad, from start to finish it was non stop rain and cool even out at Goondi. Had a brief run to shake out the legs and was glad I packed a rain jacket which I thought there was no chance I would need, the temperature didn't go past 20°C all day. I'm super thankful to Liesl from the race committee who organised me a homestay with Sandie and Angus out on their massive property, really appreciate them letting Dad and I stay at their place.
Woke Saturday morning to more rain, I was checking the radar all morning to avoid getting the bike dirty and post lunch was looking good so rolled out for some course recon then. Dead flat roads, rough surface and plenty of edgy Kangaroos running alongside the road made for a fun spin. Packed and in bed before 8pm for a very early start Sunday morning, 0230am alarm.

A 5am race start is by far the earliest I've ever toed the line, kudos to the organisers for being able to do this and avoid the heat of the day. The 2km swim was up to the bridge and back in the river, 27°C water temp was nice but the pitch black race start was a little sketchy with our only sighting being the lead paddler with a flashing light on his head. We started with a run down the boat ramp and first turn buoy 30m away which made things a little congested and I lost touch with the lead swimmers. My swim only got worse, a group of 2 passed me and I couldn't even sit on feet, I found myself zig zagging my way up the river against the current, constantly correcting myself and losing time. I had a better swim on the way back down but had lost a huge amount of time and exited 5th 1:30min down on the leaders.

Out onto the bike I was eager to catch the guys up front but didn't want to blow up with the heat expected later in the day. Kept my cool and settled into my pace, I passed 4th place about 10km in and was moving along quite well. With the long flat roads there was a couple of times I could see the lead car up ahead, I remained patient, utilised the tail wind on the way out and was aiming to catch them just before the turn around. I couldn't have timed that any better... 500m before the turn around I was at the tail end of the lead group of 3, hit the U-Turn and got the first feel of the head wind. I rolled with the guys for the next 20km but wasn't keen on heading out onto the run with them so at 60km I attacked, the P5X was in its element. I got clear immediately and after a few minutes of hard work there was plenty of daylight between me and the chasers. I settled a bit but still kept pushing enough to put time into them, the strong headwind played in my favour and I got off the bike with a 3min lead.

No stuffing around onto the run, those guys are quick and I was chasing that win. I started good, feeling pretty fresh considering pushing into that headwind on the way home, I was confident until I saw Neumann after the first turn, he was hooking. I wasn't giving up yet, I haven't felt this good coming off the bike and continued to push to see where it took me. With 3 laps and 3 U-Turns per lap it gave me a good chance to see where the chasers were but also how quick Neumann was catching me. Heading out onto the last lap he caught me, he made one little attack which didn't phase me and then settled but went again shortly after and I let him go, I wasn't confident with how my body would handle the short spurts. He got 100m up the road quickly but then sat there and I thought to myself, the win isn't out of reach yet. Then my stomach had other ideas, it wanted a pit stop but 4km out from the finish I didn't have time for that so had to go survival mode, slow it down and keep it smooth. Neumann went outta sight and it was just a matter of getting to the finish without having to stop. Luckily I did and was pretty happy to cross the line 2nd.

Stoked to kick off racing for 2018 with a 2nd at Hell Of The West, both Neumann and I went under the previous course record and I managed to post a new bike course record by 2mins.
Big thanks to the event team and volunteers for putting on such a great and well run event, I will be back next year for sure.
Time for recovery before heading down for Geelong 70.3 on the 18th Feb

Monday, 27 November 2017

Western Sydney 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship

I was keen to get down to Penrith for my final race of the year, being an Asia-Pacific Champs race the field was stacked. After a disappointing performance at Noosa tri a few weeks ago, I was confident the body would cooperate come race day. I was unlucky to have sustained a minor calf tear during the swim leg of the Noosa Tri due to a severe cramp, my run load went down but didn't mean I stopped completely. I was still able to get a few runs in and with the right treatment from Myles at Gold Coast Physio things were looking good come race week. The body had freshened up nicely, I was ticking all the boxes and confidence was sky high, strong fields push me to my limits and I was excited to see what the weekend brought.

Took the short flight from Gold Coast to Sydney Friday morning, bit of Black Friday shopping on the way out to Penrith and just relaxed at the room that afternoon. Started Saturday morning with breakfast at the hotel, the food looked amazing and had everything available, kept it pretty simple but by the time I got back to my room it was ready to come back up. After a couple of vomits I was feeling better but empty, wasn't keen on trying to put anything more down just yet so went off to the pool for a quick swim. After that just had a salad sandwich for lunch which was all good, pro briefing at the race site and a ride to finish off the day. Back to the room to get ready for the morning and grabbed a pizza for dinner as per usual. I was super hungry and the pizza was great... until about 20mins after and I found myself with my head over the toilet bowl for the 2nd time today. A couple of hours later, exhausted and feeling like I hadn't consumed anything all day I was in bed and lights were out straight away.
Woke Sunday morning feeling okay, hungry and worried about what will sit fine. Got breakfast down at 3:30am, packed the car and headed to the race. Stomach was feeling fine and I was feeling much better. Got into race site, setup, warmed up and ready to go for the 6:15am start.

I hate deep water starts! Tell everyone there's 30sec to go and they start sculling swim course, everyone follows the furthest person out but usually the officials will pull it back before they start the race. One of the officials yelled out "I'm not starting yous until everyone is back", I've heard this before and I yelled out "lets just move it back everyone" so we can get this race underway. I'm on my back doing scull trying to get back to the buoys, I could see movement from a couple of other guys but seconds later and the horn is off. I hesitated at first, realised I was 2 body lengths behind everyone and the race was underway, felt like such a rookie at this point, sometimes it pays to be a sheep. I then found myself swimming wide of the pack to get around to try and get back in contention, by the time I found some clear water I had no idea what the pack situation was, how many people were ahead or how far. The morning sun was a killer on the way out, at 800m was the first turn and my first chance to get a glimpse at the athletes up front. I could see a lone swimmer out with the kayak and a small group not far off but I was well behind both. Down the back straight I tried to make up some ground but it was hard to tell if I was or not. Exited the water in 5th, 1min 17sec off Royle

I had a small group come out of transition behind me and it was time to get to work, I had ground to make up and athletes to get rid of. I was clear pretty early then had my sights set on Betten, Wilson, Appleton and Royle, at the time I had no idea of who was together or how far up the road. I caught Betten just after 5km and pushed hard to continue solo, the long straights of Castlereagh Rd I could see a solo leader and pack of 2 not far behind. I caught Wilson and Appo at 25km but Royle was still 30sec up the road, I didn't expect to catch these 2 so soon and was wondering why they hadn't caught/passed Royle. I maintained the gap to Royle and the pace was quite steady which made me think either of them were planning an attack when they got closer, after more than 10km of this I could see Royle turning around and knew he'd be considering sitting up and waiting. Which he did on the downhill on Castlereagh Rd into the aid station at 38km, I couldn't wait any longer and attacked, I pushed hard for a couple of minutes hoping I'd have some space but turn round to realise all 3 were still just there. Came back into the White Water Stadium for start lap 2 and merge with the age group athletes, I pushed hard again on the start of lap 2 to try and go solo but still no luck, I was shut down everytime. We began riding so slow it was only a matter or time before the chase pack caught us the had some of the top runners in it. I felt strong, even though I was throwing up most of what I put in but kept trying my luck as I knew I would be able to compete with these guys in the run leg, unfortunately nothing changed and with 10km to go the chase pack caught us. The ride was boring and disappointing.

Off the bike with the the top 9 guys in the race, I was just focused on holding my position until the end of the run. I was considering pulling out from the start, the lack of motivation and nutrition was making it a battle against myself but knew I'd hate myself for a DNF. I hadn't run the new course either so was hopeful things might have turned around a some point. Aid stations were useless to me, what ever I put in only took seconds to come back out, I was coping with the heat fine and my legs felt good but I was just flat. When I saw how big the gap was behind me I knew I could hang in there for 10th so it was just a matter of getting to the finish line, which I did in one of my slowest times ever.

In all honesty the race was joke. My mistake for thinking the officials were going to get everyone behind the buoys before starting the race but the bike was sad, unfortunately no one wanted to work and at 12m the athletes can sit there all day, I might have to put the bike away for a year to work on my run so I'm not worried about trying to ride hard or until the 20m rule gets brought in.
Although my final race of the year didn't pan out as hoped, I'm glad to finish off the year in one piece. I'm very grateful to all my sponsors for their support over the year and especially my family and friends along the way

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Santa Cruz 70.3

I've been looking forward to this race since I first arrived in the US, Santa Cruz is an awesome spot and to have a 70.3 there my decision to race it was made easy. Although I was excited to get to this race it also meant my time in the US was coming to an end as it was my last race over here, couldn't ask for a better way to finish it off.
Post Boulder 70.3 I had some massive weeks of back to back training and was starting to feel fitness that I had only felt prior to my accident last year. These were great signs but at the same time had me nervous of over doing it, I was incredibly lucky to have Ben Cowin from Action Spine Denver still looking after me since the first week I arrived in Boulder. I'd see him once or twice every week and he would treat any soreness but also check the body for anything that may be developing and he did pick up on a lot of things along the way and got stuck into them early. It was great having my roommate Matt Franklin there to train and hang out with for the summer, there was never a dull moment and we pushed each other every session. I packed up house at Spruce Street on Thursday to fly out first thing Friday morning to San Francisco. Was fortunate enough to have Dad there waiting for me, he had made a slow trip West after Boulder 70.3 to do all things sightseeing and meet me there. We drove down to Santa Cruz that afternoon to check into the accommodation which was conveniently right opposite transition and race site.
Went through the usual pre race training and briefing on Saturday, I did some swim/bike course recon, luckily the algae in the water had cleared as I got an email Friday afternoon saying levels had been too high all week and they were thinking about other options, I was not keen on another cancelled swim.

I was super keen for the swim, beach start and in the ocean....
Morning of the race, racking the bike early the sky was clear but as I headed down to the swim the fog started to roll in and progressively got worse as the morning went on. At 6:30am they were still planning on a 6:50am start but a few minutes later it was postponed to 7am to see if it would settle, come 6:50am there was still no improvement and was dragged out until 7:20am. The delay was starting to irritate people, including myself and at 7:20am they made the call to move it to north side of wharf and shorten it to 750m for a 7:45am start. This was far from ideal but still glad they held the swim, visibility was still poor and I couldn't even see the 2nd buoy.
We were off finally, although we didn't have a lead paddler, the lifeguard lined each side like a channel so we had a general idea of where to swim. Once we reached the first buoy we could see the next but no further. It was tightly bunched from start to finish but managed to come out at the head of the pack and post the fastest time. The run to transition was about 600m and lost a few spots to some of the quicker runners but had a quick turnaround to exit onto the bike in 2nd.

Photo cred: Dad
The first few km's of the bike was turn after turn, it was a struggle to pass and get into the lead but was ready once I hit the main road. More than half the pro field was out of T2 together so once I got out of the turns I hit the front and got to work, there was a hill just a couple of km's up the road that would break everyone up, it did. I had a small gap on Boecherer, Hoffman and Franklin, the chasers were out of sight. I continued to push hoping to make that gap bigger between myself and the 3 of them, I would get some good distance on the downhills but they would be within 30m going up hills. It remained like this for the first 25km's before Boecherer attacked up one of the climbs, he encouraged me to come along but I looked down at the watts I was already pushing and thought if I jump my race could be shut down early. I let him go hoping there would be a downhill to catch him on but unfortunately there wasn't. I chased until the turn around, still closely followed by Hoffman and Franklin but once I saw the gap I decided to notch it back a bit and ride with the 2 guys behind me. We had about a 90sec gap on the chase group at the turn around and hoped to increase that on the way home. Coming back wasn't so great, the headwind had picked up and the undulation made it difficult to find good rhythm. Came into T2 4mins behind Boecherer and turned around to see the chase pack of 4 right on our heels.

Photo Cred: Dad
I led out of transition but knew it wasn't going to last long with who was behind me. Hoffman was on my heels soon later and then O'Donnell and Currie came round to take the lead. I tried to sit on for as long as I could, I was feeling good but let them go after 2km. I settled into my pace and took each km as it come. Beals wasn't too far behind and kept me pushing, he caught me at 7km's and gapped me pretty quickly. Once we hit the trail loop out the back I found a good rhythm and was really enjoying this section and could see myself making up some ground. I caught Beals just before we got back onto the road and ran with him for a bit but once we got back on the pavement he took off. I was still running strong and knew once I got over that hill at km 16 it was all downhill. I was starting to hurt, suffering from some blisters and chasing that finish line as quick as I could. Around 19km I run past Boecherer on the side of the road with shoes in hand, unfortunately his day was done. I was super impressed with his ride and hope there's nothing too serious wrong. Coming down the finish straight, last 100m on sand was a nice tough and across the line in 5th.

Photo Cred: Dad
A lot of positives to take away from the race, most of all my run, it was the 2nd fastest I've ever ran a half off the bike. Felt good in the water and am very pleased to finish off with 5th, the only thing I think about is what would have happened if I did attack with Boecherer...
That finishes off my racing in the US for 2017, I head back to Australia now for a couple of races before the years end.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Boulder 70.3

Racine 70.3 was a huge disappointment but I was fortunate enough to be heading to Indianapolis that night to spend a few days with Sram and Zipp. I had an awesome time meeting the crew, they took me through a tour of the factory showing how a sheet of carbon ends up a wheel in a box all hand built. Was lucky enough to do some new product testing and spend some time in the wind tunnel playing around with different equipment and my position.
From there I headed back to Boulder to get another few weeks of training in before the local 70.3. I have been looking forward to this race since last year which resulted in a poor drafting penalty call and was determined to have a clean run on one of my favourite bike courses. Knowing every meter of the course makes a huge difference and boosts the confidence for the day. The swim is out at the reservoir, knee deep start so its close to my preferred beach starts, the bike is one loop (54.6 miles) a couple of rollers and one little climb but mostly flat and fast and the run in 2 laps around the reservoir mostly dirt and undulating.
It's nice having a 'home' race, the week leading in is a lot easier not having to worry about travel, being able to train properly right up until the morning of and knowing where to eat. Although 2017 Boulder 70.3 brought a big turn out with 42 Male Professionals on the start list and some big names up front. A lot of local guys racing as well so was keen to see how I would compare amongst them.

Saturday morning at 0705 was the initial race start, with the water temperature being just over the cut off and a chilly morning I decided not to do a swim warm up and just work on the bands. I was glad I chose this because at 0655 it was announced that there would be a 15min delay for the start which meant I could keep warm. Finally we were off, I managed to get in few porpoises in and found clear water. To my left I could see Chrabot leading out and on my right there was a big group taking the inside line. I immediately drifted over towards Chrabot and hopped on his feet, luckily he was thinking the same as me and didn't worry about swimming over to the buoys until the first turn which meant we were able to create a small gap on the chasers. My breathing during the swim was a lot better than last year and the pace was kept pretty decent, I followed his feet all the way to the exit ramp and had about a 15sec gap on the chase group.

Got my feet straight into the shoes riding along the fire road out of the reservoir as I knew it would be on as soon as we got out onto the main road, I was not wrong. Chrabot was in the lead and pushing the pace early to get out of sight, my legs were actually feeling a bit heavy but could still push the wattage fine. It wasn't long before I moved to the front and continued to push the pace, with a few U-Turns early I was able to see the gap on the chasers growing. Once we got off the Diagonal Hwy (after 25km) we had no chance of seeing the chase pack and it wasn't until about 60 km that we got our first split to the chaser, at that point we had 2min 30. That was not going to be enough knowing who was in the chase group, we continued to push but the legs started to die off a little and the wattage started to drop. It was only a little drop off as we still managed to keep the pace high and finish with a 45.6km/h average and maintain the 2min 30 gap. Also recorded the fastest bike split for the day, course was 2 kms short but still clocked a 1:55:41

Out onto the run and the legs felt like dead weights, I knew from the start I was going to feel the lack of running I have been doing and its not the easiest course I've done. I tried to sit on Chrabot's heels for as long as I could but only lasted about 4km. I was now in survival mode and focusing on getting to the finish without losing too many places as I wasn't sure how many were in the pack. Tim Don caught me half way through lap 1 and he was flying, I was able to see Hoffman and Metzler running together towards the end of the first lap and they were about a minute down.
I was taking nutrition down fine and overall feeling strong but I just lacked that next gear, the speed to hold my position. I was caught by the both within the first couple of km's in the 2nd lap, I tried to stick with them but was afraid a burning out too early and not making it to the finish.  Although the running was hurting real bad, my pace remained pretty consistent and just know I've got a lot of work to do before my next race in 5 weeks. I ran down the shute for 5th place and a time of 3:46:31

I am pretty pleased with that race, there is nothing better I could have done on the day. Swim and bike went to plan perfectly and the run just requires more time which was expected. I have another 5 weeks in Boulder before I pack the bags to begin the journey home. First stop Santa Cruz for the 70.3 on the 10th September

Monday, 17 July 2017

Racine 70.3

My little trip to Asia was a huge set back, although I finished both races neither were of any progression in the goal to qualify for worlds or pick up a pay cheque. My knee blew out in the first race and the following didn't help it at all. I returned home and wasn't able to train for a month due to the pain and waiting on a cortisone injection, again. The cortisone was successful and I was able to build up the training again, it was coming together very nicely and had a few strong back to back weeks. Time to start organising my trip to the United States...
Flights and accommodation booked for 3 months, 3 weeks out from take off and I find myself not being able to walk due to Tibialis Anterior pain. Literally the only training I could do was hobble to the pool and chuck a pull buoy in. Physio, Orthopedic and MRI, all able to pin point but not resolve. I almost considered cancelling the trip but I was all booked on with my good mate Matt Franklin so I was set on going even though I had not ridden or ran 3 weeks before flying out. I was hoping for the best.

Boarding the plane was probably the least excited I have ever been to travel. I messaged my manager to see what he could organise in the way of treatment and he put me through to one of his mates they call the witch doctor. I got into see Ben Cowin within just a few days of landing. After 3 sessions with him and probably the most painful treatment o have ever had, I was back riding and running pain free, I couldn't believe it, I was so happy and thank ful.
The training in the lead up to Racine was super light and was just a case of making sure the body was getting through everything pain free. I was thinking initially to use this race as a training run and make sure everything is working but when the body was hitting the numbers race week, my plans quickly changed.

Touched down in Milwaukee Friday afternoon and just chilled out at the hotel. Saturday morning headed to race site for training and briefing, had a dip in the lake and it was cold. Took a couple of minutes to warm up but was fine after that. Briefing they mentioned either shortening or cancelling if it was too cold and I thought surely not...
Sunday morning arrived to transition to realise the swim was off and it was a bike TT start, was pretty angry with this but it is what it is. Got setup for a TT start with athletes going off by rank and 30sec apart.

This was a little different but was kinda keen to see how a 90km TT played out. I was off to a clean start, clipped in straight away and up the hill. The wind was quite strong and the road surface was pretty average, 90% of it had cracks and was extremely bumpy.
I got settled into a good rhythm pretty early and the legs were working well at a nice wattage that was a bit beyond what I was expecting. Having only been set off 30sec back there were some stretches I could see other athletes up the road and could do a couple of time checks. Raelert was off before me and I was holding the same gap for the first 15miles until he caught TJ which I then passed them both around mile 25. The conditions were super windy but the P5X paired with a Zipp 808 and Super 9 was flawless. Felt confident across all sections in the race and continued to hold good power whether it was head, tail or crosswind. Around mile 38 Charbot was real close and could see another 3 rides maybe a minute up the road. I caught Charbot at mile 39 shortly after that's when the race flipped upside down...
Rear tyre went soft, bounced the back wheel and it was flat, frustration went from 0-100 real quick. Pulled over straight away and quickly got to work on fitting the sealant, it started working and could feel it going up but then the foam just started frothing all over the place and the canister broke. That was then game over, shoes off and started walking, no support or crew vehicles around. It was until I got to the next intersection there was a fire truck who called through for support, 30mins later and I had a new tube in to get back into town. I wasn't going home without running so continued on to test out the leg and make sure the injury had fully healed. Started off pretty easy and had a couple of pushes between timing mats. It felt great running and helped the mood a little form what had just happened. Got over the line in the end and finishing with no pain or niggles was a huge positive.

There's some good things to take away from the race but it still is very disappointing to flat when I was in such good form. Next up is Boulder 70.3, time to make things right there

Monday, 27 March 2017

Taiwan 70.3

The following day after Subic Bay 70.3 consisted of travel to the race destination for Taiwan 70.3. It was a very, very long day… The transfer left Subic at 3am Monday morning for the 3 hour drive to Manila Airport for an 0830 departure. Flew from Manila to Taipei, the 4 hour lay over in Taipei consisted of a 40min bus to the next airport and from there was another flight down to Taitung. I finally arrived at the accommodation around 8pm had to opt for last resort dinner and get a quick bite at KFC, I really regret that decision… Early next morning the stomach bug hit me, I was able to eat Tues and Wed but didn't realise I just kept feeding it and by Thursday food was not an option. I was stressing about the lack of food I was consuming but didn't want this bug come race morning. Luckily come Saturday I was able to get 3 small meals in. Other than that I was really enjoying Taitung, had a ride up along the coast road every morning, got a few swims in the flowing lake which was like a massive swimming pool with clear water and had a pedal around town on a cruiser.
My muscles had pulled up ok from Subic 70.3 although I had tweaked my knee during the race and was worried it wouldn't settle before the next race. I got stuck into massaging it a couple of times a day with my Qoleum Oils and by Tuesday night it was feeling fine. The training was kept very light through the week it was just a matter of keeping the body moving.

Photo cred: Dad
Went through all the usual pre race training, briefing and bike rack and was off to bed early for a 0330 wake up. Woke Sunday to the nicest morning Taitung had to offer all week, jumped on one of the hotel cruisers and pedaled my way to the race site. Ticked everything off, had a swim and was standing alongside the best pro field this race has seen. The body felt ready to go and I was keen to get racing underway.
Probably the most organised swim start I've ever had, we were knee deep in the water on a concrete ledge which dropped off straight away so no one could creep forward and the was plenty of room for everyone to spread out. The gun was off and it was a dive straight into deep water. Start was clean and I was leading the way on the furthest right, I could see a couple of guys leading out to my left but by about 300m I was out front with a trail behind me. I was feeling strong and tried to push a little to shake the guys sitting on my feet, they were glued and after several attempts the pack was still there. I rounded the first can and the half way turn around point still in the lead but a few hundred meters later things started to turn bad, my kick stopped, my arms felt heavy and it was like I had hit the wall. O’Donnell passed me then soon after Wild and I was struggling to hold feet in 3rd. Exited the water just on their feet and I almost didn't make it up the steps out of the water. The transition run was about 400m and I could see them disappearing in the distance, while having other guys overtake me. I remember thinking to myself I'm not going to make front pack on the bike and the body didn't care.

 Photo cred: Dad
I exited transition and could see the group of 5 or 6 just up the road. In my head I knew I could reel them in but the body was not keen on working today and watched them disappear pretty quickly. The knee tweaked again coming out of the first U-Turn and I knew straight away this was going to be a long morning. I rode solo till about 30km before the chase pack caught me and I couldn't let these guys get away too. I pushed hard to stick with them, I found myself at the front a few times but I didn't last long because I couldn't hold pace or anywhere close to my usual wattage. It was now a matter of protecting this knee, getting to the run and staying upright. The course through the 2nd lap was hectic, parts of the road was so congested we couldn't get through and being an out n back, AG athletes were coming head on having only a white line to separate us. I saw one AG athlete go head on with a road divider and looked really bad, I hope he was OK. Made it back to transition safely and was now time to attempt to make up some ground.

 Photo cred: Dad

As soon as I dismounted I could feel my knee again, I struggled running out of transition but once I got it through my head this is my last race for a while I pushed the pain hoping it would free up. After the first km I was feeling alright and was chasing Berkels heels. We had broken clear from the rest of the chase guys and at 2km I was confident I'd be able to change things around. Unfortunately this didn't last long and found myself creeping by the 3km mark, fatigue had really set in and that was it for the morning. I had been passed by everyone in the pack, even resorted to walking a few times and everything I tried to take on at an aid station came straight back up. Being a 3 lap course I was almost certain on pulling out after the first lap, I felt like absolute rubbish and energy was at zero. I was able to get the occasional run in between each aid station so made it my goal to finish no matter how long it took me. It was painful, I was wasting me time trying to consume nutrition at aid stations and it was a long time out in the sun but I finally ran down that finish shute to put an end to a very disappointing morning.

 Photo cred: Dad
The post race massage was torture, cramp after cramp, I apologise to the people trying to massage me as they weren't sure what was happening. I made it back to the hotel, cramping in places I didn't think was possible, like my finger. I was twitching and having sudden reflex reactions out of no where just laying on the bed, I had completely wrecked my body.
It was nice to go relax, have dinner with the other pros and congratulate them and all the Age Group athletes of their placing.

The rough trip didn't stop there, it was now time for travel back home, Taitung-Taipei-Manila-Hong Kong-Brisbane. Flew out of Taitung at 0840 Monday morning to arrive in Taipei without a bike. The stress started… the staff at Taipei didn't understand and I couldn't afford to wait around and miss all my connections. Was very fortunate to have Dad and Berkels friends from Taiwan sort out the transportation of the bike. It still wasn't guaranteed it will get there but they understood what had happened.
Got into Manila and spent the night there to wake up and see a message from Berkel that mine bike had already arrived in Brisbane… big relief, it had beaten me home.

Was a pretty disappointing trip overall, 2 races with a finish outside the top 10 and a body which will need some time to recover and hope this knee isn't ongoing. It was cool to see some new places and meet some new people but not even close to what I expected race wise.
I've had a full week off training now and the body is feeling good. I have found some key areas to work on and look forward to building back up and aiming to the fitness level I was at post accident. All going to plan I hope my next race will be in the US come May

Monday, 13 March 2017

Century Tuna Subic Bay 70.3

After a good performance at Geelong 70.3 I couldn't be keener to race again. There was one that had been in the back of my mind since the start of the year and when Emma the Pro Liaison for Sunrise Events asked if I was coming to race Subic Bay 70.3 I didn't think twice. After traveling to Cebu and witnessing the best race I have ever been to and unfortunately not being able to finish I was determined to redeem myself in the Philippines and took the offer to come to Subic Bay. I had heard from the other pros what a great race it is and was looking forward to lining up against the most stacked field Subic has seen.

Recovery from Geelong 70.3 wasn't too bad, I got 1 week of hard training in before I was resting up and getting ready for travel again. The week leading into Subic was a lot more peaceful and less stressful than Geelong. I'm starting to feel like my usual self come race time now and it's not such a worry trying to remember all the little things. Travel and equipment was all sorted in advance so it was just a matter of getting myself to that start line. Travel was sorted but probably wasn't the best option…
Left home at 4am Friday morning to fly out of Brisbane-Sydney-Manilla, I heard the traffic was bad through Manilla and touching down at 6pm on a Friday night I couldn't have picked a worse time. Luckily enough Sunrise had organised Dad and I a transfer from the airport to Subic Bay. A trip that would take 2hrs without traffic took 5 hrs. We arrived at the accommodation at 12am, dropped the bags and straight to bed.

Saturday morning I rode down to the race start to rack my bike, sit down for a pre race interview with the TV crew and have a swim at race site. The venue is such an awesome location, the water is clear and warm, beautiful mountain back drop and all the locals are so friendly.
I was all done by lunch and had a bit of chill time through the afternoon and pros conference before the Pro athletes had a pre race dinner with Fred Uytengsu which was amazing.
Off to bed early ready for the 0430 shuttle from our accommodation to swim start.

Arrived at swim start to an absolute perfect morning, not a breath of wind and temperature was pretty reasonable. Through transition and down to the beach for a quick swim. 20 male pros lined up on the beach ready to go, I always love beach starts but they don't always go smoothly…
Off to a clean start but my first dive in goggle went straight around the neck, luckily I was still in waist deep water so could fix them up and get swimming. Betten created a small gap very early on but I was able to bridge to his feet within 400m, bringing a bit of company with me though which wasn't ideal because I could see who they were and they would all be at the front of the race through the morning. I felt great through the swim, probably the strongest I can remember. I came up alongside Betten after we rounded the U-Turn just before halfway and we pushed each other all the way to shore to try and thin out the lead group. Betten exited first, I followed closely and so did the chain of top contenders.

Out onto the bike and I look around at the lead group and everyone of them can run, like run really well especially in these conditions I brought myself into the lead early but wasn't pushing it yet as I wasn't sure how everyone would react up the first climb. Sure enough there was a few attacks up the climb, I held a constant effort keeping myself in the top 3 and once I got onto the flats just after 10km that's when I took off. I was feeling strong, the numbers looked good and this type of course suits me really well. I got a small gap to start but at times they got very close and was almost thinking of sitting up. Overall the road is super fast out there and they were maybe 10sec back before we hit a rough section, once I got through that I looked around and saw it had drifted out to around 30sec and knew there was no sitting up now, time to put the head down and push the pedals.
Looking down at the Garmin, my position and overall feel of being out the front on my own, I felt like my usual self again and was really enjoying the bike leg. Rounded the U-Turn, tail wind would push me all the way home and saw that I had a considerable gap on the chase pack. Coming back was nice sitting on 50km/h+ but watching my wattage struggle a bit reminded me I might feel like myself but the numbers are still not where they were before. It was a smooth run all the way back to the top of the decent but as I dropped down hitting speeds of 75km/h+ there was a few cars putting along at maybe 50km/h, the lead moto was on the horn and waving but no movement from the cars. Thought about the inside line but if they had pulled over I would have been stuffed so had to jump on the brakes and slow up. Wasn't too long before I hit the flats and the cars took off in front. Back into town and into transition, just 500m early… A classic rookie mistake, I was being flagged down to which I thought was the dismount line but after the race realised they were just telling me to slow down.

I knew from that first step of the run I was in survival mode and getting to the finish regardless of position was the priority. I went onto the run with a lead just over a minute and felt like I had plenty of energy left but the legs weren't responding that way. Rather than risk it early I started off slow hoping they may come good but as the run progressed so did the aching legs. I had the lead taken off me just before the 3km mark and lost positions fairly quickly from then on. I was fine going through aid stations, taking on everything I needed and felt like I should be running much quicker but it just wasn't happening. By the halfway point I found myself in 10th position, at this point I was confident I would make it home but decided to canter rather than push it knowing this was only my 2nd race back. I seemed to be managing the heat fine but thinking of it now it was probably because I was running so slow. I lost another position within the last few km's to come across the line in 11th.

Was a little disappointed with the overall outcome but there are some huge positives to take away from the day. My swim was great, while I was pushing the pace I felt comfortable at the threshold I was sitting at. I enjoyed being back out there solo on the bike and finally giving the P5X a good run, couldn't be happier with my setup and gear on the bike. The run I'm hoping was a rare blowout as I know it is there after my split at Geelong 70.3, unfortunately it just didn't come together last weekend.
Can't thank the crew from Sunrise Events enough for putting on another fantastic event. They are a step above the rest and cannot wait for the next one. They go above and beyond to look after the athletes and make sure they are 100% ready come race day.

I write this in transit from the Philippines to Taiwan as I am racing Taiwan 70.3 this weekend. Looking forward to another hit out straight off the back and a new travel destination.