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.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

2017 Geelong 70.3

I couldn't have imagined a better race to make my return, after a long 5 months of small steps in recovery the time was right to put the body through the its first 70.3 since the accident. I had some people say it's too early and not to rush it but there were no signs telling me not to race so I booked at ticket down to wear number one at Iroman 70.3 Geelong.
Training this year has been going really well on the Gold Coast, there's been a few rough patches with the high humidity and heat but overall I was able to get a couple of solid weeks in where I felt close to my usual self. I am able to ride the bike on the road twice a week and my km's per week running is progressing well. The 2 weeks leading into Geelong 70.3 were great and gave me a lot of confidence heading into the race.
Whilst training was going well, not everything was... the worry and stress I dealt with the week prior was like nothing I've experienced before. It felt like I'd never done a triathlon before and trying to remember and organise everything was a struggle every minute of the day. I'd lay in bed of a night stressing about everything I forgot to do that day and worrying that I would forget to do those things and others the next day.
I'm extremely fortunate to have such a supportive family cause without them I don't think I would have made it to the start line. I can't thank sponsors and friends enough for the message of support in the lead up to the race, it's really means a lot.

Come Saturday, the worry and stress disappeared... the excitement then kicked in. Being back at an event knowing that I will be toeing the line the next day wearing #1 against a stacked field, I couldn't be keener to race. Seeing a lot of my mates I hadn't seen since the last race really lightened it up and put a smile on my face for the whole day. Also hearing other professional males tell me they were glad to see me back really meant a lot.
With my usual pre race training done and bike racked it was now time to lay the gear out and make sure I tick everything off I need for the morning.

Woke up to a very crisp morning and clouds on the horizon. Weather was the complete opposite to what I have been training in the past few months and was unsure how the body would react to the change. Got in a quick swim warm up before all the male pros gathered behind the start line.
Beach starts are always my favourite and wish Ironman had more of them, the start line was pretty packed but took far left and was off to a clean start. It was pretty congested for the first 500m, Amberger had gapped the field early and I found myself swimming in about 6th with a group. It started to spread out as we hit some chop before the first turn buoy and once I rounded that I got stuck in and had my eyes set on Amberger who was about 70m ahead. I found some good rhythm and by the second turn buoy I was sitting in 2nd now about 30m off Amberger. I bridged a little closer with some porpoising at the exit and came out with a 10sec gap with a few guys on my feet.

After a surprisingly quick transition I exited 1st shoulder to shoulder with Amberger and Fettel. Feet in the shoes straight away as I knew it would be on up that first hill which I was. It was a rough first couple of km's but once we got on the main road it was Amberger, Appleton and myself putting the hammer down early. It was cold and the wind was up early, gusterly crosswinds.. never felt like a true head or tail wind.
I was feeling good and the power was looking spot on, the new bike and position was dialed, confidence was up early for a good morning on the bike. The guys continued to push hard with a couple of spikes in there as we knew the groups behind were full of strong runners and would need to put some time into them. The first lap went down really well, coming back to transition for the second lap I lost sight of the guys up the road and the legs started to feel a little shaky. I didn't let them get too far before putting in another effort to get them back in my sights before heading out to the Peninsula. Heading back from there things started to turn bad, my legs started suffering big time and getting the shakes. They felt complete zapped and the boys disappeared up the road. I ended up in no man's land with 25km to go and by the feel of it I thought I was going to get caught on the bike and possibly not even run. I played it smart and settled into a pace that would get me into transition and not lose to much time. It was a massive drop off but dismounted in 3rd having lost 2mins 30 and still have a gap on the chase pack.

Shoes on and it wasn't long before the rain started coming down. Luckily the muscles I cooked on the bike weren't affecting my run and felt good. I got stuck into the aid stations early to ensure the morning wasn't over early. Coming round that first U-Turn I got a glimpse of the chasers, they weren't far back and there was a fair few of them. I was staring to doubt a top 10 finish. I was passed by Dan Wilson who put together a great run and also Cyril Viennot not too long later
Coming back through the event site, having so much support from the crowd and Pete on the mic gave me an incredible boost and made me think how far I've come. The legs found a second gear and started to find some good form and pace heading out onto my second lap. When I rounded that last U-Turn and saw that I had a good gap to 6th the smile came out and the pain disappeared. I was so stoked coming down that finish shute and had the biggest smile on my face, that's when it all sunk it what has happened and how happy I was to cross that line and in a very pleasing 5th place. A massive positive out of the race was my run split, having 5th fastest of the day and clocking a 1:17:15.

Thanks to all the crew at Ironman for making me feel at home, my sponsors and manager for sticking by me through this time and going above and beyond to get me everything I need to race, my friends for all their support since week 1 and most of all my Mum, Dad and Brother for everything and getting me to that start line as prepared as I could have been.
This is the start and already have my eyes set on the next race and heading back to the US come mid year. I'm looking forward to the year ahead and hope to get stronger as the year progresses.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Starting all over again

It's almost been 4 months since the accident and a lot has happened since then. My recovery was incredibly slow to start with and after numerous appointments with a whole range of doctors they had me pretty scared that my return to triathlon was not certain.
I have no memory of the accident, my week in hospital and the following week at home. The doctors were very surprised with how I was that first time they saw me, according to what it said on paper the speech therapist didn't expect me to be able to communicate with her. I struggled at the start putting sentences together when meeting with friends but it improved slightly each week and only have the odd slip up now. Was also annoying having met with someone or talked on the phone to then realise the next time I spoke with them I didn't recall a thing. The biggest shock was when the report came out saying I wouldn't be able to run for 4 months, I couldn't believe it at first but when I got home it hit me a found myself in a state of depression for the next few weeks considering life.
It wasn't until I was able to get in the pool and do some hydrotherapy that my mood changed for the better and was able to find some happiness and enjoy the days. I was in every morning, building up each day. The JT5 Aquabuoys were a massive help with my recovery and don't think I would be where I am today without them. Another start of my recovery was walking on the beach, I started at 10mins and gradually increased my way up to my longest being 2 hours 30mins. Living on the Gold Coast just meters away from the beach made the walks a lot easier and enjoyable. It wasn't long till I was back on the windtrainer in the garage building up the cycling and at week 5 I was back in the pool, first time was only 2 laps. Come mid December it was time to have my first run, I was a little nervous as there was the possibility of a seizure but ticked off 1km with no dramas. Back doing all 3 I couldn't be happier, was still along way to go and still had to build steadily but I was now confident that I would be back.

I brought in the New Year with my first ride back on the road with the Camino Apparel crew, I couldn't of had a bigger smile on my face riding outside after being stuck indoors for the past 2 months. I have also joined a swim squad at Miami pool big thanks to Rackley Swimming for getting me in and am still building the running up. I was confident with how the training was going and entered my first race back, a sprint distance triathlon at Robina which is just up the road. I was so excited the week leading into the race, it was like I was starting all over again, trying to remember everything I needed and going through the process in my head. I layed all my gear out on my bed the night before to ensure I had everything for the morning and instead of not being able to sleep because of nerves it was excitement keeping me up this time.

I was lucky to get a start in the Mates wave as all my focus was getting through each leg of the race and remembering what to do the morning of, through transitions and during the race. It all seemed new to me, going through registration, numbering the bike, setting up transition and warming up. I was ticking everything off as the morning went on. Was now in the water ready for a 0730 race start and after 5 months since my last race, it had all come down to this.

 The feeling of excitement sat with me pretty well and was off to a good start in the swim. I felt comfortable throughout the swim and was fine navigating and weaving my way through the waves that had started before us. Exited the water and ran up through transition, was probably one of my slowest transitions but was making sure I remembered what to do. Out onto the bike and the mount was very cautious, feet into the shoes and I was underway. Having just picked up the new P5X I was super keen to give that a run but having been on my Cervelo road bike for the past 3 months I felt more comfortable just sticking to that. I think I had a bit too much fun hooking around the course on my R5, I enjoy every minute I'm outside riding. Got through the swim and bike, now just the 5km run to tick the last box. The first km was a bit hard on the legs not having done much running off the bike but pulled it together after the first turn around and settled in nicely. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, having a bunch of my mates out on course cheering me on and knowing that I was about to finish my first race back. Coming down the finish chute I couldn't be happier, having mum and dad at the finish couldn't be better because they have supported me everyday since the accident and have got me to where I am today.

I can't thank my family, friends and all my sponsors enough for sticking by me over the past few months, really appreciate their support and am so fortunate to have been able to finish my first race back. This has really boosted my confidence now and will allow me to get stuck into some harder training in the lead up to my next race which will be an 70.3 Ironman.

Monday, 26 September 2016

70.3 World Championship 2016

This is far from a race report but wanted to get what happened to me across and thank all the people for the messages and support since the accident.

My lead up to 70.3 World's was far from good, it wasn't until Friday 2nd September before the race that I actually made the decision to pack the bags and head up to compete. The knee injury I suffered at Philippines 70.3 had not yet recovered, I hadn't found out what is causing the pain that I feel swimming, riding and running and in the 3 weeks leading into World's I don't think I got more than 5 sessions done. I had tried everything to get this resolved but had no luck until Thursday 1st September, after my 3rd session of acupuncture I felt surprisingly good, had a test run and got 20mins done with no issues. The next morning I had an easy ride and again returned with no issues, that's when I made the decision to race, I couldn't miss the chance to race my first World Championship event, especially when it was on home soil.

Spent Friday packing for the race as I left early Saturday morning with my Dad. I arrived at Mooloolaba mid morning and caught up with my mate Lindsey for an ocean swim, I was pretty excited to see some decent waves rolling in whilst I was swimming and had my fingers crossed that it would be like this come race morning. Checked in to the hotel at lunch and then was out and about catching with friends and going through athlete check-in, it was great to see everyone and them being as surprised as I was that I had decided to race. After catching up with Oakley it was time to head out for a ride on my Cervelo that had just been fitted with the CeramicSpeed OSPWS. So was keen as to get out there.
It was around 4pm I headed out for a quick spin, going north along the road over Alexandra Headland and kept following that, the same as I do every year I come to race at Mooloolaba. The knee was feeling great and the traffic was at a minimum, the CeramicSpeed was working perfectly and all was excellent. That was all I remember.

My dad writes the rest of this report

I was contacted while waiting for Jake to return from his ride it was dark by now and well past his estimated return time, I had rung him and messaged him many times but no answer or reply. I was hopping he had met up with someone and was having a chat or he was getting his bike looked at by one of the mechanics. But the call came through from the front desk and the receptionist asked if I was Jakes father, I replied yes and she said that Dr Hughes from Nambour emergency was on the phone and wanted to speak to me. He said that Jake had been hit by a car and had some injuries including some head injuries.
As I’m driving to the hospital I rang Jakes mum and told her the news and to get up to Nambour. I get in to see Jake and he is not to good, he is still in his bike kit and has bark off him everywhere. His head is bleeding from 3 spots and his face is cut up. Over the next few hours he is in and out of conciseness, he has scans which show bleeding on the brain in 3 spots, fractures here and there and his right shoulder is a mess.
I have a visit from the Officer who is investigating the accident and was assured that Jake was not at any fault as the driver turned into him, the force of the hit has damaged the car badly and the officer is amazed that Jake is still alive. I also get a visit from Dave Beeche from Ironman to see how Jake is.
I believe the care and treatment Jake received that night in Emergency and the nurses who looked after him through the night made a huge impact on his overall condition and recovery. On Sunday Jake was not responding well to some of the pain medications and he was rushed to the ICU ward when he became unresponsive. It was then they decided to transfer him the Neurology ward at Royal Brisbane.
Over the next week Jake had many scans and x-rays to determine the extent of his injuries. He had visits from lots of his friends, unfortunately everything since the accident is a bit muddled. He can’t remember anything whilst he was in Hospital and has trouble remembering daily events since returning home.
I really appreciate all the good people Jake has in his life and the many messages of good will and hope. We are so lucky that Jake is still alive, out of hospital and on the road to recovery. I have added some photos of the helmet and the car that hit him to show how lucky he actually was.                     

Dent from car impact (above)                Impact of head hitting road (above)

Inside showing cracks and compression of high density foam moulding

Vehicle that hit Jake courtesy of Investigating Officer.


      Click photo to enlarge
Further to Dad's appreciation, I would just like to say a huge thanks to all those who cared for, visited and sent messages to me over the past few weeks. Whilst I'm still coming to terms with what happened and have suffered some serious injuries, all things going well, I am determined to get back to training as soon as possible.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

70.3 Cebu, Philippines - Asia Pacific Championships

I had made a last minute decision to race 70.3 Philippines during my last week in the US, as it would be two months before World Champs and this race was only a month away and would be great preparation. A few guys I had spoken to about the event couldn't speak highly enough of it which made me even more keen to head over, the location sounded amazing and the atmosphere of the event had to be seen to be believed. The main thing to take in account was the heat and humidity of the place, said to be one of the hottest races you'll ever do.

Training hadn't been going so smooth the couple of weeks back from Boulder, CO but managed to find some good form two weeks out from the race, however this didn't last long. The Friday week before the race I started feeling some pain in my knee and unfortunately had to have the weekend off training. I started back easy on Monday and it felt alright, I was tempted to push it through my normal pre race training but was more inclined to get to the race pain free so took it easy all week and boarded the plane Wednesday night not having felt the pain again. I had a quick stop over in Hong Kong Airport and then touch down in Cebu. Off the plane and I was greeted by a bunch of very friendly people from Sunrise Events who helped me with my bags and provided a transfer to the hotel which I would be staying at for the next 4 nights. I arrived at the Mövenpick Hotel in Cebu and was blown away, it was amazing, was really excited to be staying here. My roommate was Eric Watson, another athlete, who I had never met before but after the first afternoon it felt like we had know each other for years.

The schedule for Friday was pretty full, first up we had a run to the local school for the Alaska Milk Promotion, next up was an interview with ABS-CBN Sports which they then videoed my through athlete check in which was pretty cool. After lunch we had pro's briefing and then a "Meet the Pro's" session and also medal awarding to the Irongirls. It was a big day but I had a lot of fun and met a whole bunch of new people. First thing Saturday morning we were back out giving medal to the ironkids and then it was time to focus on the race ahead the following day with usual pre racing training and bike racking. 

Up at 3:45am Sunday morning ready to get prepared for the morning ahead a bus transfer at 5am to transition. Everything was sorted and onto the bus, headed straight for transition, we got about 200m down the road and then was stuck in the traffic jam, we sat there for 10mins until everyone decided to get off the bus and scramble to transition which was just a couple of km away. Got in and out of transition as quick as possible as the line was building up to the swim start which was another trek. I decided to jump fence and a few gardens to avoid missing my race start. Swim warm up was done and was now on the beach ready to be called out to the start. The Asia Pacific Championships brought some of the best names in the sport and the field was stacked with over 20 guys. The first few got called up and into the water, I was one of the last to enter and slowly made my way to the start line. The field was bunched right on the inside line next the the buoy rope but I had planned all along to start far left and it payed off. I felt great through the first 100 and found myself going straight into the lead, I continued to hold good speed and started to break away from the main group. By the first turn I would of had atleast 30m on everyone else and was confident I could get a good gap out of the water. Coming into the 2nd turn (about three quarters through) I started to feel the knee and eased off the kicking about hoping to conserve it for the rest of the race, I was soon caught but the chase group of swimmers and decided to sit on feet for the remainder of the swim. Out of the water in 3rd and into T1 with quite a big group.

 The first 10km of the bike was the craziest thing I have ever witnessed in a race, the amount of people on the side supporting was unreal, either side was packed 5 deep full of locals. The noise they were making was ridiculous. 
The pack I was in was quite large and full of some big names, the hill up to the bridge around the 10km mark was probably the only chance I had to get away. I tried my luck and made an attack as soon as we hit it, I went to the front and managed to break it up and get a small gap. I was followed closely by a group of 3 and the next pack was down the road. I could see them creeping closer and closer and it wasn't long before I was caught and the group was together. Reed, Mcmahon, Costes and Myself all had attempts at a break away but it would be one of us that would shut it down again. The bike was pretty much flat for the laps with a head wind on the way out and opposite on the way back. The entire bike leg remained the same with surge after surge trying to break anyone we could, by the last half it was Reed, Mcmahon, Costes, Crowie, Betten and myself. The surges didn't help my knee either, the back half of the ride it hurt every stroke but luckily it wasn't stopping me from riding hard.
Around km 75 I started to cramp terribly whilst in the lead, so bad that I had to unclip and try and shake my muscles loose. One side went and as soon as I got that in control the other side went, I ended up out the back and was left with some chasing to do back to the tail end of the pack. I caught them back up at the bridge and it was not the final run through the wild crowds into T2.

Dismounted the bike and I was in big trouble, my knee could barely function at all now, I was already running with a limp. I put the shoes on and headed out onto the run in 6th position, hoping I would be able to atleast get around the course jogging. I felt like I had loads of energy but my knee just wasn't cooperating, I started walking through each aid station to rest it and also get enough nutrition down. By km 4 I couldn't even make it to each aid station running and had to walk at times it was hurting that bad. At times I could run for a few minutes and others not even for a few seconds, I was now getting passed by the other guys who had been chasing on the bike and by km 7 found myself in 10th position and couldn't even run another stride so walked it into the finish and had to call it quits for the day. I really didn't want it to come to this but I physically wasn't able to continue, I hate a DNF next to my name and I hope it never happens again.

After a long couple of days traveling I am back home, luckily I was able to get straight in to see my physio Rick at Gold Coast Physio and will find out what is going on with my knee. I have 70.3 Worlds coming up in a few weeks and hope that I will be 100% for this race. 
I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone at Sunrise Events and Ironman Asia Pacific for having me at Cebu, Philippines and making it the best experience possible. I have not been to a race that is anything like it before and am already looking forward to making my return next year. The support from the locals is incredible and thank everyone out there who was watching and cheering.


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Vineman 70.3

I'm writing this on my way down the west coast of California, spending a few days to see the sights of the coast before I fly back home to Australia.
Training was back in full swing a couple of days after Boulder 70.3, surprisingly I had pulled up pretty good and had a great few weeks of training leading into Vineman 70.3. Heading to California meant my time in Boulder for 2016 had come to an end, I had an awesome time there, met a bunch of new people and explored plenty of new places. I put together an extremely good block of training being in Boulder for a full two months and look forward to seeing the benefits down the track. I was really looking forward to heading to Vineman 70.3 again, the race location is beautiful, the course is challenging and the competition is tough, this year was one of the toughest the event has seen with some of the biggest names in the sport including 4 world champions over this distance. I was as keen as ever to toe the line and the stacked start list didn't bother me at all.
I flew out of Boulder Friday lunch time to arrive in San Francisco late evening with a short drive up north to Guerneville which is where my accommodation was for the next 3 nights. I was lucky enough to get a room at Johnsons Beach again this year which is a short stroll to T1 and swim start which is ideal come race morning, the cabins I stayed in are a pretty cool experience too. The usual pre race training and briefing took place on Saturday, it was good to see a few familiar faces around from back home and the US. 

There was 21 pro men lined up ready for the 06:25am start. The water temperature was absolute border line, 72°F so it was speedsuits on. Pace wasn't too crazy at the start and no one attempting to break the 50m record. I had a clean start and found myself sitting at the pointy end of the lead group. It started to string out a little before the half way mark which also served as the first turning point but I knew the water was extremely shallow at that end of the river and I'd be able to make up some time. We hit the shallows around 50 out from the turn buoy and the diving started, I was in about 5th but by the turn it was Appo leading the way and me right on his feet. At times it was even too shallow to dive so had to do an awkward wade as the bottom was all sharp, loose rocks. Another 50-75 of dives after the U-Turn and we were back swimming. I felt great at this point and took the lead down the final straight of the swim, just as we rounded the last buoy to hit the shore I was pipped by another athlete to gain an advantage of 2sec out of the water. I was in the perfect position but then disaster struck... My speedsuit zipper got caught a quarter of the way down and it wouldn't budge. I tried numerous times trying to zip it back up or down but nothing, all I could here was the bikes wheeling out of T1 behind me, it was the worst. The only way this was coming off was to rip it, it took some effort but I ripped it entirely in half and I was free. My transition was 1:10min longer than the group I was swimming with.

Onto the bike and it was head down, I was determined to catch back up to those front guys and had a lot of confidence that I could do it. I was feeling great on the bike, numbers were looking real good and it wouldn't be long before I saw the front group. After passing numerous athletes along the way I finally got a glimpse of the front of 5 at mile 15. I caught them at mile 17 just at the base of a short hill and continued straight to the front. I dropped it back to normal race watts and kept a steady pace. Appo and myself shared the lead, what I thought was the lead until I got a time split of someone 40sec up the road, I completely forgot about Bozzone who was powering away ahead of us all. I then kicked it up a gear and went in search of Bozzone, at one point I had closed the gap to 20 sec and he was in sight but I was starting to feel the affects of the first 20miles and he disappeared again. I led the group for the last 20miles and noticed that it was getting strung out a lot and almost dropped them at times but then they would be right behind me again. I just couldn't shake them. Came off the bike in 2nd place closely followed by Appleton, Alexander, Reed, Hoffman and Potts, 1:15 down on Bozzone. Was happy to post the 2nd fastest time of the day with a 2:07:41

Out of T2 was the best I had ever felt, the pace was red hot and I was somewhat comfortable running alongside some of the fastest guys in 70.3. I was hopeful that I could hang onto these guys bit when Reed made a surge just before mile 3 it broke me, my breathing became real heavy and I just couldn't hang in there anymore. Hoffman and I ended up off the pace and settled into our own race now. Around mile 5 I hit a rough patch and my stomach started turning, this was a first and I was immediately looking for that next aid station, I had a huge gap behind me and unfortunately I had no other option but to use the portaloo. As I sat in there I just hoped I wouldn't here the words Water, Gatorade etc. yelled out as that meant another athlete passing. Few minutes later I was back out on course and remained in 7th position. I now felt 10x better and was knocking over the miles at a much faster pace. The last mile was a bit of a struggle but managed to finish 7th well off the front guys but with a sizeable gap behind me also.

Congrats to the guys up front who where all class in the run, I was fortunate enough to run with them for the first few miles to get a taste of the speed they're at. With Vineman done that wraps up my training and racing in the US for 2016.
I'm looking forward to my return home to catch up with the rest of my family and mates. I will train on the Gold Coast all the way to Worlds in September which I cannot wait for.