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.

http://www.slowtwitch.com/News/Ruedi_Wild_Radka_Kahlefeldt_win_Subic_Bay_6247.html

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.