Challenge Taiwan 2013

Posted by Dylant on 16 April 2014

When I saw the footage of the course in Taiwan I was amazed of how little it reminded me of a stereotypical Asian race venue. What I saw was rugged coastlines through to massive mountains and it was exactly that which greeted us on our arrival in to Taitung.

I went in to the race with a lot of self-inflicted pressure. I felt as though it was almost more important for me to perform in Taiwan than it was in Wanaka. I had a lot to prove to myself and I guess to many others also. I figured a podium would be a good result, but it wouldn’t really fill that void that I knew I had to if I was to push on and be confident that this was something I could do successfully day in and day out, not just a lucky race here and a lucky race there. A win was what I felt I needed.

The last 7-8 weeks of training I had were completely focused on the race in Taiwan and they went great. I felt as though I had some really good form and was ready to race 3-4 weeks prior to the actual date. This extra 3-4 weeks gave me a little extra edge over Wanaka’s preparation and I definitely felt that extra edge during the race and even more so in the days after.

The bamboo cannon went off at 6am and about 20 pro’s dove in to the ‘flowing lake.’ I set off with a bit of tempo and tried to hold that throughout the swim, finishing up with a 47.00 non-wetsuit swim, but taking quite a bit of effort to get there. I wanted a lead and so forced the pace a little and was happy to hear that I had 3 minutes to Todd Skipworth and 5.00 to Georg Potribitsch out of the water. I considered Todd a real dark-horse threat and I knew Georg would push me the whole way. I had some good time on the others including Jamie Whyte, but I knew if I gave them half a chance they would ride me down.

On to the bike and I had some good legs straight away. I had very little idea of time gaps throughout the ride, hearing the odd shout (2) from supporters. I felt as though I pushed a little hard for the first 45km and Todd informed me after that I put another 2minutes in to them through to that first turn-around at 45km – that was sometime I later gave up on the bike and more!
I kept pushing throughout the ride, forcing down nutrition and making my stomach one unhappy passenger! I didn’t enjoy the ride very much as I always felt as though I had the others snapping at my heels, which I did. Approaching the end of the 180km I was beginning to think that I had worked too hard to hold off the others and prepared myself for what could be a rather long and painful run with the potential of a meltdown.
A big difference from Wanaka to Taiwan was my back and the major fact that it never seized up. This meant that I was able to push right through the ride and got off the bike in one piece and with the use of some pretty crucial muscles! My lead had dwindled a little and was down to about 2.30 to Todd and 4.30 to Georg.

The moment of truth is always when you take those first few strides off of the bike and to my surprise they felt great. With no back issues to contend with while putting on my shoes I was quickly out on the road and in to my 2nd ever marathon… just as daunting as the first.
The run course was also pretty cool, plenty of changes in scenery and terrain, running through city streets, parks, and walk ways.
The first 20 odd km’s went much the same as the bike, that constant feeling of being chased and the thought of the others just waiting for a moment of weakness when everything can so easily fall apart.
I ran very controlled for 1 hour and the plan was to pick it up after that. I had some cramp issues at about the 10km mark in my calves and I very nearly thought my day was over. However, I quickly got to the bottom of the issue and that was the sports drink at the aid stations, which I decided to take for the first time just moments before the cramp hit. So it was nothing but water and my High 5 Iso-Gels for the remainder of the marathon (with some coke 500m from the finish line. How good it was!).
The second hour went well and I got through to the 2 hour mark in a good state, tired, but with no real muscle issues or soreness. At about this stage I got the call that my lead was out to 9 minutes.
It was an amazing feeling to hear a number like that and I was then able to back off a little bit and give my stomach a rest from the constant force feeding I had been doing, something I feel is inevitable in longer distance racing.
The last 5km was a grovel and by the time I got to 1km to go my mind was once again more on simply just finishing than the fact I was about to win and go 2 from 2 in my new found sport!

Taiwan was a different kind of race for me. There was no ‘just go out and enjoy it,’ it was more business. If I hadn’t had that approach I don’t think I would have won. A valuable lesson learnt for the future. The main thing is I still really enjoyed the whole package – the training, the racing, the pressure and the challenge of it all. I love the fact that on any given day you can’t simply go out and do an iron-distance race. It takes months of training your body and your head and it requires so much focus on one day, which I hsve found is something that makes me tick.
It has been almost 2 weeks since race day and I am still a bit shell-shocked with what has happened. I should probably snap out of it quickly though, as I head to Europe in 5 days and begin my build up for one of the greatest races on the planet, Challenge Roth. This will be a new kind of test for me, with anywhere up to 40 of the world’s best iron-distance racers taking the start line. It won’t just be me up the front, I could have a lot of company, and I am looking forward to seeing how I respond to racing side by side with some of the sport’s biggest names.

Thank you as always to my sponsors.
Specialized Bikes and Chain Reaction Cycles - For the incredible bike and setup, which made a world of difference.

Profile Design - For my aero bars, hydration system and incredible new 24series wheels.

Brooks Running – Simply the best and no other words can be said.

High 5 nutrition – Without MY nutrition I wouldn’t have made the finish line. I choose High 5 because it tastes the best, is race proven and is the easiest to get down, even when you’re forcing it.

 Rudy Project – For my sweet helmet and glasses which are almost like wearing nothing, but do everything you ask of them at the same time.

AND of course thank you to everyone for the support. I sound like a broken record, but it is simply awesome and every single bit is greatly appreciated.

I’ll post again in a few weeks

Thanks again everyone

Cheers

Dylan

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