An update to keep you updated
So my last update was a wee while ago now and that one was my Wanaka race report. There hasn’t been a lot to report on race wise since then, but there has been a few things happening. One of the coolest things about racing such a major event so early on in the summer is that you then have the rest of the summer to recover and start the build up for the next race on the list. During this ‘recovery’ I have attended quite a few BBQ’s and drunk quite a few beers and have really enjoyed my post-Wanaka summer. It has been an interesting time since my first big win and it has been a nice feeling waking up in the mornings for training knowing that my job is triathlon, rather than the constant second guessing of my choice to chase this dream.
I did manage one race over the last 10 or so weeks, which was the ITU Oceania Championships in Wellington, NZ. I decided that I needed something to keep the motivation up and give me something to work towards. I went to Wellington looking forward to racing the shorter racing again, alas a little under-prepared, but still confident I could do something respectable. I managed to lead most of the swim and came out with a good bunch of Aussies and Kiwis. It was a tough first lap on the bike the body really wasn’t enjoying its first real extended period of high intensity exercise for some time. I managed to settle in a little, but really struggled with the surging. I got off on to the run and basically ran an even 10km as fast as I could muster (not very fast), which was only good enough for 16th place. Still not too bad a result for me considering the build-up and the fact that the race really didn’t mean anything to me other than a chance at a free night out thanks to a bet with Kris Gemmell (which I lost).
One thing that I have been working on quite a lot over the last 10 weeks is my race schedule for the Northern Hemisphere season. It’s all but carved in to stone and this is what it looks like.
Challenge Taiwan – 4th May – Iron-Distance
Challenge Kraichgau – 9th June – Half Distance
Challenge Roth – 14th July – Iron-Distance
Challenge Almere-Amsterdam – 14th September – Iron-Distance
Yes that is 3 Iron-Distance races still come. I’ve got the bug.
It is still an odd feeling going in to an away season with only 4 races on the schedule, but I am sure they’ll be more than enough.
I’ll be spending a good chunk of time training in the South of France with Andrea Hewitt and Laurent Vidal at their home just out of Sete. I am really looking forward to getting over there and building up for Roth and Almere.
There has been a bit of movement on the sponsor front for me, a nice little spin off from my win in Wanaka. Still a lot of work to do to be able to really make a living out of this sport, but it’s a step in the right direction and it’s nice to get some recognition.
I am super happy to name all these companies on my team for 2013. They are all great at what they do and it’s a cool feeling having so much support behind me.
High 5 – Nutrition.
Profile Design – Wheels, Aero Bars, and Hydration-Systems
Rudy Project – Helmets and Glasses.
Specialized – Bikes, Shoes and Accessories.
Brooks – For running happy.
Check them out on my sponsor’s page.
I was lucky enough to have a good choice in sponsors and I chose all these companies based on personal experience and the need to be as fast as I can be.
In 3 weeks today I will have raced Taiwan and I am hoping I will be sitting somewhere writing a good race report for you all. We shall see.
Twitter comment – A full breakdown
I wanted to clarify a comment I made on twitter about a week ago. Yes, below is a very big bitching session, but obviously I think this is a bit of a joke.
Here is the comment - @IronmanTri @HyVeeTri athletes race 5races with shit $ to qualify for the opportunity to make shit $? 100g's for 1st? #RichGetRicher
This was in response to the announcement that the 5150 series Championship race, the Des Moines Hy-Vee triathlon, formerly the world’s richest triathlon, would now have less than 50% of its stated prize money.
All in all these things happen, but the fact that it was left until April for this to be announced was diabolical. The first race of the 5150 series is less than a month away and I am sure that this has been something that would have been known to the organisers and WTC (Ironman – owner of the series) for quite some time. Most athletes would already have their seasons set in place, training, racing and travelling. Some would have already booked flights and accommodation and all this has been done because they want the chance to qualify for the biggest money triathlon in the world and the chance to make a better living out of the sport. A lot of athletes would also have significant bonuses tailored for the Hy-Vee Championships because of the races prestige and class and this announcement will reduce both of those and ultimately reduce a sponsor’s willingness to get behind their athletes in this race.
One thing that really gets to me about this is that those who raced Hy-Vee last year will remember the speech we got at briefing about how successful the race is/was and how the commercial return was well worth every dollar invested. I think the return was 5 to 1 – In other words for every $1 they spent Hy-Vee generated $5 in sales and exposure. This was really drilled in to us last year and meant that we all went away feeling pretty confident about the survival of the race.
When I heard the announcement I was sitting having a coffee with 3 Triathletes whose season was planned and based around Hy-Vee. Their disappointment, anger, and disbelief really were incredibly obvious and my comment was made more out of my feeling of disappointment for them than myself. I am not focusing on Hy-Vee this year and never will with that sort of reduction in prize money. Like stated by these athletes, Hy-Vee takes real investment throughout the season to qualify for the race. Five races count towards your qualification and with the added interest (that WAS there) this year it probably would have taken 5 races to qualify. That’s 5 flights, 5 lots of accommodation, food and other expenses, plus if you are a foreign athlete that is probably at least 1 month spent living in the USA at considerable expense. All this planning would have already been done and a lot of money already spent. Another note is for the Europeans who have in the past made up a good chunk of the professional field at Hy-Vee. We all know the rigors of travel and the costs involved. It is hard to imagine that Hy-Vee will generate as much interest for those Europeans looking to qualify now as it would be hard to justify spending considerable money to qualify for a race that now doesn’t really offer considerable return, unless of course you win.
This is where my next point comes in. $100,000 for the win, $20,000 for second? This is the worst prize purse breakdown I have seen. It is very likely that the winners will be the same as last year, they are simply that good, or the winners will be someone who is invited, not to mention the fact that last years winners do not have to qualify in the same fashion as everyone else, as they receive an automatic spot, which just needs to be validated through racing one other 5150 event. The athletes with the potential to win already make far more through endorsements and bonuses than those guys in 6th – 20th and light years more than those in 21st – 30th
This sour news has tried to be sweetened by the introduction of ‘better’ race times and a better finish line!? I can assure the organisers that the athletes were not fazed about the start time or finish line in the past because it is all part of the sport and they will not be fazed by the new times and finish line. I can also assure you that they are definitely fazed about the timing of this announcement and the more than 50% reduction in prize money.
They have made sure to cover their bases as best they can; after all, it is still the ‘biggest’ prize purse in Olympic distance racing and still carries a $100,000 first place prize. So, plenty of things to keep them looking good and plenty of things to keep the vast majority of athletes bank accounts looking terrible.
Sorry for the negativity, but sometimes it’s hard to be positive when so many good athletes are getting the very short end of the stick.
Like so many athletes this year and at years gone by I was woken to howling winds early on race morning. The good thing was it actually got me excited for the tough day that was to come and to race in the conditions I had trained for.
I had no expectations going in to the race, but I had told my friends and family that I wanted a podium finish to ‘finish’ my career. So I figured 3rd, maybe 2nd would be my top result. How things have changed.
My form leading in to the race had been great. I handled the training better than most other build-ups I had done over shorter distances and my body was responding well and recovering better. By the time I hit taper time I was basically ready to race and my taper was just a bonus.
When the gun went off and I headed out in to the lake I was happy to find we were swimming smack bang in to some pretty good little rollers. I felt the best I have felt in the water in a long time and felt better and better as the swim went on. It was a good feeling to get out of the water and know that I’d exerted about as little as I could have hoped and was shocked when I heard that I had 3.40 to Rhodesy and 6.40 to Jamie, Macca and Leon.
The time gap gave me confidence to get straight in to my work, but at the same time I was telling myself that I would get caught eventually and that my pace was my pace and there was nothing I could do about the others.
I extended my lead a little in the first out and back section, which surprised me and got me thinking that I’d probably gone too hard. Never the less I didn’t ease off and kept pushing. I was never strained aerobically and I figured that was a reasonably good sign that I wasn’t over working.
Once I hit the next turn around point and got a glimpse of the others riding together, I lost a bit of heart for a moment, but got it back nice and quickly when I got a time gap from my mates out on course and I was holding at around 7 minutes. By the next time gap, about 25km later (100km mark) and in to the headwind I had extended it out to almost 8.30, but it was right at this time that I went through a bad patch and so decided to eased off a bit. At the 130-140km mark I still had 7.20, but my back had been giving me grief for about 10km by this stage and continued to do so for the remainder of the bike. For the last 40 odd Km’s I was barely on my bars and barely on my seat.
By the end of the ride I had 1min to 1.30 on Jamie and Rhodesy and felt that I had given away a pretty cheap 3-4 minutes, but there was nothing I could do about it. It may have cost me that time on the ride, but may have also saved me more time on the run. Ultimately I was just surprised that I got off the bike still in the lead!
My transition was a bit of a mess and I was glad we had the change tent. I could barely put on my shoes on with my back in the state it was and I am sure it was quite a scene.
I set off on the run and my legs felt better than I expected. I needed a toilet stop pretty much straight away so took the first opportunity at the 2km mark. (By popular demand – about 2 people – I have added to the toilet story). I really needed to clean out all systems, but my back was such a mess that if I’d sat down I’d still be in there. A real pain was that I popped my buttons on my race belt and they fell to the floor. It was quite demoralising bending over with my face in the hole while having back spasms and trying to pick them up! Jamie and Rhodesy passed me during my excursion, but were only about 100m in front of me when I stumbled out of there.
I ran up to Jamie probably a bit overly keen and decided that I’d trust his pace and his experience for a while.
I was feeling really good and was happy just to sit and wait. At about 45 minutes in to the marathon we started getting time gaps to Macca and he was closing quickly. I decided that if I wanted to win then I had to go now or never. I was amazed at just how good I did feel when I decided to go and kept that tempo up until the turn around when I saw Jamie again and Macca for the first time. He seemed close at 3.30 and once again I thought it was all over and it was only a matter of time before he caught me.
I managed to pull my head in and kept my tempo going until the 25km mark. It was here that reality started to set in; I was still somehow out front, I was putting time back in to Macca, gaining on Jamie, I could potentially win, I still had 17km to go and I was already very close to being completely spent! There were a lot of emotions flowing around!
I took in some gels, slowed down and made more of an effort to relax.
The rest of the run was just one foot in front of the other. My quads were wrecked from the constant pounding and around the 35km mark I started to feel some cramps come on. I made more of an effort to get down fluids and slowed down to make sure of it. By the 4km to go sign I had a 4.30 lead on Jamie and started walking aid stations to make sure I made the finish line. I cramped a couple of times and almost took out a bike during an emergency stop. I got to that 1km to go sign and still wasn’t even relieved. I took a look over my shoulder almost expecting to see Jamie or Macca charging down the street. It wasn’t until I got to the red carpet that I managed to relax a bit and for the last time was surprised to know that I was still out in front and it would actually be me breaking the tape.
To win in what is my second home in New Zealand, in front of so many family and friends, and on a course that is both stunning and brutal is going to be hard to beat.
My goal now is to go out and race as hard as I did at Challenge Wanaka, regardless of my position and regardless of the course, and if I do so I hope I can keep doing this for a little while longer!
Thanks to the boys out there who made it so tough – Jamie Whyte, Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, Keegan Williams, Bryan ‘Rhodesy’ Rhodes, Carl Read, Axel Reiser, Leon ‘Griffo’ Griffin, and Rob Creasy.
A big congrats to the Girls too – Gina Crawford, Candice Hammond and Jo Lawn.
Once again a huge thank you to all my supporters out there on course who were nothing short of exceptional and to all those at home watching on their screens.
Of course thanks to the Challenge Family and Wanaka + all their volunteers for putting on an amazing event.
Will update soon with my season plans.
A big cheers!
Christchurch Elite Race 2012
Good to get a little hit out and get the body racing again back home in Christchurch. Body felt good and it was nice to have some speed there even though I hadn't done an ounce of it in training for a long time! Congrats to Mike for taking it out with a lethal sprint. I really had no chance and was kidding my self when I thought I did. 6 Weeks to Wanaka and looking forward to making it all come together.
Full US 2012 season update
So it is definitely time for an update after continually putting them off in the hope I could find some form and get some results.
My first few weeks over here started reasonably well in Boulder, Colorado. I arrived, had an easy 5 days and then got stuck in to a lot of training.
My first race was Escape from Alcatraz and had planned on using it as a bit of a training race before heading to Canada two weeks later for Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant.
Half Ironman distance races were going to be my main focus of the season, as well as the Des Moines 5150 final (the big money race).
I got out of bed the day before Alcatraz to head to the airport and instantly new something wasn’t right.
I went straight to the toilet and it all started from there. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in a shuttle for 90 minutes and then get on a plane for 2 or so hours, but I also knew that I had to somehow get to San Francisco, as I had my university exams to sit there the week following.
Safe to say it was the worst flight of my life and I spent it all in the toilet – I’ll spare you the details.
I spent the night twisting and turning and the only racing I was doing was to and from the bathroom.
I then spent the next week doing absolutely nothing, eating very little, and somehow managed to complete 4 exams.
This is where I went wrong. I then decided that because I had already booked all my travel to Canada I would go and try and race.
I also rolled my ankle badly on my 2nd run before the race, which meant I went in to the race on almost no training and I felt every bit the lack of strength (and fitness) and dug myself deeper in to the pit.
I finished 7th, ok I guess – but really was a race I could have won and that was my intention.
I arrived back in Boulder and continued to make mistakes. I simply wanted to find the form that I had before I left home and went straight back in to training.
My next race was Boulder 5150, only two weeks after Canada. I should have missed this race, but I needed the points to qualify for Des Moines and so struggled through another tough race.
I found out the week after Boulder 5150 that I had qualified for Des Moines and so was able to settle down for a few weeks and miss my next 2 races to try and get some strength back in the body.
Next on the list were Boulder 70.3 followed by the Santa Cruz International – separated by a trip to El Salvador to renew my visa.
My coach and I decided that Boulder 70.3 would be a good strength tester and that not ‘over exerting’ myself would be a safe option, with Des Moines a month away and a week full of travel and racing to come not over doing it was key.
Boulder 70.3 went reasonably well and spent most my time on the front of our big bike group. I missed a couple of opportunities to get up the road with 2 small breakaways, as I just didn’t have the freshness of the guys sitting behind me doing nothing. Anyway, I rode well and ran 1 lap of the run, which also felt good.
My body felt in much better shape and only doing half the run meant that I didn’t have the stiffness and soreness that you get from running a full half-marathon.
Two days later I was off to El Salvador. An interesting couple of days and my mission was accomplished when I was granted my new visa on the way back in to the US.
I raced the Santa Cruz international that weekend and finally felt like I had some form. I raced a sprint race on Saturday for 2nd and then the International on Sunday for 3rd.
I lacked a lot of overall speed and actually raced just as fast when the distance was doubled on the same course from Saturday to Sunday. I really felt the Boulder ‘Diesel’ affect, but was happy just to have been able to compete decently again.
I had decided that Boulder wasn’t working so well for me – the altitude combined with the relentless heat (30+) everyday was taking its toll on my training consistency and so I shut up shop there and moved out to Orange County, just south of LA. I managed to get rid of the altitude, but ran smack bang in to a heat wave that was probably even hotter than Boulder.
Anyway, straight back in to training it was after a big 10 days of racing and travelling and once again started digging that hole. I trained harder than I had ever trained in the 3 weeks after Santa Cruz and before Des Moines as I really wanted to get a great result at one of my target races and of course refill the bank account a bit.
This training spell was miserable, but I told myself I’d come through the other side with a good taper better than ever... I didn’t.
Des Moines was my worst race I think I have ever had and on any other day I would have called it quits within the first 1km of the bike. However, just finishing (last - 30th) was $3000 and so battled my way through the most embarrassing race of my life. I had to walk parts of the run, which in an Olympic Distance race is not so good.
From Des Moines I headed to Canada for another 70.3 in Muskoka, but I had the week off training instead and missed that race.
Its always a worry when you have a week off training and find that you feel worse when you get going again. This is how I felt after my small break and a recurring trend throughout my season.
The next race was down in San Diego in the reinvention of the Formula one style racing – 300m swim, 6km bike, 2.5km run x2.
I was lucky enough to have Giant Bikes send me down a road bike to use on the 10 lap 600m circuit, which was rather tight, but good fun. I think getting off of my TT bike and riding a road bike for the first time in 5 or so months was what gave me a little fresher legs to break away and have a lead off the first bike, but the running legs were once again missing and overall the race ended as most of the others had with a disappointing result.
I got talked in to starting the Half Ironman the next day. This was the race Lance Armstrong also raced and won, quite impressively...
I just did the swim and some of the bike and I guess I can say that I raced LA in his last ever race.
After the weekend of racing in San Diego I realised that things weren’t getting any better and I should probably stop banging my head against a brick wall.
I had already booked my trip to Dallas for the final of the Lifetime series and so headed there with no expectations and the chance to see Dallas on my mind.
I had a good swim and led that out, but slowly faded again to finish 11th.
I have just had two weeks off and will be focusing on finally finishing off my degree over the next few weeks before heading home mid November.
It will be interesting to get that extra weight off my shoulders, which at times has been a healthy distraction, but also at times a burden.
So, it has been another season with a steep learning curve and to be honest I am sick of learning.
The support I receive from you all is worth a lot more than the results I have achieved this US season. I definitely do not feel worthy of it at present.
However I am really excited (and scared) to say that today is my first day of training in my build up to Challenge Wanaka, my debut Iron distance race.
Over the years of learning in this sport I have come to realise that I have a limited amount of speed, but a much greater ability to sustain that limited speed.
I have also learnt that I need longer and more stable build-ups to big races and no where is better than at home in Christchurch.
Challenge Wanaka is a tough course, but I know the race, know the course and know the conditions and I am really looking forward to crossing that finish line on January 19th and standing on the podium.
To my sponsors, I can not thank you all enough and I hope you will continue to support me through to Wanaka.
To everyone else, thank you for your continued support and look forward to catching up sometime soon.
Until next time
A lack of updates update!
Sorry all for the lack of anything new on my site. It has been a tough couple of months after first getting sick the day before the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, which included the worst flight I have ever had and hopefully will ever have. Spent the flight in the tiolet with stuff coming out both ends... not pleasent. After that I was out for a full week, being nothing but useless and struggling to walk anywhere. So since then it has been a slow progression back up to what I hope is some good form leading in to the Des Moines 5150 championships this weekend. I will endevour to write all my race updates over the next week and hopefully also have a good report to write from Des Moines.
Speak to you all soon!
After a long trip and many flights --> Christchurch to Melbourne, Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to San Francisco, San Francisco to Baltimore, I was in Columbia. Got to bed about 1 am Friday morning, 5 hours sleep and a quick swim to try and get in to the time zone. Safe to say the body was all over the show with 14 hours sleep the next night and then no sleep the night before the race. However I didn't feel to bad and was just hoping the body would respond. The course was a challenging one with the bike not have a meter of flat and the run including many hills. I swam hard to try and get the body going early and had to keep pushing to hold off Jimmy Seear and Cam Dye, eventual winner. Exited the water first, got on the bike and knew straight away that the legs weren't really there. I watched people ride away from me left, right and centre and had to deal with that the entire ride basically. Got off in 11th position and couldn't do much to change that.
Pretty disapointing after building up so well for Busso and then perhaps being a bit keen on racing straight after such a trip. Anyway lesson learnt.
Off to Boulder now for a few weeks to my new base for the season before heading to San Francisco for Escape from Alcatraz and then down to Santa Cruz for a couple of weeks before racing in Mont Tremblant 70.3, Canada.
So I flew off to Western Australia for Busso 70.3 after 5 weeks of the best and biggest training of my life and my final hitout before I head to the USA in a couple of weeks.
Busselton is 2-3 hours south of Perth and a pretty easy drive. Prior to the race I was feeling great in all 3 disciplines and really looking forward to racing the quality field that had assembled. I think Busso was a sign of things to come in 70.3's with a high quality field turning up for only a bottom ranked points and $$$ distribution with the sport growing so fast, but the fact that the event is run 2nd to none could also be a little factor in drawing so many pro's back each year. It really is an outstanding event all round and it would be nice if many other races learnt a lesson or two from Busso.
Anyway, briefing was an interesting affair with the officials not messing around with their explanation of why the swim course was changed... "high shark activity."
Race morning came around and although sharks were on everyones mind to varying degrees it wasn't something that was going to stop us from doing our jobs.
I felt good in the swim and the roughness played in to my hands a bit and came out first having swam relatively comfortably. I had Graham O'grady close behind and eventual winner James Hodge there also. I felt great getting on the bike and picked a gear and a pace I thought would be good enough to maintain or build a lead. However, James had other ideas and came past me rather quickly. I had been told of his cycling abilities and decided to ride with him for a bit, before realising that he was pushing super hard and could potentially blow up, me included. I dropped back a gear and rode my own pace, hitting the first turn at 22.5km about 20seconds behind him. I then had about a 30second lead over Graham, Luke Bell and Luke Mckenzie. I decided that working with them was a better option than myself so sat up and let them catcht me about the 30km mark. 5km later and my suspicions, which I had had for 10km or so, were true and my tubular went flat. I stopped and made use of my pitstop for the first time ever, lost about 4minutes on the leaders, and got going again eventually. I rode my ass off for 15km trying to chase my way back up to a decent position, but around the 50km mark the same tubular went flat again and with no technical support out on the roads it was my day over. Completely gutted. Was feeling awesome and had worked so hard for a good result there.
I then walked 5km home and managed to get myself some nice blisters as a take home souvenir.
Chin up and on to the next race in 2 weeks at the Columbia 5150 (near Baltimore, USA) where I'll be laying everything on the line from the word go.
I fly straight from NZ to the East Coast of the USA, so that should be an interesting mix to get right, but I am sure I can manage it.
After that I will be heading to my base for the season in Boulder, living and training with Clayton Fettell and Joey Lampe. Will be fun I am sure.
Catch ya soon
It’s been a long two weeks here in Singapore building up for the 70.3 – Its hard on the mind getting out there everyday and feeling lethargic and generally bad all round in this heat and humidity, but in saying that, when i tested the body over these weeks it always responded well and therefore knew I was in good shape.
Was very happy to get to race morning and after running around trying to find a toilet, I found myself nicely warmed up and ready to go!
Swim started well and I went straight to the front, swimming a pace that I was pretty comfortable with, but one I also knew would stretch a few guys out.
I took a look after lap one and saw that we had a group of 4 and a decent gap already. I lead out of the water and figured we’d have between a 1.30 and 2min lead – I was later told this was 2.40, which is a good solid lead I guess!
On the Bike Josh Amberger and Christian Kemp kept things rolling on the first of 3 laps – I was happy to follow and see where the legs were at. The legs were there and that’s always a good feeling in any race! We went through the 40km mark in bang on 55minutes, so we we’re moving pretty good and had opened up our total lead to 6minutes by the end of lap one (so I was told after). After lap one I started to get in the mix at the front and the 3 of us kept things ticking over nicely, with Dennis Vasiliev there also, but a bit ‘fresher’ in the non-drafting scene, so perhaps working a little harder than the rest of us as we didn’t see him at the front. Unfortunately I dropped my gel bottle, so missed taking in 5 gels, that in hindsight, would have been a magical thing come the 2nd lap of 3 on the run!
I lead the last 5 or so km’s in to transition 2 and the legs were feeling good. My GIANT Trinity Advanced was seriously insane and without my new sponsorship with GIANT I don’t think I would have been able to sustain the pace we were riding, let alone finish on the podium.
A little hick-up in T2 where I was sent on a wild-goose chase for my socks as they seemed to have been knocked out of my shoes some how and at distances and angles the mind struggles to comprehend. Never the less it only cost me 20-30 seconds and 21km in Singapore is a long way to run.
Josh took off like he was in an ITU race with Christian with him. Dennis was a bit more conservative and I caught him first, then Christian and then dropped Dennis. Josh looked good and I pretty much decided that 2nd place could be my 1st place today. I tried to get settled and was feeling ‘OK’ and also took in 3 gels early in the run to make up for those I lost on the bike.
When I hit lap 2 I really hit the wall, sorry for the lack of imagination here, but that was what happened. Every single stride told me to stop and fall over, but somehow I managed to keep ‘moving.’ I definitely would NOT describe what I was doing at this point as ‘running.’ I took in a few more calories via some energy tablets and they seemed to pick me up by the time I started lap 3. I started running a little better at this stage and it wasn’t until 2km to go that the body attempted meltdown number 2...0 – Ben Pulham a kiwi living in Singapore and ex-ITU racer gave me a solid talking to, as 4th was closing fast. I mustered probably more than I thought I had and basically walked across the line in 3rd.
Just quickly, it is a very cool course. Good 2 lap swim with a big and small lap, 3 lap bike with plenty of corners, but some nice straights too and plenty to keep you entertained, including A380’s taking off next to you, and the run isn’t too bad either being a 3 lap course, but the heat and humidity can take a hike!
Very happy to come away with my first podium in my second attempt at the 70.3 distance and especially in conditions that I would not generally say suit someone coming from good old Christchurch, NZ, weather. It was hot, 32d, and Humid, 100% humidity, and I felt every bit of it. Still everyone has to deal with that and congratulations to Josh for the win, who was super strong and Dennis for 2nd.
Next race on the calendar will probably be in Scandinavia. Looking forward to my first trip there... ;)
A big thank you to everyone for the massive support out there on the course, via email, text and social media & not forgetting my two long term loyal sponsors 2XU and Brooks - Legends!
A special thanks to Team Bike Labz for getting me over here to compete and to Dirk and Ben for having me crash at their house’s and eat all their food for longer than they probably would normally entertain!
Until next time
Miami 70.3 - Half Ironman Debut
I arrived in Miami Monday before the race, straight from Galveston. Miami isn't the ideal place to train, but this wasn't a bad thing as it forced a very light taper. A massive thanks to Pat Mac for hosting me and to Bevan for sorting it out. It was great having a guide to get things done and one of the big benefits of a home stay. Come Thursday though I was in to the hotel and in race mode. My mate from Germany, Horst Reichel, arrived Friday and gave me a few pointers on what to expect and how to get the most out of racing longer distance, mainly nutrition!
Race morning arrived and we were up at 4.00am. Although I hate getting out of bed that early, I definitely prefer the early start. It had decided to rain cats and dogs uncharacteristically for Miami, which threw a bit of a curve ball at everyone. We rode down to the race and arrived at 5am and were informed that it would be a wetsuit swim. I double checked this as we were in Miami and although it was raining it was still warm and the water even warmer. I was assured that it WAS a wetsuit swim by the race announcer. The reason I double checked this was because I didn't bring my wetsuit down to the race site refusing to believe it could be a wetsuit swim in MIAMI - Rookie error. A $40 taxi later and I had my wetsuit only to be approached by the announcer who then apologised for making me 'walk' back to the hotel to get my wetsuit, as he had made a mistake and it was a NON wetsuit swim. I informed him that in fact I hadn't walked, I had taxied and he owed me $40! Anyway I put that behind me pretty quickly and was happy that it was infact non-wetsuit, as I believe that every (I could swear a lot here) race should be non-wetsuit when the water is 24d and the air even warmer!
I didnt feel as good swimming as in Galveston, but opened up a lead early on and cruised through the swim exiting with about a 30second lead. This was cut to about 15 by the time I found my bike (the problems of burrowing a bike!) and got on the road. The group behind me consisted of Matt Reed, Michael Raelert, and numerous others. To my surprise I rode away from them and seemed to have opened up a decent gap by 15-20km. I was even more surprised because I was riding within myself and felt great. However, I was caught at 35km by the strongest riders who were 1.30 behind out of the swim. Bertrand a Frenchmen, Horst and Rich Allen from GBR. Rich carried on riding through and I jumped in behind for a bit before realising the others were right behind me and I then dropped back to the 'group'. Rich kept charging and lead off the bike. It wasn't until Sebastian Kienle came past about 25miles that the pace heated up with Raelert deciding to chase a bit and Matty Reed also. At the turn around we probably had up to 15 guys, but by the time we hit half way back it was at 10 and at about KM 70 someone in front of me lost a wheel and the group split. I thought it would close as it usually did and when I realised it wouldn't it was too late for me to close it. That little error probably cost me 1minute and is the only thing that in hindsite I would have changed about the race.
On to the run I was 3.30 down on Allen and Kiele. I had some good jelly legs getting off the bike, but overall the legs felt pretty decent and I ran the first lap well and was holding 8th spot and only lost a couple of minutess at the most to the lead guys. As I started to head out on lap two though a bad patch was looming and I hit a big ass wall! I slowed right up and I started thinking about the fact that I had to run another whole lap of the same. The lowest point was definitely being passed by Horst and knowing that I could not beat him and once again I would finished 1 spot outside the money.... Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.
Anyway I got to the finish line and was super stoked to get under the 4hour mark in 3.57.00 in my first half. A time that would have me on the podium in a lot of other 70.3's this year.
I think the best part of the race for me was the fact that I rode well, 2.08 and 42kmph. Long distance racing has a massive bike focus and if you can not ride your bike, Time Trial style, then you have no show in this style of the sport. Definitely a good confidence booster for the future and I am looking forward to the next one... kind of!
Thanks for all the support this season. I am really looking forward to racing Auckland ITU World Cup on 20th November. Going to be awesome racing at home and on a wickedly tough course.
So I hit Galveston after 2.5 of the biggest training weeks I've ever completed. I swam 5 x 1hour swims per week, rode 15-17hours and ran 8-10. Yes in 1 week I managed almost 10hours of running! It was safe to say that the body was fit, but perhaps a little tired also. I was confident heading in that I would have a good day though and this confidence increased when I felt awesome in the swim and lead out of the water. I guess the reduced swimming load an a taper affect on my swimming, but the increased biking and running had the opposite affect. I rode ok, coming off in the top 6, but down on where I would have liked to be. My run also felt terrible and I struggled through, once again finished 1 outside the money as I did in New York. 7th place.
Bigger things to come and I hoping for some good legs after a proper taper this week.
Buffalo ITU Pan-American Cup
Buffalo was an interesting place. A lot of the scenery reminded me of a run down soviet city with empty factories in the background portraying a once industrial past. The city has lost over half is population in the last 30 years, down from over half a million people to less than 250,000.
The race was a bit of a let down as well. The swim was brutal and I was maxed out the whole first lap, which isn't normal. I even considered pulling the pin after 1 lap I was so stuffed! Luckily everyone else was obviously feeling the same and the pace slowed right down. I exited the water in about 10th place, a bit behind the leaders and still struggling to get on top of my breathing. The run to T1 and getting on to the bike was all at maximum and to make it worse the guys who were first out of the water were drilling it on the bike as well. I rode my ass off for about 3km, only about 10-15m off the back of the break-away and slowly closed the gap. By the time I got there, feet still on top of my shoes, the group started to work together and people started to pull big turns. Hunter Kemper decided to pull one of these as I was trying to get my feet in my shoes and I lost the last wheel of the group and couldn't get back on, falling back to the main chase group and sitting there for the rest of the ride. Getting on to the run my motivation was about Zero. I knew I had to be in the break-away for a good result and I wasn't. I also knew I had burned a lot of candles at the start of the swim and bike and my running legs felt ok, just no what I had wanted to have a good run and finished top 15. Another DNF for me in an ITU race and perhaps the last straw in deciding to make the change from the ITU drafting scene to the Non-drafting and longer distance scene.
I have been getting pretty sick of working so hard for nothing in ITU. The racing doesn't give me much of a chance to use my swim/bike strength and its time I started doing races that allow me to use that.
Next up is Galveston 5150, before I have a crack at my first Half-Ironman, what I and my coach think is my most suited format, in the Miami 70.3.
Really looking forward to it. Time for 2 of the biggest training weeks of my life before resting up for my debut.
Pacific Grove, USA Elite Series
Pacifc Grove is just down the coast from Santa Cruz. Home of Pebble Beach golf club to name but one of the many. It is also home to a truck load of kelp, or I should really say truck loadS.
I felt great in the swim and managed to clear out with Tommy Zafares early on, only to hit the kelp at about 200m and literally stop in our tracks. It was then a scramble over the kelp and whoever was in the front ended up clearing the way for those behind, giving them a chance to catch back up. A 2 lap swim and 300-400m of Kelp climbing per lap saw a bigger group than expected come out of the water together. 7 of us formed together and we worked well on the bike building a 2 minute lead. I had trained quite hard in to this race as I needed to find some form for the later races. We got off the bike and the running legs weren't there at all, a bit of an annoying trend this season.
I finished 6th, a bit disappointing again. Time to stop being disappointed i think!
Next up is Buffalo ITU race. Some big training to come before hand.
Kelowna ITU Pan-American cup
So the only thing i ended up getting from Kelowna was my ass kicked! I was hoping for a top 5 finish, some $$ and some ITU points to help my case for racing in the Auckland World Cup in November.
Kelowna is a beautiful place and it reminded me of Wanaka, except much bigger. The swim was non-wetsuit, so the plan was to swim hard, try and force a break-away and then hold on in the run. I lead the swim and 7 of us formed in the break-away i was looking for. We had 1min 20 lead after 2 laps of 6 and I thought we this is gonna be easy! Unforntunately, as is the case in most ITU races, a few guys in the group decided to sit on the back and instead of working steadily together we worked terribly together. We held our 1.20 lead and on the last hill with half a lap to go we were informed that we still had 1.20. I got through T2 at the front, only to see the chase group that was supposedly 1.20 behind us coming in to T2 only .20 behind us, to make things worse my legs felt as though they'd been hit by a freight train and I probably looked like I'd been knee-capped the way I was running. I tried to settle in to a rythem and relax a bit, but as I ran slower and slower I only felt worse and worse. I pulled the pin on the run after only 2.5km's, knowing pretty much straight away that it wasn't going to be my day on the run.
Super disappointed after setting it all up how I had planned, but there's not much I could have done about it.
I'm having 4 days off now, as the coach thinks (and me!) that the combination of smashing myself everyday in training with Bevan and Paul, plus 4 races in 3 weekends has dug me in to a deep, dark hole. And to be honest, that is exactly how I feel!
Next up is Pacific Grove, USA Elite series race on the 10th September. Hoping I have at least climbed a few steps out of my hole!
Santa Cruz International
First up in my 'home town' was the sprint distance race on Saturday. Just 6 days after NY 5150 I had struggled all week to recover and I knew that I would have to push my limits again if I wanted to beat Tommy Zaferes (the real local). The swim was hard, the run to transition was hard and the bike was hard. Tommy put a little gap on me in the swim, then a little more on me running to transition, which is about 500m and then more time in to me on the bike. I ran hard for the first 2.5km and realised that I had only caught about 10seconds of 30. I knew I couldnt catch him and with the Olympic distance the next day I decided to shut it down and cruise to the finish.
Sunday saw the real Santa Cruz international take place. I felt like I had blown a few cobwebs out the day before and so was ready to take Tommy down, well at least have a better crack at it than the day before. We swam together and ran to transition together, got on the bike together and rode the first 2 laps (of 4) on the bike together. Yes it was non-drafting and at no time did we draft - more to come on this. Anyway I decided that just marking each other was no way to race and attacked him on the 3rd lap. I built a lead up of around 200m by the end of lap 3 and knew that 20seconds would be a good lead off the bike. I was pushing hard and thought that there is no way they'll catch me (Brian Lavell had joined Tommy by this stage). I hit the turn around and they were right behind me. I couldn't believe it, they must have put the after burners on for the 2-3km that I didn't look behind me because I was pushing hard and feeling good. So we all ended up getting off the bike together and on to the run it was once again me and Tommy running side by side. We each had little cracks at each other on the way out. I was feeling pretty average and the run was quite demoralising as it was 5km out and back. I felt my calf start to tweek at about the 4km mark and had to adjust my technique a bit to look after it. I decided I would put a surge in straight after the turn around. The moment came and I tried to surge, but it was pretty pathetic! Tommy sensed that things were deteriating for me and he then started to attack me. He surged between 5-6 times in the next couple of KM's and on one of them my calf popped and so did my head! I had to slow right down and run with a bit of a limp. Even if my calf didn't pop I don't think I could have beaten Tommy anyway as he was in his home town and racing awesome. So I ended up 2nd to Tommy.
It wasn't until we went to get our prize money that we were told we each had a 2minute penalty for ridiculous reasons. The head official agreed that we never drafted and never gained an advantage from our penalties, but rules are rules and so he wouldn't over turn them. Brian ended up with the win, Tommy 2nd and me 3rd.
It was interesting racing two days in a row. Now I just need to recover before Kelowna ITU next weekend.
New York 5150
Its a year of firsts for me. Some of them a little more significant than others like the earthquakes for example. Going to NY for the first time wasn't quite as big a deal as what was happening back home, but I was looking forward to racing.
The time zone was going to be the biggest challenge with a 5.50am local start time, being 2.50am back in California and meaning I had to get up around 1 am CA time! To my surprise I didn't really notice it that much and i was just as grumpy as I'd usually be in the morning. The 600mg of caffeine i took may have been a factor in canceling out the time zone problem.
The swim was in the Hudson river, which actually flows pretty good and had a good chop on it race morning. Us better swimmers lost a good chunk of our advantage as we swam down stream and it only took 13minutes for 1500m! After leading out I was hoping for some good legs. It was a good length run to T1 and the legs weren't feeling too great, similar to how I had felt in the swim.
It was raining during the out and back ride. The ride runs along the river and then over the bridge to the Bronx (I think!) with pretty much no flat just rolling hills and after riding pretty much solo for the first 20-25km I was caught by a 'group' of about 6. This race is 'non-drafting' and features the new stagger rule, effectively meaning we ride in formation and probably end up getting more draft than the standard 7m straight line gap. I definitely felt the difference when caught. So I sat with the group for the rest of the ride and we picked up a couple more riders out front.
I got off with the group of about 10 at the end of the ride. My legs felt terrible, probably simply from not being use to the Time Trial riding. There were 4 guys up the road at different gaps.
I was hurting from the word go, but wanted a top 5 so started chasing that position. The run goes through central park and is much like the ride, constantly rolling with a few bigger hills. At about 2.5km I was ready to throw in the towel and was in a world of hurt. I'd managed to almost catch 2 guys in front of me and when I did at about the 5km mark the guy told me I was in 6th and I knew I couldn't catch 5th. I don't think I've ever been in more pain with only half the run done, but I kept putting 1 leg in front of the other and held on for 6th. Gutted I couldn't get that top 5 and some $$, but in a good quality field, feeling like average pretty much the whole race and in my first proper crack at the USA non-drafting scene i have to be a little happy. I'm sure more focus on it would help my case, as there's no way in hell I want to hurt like that every time I race.
Next up is the Santa Cruz International. Looking forward to racing in my current home town.
Until then, CYA.
Edmonton ITU World Cup
My first trip to Canada saw us landing with with rain and we continued to see it up until a couple of hours prior to race start. I was a bit gutted that the rain meant a wetsuit swim, but after hitting out some solid swimming with Bevan in Santa Cruz I knew it would be all good. I had an ok start, but because of my low ranking I didn't have the best position and ended up hitting the first buoys in about 20th. I managed to swim in to the top 5 after 2 laps and exited T1 close to the front. The first lap of the bike was tough, hitting the hill only about 1km in to it. No real fireworks though and a group of about 50 of us came together. There was the odd attempt of a break away and I tried to string things out a bit before the hill on a couple of laps as me and Bevan had discussed and if us was feeling good he would attack over top and I'd have to hang on for dear life as he pulled us away. Anyway nothing came of it as his cycling legs weren't feeling as good as his running legs obviously! We hit T2 all still together and I had managed to get to the front as we jumped of our bikes. I literally took 1-2 steps at 25kmph before a bike cleaned me out from behind and I hit the deck. Luckily it carpeted, but still got a couple of good bumps and a bit of carpet burn. That threw me off a bit and I lost time and ended up going out of T2 in last position and took a while to get going. I managed to pull a few guys in and ended up 41st. In such tight racing the face plant in T2 could have cost me 6-7places and those places would have been the extra ITU world ranking points that I really needed. O well .... Happens! Heading back to Santa Cruz now for a few more weeks of training before heading off the London a week a head of Bevan for the London triathlon and then 5 busy weeks of racing in Europe. Bev went good today and looking forward to seeing him smash it out in London WCS in 1 months time. Over and out.
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Well what can i say, they know how to make races tough here in the USA, but this one was different and pretty special. Really enjoyed the race today even if I didnt have the best of legs. Managed 14th place, but i felt like i was racing at 90% most of the time. Its been a tough few weeks of training and a few days easy didnt really cut it in terms of freshening up wise. My big focus of the USA season prior to London though is to push my limits in training with Bevan and try to push him if i can. I have Edmonton world cup coming up and that is also a big focus of mine and am looking forward to a good taper for that and an outstanding performance.
Seoul ITU Asian Cup
Had a little bit of everything today, but not enough of anything! Started well and went backwards in the swim only to come out at the back of the front group. Made my way to the front on the technical bike only to get there and really start to suffer. I then started going backwards again until i found myself at the back and the legs starting to completely give way. I guess it was a case of too much before with the new level of training in Santa Cruz and all the travel to get to Seoul. Disapointing after some good form a couple of weeks back. Time now for a few big weeks with Bevan and Paul Mathews and will launch from there! Over and out
Wild Flower Olympic distance, USA
Wild flower is one of the oldest and most prestigous races in the USA. I made a last minute decision to cruise down with Clayton Fettell from Aussie, another training partner of Bevans, who was racing the BIG race, being the Half Ironman. There was no way in hell i was racing that, but the olympic distance sounded like a good idea for a bit of a 'strength' session. This race is not only prestigous because of its age, but also because of the course, perhaps even the main reason why! A very challenging race, with a nothing but hills ride and the same on the run. I had been feeling pretty good all week and even though i was training through the race i had some good legs on race day and managed to control the race and still take the win. I say 'control' but really the course was so tough that i think if i hadn't controled it i may not have finished! So my first race in the USA mainland ever was a win and a good feeling and some good fun watching Clayton come home in 2nd, an awesome result and his first big break through. Look out for more to come i am sure and i hope this race sets me off on the right foot!
2010 / 2011 NZ summer
Well after perhaps my most disapointing European season to date I arrived home in early October very ready to get rolling again and kick the new season off to a good start. However, perhaps i was a little to eager and every day and every session felt terrible for almost 3 months of training, struggling through every day and telling my self that things would come right soon. After racing the Tour De Vineyards for the 2nd time with some of NZ's best cyclists I realised that I was still behind where I had been a year earlier. So the decision was made to head to Snow Farm with Laurent and Andrea and get some good solid, uninterupted training in. That we did and I felt better and better as the camp went on. The races to that stage had all been a bit of a joke and it was obvious my form was really struggling. My whole season goal had been to build up slowly and make sure that at season end I was ready to head away and have a good and big USA/European season. I won the Singapore Aquathon Champs in February, not that big a deal by any means, but still nice to win and make some much needed $! Next was nationals, but not to much emphasis had been placed on it from myself or my coach, with our focus on Mooloolaba World Cup and kicking on after that. Mooloolaba came and went with a disapointing result. I set myself up perfectly in the swim at the front, only to swim the wrong way. I then had to play catch up from almost last and managed to finally get to the front group after a few laps on the bike. I didnt hang around long though and attacked off the front with a few other guys, building a 1min 20 lead off the bike. My legs were there, but the stomach cramps that plagued me too often were the worst they have ever been, meaning a shocking run and a just as bad result. Its now time to settle down and build up training again until i head to Santa Cruz to train with Bevan Docherty in his build up to London Olympic Qaulifiers and beyound and to start my quest for an outstanding USA/European season.
Training camp - Boulder, Colorado, USA
What can I say, Boulder is awesome and a real surprise to be honest. Enjoyed every moment of it. It was great to be in a place where I could walk in to a store and be able to understand everyone! Of course that was a pretty minor reason as to why I really enjoyed it though. The training was great with some very cool runs and rides and the weather played a huge part also with only 3 wet days in the 30 I was there and every one of those sunny days was approaching or over 30degrees. The swimming was also cool too in outdoor pools and a good squad. Training with the NZ squad was really beneficial also and good to measure myself against everyone. So leaving Boulder I am really fit and strong and looking forward to the races to come in Europe. Hopefully I can travel well with little issues as we arrive Wednesday in Germany and Race Sunday in Belgium. I will update after that.
German League race's one and two
After enjoying the extreme heat in the Philippines, I have since been wrapped up in almost everything I own here in Germany for the last few weeks. Most days have been sub 10 degrees, which isn't too bad, but throw in constant rain and wind and it makes it a little less comfortable!
So after battling the conditions for two weeks I was very happy to be in the team van and heading to the first team race of the season. Gladbeck is an individual race in the morning - 250m swim, 5.5km bike and a 2.5km run where you start in heats with one person per team per heat. The afternoon is a team sprint in time-trial fashion with teams setting off for the 550m swim, 22km bike and 5km run in the order that their combined times were in the morning. I was in heat number one and lead the swim, and was in a mini breakaway with two others until the final few hundred meters of the ride when we were then caught by the rest of the heat (12 in total). I had a solid run, but a slow transition was the difference between a top 5 in my heat and 7th. Our team result from the morning was not very good. We started 11th out of 12 teams and I really struggled to feel good after a tough hit-out in the morning. We ended up finishing last, which was a very disappointing team result.
The next weekend we were off to race #2 in Witten. This was another race like Gladbeck. A relay in the morning of 200m swim, 3.2km bike and 1600m run. I had a better race here than in Gladbeck, but started a little behind as i went second in the relay. I caught up to most of the guys and put us in a good position to finish strongly. The rest of the team raced well and we finished the relay in 7th. After a bit of jostling around, we ended up starting the night race in 8th, which is another team time trial type race for 300m, 6.4km and 3.2km. We had one team sit on us the whole way through the ride while we did all the work. They ended up out running us and we finished in 9th place. Better than last week, but still a bit of work to do.
Subic Bay ITU Asian Cup - Philippines
Subic Bay is by far the hottest place I have been to for a race or even just been to for that matter. My first two attempts are not great memories and its hard to call what I did for those attempts 'racing', more like surviving! It has been a few years since the last time i raced in the Philippines, but I knew going in to it that I was much stronger and fitter than my past attempts. Luckily the race starts at 6am, which many of you may not think is lucky, but when your fresh off the plane from NZ the time zone means it really only feels like 10am and on Philippines time the heat at 10am will already be hovering around 35d, with a heat index (what it actually feels like - wind and humidity taken in to account) of over 40d! So yes 6am is a 'lucky' start time. It was a different swim and bike course to the last couple of times, but the water temperature of 29d hadn't changed. I lead the swim and had 2 hungarians and a Japanese athelete right behind me as we started the ride. I never had the chance to go over the course as transition one and the first 20km's of the bike were a fair distance out of town and i didn't fancy riding out and checking it out the day before in the extreme heat. So I settled with a reasonable discription of what to expect for the first 20km as I was already familar with the last 20km. Starting at T1, the bike headed even further away from the Subic Bay township and in to the hills. There was one out and back section of 20km, then a 10km trip in to town, followed by a 10km loop to make it up to 40km. The first 7-8km was basically all up hill, with numerous climbs long and short and a few flat points, followed by about a 2km decent to the turn around where we then backtracked. I was definitely hurting on the way out up the climbs, with the Japanese competitor (Hirano) pushing the pace enough to drop the number 1 ranked athelete from hungary, who has 2 top 10 world cup finishes to his name. It was a good sight to see him go while the 3 of us who remained got working together to hold our lead at around the one minute mark going in to transition 2, which is located in the township. I didn't really feel like I pushed that hard on the bike and got off relatively fresh. I knew though that the heat can ruin your day no matter how good you feel if you go to hard early on. So I controlled the start of the run and Hirano pushed out to a 15-20second lead on the first lap of 4. I dropped the Hungarian athlete Rendes near the start of lap 2 and through laps 2 and 3 I held the gap to Hirano at around the 20 second mark.. Coming in to the last lap my plan was to pick it up and try and catch him. At the end of the 4th lap is an extra 600m loop to make the run up to 10km, so i effectively had 3km to catch up the 20seconds. After sticking to my plan and running as smart as I thought I could have, I then had a brain explosion and closed the 20second gap in about 1km. Just as i caught him my body really started to over heat and my head felt as though it was going to explode! I had no choice but to slow down and once again I watched Hirano run away from me, but this time there was nothing I could do and was basically out of realestate to try and catch him again. I ended up being able to cruise the last 1km to the finish and save the body a little bit for what is going to be a long and intense season. 2nd place is still my best result by far and a great way to start off the season. I am fit and strong and for me to be in this kind of shape so early in Europe is super positive. I am now in Germany and will be here for the next few weeks for 2 German races before I head to Boulder, Colorado to join the rest of the NZ guys. I will update again after the German races.
Thanks for reading