Thursday, 11 August 2016

70.3 Cebu, Philippines - Asia Pacific Championships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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