Monday, 19 February 2018

Geelong 70.3 2018

After a good result at Hell Of The West I had 2 weeks to recover and freshen up before I'd be toeing the line at Geelong 70.3 for the third year in a row. I've had some good memories of Geelong, claiming my first 70.3 title in 2016 and in 2017 it was my first race back after my accident, heading down this year I was hoping to continue the good run. The race itself always has a competitive front end to the field and the course is fast but quite challenging throughout which makes for good quality racing.
I traveled down to Geelong on Friday morning, what was normally a quick door to door trip, dragged out well beyond what I could have imagined. I left home on the Gold Coast at 7am and after some delays at Melbourne airport with rental car pick up, I didn't arrive to the accommodation in Geelong until 5pm. I got straight to work un-packing the bike so I could have a quick spin and run before dinner, the cooler climate was a big relief after spending the past week in very high humidity.
Up early Saturday morning for a quick splash at swim start before attending the Ironkids for finishers medal giving which was pretty cool. Quick spin and run after that before lunch and then we had pro briefing and bike racking, busy day but once the bike was racked it was feet up and relax. It was a bit nicer knowing the alarm would be in the 2am's for Sunday morning, with a 7am race start I was usual wake time for me during a training week.

Woke to a pristine morning, cool temperatures and barely a breath of wind, it was going to be a fast day out on course. This was to be my first race in a wetsuit for a while and a beach start which I always love, 15 male professionals lined the beach ready to kick things off for the day.
After a few practice run outs the day before my start was pretty dialed and found myself at the front early on, I could see Amberger, Fisher and Appo to my breathing side and knew I was in a good position and just needed to hold it. For the first 300m I was comfortable but then started to drift off course, my zig zagging started again and once it starts I can never seem to correct myself. Poor Fisher was next to me and I was being an absolute pest running into him (not intentionally) trying to hold feet and with the constant correcting myself fatigue started to set in and feet disappeared. Going along the back straight I was off swimming by myself, stroke getting slower and slower and my sense of direction getting more off track. By about half way it felt like I had hit the wall and the thought of pulling the pin for the day crossed my mind a few times. With about 400m to go a large pack caught me and passed by real quick, I needed out of the water and to level my head. I was running up the beach panting like I just swam with a straw for breathing and was in all sorts, 1min 25sec down on the leaders.

Photo: Korupt Vision
I managed to get through transition fine and was out on the bike ready to chase. The boys cranked it up the hill and through the park but once we got out on the flats I put the hammer down and was chasing that lead motos flashing lights. I got rid of a few guys pretty early but had Lachie Kerin come with me and I knew he'd be keen to work. I kept the effort high till I got my first view of the leaders and got a time split, after seeing Appo, Amberger and Fisher at Point Henry and then at the far turn around I was confident they were in reach. Lachie and I pushed it hard and used our strength to our advantage trying to catch them as early as possible. At around 35km coming back into the park we were only 20sec down and I thought we would be on their tail by the U-Turn but they went up a gear through the technical section and the gap remained the same.
Got in and out of town clean, back out onto the flats and looked as though we hadn't made any progression, it wasn't until the turn around at Point Henry we finally got within reach of the front 3 guys and was able to notch it back a bit. With the wind picking up a little and unknown gap to the chaser we kept the pace on to maintain the lead. Heading back into town I used the downhill on the Portarlington Rd to come to the front and make one last push back to the gardens. As I did the U-Turn to head into the gardens I made the rookie error of shifting up the front derailleur and lost the chain completely, trying, trying trying to get it back on, luckily I got a little nudge from Fisher and Ambereger to keep my momentum up and got it sorted. Rolled back into town, shifting the focus to the 21.1km ahead. Kudos to Lachie Kerin who pushed hard and honest with me from the start of the bike, we went 2min quicker than my previous bike course record in 2016.

Photo: Korupt Vision
Appo's transitions are flawless and he was outta there with Fisher closely followed. Early into the run I was feeling good, sitting in 4th not too far back from Ambereger, that good feeling didn't last too long and diminished around the 4km mark. My pace dropped dramatically and mentally I was in a bad place and was stressin about getting caught by the guys behind me.Hitting the hills out the back of race site ruined me and Kerin and Tierny were not too far behind, It wasn't until I got a 2nd wind coming back down the hill and through the race site heading out for my 2nd lap that things were looking good. Form came back, mentally I actually started enjoying the run and pace was on, time to get to the finish. Back through race site and just the 2 little hills down the back to finish it off, after the first one I could see Fisher up in the distance and he looked to be hurting but with only 3km to go it was going to be hard to close down a 90sec+ gap. I did have a crack at trying to bridge but I was in a world of hurt myself and just wanted to get to the finish in one piece.

Photo: Korupt Vision 
Coming down the finish chute in 4th was a big relief and I was pretty happy with that placing but at the same time pretty disappointed with how my day started. The swim was a huge let down again and its costing me energy for the rest of the race, I felt good in the ride but nothing sparky and the run was okay considering the work I put in on the bike.
I still love racing Geelong and the quality of field it brings show my weaknesses and gives me areas to improve on for the next race. I hope to iron out this issue I'm having in the water and be ready for the next race in a couple of months. Thanks to the Ironman crew for running such a great event and all the volunteers down at Geelong are amazing.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Hell Of The West 2018

Couldn't have asked for a better start to 2018, finally securing myself a coach for my long course career. This guy is one of the top professionals in the world, recently been crowned 2016 70.3 World Champion, you'll find him at the pointy end of the field in every race. He is also a husband and father to 2 kids and I'm incredibly lucky to be one of 3 athletes he looks after. Stoked to say my coach is Tim Reed for 2018 and beyond.
There were some big changes over the Christmas and New Year period, it was tough at times but I was keen to push through and see the results on the other side. After a good block of training through January I headed inland to Goondiwindi for Hell Of The West to kick off my racing for the year. I had heard some great things about this event but also it can be one of the toughest races of the year due to the tough course and extreme heat. This year was a little too kind.

I headed West on Friday morning in the car with Dad, from start to finish it was non stop rain and cool even out at Goondi. Had a brief run to shake out the legs and was glad I packed a rain jacket which I thought there was no chance I would need, the temperature didn't go past 20°C all day. I'm super thankful to Liesl from the race committee who organised me a homestay with Sandie and Angus out on their massive property, really appreciate them letting Dad and I stay at their place.
Woke Saturday morning to more rain, I was checking the radar all morning to avoid getting the bike dirty and post lunch was looking good so rolled out for some course recon then. Dead flat roads, rough surface and plenty of edgy Kangaroos running alongside the road made for a fun spin. Packed and in bed before 8pm for a very early start Sunday morning, 0230am alarm.

A 5am race start is by far the earliest I've ever toed the line, kudos to the organisers for being able to do this and avoid the heat of the day. The 2km swim was up to the bridge and back in the river, 27°C water temp was nice but the pitch black race start was a little sketchy with our only sighting being the lead paddler with a flashing light on his head. We started with a run down the boat ramp and first turn buoy 30m away which made things a little congested and I lost touch with the lead swimmers. My swim only got worse, a group of 2 passed me and I couldn't even sit on feet, I found myself zig zagging my way up the river against the current, constantly correcting myself and losing time. I had a better swim on the way back down but had lost a huge amount of time and exited 5th 1:30min down on the leaders.

Out onto the bike I was eager to catch the guys up front but didn't want to blow up with the heat expected later in the day. Kept my cool and settled into my pace, I passed 4th place about 10km in and was moving along quite well. With the long flat roads there was a couple of times I could see the lead car up ahead, I remained patient, utilised the tail wind on the way out and was aiming to catch them just before the turn around. I couldn't have timed that any better... 500m before the turn around I was at the tail end of the lead group of 3, hit the U-Turn and got the first feel of the head wind. I rolled with the guys for the next 20km but wasn't keen on heading out onto the run with them so at 60km I attacked, the P5X was in its element. I got clear immediately and after a few minutes of hard work there was plenty of daylight between me and the chasers. I settled a bit but still kept pushing enough to put time into them, the strong headwind played in my favour and I got off the bike with a 3min lead.

No stuffing around onto the run, those guys are quick and I was chasing that win. I started good, feeling pretty fresh considering pushing into that headwind on the way home, I was confident until I saw Neumann after the first turn, he was hooking. I wasn't giving up yet, I haven't felt this good coming off the bike and continued to push to see where it took me. With 3 laps and 3 U-Turns per lap it gave me a good chance to see where the chasers were but also how quick Neumann was catching me. Heading out onto the last lap he caught me, he made one little attack which didn't phase me and then settled but went again shortly after and I let him go, I wasn't confident with how my body would handle the short spurts. He got 100m up the road quickly but then sat there and I thought to myself, the win isn't out of reach yet. Then my stomach had other ideas, it wanted a pit stop but 4km out from the finish I didn't have time for that so had to go survival mode, slow it down and keep it smooth. Neumann went outta sight and it was just a matter of getting to the finish without having to stop. Luckily I did and was pretty happy to cross the line 2nd.

Stoked to kick off racing for 2018 with a 2nd at Hell Of The West, both Neumann and I went under the previous course record and I managed to post a new bike course record by 2mins.
Big thanks to the event team and volunteers for putting on such a great and well run event, I will be back next year for sure.
Time for recovery before heading down for Geelong 70.3 on the 18th Feb

Monday, 27 November 2017

Western Sydney 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship

I was keen to get down to Penrith for my final race of the year, being an Asia-Pacific Champs race the field was stacked. After a disappointing performance at Noosa tri a few weeks ago, I was confident the body would cooperate come race day. I was unlucky to have sustained a minor calf tear during the swim leg of the Noosa Tri due to a severe cramp, my run load went down but didn't mean I stopped completely. I was still able to get a few runs in and with the right treatment from Myles at Gold Coast Physio things were looking good come race week. The body had freshened up nicely, I was ticking all the boxes and confidence was sky high, strong fields push me to my limits and I was excited to see what the weekend brought.

Took the short flight from Gold Coast to Sydney Friday morning, bit of Black Friday shopping on the way out to Penrith and just relaxed at the room that afternoon. Started Saturday morning with breakfast at the hotel, the food looked amazing and had everything available, kept it pretty simple but by the time I got back to my room it was ready to come back up. After a couple of vomits I was feeling better but empty, wasn't keen on trying to put anything more down just yet so went off to the pool for a quick swim. After that just had a salad sandwich for lunch which was all good, pro briefing at the race site and a ride to finish off the day. Back to the room to get ready for the morning and grabbed a pizza for dinner as per usual. I was super hungry and the pizza was great... until about 20mins after and I found myself with my head over the toilet bowl for the 2nd time today. A couple of hours later, exhausted and feeling like I hadn't consumed anything all day I was in bed and lights were out straight away.
Woke Sunday morning feeling okay, hungry and worried about what will sit fine. Got breakfast down at 3:30am, packed the car and headed to the race. Stomach was feeling fine and I was feeling much better. Got into race site, setup, warmed up and ready to go for the 6:15am start.

I hate deep water starts! Tell everyone there's 30sec to go and they start sculling swim course, everyone follows the furthest person out but usually the officials will pull it back before they start the race. One of the officials yelled out "I'm not starting yous until everyone is back", I've heard this before and I yelled out "lets just move it back everyone" so we can get this race underway. I'm on my back doing scull trying to get back to the buoys, I could see movement from a couple of other guys but seconds later and the horn is off. I hesitated at first, realised I was 2 body lengths behind everyone and the race was underway, felt like such a rookie at this point, sometimes it pays to be a sheep. I then found myself swimming wide of the pack to get around to try and get back in contention, by the time I found some clear water I had no idea what the pack situation was, how many people were ahead or how far. The morning sun was a killer on the way out, at 800m was the first turn and my first chance to get a glimpse at the athletes up front. I could see a lone swimmer out with the kayak and a small group not far off but I was well behind both. Down the back straight I tried to make up some ground but it was hard to tell if I was or not. Exited the water in 5th, 1min 17sec off Royle

I had a small group come out of transition behind me and it was time to get to work, I had ground to make up and athletes to get rid of. I was clear pretty early then had my sights set on Betten, Wilson, Appleton and Royle, at the time I had no idea of who was together or how far up the road. I caught Betten just after 5km and pushed hard to continue solo, the long straights of Castlereagh Rd I could see a solo leader and pack of 2 not far behind. I caught Wilson and Appo at 25km but Royle was still 30sec up the road, I didn't expect to catch these 2 so soon and was wondering why they hadn't caught/passed Royle. I maintained the gap to Royle and the pace was quite steady which made me think either of them were planning an attack when they got closer, after more than 10km of this I could see Royle turning around and knew he'd be considering sitting up and waiting. Which he did on the downhill on Castlereagh Rd into the aid station at 38km, I couldn't wait any longer and attacked, I pushed hard for a couple of minutes hoping I'd have some space but turn round to realise all 3 were still just there. Came back into the White Water Stadium for start lap 2 and merge with the age group athletes, I pushed hard again on the start of lap 2 to try and go solo but still no luck, I was shut down everytime. We began riding so slow it was only a matter or time before the chase pack caught us the had some of the top runners in it. I felt strong, even though I was throwing up most of what I put in but kept trying my luck as I knew I would be able to compete with these guys in the run leg, unfortunately nothing changed and with 10km to go the chase pack caught us. The ride was boring and disappointing.

Off the bike with the the top 9 guys in the race, I was just focused on holding my position until the end of the run. I was considering pulling out from the start, the lack of motivation and nutrition was making it a battle against myself but knew I'd hate myself for a DNF. I hadn't run the new course either so was hopeful things might have turned around a some point. Aid stations were useless to me, what ever I put in only took seconds to come back out, I was coping with the heat fine and my legs felt good but I was just flat. When I saw how big the gap was behind me I knew I could hang in there for 10th so it was just a matter of getting to the finish line, which I did in one of my slowest times ever.

In all honesty the race was joke. My mistake for thinking the officials were going to get everyone behind the buoys before starting the race but the bike was sad, unfortunately no one wanted to work and at 12m the athletes can sit there all day, I might have to put the bike away for a year to work on my run so I'm not worried about trying to ride hard or until the 20m rule gets brought in.
Although my final race of the year didn't pan out as hoped, I'm glad to finish off the year in one piece. I'm very grateful to all my sponsors for their support over the year and especially my family and friends along the way

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