Monday, 27 March 2017

Taiwan 70.3

The following day after Subic Bay 70.3 consisted of travel to the race destination for Taiwan 70.3. It was a very, very long day… The transfer left Subic at 3am Monday morning for the 3 hour drive to Manila Airport for an 0830 departure. Flew from Manila to Taipei, the 4 hour lay over in Taipei consisted of a 40min bus to the next airport and from there was another flight down to Taitung. I finally arrived at the accommodation around 8pm had to opt for last resort dinner and get a quick bite at KFC, I really regret that decision… Early next morning the stomach bug hit me, I was able to eat Tues and Wed but didn't realise I just kept feeding it and by Thursday food was not an option. I was stressing about the lack of food I was consuming but didn't want this bug come race morning. Luckily come Saturday I was able to get 3 small meals in. Other than that I was really enjoying Taitung, had a ride up along the coast road every morning, got a few swims in the flowing lake which was like a massive swimming pool with clear water and had a pedal around town on a cruiser.
My muscles had pulled up ok from Subic 70.3 although I had tweaked my knee during the race and was worried it wouldn't settle before the next race. I got stuck into massaging it a couple of times a day with my Qoleum Oils and by Tuesday night it was feeling fine. The training was kept very light through the week it was just a matter of keeping the body moving.

Photo cred: Dad
Went through all the usual pre race training, briefing and bike rack and was off to bed early for a 0330 wake up. Woke Sunday to the nicest morning Taitung had to offer all week, jumped on one of the hotel cruisers and pedaled my way to the race site. Ticked everything off, had a swim and was standing alongside the best pro field this race has seen. The body felt ready to go and I was keen to get racing underway.
Probably the most organised swim start I've ever had, we were knee deep in the water on a concrete ledge which dropped off straight away so no one could creep forward and the was plenty of room for everyone to spread out. The gun was off and it was a dive straight into deep water. Start was clean and I was leading the way on the furthest right, I could see a couple of guys leading out to my left but by about 300m I was out front with a trail behind me. I was feeling strong and tried to push a little to shake the guys sitting on my feet, they were glued and after several attempts the pack was still there. I rounded the first can and the half way turn around point still in the lead but a few hundred meters later things started to turn bad, my kick stopped, my arms felt heavy and it was like I had hit the wall. O’Donnell passed me then soon after Wild and I was struggling to hold feet in 3rd. Exited the water just on their feet and I almost didn't make it up the steps out of the water. The transition run was about 400m and I could see them disappearing in the distance, while having other guys overtake me. I remember thinking to myself I'm not going to make front pack on the bike and the body didn't care.

 Photo cred: Dad
I exited transition and could see the group of 5 or 6 just up the road. In my head I knew I could reel them in but the body was not keen on working today and watched them disappear pretty quickly. The knee tweaked again coming out of the first U-Turn and I knew straight away this was going to be a long morning. I rode solo till about 30km before the chase pack caught me and I couldn't let these guys get away too. I pushed hard to stick with them, I found myself at the front a few times but I didn't last long because I couldn't hold pace or anywhere close to my usual wattage. It was now a matter of protecting this knee, getting to the run and staying upright. The course through the 2nd lap was hectic, parts of the road was so congested we couldn't get through and being an out n back, AG athletes were coming head on having only a white line to separate us. I saw one AG athlete go head on with a road divider and looked really bad, I hope he was OK. Made it back to transition safely and was now time to attempt to make up some ground.

 Photo cred: Dad

As soon as I dismounted I could feel my knee again, I struggled running out of transition but once I got it through my head this is my last race for a while I pushed the pain hoping it would free up. After the first km I was feeling alright and was chasing Berkels heels. We had broken clear from the rest of the chase guys and at 2km I was confident I'd be able to change things around. Unfortunately this didn't last long and found myself creeping by the 3km mark, fatigue had really set in and that was it for the morning. I had been passed by everyone in the pack, even resorted to walking a few times and everything I tried to take on at an aid station came straight back up. Being a 3 lap course I was almost certain on pulling out after the first lap, I felt like absolute rubbish and energy was at zero. I was able to get the occasional run in between each aid station so made it my goal to finish no matter how long it took me. It was painful, I was wasting me time trying to consume nutrition at aid stations and it was a long time out in the sun but I finally ran down that finish shute to put an end to a very disappointing morning.

 Photo cred: Dad
The post race massage was torture, cramp after cramp, I apologise to the people trying to massage me as they weren't sure what was happening. I made it back to the hotel, cramping in places I didn't think was possible, like my finger. I was twitching and having sudden reflex reactions out of no where just laying on the bed, I had completely wrecked my body.
It was nice to go relax, have dinner with the other pros and congratulate them and all the Age Group athletes of their placing.

The rough trip didn't stop there, it was now time for travel back home, Taitung-Taipei-Manila-Hong Kong-Brisbane. Flew out of Taitung at 0840 Monday morning to arrive in Taipei without a bike. The stress started… the staff at Taipei didn't understand and I couldn't afford to wait around and miss all my connections. Was very fortunate to have Dad and Berkels friends from Taiwan sort out the transportation of the bike. It still wasn't guaranteed it will get there but they understood what had happened.
Got into Manila and spent the night there to wake up and see a message from Berkel that mine bike had already arrived in Brisbane… big relief, it had beaten me home.

Was a pretty disappointing trip overall, 2 races with a finish outside the top 10 and a body which will need some time to recover and hope this knee isn't ongoing. It was cool to see some new places and meet some new people but not even close to what I expected race wise.
I've had a full week off training now and the body is feeling good. I have found some key areas to work on and look forward to building back up and aiming to the fitness level I was at post accident. All going to plan I hope my next race will be in the US come May

Monday, 13 March 2017

Century Tuna Subic Bay 70.3

After a good performance at Geelong 70.3 I couldn't be keener to race again. There was one that had been in the back of my mind since the start of the year and when Emma the Pro Liaison for Sunrise Events asked if I was coming to race Subic Bay 70.3 I didn't think twice. After traveling to Cebu and witnessing the best race I have ever been to and unfortunately not being able to finish I was determined to redeem myself in the Philippines and took the offer to come to Subic Bay. I had heard from the other pros what a great race it is and was looking forward to lining up against the most stacked field Subic has seen.

Recovery from Geelong 70.3 wasn't too bad, I got 1 week of hard training in before I was resting up and getting ready for travel again. The week leading into Subic was a lot more peaceful and less stressful than Geelong. I'm starting to feel like my usual self come race time now and it's not such a worry trying to remember all the little things. Travel and equipment was all sorted in advance so it was just a matter of getting myself to that start line. Travel was sorted but probably wasn't the best option…
Left home at 4am Friday morning to fly out of Brisbane-Sydney-Manilla, I heard the traffic was bad through Manilla and touching down at 6pm on a Friday night I couldn't have picked a worse time. Luckily enough Sunrise had organised Dad and I a transfer from the airport to Subic Bay. A trip that would take 2hrs without traffic took 5 hrs. We arrived at the accommodation at 12am, dropped the bags and straight to bed.

Saturday morning I rode down to the race start to rack my bike, sit down for a pre race interview with the TV crew and have a swim at race site. The venue is such an awesome location, the water is clear and warm, beautiful mountain back drop and all the locals are so friendly.
I was all done by lunch and had a bit of chill time through the afternoon and pros conference before the Pro athletes had a pre race dinner with Fred Uytengsu which was amazing.
Off to bed early ready for the 0430 shuttle from our accommodation to swim start.

Arrived at swim start to an absolute perfect morning, not a breath of wind and temperature was pretty reasonable. Through transition and down to the beach for a quick swim. 20 male pros lined up on the beach ready to go, I always love beach starts but they don't always go smoothly…
Off to a clean start but my first dive in goggle went straight around the neck, luckily I was still in waist deep water so could fix them up and get swimming. Betten created a small gap very early on but I was able to bridge to his feet within 400m, bringing a bit of company with me though which wasn't ideal because I could see who they were and they would all be at the front of the race through the morning. I felt great through the swim, probably the strongest I can remember. I came up alongside Betten after we rounded the U-Turn just before halfway and we pushed each other all the way to shore to try and thin out the lead group. Betten exited first, I followed closely and so did the chain of top contenders.

Out onto the bike and I look around at the lead group and everyone of them can run, like run really well especially in these conditions I brought myself into the lead early but wasn't pushing it yet as I wasn't sure how everyone would react up the first climb. Sure enough there was a few attacks up the climb, I held a constant effort keeping myself in the top 3 and once I got onto the flats just after 10km that's when I took off. I was feeling strong, the numbers looked good and this type of course suits me really well. I got a small gap to start but at times they got very close and was almost thinking of sitting up. Overall the road is super fast out there and they were maybe 10sec back before we hit a rough section, once I got through that I looked around and saw it had drifted out to around 30sec and knew there was no sitting up now, time to put the head down and push the pedals.
Looking down at the Garmin, my position and overall feel of being out the front on my own, I felt like my usual self again and was really enjoying the bike leg. Rounded the U-Turn, tail wind would push me all the way home and saw that I had a considerable gap on the chase pack. Coming back was nice sitting on 50km/h+ but watching my wattage struggle a bit reminded me I might feel like myself but the numbers are still not where they were before. It was a smooth run all the way back to the top of the decent but as I dropped down hitting speeds of 75km/h+ there was a few cars putting along at maybe 50km/h, the lead moto was on the horn and waving but no movement from the cars. Thought about the inside line but if they had pulled over I would have been stuffed so had to jump on the brakes and slow up. Wasn't too long before I hit the flats and the cars took off in front. Back into town and into transition, just 500m early… A classic rookie mistake, I was being flagged down to which I thought was the dismount line but after the race realised they were just telling me to slow down.

I knew from that first step of the run I was in survival mode and getting to the finish regardless of position was the priority. I went onto the run with a lead just over a minute and felt like I had plenty of energy left but the legs weren't responding that way. Rather than risk it early I started off slow hoping they may come good but as the run progressed so did the aching legs. I had the lead taken off me just before the 3km mark and lost positions fairly quickly from then on. I was fine going through aid stations, taking on everything I needed and felt like I should be running much quicker but it just wasn't happening. By the halfway point I found myself in 10th position, at this point I was confident I would make it home but decided to canter rather than push it knowing this was only my 2nd race back. I seemed to be managing the heat fine but thinking of it now it was probably because I was running so slow. I lost another position within the last few km's to come across the line in 11th.

Was a little disappointed with the overall outcome but there are some huge positives to take away from the day. My swim was great, while I was pushing the pace I felt comfortable at the threshold I was sitting at. I enjoyed being back out there solo on the bike and finally giving the P5X a good run, couldn't be happier with my setup and gear on the bike. The run I'm hoping was a rare blowout as I know it is there after my split at Geelong 70.3, unfortunately it just didn't come together last weekend.
Can't thank the crew from Sunrise Events enough for putting on another fantastic event. They are a step above the rest and cannot wait for the next one. They go above and beyond to look after the athletes and make sure they are 100% ready come race day.

I write this in transit from the Philippines to Taiwan as I am racing Taiwan 70.3 this weekend. Looking forward to another hit out straight off the back and a new travel destination.