Wednesday 11 November 2015

Austin 70.3 - It’s a really nice feeling to be racing at my potential again.

I am writing this from Boulder, its just started snowing and I am reflecting on my race over the weekend. Overall it was a fantastic result and I am thrilled with how the race turned out. It’s really nice to notch my 4th 70.3 win this year, and my 7th total win for the season,

I had originally planned to race Miami 2 weeks prior as well as this race, but I felt like my preparation would be a little rushed. I decided to give myself a little more time to prepare for Austin rather than risk two mediocre results by squeezing Miami in there too. I had a pretty limited prep, with only about 5 weeks work after a little break post 70.3 Worlds. I started working with Matt Dixon from Purple Patch Fitness about a month ago, after Tim Reed and I amicably parted ways in coach/athlete relationship. After meeting with Matt in Kona I knew I was going to be in safe hands. His history and stable of athletes and results he has produced is impressive and I am really excited to be moving forward under Matt.

I had a pretty disruptive travel to Austin, with floods damaging the signal towers at Austin airport. My flight on Thursday was cancelled and moved to Friday. That flight was then delayed by 3 hours, which left me arriving at 9:30pm Friday night. Not disastrous but inconvenient and left me feeling pretty flat on Saturday.

I was pretty confident leading into the race. I had done a short, but solid block of work at altitude in Boulder and I knew that I was in decent shape. The previous results throughout 2015 have seen a huge shift in my mental approach to racing. Without sounding arrogant, I have managed to scalp some pretty big names this year and I know now that I can be competitive at each race regardless of who is on the start line.

The race was Sunday morning at 7am. It was pretty chilly first thing, but the sun soon warmed things up. There was a pretty sizable 37 pro men on the start line. I swam well, but the lake was choppy due to the wind and I found it hard to get my stroke rate up. Regardless I exited right where I needed to be in the top couple of guys. 

There were about 7 of us onto the bike together, and I knew the main threat on two wheels would be Andrew Starkywicz. Two weeks ago at Miami he set a new bike course world record in a blistering time of 1:56. He quickly rode to the front and did what he does best, and I was left chasing trying to limit the time he would no doubt put in on the bike. After about 30km I was alone in 2nd, about a minute down on Starky, but not long after he suffered a mechanical and I soon found myself in the lead. I got a surge of adrenaline and pushed the next 30km of the bike trying to establish as much time as possible going into the run. The roads were rough, full of potholes and the ride was relatively hilly for a triathlon. The whole race actually reminded me a lot of Vineman, which I raced earlier in the year with a similar terrain and road surface. The wind picked up at times and I really had to make sure I was pushing my watts to maintain my forward momentum. Starky  managed to re catch me after dealing with his mechanical over the last few kilometers, another seriously impressive ride by him.

My power file for those interested can be found here. Please note that my right hand side power was not reading so my numbers were reading half.

Starky and I came off the bike together with a little bit of breathing room to the guys chasing. I quickly surged to the front and was eager to get more of an idea of the time gaps to the guys playing for 3rd.  I was fairly confident I could outrun Starky, but he was not letting me get away with the win easily. He kept me at about 1min for most of the run, not allowing me any time to back off the pace. With 3km to go i was really able to start enjoying the run and I came into the finish extremely happy to put together another win with a solid performance across all three disciplines. 2015 has been my best year to date and to finish on this high note is really satisfying.

Thanks to my team; Rudy Project, Bahrain Endurance, Giant Bicycles, Scody, Shimano, Shotz Nutrition, 3DBIKEFIT, PurplePatch Fitness and thanks everyone for the messages of support. I have to also thank my home stay Pablo and his sister Laura. You guys were great and i really appreciated your extremely generous hospitality. 

See you all in 2016!

Wednesday 2 September 2015

swimming, biking and running slowly

It’s never easy writing a blog about a disappointing performance, especially at the biggest race of the year. I wasn't even going to write one, I didn't know if anyone wanted to read about me finishing in 26th place, well back from where I know I am capable of finishing. I guess it's the nature of professional sport and the way racing goes sometimes. You take the good with the bad, and I definitely have taken a lot of ‘good’ out of this year, so I can’t be too dismayed.

I’ve already moved on from the race, and I don't want this to be a report of excuses or a sob story. At the end of the day I was just tired. To be honest I never really got my mojo back after winning Vineman in July, but I pushed on through training, hoping I would freshen up and be ready to race worlds. Alas it wasn't to be and I have never felt so flat and tired in a race.

I swam well, and put myself in a very competitive position within the first 20km of the bike, but from there I lost all power in my legs and was passed by so many guys going up the 13km climb. I managed to hold onto a little group after the climb for most of the way back into town on the bike. I wanted to quit when I got back into T2, but I thought I would start the run and see how I feel. I felt terrible and ran (if you call it running) about 6km before sitting down at an aid station, contemplating whether to continue or quit. I wanted to pull out so bad, and I toyed with this thought at the aid station for about 3minutes. But I didn't go all the way to Austria to DNF.

I’ve never DNF’d a race that I couldn't physically finish and my stubbornness kept me going. I didn't want to be disrespectful to the guys in front of my by pulling out. I jogged on and just got through the next 15km, pretty embarrassed at how far back I was.

I’m pretty sure that I just over raced this year. I think I was in my peak shape in June/July, despite this not being my intention at all. Its hard to sustain form over the year and unfortunately worlds came a month too late in the season for me.

There is still plenty of racing left in 2015. I am back in Australia for the next 3 weeks taking a little bit of down time before heading back to the USA at the end of the month. I am looking at doing Miami 70.3 and Austin, TX 70.3 in Oct/Nov. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday 15 July 2015


The Race:
Vineman 70.3. Sonoma County, California. A beautiful wine-growing region (hence the name ‘Vineman’) about 90 minutes from San Francisco. The race is run by a great team of people and the course takes in all the amazing scenery the region has to offer. The event has a reputation of being one of the half-ironman classics, which is further emphasized by the number of top professional athletes that toe the line each year. The amazing hospitality of the community and the attractive prize purse are two more ticks of approval that draw some big names to this event.

The Players:
Craig Alexander (AUS), Timothy O’Donnell (USA), Kevin Collington (USA), Mark Bowstead (NZL), Luke Bell (AUS), Ben Collins (USA), Matt Reed (USA),
TJ Tollakson (USA).

The Action:
I felt great on race morning and after setting up my transition and warming up I meandered down to the race start. The swim is basically 950m straight up river, U turn and swim 950m back. I swam up the front, utilizing any chance I could get to ‘dolphin dive’ as the water was shallow enough at point to be only thigh deep. The pack didn't split too much and a group of 8 of us emerged from the Russian River, including all the names mentioned above. ^^

Bowstead and Collins ripped through transition and immediately went to work at the beginning of the ride, leaving the rest of us to chase hard early from the beginning. After about 5 km the pace settled and we were all firmly established in the group.

Despite feeling like I was in good run shape, I didn't want to get off the bike with a big group. It just leaves too much to chance, especially when 5 time world champion Craig Alexander is in the mix. Tim Reed had given me some extremely valuable information about the course that he used last year to help him win the event and I was keen to employ a similar tactic. I had spent the last few days riding the back 30 kilometres of the bike course where there are some sturdy hills and tight, technical sections with the hope of establishing a little break from the pack.

Coming through about half way on the bike I decided to give it a push on one of the downhill/technical sections to see what was in my legs. I got a 50m advantage and decided to fully commit to my pre race plan right at that moment.

I was unsure of how much time I was gaining but I kept the pressure through the pedals for the remainder of the ride and blasted into transition, knowing that this is where I would find out how much time I had to play with. As I trotted out onto the run someone called out that I had 2 minutes over the chase pack. Almost an identical situation to what occurred at Cairns 70.3 a month prior.

I tried to remain controlled and knew if I ran to my ability then I would have a good chance at winning. Although it’s never a comfortable feeling when you have some seriously quality runners chasing you down! I got to about 14km and was still holding my 2min advantage to Craig who I knew would be the one leading the charge. It was here that I kept telling myself to remain relaxed and I was able to really enjoy the final kilometer and the finish chute. Craig Alexander showed age is no barrier and came in 2nd with Kevin Collington running strongly to round out the podium.

Huge personal thanks to my sponsors, my wonderful home stay in Santa Rosa, Rob and Shelli Main, and my home away from home in Boulder, Pam and Warren Schuckies. You guys are all amazing.
Thanks to Shelli my amazing homestay. Rob was out racing while this was taken!

I am now getting into gear for 70.3 World Championships on August 30 in Zell Am See, Austria.

Thanks for reading!

A magnum of local red. 3 litres worth!

When in California you must stop at In and Out Burger

Did the tourist thing 

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Cairns 70.3

Form is a very delicate beast, and often it balances on a knives edge. I was somewhat unsure of how I would go in Cairns. Since my win in Busselton 5 weeks prior I felt I wasn’t reaching the same numbers in training as I was earlier in the year. I felt a little tired, despite my total training volume not being dramatically high and without nailing all my key sessions I was a little unsure of my form. Knowing I race best when well rested Tim and I scheduled some much needed recovery into my taper to get me to the start in my best possible form. I always feel like its better to be underdone than overdone and with that I toed the line drawing from my past results this year as confidence in my own ability.  

The pro field was bolstered with some big names, including coach and 2nd world ranked 70.3 athlete Tim Reed, 5 time World Champion Craig Alexander, multiple 70.3 winners in Tim Berkel and Clayton Fettell and other names capable of being extremely competitive.

The swim in Port Douglas was fairly choppy due to the stormy days leading into the race which would make it tough for the weaker swimmers. I started out well and removing any thoughts of being croc breakfast, I settled into third place. I was given a brand new Blue Seventy wetsuit the day before the race and not being able to test it out pre race produced some mild anxiety that was quickly removed as soon as we started swimming. The wetsuit felt great and I was happy to emerge from the murky drink in 3rd.

I wanted to try a similar tactic on the bike that I employed in Busselton, this time swapping out Terenzo Bozzone for Tim Reed to try and get a break at the beginning of the bike. We had discussed this pre race and I was excited that the post swim scenario played out in similar fashion to our plan.  I saw a few guys yo-yoing off the back after the swim so I went to the front as soon as I mounted my bike to string it out. I knew that Tim is tactically smart enough to not bring up the whole group of riders with him and I thought he had let me go to make the solo bridge up to me shortly after.

After about 5 minutes a glanced back and couldn’t see anyone behind thanks to the weaving coast line roads. I kept the pace up, waiting for Tim to come. I started to get a little lonely and by the first u turn at 30km into he ride I got my first glance back at the chasers. Tim and Craig Alexander where about 45 seconds down with another pack of guys about a minute or so further back. I fully expected Tim and Craig to make the bridge across to me as the next 30km of the ride is quite undulating and I was starting to feel the pinch of the earlier effort creep into my legs. I wasn’t comfortable at all and was getting in and out of the saddle. It wasn’t until 60km when we hit the flat highway that I started to feel good again, and still on my own out in front I locked myself down into the most aero position I could muster to squeeze as much time as I could out of the chasing athletes.

Coming into T2 I got a wave of adrenaline and I trotted out onto the half marathon at perhaps a slightly too ambitious pace. After running through the crowds for the first few kilometers I was soon out on my own at a much more sustainable pace, left to my own thoughts which mainly revolved around pondering if the 2 minute gap to Craig and Tim would be enough for me to clench the win. 2 minutes is an uncomfortable time gap. If you’re running well, it would be enough, but with the run speed of the guys chasing, 2 minutes can be eradicated very quickly if I was even slightly off my game.

There are 3 u turns each lap, and I was mildly surprised to note that my lead was slightly increasing. I was still feeling controlled at half way and I got some encouraging words from training mates Tim Reed (who had dropped to 3rd behind Craig) and Clayton Fettell. The last 5km dragged on but I knew if I remained controlled I would win. I eventually found my way to the finish, ecstatic to take break the tape first.

I honestly never thought I would have lined up against guys like Tim Reed, Craig Alexander, Tim Berkel and Clayton Fettell (to name a few) and beat them like I did. Even being mentioned in the same sentence as these guys is something I am still getting used to.

I wanted to send a shout out to the guys from Bahrain Endurance who were in Cairns over the weekend. They made sure everything was taken care of leading into the race and to have that added stress removed made a huge impact on my weekend.

Thanks to all my sponsors, Reedy, training mates and to everyone for the support. I appreciate it all!

I have just arrived in Boulder, Colorado where I will base myself for the next 4 weeks before racing Vineman 70.3.  I am staying with a wonderful homestay couple here in Boulder, Pam and Warren Shuckies and I am looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about over here!

Until next time,


Wednesday 6 May 2015

A win in the West!!!

Third time is a charm! I really love the event over in Busselton. This is my third year in a row I have raced here and it's always a pleasure to come back to Western Australia. Despite the 10 hour travel day, and what feels like international long haul flight, the atmosphere and race organisation is what keeps me coming back for second and third helpings (that statement also rings true for the sticky date pudding that was on offer at the presentation buffet).

Lining up on the sand for the start in a brisk 4 degree air temp was a little undesirable, and I was really struggling to stay warm, despite a decent warmup in every layer of clothing I had brought westside with me. The water was a much more inviting 19 degrees and during the swim I was determined to try and string it out as much as I could. I lead for the first half of the swim and then settled into the feet of Guy Crawford, who was setting a nice pace, for the rest of the swim. I was happy to hear that a break had formed and there were 6 of us who navigated the frosty transition to our bikes together.

In my mind, 6 was still too many people to be riding with, so I immediately went to the front once we were upon 2 wheels. I rode hard without looking back for a while. After about 10 minutes, Terenzo Bozzone came around me with some words of encouragement and we set about trying to do some damage. For the first 20 kilometers I had no fine motor control over my hands in the 4 degree air temperature and I couldn’t even press my Di2 buttons to change gears. As you can imagine, wet lycra is not the most suitable attire for these arctic conditions. My toes and fingers were so numb it hurt, but the sun started to heat things up by the second lap and I was able to resume basic motor functions a little more easily.

Terenzo and I both worked extremely well together, and it was great to see our hard riding was paying off as the time gaps kept opening to the chasers. We continued to do about 10 minute turns on the front, and we were both really motivated to lock those first two podium spots down. We were rewarded with a course record 2:02 bike split, my fastest bike time over 90 kilometers to date.
We hit T2 and Terenzo decided to forego socks, so I was immediately chasing from the start. I bridged up to him after about 1 kilometer and settled into a much more manageable pace. I sat on the shoulder of Terenzo who was pushing quite a furious pace for the first 7km lap, but I tried to remain relaxed and just go with it, tricking my mind into thinking I was comfortable. I was having disturbing flashbacks to Geelong earlier this year where I was in a similar position with Craig Alexander, who like Terenzo, is also a 5 time World Champion. I let Craig dictate the race to me back then, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake this time.

I moved to the front about half way through and started to sense that Terenzo might be starting to hurt a little bit more than I was. I was aware that he raced (and won) in Taiwan a week prior, and perhaps that was starting to catch up to him in the later stages of this race. With about 3km to go I picked the pace up a fraction, not necessarily to drop Terenzo, but to just start to hurt his legs coming into the finish. All of a sudden I noticed his breathing was a little fainter than it was a moment ago and someone yelled out that I had a 10 meter gap. I didn’t need any other encouragement and I got a surge of adrenaline and picked up the pace even more. I didn’t dare look back and just pushed to the finish line, absolutely thrilled that I didn’t get caught in another sprint finish because the Appleton track record is currently sitting at 0 from 4 sprint finishes. It sounds cliché but running down that finish chute is an indescribable feeling, and it’s always over far too quickly.

Terenzo crossed the line shortly after, he always races hard and he pushed me the whole way. He has been someone I have looked up to for a while, so to go toe to toe with him was an amazing experience. James Cunnama crossed the line in 3rd with a very swift 1:11 run split to complete a Team Bahrain Endurance clean sweep of the podium.

The crew of Triathlon Western Australia put on a sensational weekend, and I think I speak for everyone when I say this. They have achieved something special with this event and I am elated to join the honour roll of champions at this event.

Thanks to everyone for the messages, I really appreciate reading them all. Big thanks to my team of sponsors: Bahrain Endurance, Giant Bikes, Rudy Project, Shotz Nutrition, Scody, 3D Bike Fit, Hawkesbury Physio.

Up next for me is Cairns 70.3 on June 14th. I’d imagine it will be warmer than 4 degrees up there!

Thanks for reading!