Sunday, September 16, 2018

Euro 2018

Euro 2018

Finally the time has come to switch continents & begin the final phase of our year long pilgrimage to Kona. Before we get there however we have one last important stop off in California for an Altitude Top-up in Big Bear Lake, a couple of hours south east of Los Angeles. While I'm extremely excited to finally be getting closer to the showdown at the World Championships both geographically & also by the colander! I'm also leaving Europe behind with a little sadness as I've had the most incredible Euro 2018 i could have ever dreamed off.

When Fallon & I arrived in Europe it took us a little time to finally get settled. First we tried living in Nice but logistically it just wasn't quite easy enough for me to get the work done training there that i felt i needed. We decided to move onto Andorra and quickly fell in love with the little principality ultimately settling in a cosy little apartment at Anyos Park, right next door to the training facility I Swim and Gym at. Basically its turned into an oasis for all of us as Fallon loves the mountains & Olive (the Golden Doodle) loves everything Fallon loves! Olive also does swimming lessons twice a week so its by far the most settled we've been in our few years traversing the globe together.

For me and my training its simply everything i could ever wish for. I have about 5 swimming pools to choose from, endless trail running options, a track, and off course some of the best rd riding you'll find anywhere in the world. The gym also has a state of the art recovery centre with ice baths and anything and everything else you could imagine so being fortunate enough to find a home literally 50m from the centre was an absolute stroke of luck. Through in the fact the people in the Catalan region of Spain are some of the nicest you'll meet anywhere in the world and its really ticks every single box we could think off that needed to be ticked.

The Reason I'm in Europe in the first place is really for one simple reason, my coach Tim Kerrison. Tim is head of performance at Team Sky & I'm his little side project experiment if you like as the man seems to just love endurance sports. Tim was national Rowing team coach way back when i was on the national team and coached the world championship Winning U23 Lightweight Quad in 2002. In 2004 he was a physiologist with the Australian swimming team before performing the same role with the British Olympic team in 2008. Following that he was recruited by Dave Brailsford to be head of performance at Team Sky obviously signifying there intentions to do things differently than had been done historically in cycling and the rest they say is History. 7 years down the line and 6 Le Tour De France titles down the line with 3 different athletes, a giro and Vuelta title thrown to ensure he's athletes have claimed the whole set, he's obviously one of the most successful cycling coaches ever. And now he's graciously decided to apply that knowledge to the sport of Ironman Triathlon with me as the test pilot. Yes I'm extremely fortunate to be in the position i find myself in.

So back to why we choose Europe as our home these days when not in Australia. Again because of Tim. Obviously for Tim to be able to apply time to me i need to be heavily integrated with the Boys at Team Sky as i spend many many many many days with them at team camps all over the world really. In the past 18 months I've been at camps in Australia, LA, Monaco, Tenerife, Chatel, Isola 2000 and each spot on more than 1 occasion. Basically during the season which for me spans January to October there are not too many months we are not at a camp checking to see where things are at. Now the other unquantifiable advantage of me being in Europe is that the standard of not only world cycling but also world triathlon is based in Europe. Simply put all the best guys setting the standard in the sport are there so its an extremely motivating environment to be in and certainly ensures you never ever rest on your laurels. For example Jan Frodeno lives just 90 minutes from me in Girona Spain, a place made famous by Sir Lancelot Armstrong. When i go to races i can line up against the likes of Sebastian Kenle and Frederic Van Lierde for example so a reality check of exactly where your are at compared to the best is never more than a short drive away. Being someone that gets distracted easily the constant reminder that I've got lots of improvement to do has really kept me on the straightened arrow this year.

Back to Tim and how all that works. Ove the past 18 months my Time around Tim and the team has definitely become more and more structured and specific to my goals in Kona on October 13. Initially i was simply tagging along to there team camps and squeezing in the odd swim and run where it fitted. I had 3 years away from top level sport people have to remember and lived like a normal person and certainly to the fullest!! It's taken 12 months just to get myself back to I'd say a semi elite level of fitness and the Team Sky training camps where the perfect way to get me back into shape. At the same time the fact i was available to be at the camps often meant Froomie and G had someone to train with which i feel like hasn't hindered them in anyway as they've both had a rather successful couple of seasons since my first Team camp with Chris back in January 2017. So last year i was most definitely tagging along as i very very rarely swam or ran at the team camps which my give a good indication why i was able to ride rather well in Kona last year but swim and run extremely poorly. Still there was no option as i was so out of shape 18months ago it took time to build the body back up.

In January this year Tim really started to ramp my training up while i was with G in LA. There was the first time my swimming and running was really structured into the daily routine aswell as i actually started misusing rides to do hard swims and track sessions instead. This at first upset me as i loved doing all the rides with the guys. Yeah its awesome having the opportunity to ride with the best guys in the world but also we just really have a great atmosphere in our groups when on these camps. After a few days of missing out on the harder ride days and seeing some instant improvements in my running i was reminded Tim knew exactly what he was doing and it was all part of an evolution to the level at which I'm able to train at today. The next camp in Tenerife was more off the same where I spent lots more time in the pool than on the bike and finished rides early to go for runs but again with my weaker legs improving i embraced the process all be it with some slight trepidation that I'd lose some of my edge on the bike. Sure enough this never happened and by Challenge Salou i was able to win my first half Ironman and run 1:18 off a 360watt average 90km bike ride which was absolutely full gas for me. This race was the first indication to me that if i can continue on this path ill be capable of attaining my goal of riding as hard as i possibly can and then running as hard as I possibly can and was interesting to see the correlation between the way I'd worked at the training camps and then performed in the races.

Fats forward to august and the team camp in Chatel and yet another evolution in my tagging along at Team Sky training camps. Tim obviously has friends in the swimming world all over the world and organised for Team GB open water swim maestro coach Sean Kelly (not the cycling legend version!!) to join us at the team camp. This camp also Tim kicked things up a gear in my training and also added running in daily. So for the first time ever I'd go to the pool each morning with Sean, saddle up on the bike with Kwiatkowski, Puccio, and Sivakov, and then run in the afternoons where we Tim introduced me to sprint sessions for the first time!!!! Was by far the most productive 10 days of training I've ever done in my life and certainly the most food I've ever eaten in a 10 day period in my life! All my data is on Strava pretty much so easier for you to check it out there than me explain here what i did. Obviously training in the company that i do everyone wants to know what we do. Honestly i have no idea. I'm absolutely focused on survival pretty much every single day of training that i just focus on each and every interval and move on. I'm hoping myself that one day i can go back through my own strava files and figure out what i did! So August really kicked off with a bang but there was more to come.

Fallon, Olive (yes we also take the dog to the team camps) and I shot back to Andorra for 5 days to recharge before jetting off again to Monaco for my final camp with the guys ahead of kona. Here again Sean was present so got us access o the Olympic pool on the Monaco Port each day for 90minutes before they opened the doors to the public. Can't thank the Monaco swim team enough for along me to steal one of there lanes and get another couple of weeks of consistent swimming in with one of the best swimming coaches in the world watching over me. Not only the pool but we where also able to utilise the Mediterranean for open water sessions which as you can imagine is a pretty enjoyable spot to be swimming! From the pool it was a quick change and up to the team house to meet the boys for the days ride where Tim showed zero mercy on the fact I'd been swimming that morning. Once the ride was done I'd shoot home and pull on the running kit for the final session of the day and they ended up being the biggest runs I'd ever done. I did two back to back weeks of 100km of running which i did in 4 runs a week, one of 20km's, another of 30km. Pretty easy to rack up 40+hr training weeks when your training like that.

We decided to through in challenge Almere at the end of the block to test some things ahead of kona on an equipment front and also see where my running is really at as with me we really don't know unless i run the full distance. Sure enough Tim the genius had got my running legs moving finally over the marathon distance just in time for kona where i was able to run a 2:52 marathon off a very hard bike ride. I honestly couldn't believe my watch when i went through halfway in 1:21 and got very scared about damaging my legs ahead of kona so did my best to just enjoy the sights for the back half of the marathon, running on grass where possible and looking after my body with nutrition and hydration. I don't know what surprised me the most, running a 6 minute PB or doing it on the back of the training camps I'd just endured without any rest. I'm just so excited about how I'm feeling running at the moment i honestly cannot wait to get out on that run course in kona on October 13 when it really matters!

Following Almere our techniqual partners organised a wind tunnel day for me at the Boeing facility in Germany. We had the opportunity to make some final examinations of equipment we'll use in kona and off course get some data on how well my Rower/Cycling/Wannabe Triathlete body moves through the air. While i wont reveal what we've got install for kona as really all i can tell you is nobody outside that tunnel has seen what we'll use.... I can reveal i have a CDA value of 0.214 or whatever that means. I believe it good but again don't really know what good means but i guess i have to hope that being comparatively weaker than my rivals might keep me closer if I'm more aero?? Anyways it was a really interesting day spent with some incredibly intelligent people where i learnt a hell of a lot including how planes get off the ground, stay in the air, and come down to land! I guess if your ever going to learn about that the airbus factory would be the place to do it!

Finally back to Tim and the evolution of the Team Camp. Following Almere and the wind tunnel adventure i had one final 3 day training block in Monaco. Again i started in the pool before it opens to the public!! Made me feel so special, then rode one day with Kenny and the Next with wout before my afternoon Runs. On the final day however Tim through a curve ball in that not even I expected, Geraint Thomas got added to our Ironman Training group chat! Sure enough i was asked to bring along some swim trunks and googles for the Tour de France champ and pool buoy and band! He turned up full of beans which is very unusual for G at 9am in the morning and was in his new trunks and chasing after me up and down the beach. I have to say when i turned around at the end of the 200m stretch of water we use at Larvotto Beach for our supervised open water sessions I couldn't believe how close he was. He can definitely swim!!! He made it very clear he'd like to transition to Ironman in the next 3-5 years and like the champion he is he's laying the foundations.

And as if that wasn't a surprise enough for one morning!! Following the swim he pulled his running shoes on with me for some speed work where he seemed at ease rolling along at 3:40km/pace, absolutely blew me away. In fact he'd only swam around 500m before announcing he'd like to race a half IM before the end of the year to get his feet wet so to speak!! How cool would that be!! But honestly how cool that a guy like that you'd expect to be wrapped up in Cotten wool looking foil something to entertain himself with for the off season, just an absolute class act he is, an absolute class act. Ill also add this for free, don't rule Froomie out from a similar off season approach. He's been running this week aswell and i gave him a new swimming wetsuit on Thursday, wouldn't surprise me in slightest if he utilised those things and climbed aboard his bolide for a race himself!! Watch this space!!

So as I set sail to America for the another milestone in the journey that began on the Gold Coast last January its been nice to reflect on the evolution of where I started out with these guys and where I'm at not. Certainly the "Team Camp" transformation is one I didn't see coming from me tagging along, to adding in some swimming and running, to a swimming coach at the camp, to one of there Tour de France champs joining me for swimming and running sessions!! Holly guacamole to me it just highlights what a unique enigma Tim Kerrison is in the world of endurance sports coaching and just how so dam fortunate i am that he's allowed me to Tag along.

CJW


Sent from my iPad

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Breaking 3

Breaking 3

Last weekend was without a doubt the absolute pinnacle of my Running Career!! Finally my proud pigeon plod carried me through a Marathon in an IRONMAN!!! in under what was proving to be the elusive 3hr barrier, 2hrs 58min 58seconds to be precise. In the running world I've noticed everyone rounds down so lets just call it a 2:58, that sounds good to me. They say most of the fastest marathon times are set on the most picturesque courses in the prettiest cities and I've got to at running around the pristine city of Zurich full of celebratory Swiss spectators was a great way to take your mind off the suffering. Like everything Swiss they where educated and informed and seemed to know the exact right thing to say at the exact right moment to ensure you got the very best out of yourself. It was just splendid but off course it was a marathon so a bit had gone on before i even strapped the red Nike's on for my jaunt around the city.

I love Zurich so was always going to be at the race regardless of where i was at in my preparation. Back in my rowing days i had some of my best races in lucerne just down the road and cherished every off day we had in those days to explore the city of Zurich. Always thought that one day I'd live there and work in a bank, who knows that could still very well happen one day but I'm happy what I'm doing for now. Another reason for racing Zurich was the fact that its Fallon's favourite city in Europe and she desperately wanted to take Olive there so she could swim in the pristine lake Zurich! So why not make a family holiday out of it and through in some Sunday sport for good measure. The Brady bunch actually grew to 4 in Zurich with the arrival of my Mum from Australia so we stayed an extra few days to enjoy some precious family time considering the fact Fallon and i operate across 3 continents during the year.

I had modest goals for this race as has been the case all summer. It's a little tuff to set your expectations to high when your simply training up to and through all these events but i always try and have some small goals to strive for regardless. In Zurich my goal was not to get caught by any of the women in the swim as they started only 3 minutes behind us. Secondly was i wanted to break the womens run course record on 3:00.24 seconds. The bike would be what it would be but when i suggested in the pre race press conference the bike course was quicker than you'd expect Ronnie Schildknecht scoffed and said he'd be very surprised if it could ride under 4:20. That type of comment is like a red rag to a bull for me so then had 2 more goals, to go sub 4:20 and beat Ronnie to the finish line. The stage was set and i was champing at the bit the start gun to go off on Sunday morning.

When the start gun finally did go off i quickly felt very unready for the challenges ahead that day. I don't know if it was the fatigue but I've noticed that as I've raced more and more and trained harder and harder between races I've been more and more sleepy on the start line. This was extremely evident in Zurich when i was dropped like and absolute hot potato in the first m's of the swim. The days eventual winner Jan Van Berkel had muscled his way in beside me on the line and was out off sight and swimming before i even took my first stroke! Made for a very very lonely 3.8km swim where i was now only focused on staying ahead of the girls! Fortunately I exited the water a minute or so head of Aussie Annabel Luxford and only had people in my category to pass on the bike, as there was already a lot of them!!

Once on the bike i settled into my rhythm began to feel a little coming back into my body, I've noticed the fatigue usually subsides and the race goes on and feel better and better so with the experience of that in Nice and Roth i knew if i could keep the pressure on the pedals on the first lap I'd definitely have a stronger 2nd lap. As expected i was further back than fullback on Jan and his band of Swiss merry men in the lead group and took me around 120km to catch them and get into the lead. Once in front i really smacked the throttle as if I'm racing I'm racing and regardless off my condition I'm going to do everything i can to fight for the podium. I was able to hit transition in the lead and was confident i had a big lead on Jan and his pack. I was very wrong about that I had only managed a 30 second lead on David Plese who'd ridden in way nobody knew he could. Even he admitted he couldn't believe it but he saw the opportunity to match me and went for it. I love it when guys get stuck into it and actually put themselves in a position to win. It may not be the smartest but it sure makes the race way more exciting. Anyways i was wrapped with my bike leg regardless and clocked a 4:14 to take 10minutes of Ronnie's bike course record, that felt good!! Now just had to break the women's run course record to make it a perfect day.

Onto the run and i realised i only had a slim lead so i booted it, i wanted to get to Fallon to receive my first turbo bottle in 1st so had to survive 2km! I did and also meant mum got to see me in the lead of an Ironman for her first time, was a big day of milestones. Once they objective was ticked off i settled into my lazy long run pace. Like in nice and Roth i decided to not look at the watch and just go on feel. I find a pace that i feel like I'm running at but not fast enough that i risk blowing up, basically a pace i could run at for 50km if they decided to through in another lap. I've learnt over the summer if your going to race for training you have to take the ego out off it and be sensible and risking a blow up is certainly not acceptable as I could leave me in a hole I can't get out of for kona. David flew past after a few km so was a pretty lonely first half marathon while i waited for the inevitable charge from Jan. Sure enough as i enjoyed a nature break at the Porta John around the 25km mark, he ripped pass me so fast he sucked the hat clean off my head. To say he was on a mission was an understatement and knew that was the winner. The only questions for the final 2 laps was could i catch back up to David and would anyone else catch me in the process. I slowly began to build my pace and with 10km to go i was still trailing David by 3 minutes. With 5km remaining it was down to 2minutes so I upped the anti again with some more purposeful running for the first time that day but fell 45 seconds short at the line and had to settle for 3rd.

I was wrapped to finish on the podium, absolutely wrapped with mum there and all was happy I'd put together the best race i possibly could. I didn't want to ask about my run split as I couldn't handle hearing another 3hrs something! But when i saw fallon and her face i knew she had good news and i was absolutely overjoyed when she informed me I'd run a 2:58(rounding down remember). So with that I'd also broken the women's run course record so ticked all my boxes for the day and on top of that Fallon got some more flowers and sunflowers are her absolute favourite which was a real cherry on top. Oh and I beat Ronnie across the line but like the 9 time champ;ion he is he pushed hard all day, he's just the type of guy you hate racing, he's never beaten till your across the line. I was extremely happy for Jan to win his first ever Ironman in his home race and 7th attempt. Was also so great to witness how he did it. I knew form the second he elbowed me out of the way at the start he was going to win that and in course record time to boot!!! What a way to take your first big win and he's an absolute gem of a bloke, one of the few that's always been there to offer me advice during my journey. All in all a very successful day and record breaking day, what more could you wish for on a smoking hot Sunday summer afternoon than smoking hot racing to match it!

I don't like the word redemption however this year my schedule could suggest I've been chasing such with my choice of events mirroring that of 2017. In South Africa i improved on my 11th to 4th, Nice I went from DNF to 3rd, Zurich a very distant 7th to 3rd on Sunday. Sweden isn't a male race this year so wont be back to improve on that 2nd and i wont be going back to wales because I've already won so cant improve there! Now ill set my sights on the biggest monkey on my back from 2017 being Kona, and nailing that swim and run. I'm happy with where this training and racing preparation phase has put me physically and mentally. Racing tired has taught me to utilise the low energy stores i have in the most efficient way possible to get the best result i can on the day. In the process i think its made me a much smarter racer and in a much better position to go to Kona and see if i can finish the job i started last year. Time will tell....

With zurich my summer of preparation racing phase comes to an end. From here we will focus 100% on being as well prepared and fresh as possible for kona on oct 13. Many have questioned the way I chose to do things both racing and training and that's fine, everyone has there opinions and i obviously have mine. The fact of the matter is i want to beat these guys in kona and ideally be apart of another record breaking day. There is no way I'm going to beat them by doing things the way they do them. We are all such different athletes. They have all been racing triathlons for a decade or more with the exception of Lionel, off course they will have a traditional build up. Ive rowed at the highest level and raced in the world tour on a bicycle so my physiology is completely different and lots of long hard days is a preparation I'm familiar with and we believe will work best for me. The exiting thing is we are all going to find out in 10 short weeks if i can put it together. I'd like to say I'm nervous but I'm not, Ive got nothing to lose. I just cant wait for that start cannon to go off on Kona Pier on Saturday the 13th of October!!


CJW

As always my race data is on Strava. I remembered to not only save my ride data but also wear my heart rate strap so a bit more info than usual for IM Zurich.


Sent from my iPad

Friday, July 6, 2018

Tremendous Two Weeks Part 2

Tremendous Two Weeks Part 2

With round about way of tapering and IM Nice behind me it was time for part 2 of my double header and Challenge Roth. I'd heard so much about this event being a "bucket list" race and figured there are no guarantees on how long ill even keep doing this sport so i best do it while i have the chance. As it turned out this year it fitted in nicely with our little experiment of doing back to back races for training loading. The positive was that with the last minute schedule change a week earlier it had turned out to be the 2nd race so I'd be a little fresher and be able to give it a few more herbs with a rest week awaiting me after I crossed the finish line. We spent Monday in Nice and enjoyed a lazy day with olive at the Dog Beach frolicking on the Mediterranean before attending the presentation that evening which did include another bouquet of flowers for Fallon. Had a good sleep and woke up Tuesday morning ready to crack into another race week. We loaded the Car and set sail for Isola 2000 for a few days with the boys.

One thing that I learnt in this whole experience is the importance of keeping the engine ticking over if your going to back up with two Ironman's 7 days apart. Wednesday morning rolled around and i was back in the saddle for a "cruisy" 6hrs with Luke Rowe, Wout Poels, Micheal Kwiatkowski, and off course my usual sparing partner Chris Froome. Cruisy!!! Yeah right, 6 minutes for me with these guys is never comfortable let alone 6hrs but i did my best to hide my suffering and pretend i felt sensational just rolling around with these Tour de France stars, after all i was preparing for another Ironman in 4 days, off course i felt great!! I managed to survive there "general ride" which means easy for them until the final km of the final climb back to the chalet where I completely ran out of juice. I dropped back to the car grabbed onto the roof racks and told Tim i was empty, a strange empty as my legs felt ok I'd just simply ran out of fuel despite eating all day like a horse. Tim wasn't at all concerned and said the good thing was i had a few days to refuel ahead of Roth and everything would be fine. There are so many reasons why Tim s regarded as the best endurance sports coach on the planet a she could tell me anything and I'd believe and sure enough this explanation took me from down and out to confident as a cockatoo for the weekend ahead!

The next day we headed out again this time minus Luke as he headed off to recon the feared cobbled stage in this years tour, well feared for most but certainly not Luke, he eats them for breakfast. The remaining 4 of us headed down to the valley for some intervals. The first was a 15km 4 man Time trial for a bit off a warm up. I was certain I'd be dropped after my first turn if i even made it to the front but was pleasantly surprised as i noticed the power was already back in legs and I survived the entire interval. From there the boys did some more hard work in the mountains while i climbed casually back to the chalet to cap off my preparations for Roth, i now had 2 full days to freshen up, seemed like 2 months! Fallon and i loaded the car and jetted off to germany. Wa sober 1000km so we split up the drive with a night in Austria on the way and arrived in Roth bright eyed and bushy tailed Friday morning. The organisation of the race is absolutely 2nd to none and they had organised us a wonderful home stay for the event, even our dog was welcome. Surface to say we settled in nice and quickly and once again i had an entire day t rest up and recharge the batteries ahead of Sundays big race.

Now Roth i have now learnt is like no other race. The entire city and surrounding cities shut down for the day as an estimated 250,000+ people come out to cheer which honestly i think is being very German and a conservative estimate! Ive been very excited about doing this race for another reason being it had the potential to have a very similar dynamic to that that ill have to deal with in Kona on October 14. There was one key reason for this and that was the presence of the great Sebastian Kienle. On the drive to the start i said to fallon how cool this was going to start a race where i was literally going to have the opportunity to race shoulder to shoulder with my hero of the current generation of Ironman. I'd enjoyed watching Sebi the most when pouring over recent NBC kona highlights packages be when he won or was beaten, there is just something i really admire about the way this guy races and carries himself. Before the start he did even more to endure himself to me when he helped me pump up my tyres. I didn't have a crack pipe for my disc wheel and fumbling around with Co2 canisters when he jumped to my aid. He even suggested the pressure i run, the ultimate gentleman. Despite being star struck i was extremely relaxed for the race as I felt I had nothing to lose. Sebi once again had a chat to me before diving into the canal for our warmup which again made me pinch myself about the fact i was actually about to race him. I watched him swim off for a few strokes before snapping put of my day dream and said right its time to make his day as challenging as possible!

My goals for Roth where pretty straight forward. Firstly avoid losing 3 minutes to Lucy Charles ensuring i get on my bike before she reaches transition! Secondly try and do a good consistent bike that's put me in a position to again fight for a podium spot, training day or not it was a race and was going to race! And finally stay controlled and conservative on the run again until the final 5km then fight for whatever position is up for grabs at that point. The atmosphere was absolutely bonkers before the start and following my horrible swim in Nice in was so incredibly determined to put that behind me with a great swim here in Roth.

When the gun finally sounded i was outa there!! Quickly into the lead and i put my head down and swam as hard as i could. Lucy Charles was starting 3 minutes behind me and was determined to my as much of the course between her and I in that first 3 minutes. It wasn't long however before i got bulldozed the stronger swimmers but instead of blasting past my more eased past allowing me to jump into a nice slip stream, already this was worlds apart from just 7 days before in Nice! Around halfway in the swim i spotted Sebi and his bright yellow cap as race favourite and settled in beside him behind the front runners. At first I thought oh shit I'm actually having a terrible swim but the lead kayaker was just ahead of us so Sebi was also having a great swim. As we swum stroke for stroke i had visions of the Dave Scott and Mark Allen Ironman and thought wouldn't it be amazing to have Roth War with Sebi! Reality quickly set in when I remembered i cant run but still was nice to pass some time day dreaming about races in future years perhaps. As we exited the water we couldn't be separated on time and i was buzzing like a kid in a candy store as we again bumped shoulders grabbing our transition bags. Again side by side as we headed for our bikes but here i quickly got the upper hand with my superior helmet clipping on ability and i was in motion on two wheels ahead of him, the race was on.

With Sebi behind me all be it 10m's or so i hit the gas hard once out on the open rd. While everyone else including the man i saw as another big threat Andrei Dreitz fiddled around putting there shoes on i decided to get to the lead asap and worry about sliding them on later on. With Sebi behind and out of my vision i really went hell for leather if nothing else to make him panick and have to use some extra matches to come and find me. It was at this point however i was wracked with the reality stick of how fatigued i was as i simply didn't have the power spikes i do when I'm fresh. I decided after around 5km when sebi was not planted 15m directly behind me I wouldn't have the legs to drop him today so the best i could do was make it as uncomfortable for him as possible. Once I'd accepted the fact I didn't have the fresh legs I'd convinced myself i had i decided to just ride as fast as possible the the energy i had and not focus at all on power. I'd forgotten to wear my heart rate strap so i only had power as a reference but to be honest all i really looked at was average speed. I figured a decent ride would be around 44kmph average so just worked on keeping the speed around there as best i could.

At the end of lap 1 i looked and could see not only sebi but also Jesse Thomas. I felt i was probably being a little cautious on the pacing so started to pick things up as we began the final 90km. Soon after Jessie was dropped and it was just Sebi and i and i was very happy with this situation. I knew I couldn't beat him on the run today so figured if i keep it smooth and fast for him perhaps i can set him up for a potential course/world world record held by Jan Frodeno. Around 120km into the ride i looked back at Sebi to ensure he was fine with pacing and he thought i signalled him to come past. He said I don't know if can help you out at all but ill try. Cool I thought I'll just sit back here for a bit for a change of scenery. After about 5 minutes of that i got sick of sitting behind and rode back sebi and told him to save his legs for the run and that I'd keep it nice and smooth which got a laugh out of him. Unfortunately with about 30km to ride i heard the motorbike behind me which knew meant sebi was no longer right behind me and a quick glance back confirmed this. Just like in kona last year i thought well i may aswell hit the gas now and see how big a lead i can get as you never know what can happen on the run. I hit T2 feeling great which is always welcome when you've got a marathon ahead of you and couldn't wait to get stuck into it, quicker you get started the quicker you finish right! Anyways as we exited T2 i had 2minutes on sebi, 6 on drietz, and 12-15 on the running pack, i was right where i wished to, in the race for the podium.

My plan on the run was to take it as easy as possible for the first 37km then race for whatever spot is available to me at that point. I quickly got into a very cruisy rhythm and sebi blasted past me after 4km to relieve me of the lead I'd enjoyed for the previous 4hrs or so. Around 15km into the drietz dropped me back to 3rd and now i knew the final spot on the podium was touch and go. I could see Jesse Thomas, Joe Skipper and James Cunnama all charging along and making light work of there 15minute deficits so i just had to stay calm. Sure enough Jesse galloped passed me with around 10km to go so i knew if he stayed strong the podium was gone for me today. By the time i hit 5km to go Jesse was way to far ahead to mount a challenge and now Joe and James where running shoulder to shoulder and had me in there sights. If I didn't pull my finger out I'd need up coming 6th and again in this quality opposition I'd have been wrapped with that at the start of the day with 5km to go was going to fight to fend them off. Joe was simply too strong and dropped my like a hot potato with 2km to go but not before delivering some good news that james was now struggling and to hang tuff. I found another gear and managed top keep him out of sight to enter the famous Roth Grandstand finish arena in 5th place.

I was extremely satisfied with this but when i looked at the timing board and saw 7:58 I couldn't believe my eyes, my first sub 8 finish to come after the previous few weeks I'd endured i was absolutely wrapped. I quickly checked my watch to find out I'd run a 3:01 marathon which is my equal best ever which was an even bigger surprise as I hadn't looked at my pacing clock once all day. This was far and away the most balanced and perhaps best race I'd ever done. For the record I thumped lucy in the swim!! Well sort off, she only swam 1 minute faster so had 2minutes up my sleeve. I broke 48minutes for the first time and took 3 minutes off Jan Frodeno's bike course record which is particularly motivating to take as many more records of him as i can. And then an equal best ever run on those very tired legs was definitely the best part of the entire racing for training experiment. Yep, i guess i did exactly what Tim though it would do by giving me huge motivation to work even harder as we keep heading to Kona on October 14.....


P.s. I accidentally deleted my power file on my Garmin do to be too over excited to upload it!! But i basically hovered around 300 watts all day and didn't ever go much above 400 watts simply because I couldn't. Every time i tried to on the climbs my legs screamed in agony so i had to back it off, just didn't have the mumbo jumbo on this occasion. Run splits are all on my strava account Cameron Wurf


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Tremendous Two Weeks Part 1

Tremendous Two Weeks Part 1

Two weeks i was sitting on the sofa here in Andorra with a very very tired body. I was in the middle off an intense training block that had been kicked off three weeks before with the Venice Ironman as i begun the crucial block of racing and training ahead of Kona. I'd planned to take a couple of days easy leading into Challenge Roth followed by a recovery week before also taking on more Germans in Ironman Frankfurt. As i sat on the sofa on this Thursday evening i was so fatigued i told Fallon I didn't think I could handle another week of the training I'd been putting my body through, I was really close to cracking. In my deranged mind i suggested it might be better to bring the double header program forward a week and take my two days easy now ahead off Ironman Nice and then enjoy a restful week to freshen up for Challenge Roth. I conveyed my suggested scheduling change to my coach Tim who thought it was a marvellous idea as I'd be able to do a few days "easy" riding with a few of the guys on my way to Germany. They where all up at Isola 2000 just outside of Nice putting the finishing touches on the Tour de France preparations which was conveniently on the way. With that the plan was set, i headed to bed for a good night sleep, had a 6hr drive to Nice ahead of me on Friday morning.

Fallon and i have this whole going to races thing pretty dialed as a result of doing so many of them! This has its perks as it didn't take long to load the car including the dog and head off to Nice. I really enjoy driving around Europe. Coming from Australia you spend so much time sitting in germ infested airports and on planes that's it's actually extremely soothing to be in your own space. We've spent a bucket load of time in nice aswell so once we arrived it didn't take s long to settle into our usual apartment we rent and i still had a full day to rest up my second attempt at the Nice IM. Another reason i think something was bugging me about not racing Nice was the fact I'd DNF'd there last year and i had this urge to put that experience behind me. I knew until i at the very least completed the race It would keep eating at me. I really hate failing, its something that really annoys me!!

Considering my lead into the race my objectives where rather modest. The plan was to have a great swim, a conservative bike, and a good consistent run. In other word the only thing i wanted to put serious effort into was the swim, the rest was just an all inclusive training day. The race as you'd probably expect went completely against my plans as is almost always the case. I had my equal worst ever swim alongside my kona performance last year. It was a non wetsuit so i waved a nice big flag to my rivals to let them know i still cant swim without additional flotation! Because i was in a race and now miles behind i had to change plans and give everything i had on the bike to at least feel apart off the race, it was a race after all. The problem i faced here however was that my legs where tired as hell, i was certainly regretting the 8hrs I'd spent riding from Barcelona to Andorra on the previous Tuesday! Anyways i was here now and in the race and on the bike so i decided to empty the tank on the bike and just aim for a good consistent plod on the bike.

I knew the nice Bike course like the back off my hand. I ridden it a truck load of times which was a blessing in disguise as when you feel terrible there is nothing worse than having no idea what's ahead of you terrain wise. Fortunately i only had to deal with feeling terribly tired. I put my head down and pedalled as hard as i could and by the 90km mark I'd erased the 5+ Minute gap, yeah like i said it was a very bad swim! As i came up on the front group led by the legendary Freddy Van Lierde i thought I'd just join them for a bit and enjoy there company. Then in the same breathe i decided bugger that, I'm committed now and I'm going to try and go past them like they are standing still, see if i can put myself in a position to win the race. Crazy how your objectives can change over the course of 8hrs and this i assure you wasn't the last time i adjusted my goals! By the time i reached transition i had a 6 minute lead thanks to my knowledge of the final technical 60km of the bike course, i was just where i love being, in an empty transition and had an empty run course waiting for me.

The moment i hit the run course i had my next reality check, i was super tired after all. You can hide on a bike when it's carrying you fat backside around for you but when you have to stand on your own two feet reality really sets in! It was in that first 100m that I decided yet, just getting to the finish would be a great achievement today as i was absolutely stuffed! Sure enough Freddy blasted past me inside the first 15km and local hero Antony Costes did the same at around the 25km mark. By the 32km mark my leisurely plod had rocketed me in a rearward direction back to 4th when another Frenchmen Romain Guillaume sensed a prized spot on his national races podium was up for grabs. To be honest i was content with this. I felt that for a training day 4th wasn't so bad and I certainly would've taken if offered to me before the start, i figured i just enjoy this last 10km and save the legs as much as possible for Roth in 7 days time.

As I approached the final turnaround with around 7km to go, Freddy coming in the opposite direction said "pick it up cam they are slowing down ahead of you"!! You've got to be kidding me was my first thought and fantastic i can run slower aswell was my second. Then i remembered Fallon told me before the race she felt it was flowers day and t get flowers i know that is reserved for the top 3. I saw Romain at the turn around as he doubled back past me and Freddy was right he looked a hell of a lot worse than i did. So with 5km to i kicked it up a few gears and dropped from 4:40km/pace to 4:00 pace and within a couple of km's i was beside Romain again. I quickly checked with him regarding his kona points situation as if coming 3rd or 4th was the difference between him qualifying and not qualifying then i sure as hell wasn't going to steal that from him. I learnt the previous year just how stressful that whole thing can be and was happy to help a fellow competitor reach the big dance if need be. He told me 4th was fine so i said fantastic, Fallon wants some flowers and ill see you at the finish and that was that. I ended up rolling down the Ironman red carpet in 3rd, the final spot on the podium and yes i got Fallon her flowers. Was just a fantastic way to spend a Sunday.


P.s. no mention of data, power, splits, heart rate ect, its all on my Strava, Cameron Wurf if you'd like to follow me.


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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Victory Salou’t

Victory Salou't

On Sunday in Salou Spain i finally put together a decent Triathlon. Some might think I've raced bigger events and seemingly had more significant results but for me this events stands out as a real validation for me deciding to attempt a 3rd elite sport. The Fact i was even on the start line was in itself a very random culmination of events. I'd been due to race the Ironman in Lanzarote on the Saturday but with the airport strikes in Europe and the fact I'd been sick with a chest infection the past week the travel there just seemed like a mission, let alone racing the Ironman on top of that. So i made perhaps the smartest decision i have ever made to stay home in Andorra and race a local race down in Salou just south of Barcelona so an easy 2hr drive away.

On top off that i knew Pablo Dapena was racing who'd a few weeks earlier beaten Patrick Lange and ran 1 minute faster than him on the way to winning the Challenge event in Gran Canaria. Lanzarote is a course designed for me like wales was. I can ride a solid bike and get a significant advantage and my run isn't put under any pressure like it was in South Africa. This course in Salou was flat and fast so I'd struggle to get an advantage on the bike and then have to run my backside off to win, I saw it as a far greater challenge and test of where i was at having to face Pablo. So Saturday Fallon and packed the car, threw the dog in for her first race aswell and headed off to Salou.

Despite knowing that to win the race I'd have to dig deeper in my run than i ever had before, i was surprisingly relaxed on the morning of the race. The one good thing about racing so much is I've got things pretty well dialed now and with the luxury of driving to the race its a hell of a lot easier than trekking across continents to get on a start line! To put myself to sleep the night before i had googled "how to run a fast half marathon". Pretty simple you might say but i knew I'd have to run quicker than i ever had in the past to beat Pablo Dapena. There was pages and pages of ideas but the two things that stuck out where to start slower than you feel you should and that its normal to suffer! The second one really struck a cord with me as I've been so paranoid about injuring myself in training and racing that as soon as i start to feel uncomfortable fatigue while running i back off. The article simply stated that how can you expect to get any better if you don't push yourself. Hell the pain I've been through in rowing and cycling quickly reminded me that my running career to date had really resembled that of a mothers wagging group! No offence mothers, i love my mum! Anyways with starting easier so you can finish stronger and making myself hurt in my mind I couldn't wait to get onto that run course but first i had to swim and ride!


I love beach starts so when the gun went off i was quickly into the lead. I'd lined up beside Pablo knowing he was a fast ITU swimmer and the only man who's been able to swim alongside Josh Amburger in long distance races. My goal was to stay with him as long as possible and test my swimming speed and I know my swimming fitness is still lacking majorly but a good test none the less. I swam stroke for stroke with him for about 300m till i felt the shoulders filling with lactate and getting heavy and retreated some feet more at my pace. Although i was annoyed I couldn't hold him it was good to know my speed is coming and like every other discipline i need to just continue to log the hrs of work to improve. Coupled with that i still had gunk on my chest from my infection the week before so the swim was always going to be a struggle if i went to hard for too long, getting air is rather limited when your swimming! I'd ultimately exit the water just over 2 minutes behind Pablo so I'd put even more pressure on my run as i knew the bike would be fast so limited time to firstly get into the lead and the secondly eek out an advantage.

One positive about having a nice steady swim was i felt fresh as a daisy once i hit dry land. I quickly scooped up the Bolide, gotta say coming into transition and seeing my bike compared to everyone else's really puts a smile on my face, it just looks the business!!!! Once aboard my rocket ship i immediately felt amazing, perhaps the best ever. A couple of weeks earlier Richie Porte and I had had another of our adventures this time doing a 6000m of climbing elevation day which took us 10hrs. My coach Tim Kerrison said if i have the energy to ride that far then the next day i can run a marathon so i ran from Nice to Monaco and back with Tim on the bike following me. Was a solid weekend but as it was followed by 2 weeks of fighting the Man Flu my body probably absorbed it well and recovered at the same time, consequently having me feel at the absolute peak of my powers in Salou. As expected the bike course was flat and fast but having said that i was surprised how quickly i was able to pass my rivals and pull away from them which reaffirmed that i had good legs.

After 35km i had Pablo in my sights and started to plot the best place to pass him. I knew in the next few km's a series of roundabouts was followed by a sharp 200-300m climb which led into a dead stop tight U turn, one off 3 such U turns per lap which there was also 3 off! I wasn't happy about these slow corners as it was ruining my Ave speed! Back plotting my move into the lead. I sized up Pablo and once onto the first roundabout which i noticed he took with caution i ripped passed before the 2nd one and and kept the gas one through the 3rd. I glanced back and saw him try to respond as we hit the hill so i dug even deeper hitting 700 watts on the short climb and my heart rate rocketed to 190! I kept my head down to the corner knowing I'd see him on the way back. Sure enough he'd over cooked it trying to follow me and he was reaching for a bottle at the aid station at the top of the hill. Oh big mistake and that's the moment right there that he lost the race.

I hit the gas as hard as i could again onto the downhill this time and i was gone. 10km later at the next U turn i already had 2 minutes and i being out of sight so quickly i knew i could get a bigger lead than i first envisaged. So i had half of the 2nd lap and all of the 3rd to extend my advantage and i tried not to waste a single mm of road in doing that. At times i considered backing off the power in the hope of running faster but that honestly has never worked for me. In Sweden last year when i went full gas on the bike i had the best run I've ever had. I'm kona and South Africa i tried to be smart and ride easy and my run fell to pieces. I decided I'm just going to go all out on the bike which for me meant staying between 350-370 watts and get as far in front as possible and then think about the run. When i hit transition I couldn't believe my average speed of almost 46kmph specially considering the 9 U turns and all the traffic on the course i had to negotiate on laps 2 and 3. It had by far been my best bike leg ever and now i had to do my best run leg ever, i was committed, i really wanted to win my first Pro Half IM. I racked my bike, once again taking a brief moment to admire its beauty and set off in pursuit of my running transition bag! I was smooth as silk in transition in Salou, I've learnt if you relax and stay calm you do all your bits and pieces much faster. Finally on my run off truth!

Thanks to my last minute instructions from Mr google before bed the night before i started my run nice and calm. My plan was just to get into an uncomfortably comfortable rythm as Kerro would say and not look at my pace clock, what would be would be. Fallon was positioned not long after the run exit with Olive and informed me i had a 5 minute lead. I knew Dapena was capable of running a 1:09, he's one of the fastest over the Half I'm distance and recently run that fast en route to beating and out running Patrick Lang in Gran Canaria so i knew right away I'd need to run a hell of a lot faster than i ever had before to hold him off. The first time I did glance at my clock was at the first U Turn 2.5 km into the run. I decided to measure my margin on distance and as we had 4 laps a shade over 5.3km long to negotiate with two U Turns each lap, they sure love there U Turns in Salou! I'd get regular update on how much real estate was between me and Dapena during the run. At the first turn i had 1.2km, by the start of the 2nd lap is was 900m. I figured if i could maintain this margin of roughly 300m lost for the last 3 laps I'd still have 100m up my sleeve.

With this logic i decided to stay at whatever pace i was running at which 5km in i still hadn't taken any notice off. Once on a rare straight section i took a glance and say 3:40/km pace on my watch. Crikey!! I thought, i felt great and knew if i could hold this I'd break 1hr 20min, the target Tim had set for me prior to the race. The logic in that was how can i expect to run sub 2:40 in kona and break the run course record if i cant even run half the distance that fast!! Baby steps!! So knowing i was moving so well by my standards i just kept chugging along at my uncomfortably comfortable rhythm waiting for the next time distance check at the next turn around. Fallon and olive had switched locations and when i saw her next she said i lost 1 minute to Pablo on lap one. That seemed less than i thought and on that evidence I'd still have 1 minute in hand at the finish if our relative pacing stayed the same. Sure enough at the next turn around I'd only last 100m in the last 2.5km by my calculation which meant only 200m per lap. At the end of lap 2 and halfway point this was confirmed as i still had 700m up my sleeve. Knowing that he wasn't closing anywhere near as quick as i expected i kept at my uncomfortably comfortable pace which whenever i glanced at the clock floated between 3:40-3:50/km. Fallon reaffirmed another minute lost on lap 2 and now it was just keep the ball rolling, i could really smell the big win i so desperately wanted.

When i started the 3rd and final lap and saw that i was still 500m ahead i knew if i held it together he wasn't catching me. Around 3km to go when i past fallon and olive i started to feel that pain and fatigue in my running legs that had scared into backing off for the past 18months. I briefly contemplated doing just that but them remember my instructions from Mr Google the night before reminding me "pain is good, its the only way you'll ever improve". I quickly dismissed the slow down demons and lifted the arms and raised my cadence, i was going to finish this thing off running!! At the last U turn with 2.5km to go 400m still separated Pablo and i and his head stared to bow, i knew i had him. That last half a lap really reminded me what I'd just put my body through as i started getting the dizzy spells and could've happily stopped at any moment. I didn't off course, my first Professional Half Ironman victory awaited me and it had taken my career best performance to pull it off, I wasn't letting it slip away.

Finally into the finish shoot and there was fallon and Olive. People often forget whose behind the scenes and Fallon has been by my side this whole journey. She's studying her masters in wholistic nutrition so really we make the perfect team in my biased opinion, i think she feels the same way! This year we've even brought Olive the dog over with us to really make Europe home and fully commit to this sport. it was our first international race that we where all together for so was important to me to show them (well what olive understands anyways of a race!!!) that the sacrifice was somewhat justified. When i broke that tape I couldn't hide my excitement, it was far and away the best performance I'd ever had in this sport. The first thing i did was stop my watch to check my run split. Sure enough for 20.97km I'd run 1hr 18min 46seconds!!!!!!! I couldn't believe it. I'd run a full minute under our target time and on a very slow course thanks to all the turn around that ruin your rythm as Pablo informed me off at the presentations. With that he said you really ran a hell of a lot quicker than you realise so i was double happy about that. Guess you do the maths and he consistently runs 1:10+- on a flat fast course then with more time i only gave away 4 minutes as i still had 1 minute in hand at the end, i really was wrapped. Far and away my best race to date and really the first time i truly realised that there is potential for me to learn how to run with these guys.

The coolest part about a local race is it doesn't take long to pack up and drive home. A quick stop at McDonald's to celebrate took me back to my junior soccer days when mum would take me along after i scored a goal and we won the game. 2 hrs later we where home at Anyos Park and this place is sporting heaven. An hour after that i was in the world class training centre across the road in the ice bath recovering from an effort my body I'm sure was wondering what on earth i just put it through! Anyways was necessary to enjoy the moment but look forward and recover as quickly as possible as this weekend ill be back on the start line. We decided that as I'd missed Lanzarote we'd through in Challenge Venice as a good long training day. I love doing ironman's for training as I don't have to stop at petrol stations and corner stores for food and drinks, its all supplied for you. The race will begin the next big block of training leading into my big objective of the summer in Ironman Nice. It was a race I DNF'd in last year so I'm determined to not only go back but put together another complete performance as i did in Salou. So step by step we continue to march toward Kona, yeeeehaaaaaa

CJW

Oh and p.s. if you want to see my data from the race its all on stava, I don't hide anything, power heart rate ect its all there. You'll find it all under my very own name Cameron Wurf.




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Friday, April 20, 2018

Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

Been a while since my last update and i promise to try and keep this exactly that, an update! Last year was certainly a bit of a doozy and one i certainly didn't see coming. The wash up was I was i needed a good rest and regroup, and it was time for me to take my sport seriously for the first time in my life. I remember my last sentence following my 2015 kona experience as an age grouper being "one day ill come back as a pro and race this thing". At the time i had no idea what I'd go through to get to that point but i was a year of self discovery and evolution that my wildest dreams couldn't have imagined. Anyways that's in the books now and off course my performance in Kona will be what I'm measured against in every race going forward and it wont be until i get back there and jump in the ring with the big boys that ill be able to alter my Ironman narrative. I'm really bloody excited about everything in front of me and i cant wait to kick things of in South Africans on Sunday just as i did last year.

Following a couple of months of "active recovery" as i just love exercising too much!! I kick started my 2018 prep on Christmas Eve. The local lads down in tassie led by our fearless leaders Kimbo Gillard and Mickey The Fox Dalton decided a 215km leg sapping southern tassie loop was the perfect way to bring the festive season in. Might i just point out these two men and 2:14 and 2:15 Marathoners, tassie certainly is a sleeper when it comes to sporting talent. But i have too acknowledge my Running edge bunch of gangsters in Matt G, Wellsy, Aaron, Tennick, Budgie, Tiz, Slonga, Hayden Armstrong (probably the strongest cyclist I've ever ridden with) seriously he's incredible!! Ando, waxy, smarty, tobo, and the occasional cameo from Pete Barret. I apologise if i missed anyone lads!! But honestly i owe these guys a hug thank you for getting my lazy ass moving again and refocused on working on my weaknesses for the new year. They would not only be there every ride but we'd often have 6 dudes to keep me honest on my run sessions, having these guys support was a big game changer in that early season foundation stage, really reminded how valuable a great training squad can be, cant wait for the summer in aus for more massive days with these animals. Anyways back to Christmas Eve and as we'd ridden for 7hrs 15min i figured i May as well add on a 45min run and kick start the season with an 8hr brick session. Yep everything after that hasn't seemed so bad at all!

After a great few weeks at home and training with the lads in tassie was time to pack the bags and head of for the first training camp in LA on January 9. Well this was a pretty low key camp, Geraint Thomas, our coach Tim Kerrison and myself. This was an opportunity to add the structure back into the program and off course get a bit of a yard stick where the early season was at for the pair off us. As always the training in LA was absolutely perfect, the roads where dry, sun was out, and it wasn't to hot, was absolutely perfect. Not surprisingly our early season fitness benefited from that and we both posted PR's in training and while i wont comment on G mine best day was a 2hr TT effort along the PCH at 360 watts followed by 25km at 3:50km pace, by far my best bike run combo I've ever posted, had been a great early season for me. G would head back to europe with instant success in Algarve winning the tt and finishing on the podium in Tirreno-Adriatico so was good to know where things where at.

With G and Tim heading back across the pond to start the rd season Fallon, Olive (the dog and I headed to Big Bear Lake for a altitude running block. Again things kept progressing nicely with me logging a couple of 90+km running weeks (big for me) and i even went and ran a marathon around the lake one day simply because i was enjoying my running so much. We had some nice big snow storms so i enjoyed some long days on the home trainer watching Winter Olympics ironically while Fallon went and shredded the slopes on her little snow board. The dog got to chance to chase an endless number of ducks and squirrels so the whole family had a great time at this training camp.

After 6 weeks in the thin air and another important foundation block in the legs and lungs, was time to head across the pond to Europe. We headed to the spanish island of Tenerife to link up with Tim and a bunch of the sky boys to all important final prep for the first race off the season. I love Tenerife and have been doing training camps there since the liquigas days in 2011. Brief explanation as to why its a hotspot for training is the island is a valcano, not the dissimilar to kona. From the sea the mountains start and stop at a plateau around 2100m later which is where we all sleep. From there we can drop to sea level easily to do our training and climb back up when we are done. There is an endless amount of incredible climbs of every which variation you cloud possibly imagine and every trip we discover a new one. Tim is a hug fan of finding "short cuts" which start and finish in the same spot as the longer version, yep the steepest he can find!! Oh and he finds some doozy's to keep us on our toes. It's pretty rare you'll find the winner off the 3 grand tours annually don't stay at the hotel parador and do there preparations in Tenerife.

Having said all that however this trip we decided to stay beside the beach and T3 (Tenerife Top Training) centre for a bit of a chance. During this period before the race its also pretty crucial to not skimp out on the swimming km's as you really pay for it in the race! The pool at T3 is regarded as one of the best in the world and was littered with national teams from Belgium, Russia, France and Spain, oh and Holland. Basically i was by far the worst swimmer in the pool! Was pretty funny actually my first morning there. Just like in the lead up to international rowing regattas coaches have there stop watches on all there rivals seeing where they are at. Swimming it turns out are exactly the same and when i dived in day 1 i must have looked like i knew what i was doing as the stop watches and eyes where definitely on my lane. When I looked up a couple of laps later the eyes where certainly nowhere near my lane as they had realised i was a complete hack and probably offended they let me in the pool at all!

Anyways i had a great couple of weeks in the pool at T3 and even broke 30 seconds for 50m in the 50m pool for the first time, that was pretty exciting!! The centre isn't only a pool but also has a running track and complete world class gym with woodway treadmills. To be brutally honest for a sports addict like me it was absolute heaven with tennis courts, soccer fields, CrossFit courses, massage and much much much more, it even had 2 golf courses either side off centre, just thinking about it makes me want to jump on the plane and go back! I could definitely live there, in fact I've considered it as T3 also has a bar serving spot on espresso and ice cold tap beer, oh and you can get a protein shake as well off course. Did i mention already its sporting heaven?? You can even surf right down in front. Ive got to stop I'm missing the place too much the more i talk about it, luckily ill be back there in a few weeks, yay!!!

My daily routine was really a sporting dream for me and just as I'd envisaged my Ironman career to look like. I'd get up and jump in the pool around 8, the Spanish like to sleep in! Shoot back to the apartment across the road and grab my bike. I'd cruise along the coast a bit and meet the sky boys at the bottom of there long decent down from the volcano and I'd do 4-6hrs with them. Once home i could through the shoes on and go for a jog on the foreshore, running track or treadmill. It was just so easy to get great volume and quality training in i simply had a smile on my face every single second! Oh that's not true. One day we did a team workout on the Churchie Climb and that hurt a significant amount. It's funny i race for 8+ hours yet 11 minutes that day trying to hold my own had lactate acid literally coming out of my eyeballs! Not content with my 50m swim PB i also ran my first ever sub 3minute km during my track session, Yep a lightning fast 2:58. Only need to back that up with 9 more and i reckon I'd be competitive in Tokyo, hahaha absolutely no chance!! Yep it was an absolutely fantastic couple of weeks and certainly capped off what had been an extremely productive start to the season as far as training went, couldn't wait to see what that translated into on race day.

Anyways with all that being said I'm about to touch down in South Africa and finally get the 2019 season underway. It's one thing to do it all in training but as i like to say these days, Train for show Race for doe $

CJW


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Thursday, April 19, 2018

IM African Championships

IM African Championships

Wowsers, what a day. It'd been almost 6 months since the last time i put my body through the riggers off an IM in kona last year. I was absolutely chomping at the bit for that gun to go off on Sunday. This was my second trip to Port Elizabeth for the iconic event on the IM calendar so i had extremely fond memories of the town, the people, the race that I couldn't wait to experience all over again. This time around Fallon accompanied me for the trip and as always is the case she makes every experience that little more special & sure enough here we are 7 days on now from our arrival we are leaving with an amazing week behind us. Suffice to say i cant say enough about Port Elizabeth and Ironman for what they put together. If your considering visiting and even racing you won't be disappointed, its an incredible experience. Now into race day!

Race Morning for me begun in its usual fashion with alarms and wake up calls lighting up our room at the Boardwalk hotel around 3:30am. I think this was by far the least amount of sleep I'd ever had the night before a race, i was just so excited for the day to arrive as i truly believed I'd have a great day. I was so organised and keen that I was first, and i mean first to transition on race morning. Yep from the guy who slept through his alarm in my attempted professional debut in Chattanooga to being at transition before every single one of the 3000 athletes in the race. I was ready! Will ent through my usual formalities and finally it was time for Fallon to zip me up and send me on my way, it was definitely going to be a great day. It was strange having so much confidence when you consider the number of things that can go wrong in IM but i knew i was the best I'd ever prepared with training I'd done since Christmas and couldn't wait to show it. I'd basically been able to rationalise in my brain that even the worst case scenario wouldn't be that bad. I could swim all alone and I'd not get too far behind. I could have a flat tire and still have a great bike ride. And finally i could blow up on the run but as long as i kept moving I wouldn't go that slow. And as far as race goals went that seemed pretty simple as well. I wanted to beat Lucy Charles out of the water as in kona she caught me for 5 minutes which was a little embarrassing!!! And secondly run a 2:50 marathon. Don't know what on earth made me think i could do that but all i knew was i was going to give it a go! The result was really an after thought. Simply put i wasn't afraid off anything. The Anthem finally roared over Nelson Mandela Bay and the party was about to get started. I elbowed my way to the best possible starting spot, i wasn't giving up an inch, sorry eneko! Ive never been so fired up to start a race in my life.

The cannon boomed and i felt like I'd been shot out of it and led the charge as i usually do into the water. Aussie's seem to do pretty well at beach starts, not many off us that haven't done our fair share of Nippers seasons (junior surf life saving). I bounded through the Shaw break started swimming first. I could see Josh Amberger to my right dragging the pack out and slowly eased my way over and into his, I couldn't believe how confident i was swimming! As alway josh quickly got a gap and the race settled down behind and i nestled myself intro the front chase pack. The first half of the swim went perfectly as i rocked and rolled along behind Kyle, Eneko, Maurice and Reece, i just felt sensational. Fortunately the swim back I was prepared for! As we turned the top can and i did some sort of weird time save swim can roll I'd watched on TV i felt my zipper slip and i took on a bunch of water. No stress i thought and pulled the the side of the pack to let a few more guys fill the gap while i repositioned it and got on with the swim back. Unfortunately the guys at the front accelerated and those whom filled in dropped the feet or me pulling out caused them to drop the feet and I'd lost the front pack. No worries i thought with all the confidence in the world ill just swim them down and off I went. Unfortunately I hadn't fixed my zip properly and the harder i tried and stretched out the more my suit moved and took on water. I decide back to worst case scenario and just swim a controlled swim as I wouldn't loose to much time and my wetsuit wont take on as much water. The plan worked perfectly and i reached the beach with 1 minute of the front pack and few minutes behind josh but most importantly Lucy Charles hadn't caught up to me YES!!!!!!!! Was a great start and i was fresh as a daisy, was time to go to work.

Once on the bike it really feels like I'm in a safe zone. I feel like I've got so much control over what's going on when I'm on that bolide which also allows me to think clearly. I eased my way into the ride exuding confidence that i could turn the screws whenever I wanted to. With 25km only josh was left up the road alone so i thought i might just hang out in the pack for a while, have a chat with the boys and enjoy the scenery together. Well that plan lasted about 30 seconds as no sooner had i settled in behind Kyle and his local knowledge pace (he actually lives on the race course!!! How hometown is that) he decided to seemingly slam on his breaks as he didn't want to be the one setting the pace. This annoyed me as I'm so paranoid about getting a drafting penalty and almost ran up his ass so I decided if it game playing time then ill play my favourite one and start to make the day as difficult as possible for everyone and launched a grenade. I quickly had a gap and looked back to see bikes and bodies going every which way deciding whether to chase or relax so while they figured that all out i decided to ride across to josh as quickly as possible and see if he wanted to company for some of the ride.

Around 30km later i rolled up along side Josh and let him know there would no crazy attacks and that I'd ride steady as i want to run fast. Yes ladies and gentleman they where my exact words, "I'm just going to ride steady because i want to run really fast so just stay with me". Haha i was so dam relaxed and excited to get onto the run, i simply wanted the bike to be over and done with as quickly as possible. By halfway however i was all alone. Josh decided to ride his own pace, proved to be a smart move!! And i had a pretty big lead of between 2-4 minutes over all the main favourites. I was wrapped with this as i figured I'd only need 2 minutes lead due to the 2:48 marathon i was going to run so was able to just cruise the 2nd lap of the bike and maintain my lead. And cruise i did. I dropped the power from 310-320 down to around 280ish for the 2nd lap, a luxury I've never had in a race. For some context, during the last 60 minutes of my ride in Sweden last year i averaged 340 watts to increase my lead from 2-8minutes. I'd go onto run a 3:00 marathon and qualify for kona so was pretty happy with the situation. To add to that on the 2nd lap my lead trebled to 8 minutes!! Crikey i caught myself day dreaming at the view and almost run up the backside of age groupers, i was perhaps showing a little to much confidence and regard for the race but hey it was what it was. It all seemed to good to be true and i couldn't wait to hit the ground running.

I was so relieved when i hit T2 and my feet where firmly planted on the ground. Now the only thing that could ruin my race was myself as i was just me and my two legs from here. I charged out onto the run course with a big grin on my face, I couldn't wait to run a massive PB for the marathon. I settled into my tapping it along tempo of 180 strides per minute that had got me through Sweden fresh as a daisy, splits hovering around 4:00km/pace and my 2:48 target everything was going absolutely perfectly. Through 10km and lap 1 the gap was holding steady at 8min, i was absolutely floating along and once again you couldn't get the smile off my face. Fallon found her little perch and there was even massive confidence on her face, she wasn't even worried about the gap, i was making it look easy. I even was supporting the other guys, just a little "good stuff" as they went past in the other direction for no other reason than i know how much i love it when my rivals give me "good job cheer", i felt great and wanted to return the favour, we where all suffering together. I certainly didn't get anything back from them, not atleast until they ran past me and knew they would be me across the line. Guess that's a good indicator that i was hardly hungry to beat anyone, i was more preoccupied with prancing through my 2:48 marathon than having any racing killer instinct about me, that's gotta change!

At the beginning of 3rd lap which was exactly halfway into the marathon, a handy 6+ minute lead, my day got tipped upside down in a blink of an eye. I was closing in on my nemesis Lucy Charles, about to lap her and get some revenge for kona swim destruction she inflicted on me and my legs just stoped floating and began to tighten up. I could literally almost touch her and had played through in my mind how far behind me to horrors of kona where behind, how far I'd come and how seemingly simple this sport had become and then i stopped closing in and she started inching away. Fortunately i was prepared for this remember and I'd gone through 21km in 2:49 pace so had plenty off room to fall off that pace and still run ok. The biggest issue was figuring out what it was that was causing my hip flexors to all of a sudden feel like a couple of knives where stuck in them and my head was getting extremely dizzy indicating i was out of fuel. I just knew my special needs was a mere 5km away and the electrolyte mix waiting for me could be the key to bringing me back. I hammered the cokes in the meantime and stopped for a wonderful nature break. The guy following said "is that wise when your leading mate?" Probably not but in that 5km to the special needs i forgot it was even leading the race let alone worrying whether or not i should stop for a piss. When i passed Fallon on the 3rd lap i could here in her voice the confidence was gone, she could read my face better than anyone, it wasn't going to be the fairytale. I remember seeing Kyle at the top turn around and telling him "this is your day mate". I guess consciously i knew it wasn't going to be mine so may as well be a hometown boy. Josh Amberger can win cairns again and remain the Australian hero, felt Kyle deserved his day in the sun. Back to my crisis!! I hammered the fluids and fuel as much i could and when i finally got my electrolyte bottle i skulled it down so fast you'd think I hadn't had a drink in days!! Perfect i instantly thought it would slowly bring me back and i can get back to running fast and still run a 2:48.

Little did I know in the 5km I'd lost 5minutes of my lead to a rampaging home town hero Kyle Buckingham whom in his tenth start had never won his home race. Spurred on by a crowd witnessing my unravelling and a famous hometown victory on the cards he latterly had the wind at his back in every direction! Anyways back to me and the good new was i had drank my special bottle in my belly, i still had a 1 minute lead, and i only had 13km to go, everything would be just fine. Well you know what, the next second it wasn't. I was keeled over on the side of the road absolutely emptying everything my body contained including my life saving electrolyte drink and a crowd around standing in silence wondering what on earth i was going to do whilst ensuring they where out of the firing line. Once empty i straightened myself and looked at my lead bicycle dude whom ask me if i wanted to continue which I didn't bother acknowledging. I re positioned myself as i was facing the wrong way and looked down the race course and slowly shuffled off. I'll never forget the cheer when i waddled off from the crowd, it was like getting flattened by a school yard bully dragging yourself to your feet for one final flogging for everyone's entertainment.

Sure enough it wasn't more than 200m down the road the Kyle came charging past and yet another deafening roar from the crowd. Knowing my day was done every i joined in the ruckus and gave Kyle a big cheer, i was as happy as everyone else i think to see him leading. Having said that i tried to rally and go with him which lasted all of 10 steps and i was back to survival mode. My other worst case scenario just as had occurred in the swim was coming to fruition in the run. I'd literally emptied the tank 500m back down the road in pursuit of my 2:48 and my strategy had well and truly failed, all that was left to do was get across the finish line. Now into the last lap the cramps got so bad i had to stop and stretch for the first time in my Ironman career. Ive never been one for suffering from cramps, specially my hip flexors, guess there is a first time for everything. Sure enough Josh and Maurice rolled over the top of me like steamrollers running perfectly executed run legs. When i passed the crowd who'd witnessed me at my most vulnerable moment i got Mc Monsterous roar. I noticed the Garden hose had been deployed to clean up the mess and there was now a bit off a gap in the crowd lined Marine Drive but they didn't seem to mind, was all part of the spectacle as i love putting on a show. I knew i simply had to get to the finish in the top 10 to secure my Kona qualification and when i turned onto the red carpet i was still in 4th place, I couldn't believe it. I mean the day had basically gone exactly as i had predicted it worst case scenario. My swim went pair shaped with my first ever wardrobe malfunction and i swam bang on 50min. I gone for broke on the run chasing a 2:48 marathon split, blew to bits, and shuffled home with a 3:05, my 3rd best ever time! And to top it all off finished 4th and with those ranking points I'm now 7th on the world rankings and secured my slot for Kona, pretty unbelievable to be honest, I'm really over the moon with how it all worked out.

As for the wash up!!!! Well I certainly need to learn not to be so confident. An Ironman can be pretty unforgiving and bite you on the ass real quick and i learnt that the real hard way. I'm obviously trying to force too much fuel in as that's about the 5th time I've power chucked somewhere on course so need to look at that. Cramping, yeah that's an issue we've never dealt with before, perhaps i have to run faster for longer more often, not sure. Also i gave up way to easily, i simply didn't want it badly enough. I guess i figured it should have been so easy for me and 7/8 of the day it was but still i need to drink a few gallons of concrete and harden up a hell of a lot between now and kona.

The good news is i felt great all day and despite those dramas and spectacular explosion i still managed to finish closer to the front that the back. I'm spending more and more time leading the run and benefit of that is you'll feel the pace and see the faces of the guys that are winning, you actually get an idea of what it takes to be one day crossing the line first, that's invaluable experience. I ran my fastest ever half marathon in a race also. Yes faster than any 70.3 I've ever race with a 1:24 so if that doesn't show improvement then i guess I'm looking at it all the wrong way. That to be honest is something I'm so dam stinking excited about as i know how that pace actually feels for atleast half the marathon. No doubt the other half will take a huge amount of work to attain but hey I've made a pretty massive step in the right direction. Who knows maby i am already capable of running that quick and it was nutrition hydration that i ballsed up, who's know, i know I certainly don't but i do know I'm going to keep working my ass off the way i have been as I'm getting closer to that perfect performance I've painted in my thick head.

The last few days since the race have been wonderful. Fallon and I just chilled out at the beautiful 5 star hotel Ironman put us up in for the week. We've found my recovery post race is way faster if i do very little for a couple of days, no flying, training ect, and on the 3 rd i wake up feeling like I did the morning of the race, ready to rock and roll. With that we put the tourist hats on and went and saw some lions and spent the night in the Addo Elephant park. Elephants are Fallon's favourite animal in the world, with the exception of Olive off course, so was nice to see her get to do something extremely memorable and that she loved whilst on yet another one of my selfish sporting adventures! Was a great trip for everyone in our little team! Back to Europe now and plan a preparation for Kona. Have no idea how it will look precisely but will certainly include more racing than last season as I've still got a lot to learn and some pretty knarly training camps with all my favoured training buddies. Onwards and upwards and bring on Kona!!!!

CJW


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