Monday, December 4, 2017

Season Wrap

Season Wrap

On Sunday i wrapped up my season for 2017. I had a couple of simple goals for the Busselton IM, to go after the 7:40 IM world record and in the process completely empty what was left in my racing tank for the year. In the end it was a complete non event. A shark sighting meant a cancelled swim so therefore no crack at the record, and then my body finally gave me everything it had a few hrs into the ride. When it was announced that the race was modified i tried to rally for the revised ride run format but from the gun I simply wasn't in it. Still i maintained the 45kmph average i needed for the sub 4hr bike split for the first 130km but then like a light switch the body said no more and i was stopped on the side of the road spewing my guts up.

No idea what brought it on and there was certainly no warning. The only thing i knew was after a few minutes of uncontrollable vomiting i was flat out throwing my leg black over the bike let alone contemplating running a marathon. The body was simply done. I'd caught a little bug after arriving in Australia last week and perhaps the 4 Time Zones and 30hrs of travel over the past few weeks finally caught up with me. That and the fact that i was asking the body to operate as if i was in the form of my life and that simply wasn't the case. Since Kona my schedule has been an absolute dogs breakfast travelling here there and everywhere while cramming in a few key sessions where possible. Busso was simply one trip to many but like I've done all year I've turned the screw until it breaks so we know going forward how far we can turn it!

The truth is after Kona i was so confident in my ability as an athlete i forgot about the sacrifices and how hard I'd worked in every aspect in the months leading into the biggest race of my life. Ive never been an athlete that can turn it on at will i need to work my ass off to be the best i can be. Busselton was a much needed reality check to never ever take this sport or the effort of which i expect of my body these days. I'm not racing anymore to make it to the finish, event time i go out there i want to find out how fast i can go. I was outspoken of my goals for busselton and that in many ways leaves a fair amount of egg on my face but ill deal with that. This year my closest friend Ethan Penner told me to never stop being Peter Pan. He said ultimately you'll fly and reach your goals as Ive proven but your going to crash and burn a lot along the way, comes with the territory of always aiming so high. Well Ethan, this was certainly one of those falls but it was no more than a split second after it happened that i was already planning how ill learn and bounce back from this ASAP.

All in all its been the best year of my sporting life. There have been some incredible highs coupled with some spectacular failures built none of which ever made me contemplate giving up. At the start of the year our goals where simple, qualify for kona and learn as much as possible from that experience in making it to the start line and the race itself. This information was going to be crucial in implementing the next stage of the plan in 2018 and beyond. The highlights for me where running a 3:00 marathon, something at the start of the year i never thought was within me so to do it in cairns and Sweden was just the biggest thrill I've ever felt athletically. The other was a swimming in the front group along side Harry Wiltshire in Wales, i never ever thought in my first full year I'd be exiting the water in the front group, and off course that set me up to lead from go to wo in wales and my first IM win.

The thing that topped everything however was crossing the finish line in 2nd in Sweden knowing I'd got myself I tot the top 50 in the world rankings, 49th in fact, and would be on that start line in kona. That for me was the most incredible feeling I've ever had in all my years off sport and while so many people helped me and gave me the tools to achieve this objective it was me and me alone who had to stand up on the day. That was a huge step forward in the sporting life of Cameron James Wurf. To my "team wurf" of Kerro, Denis, Shaun Stephens, and James Morton, I'm just blown away every single day that your all in my corner. 4 of the absolute smartest minds in the world of sport and certainly none of this would have happened without your guidance. Another man who was always by my side was my childhood hero Greg welsh. I grew up watching this guy take it to Mark and Dave in kona and his inspiring performances certainly planted the seed for me to one day be there open lava guilds doing the same. To all this brands that let me try all your stuff without strings attached was crucial in building the best package. Will make some announcements soon regarding all going forward. For now it's time for me to have a rest, I'm finally home in Hobart Tasmania and looking forward to finally unpacking my suitcase for the first time since March. Yep its been absolute doozy of a year and all indications are that 2018 will be full of a few more surprises.


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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Moving On

Moving On

Since Kona I've been racing around like chicken with its head cut off. I took a bit off time following the race to regroup and reflect on what has happened in the past 7 Months and decided I had another race left in me for 2017. There where a few options with Arizona, Cozumel and Busselton and ultimately the lure of competing in front of a home crowd won out and next Sunday ill line up and attempt to finish my 7th Ironman for the season. I made the decision to race again as I was simply bitterly disappointed with how Kona worked out. For whatever reason I wasn't able to put together a complete race with a solid ride bookended by the worst Swim and Run Ive had all season. As time has progressed the reason for my lacklustre performance has become very clear, I'm simply vulnerable and inconsistent in my two weaker disciplines. With that in mind I wanted one more crack of the whip to put together a complete race I've been chasing all season with the Run being my key focus.

There have been many question marks thrown at me with our approach to this season with the most common topic brought up how much I've raced. I realise its a rather unorthodox approach to a season but we are hardly treading a path that's been treaded before. Ive come into the sport from a completely different background to anyone else having Rowed and Cycled at the highest level. In both sports that have preceded my triathlon foray the intensity of the effort is far greater than that of the output I do in an Ironman. All the top guys can Swim 3.8km and ride 180km everyday off the week, its the marathon part that knocks you about. Lance told me once that he would do 4-5hr trail runs just like going for a long ride. Not meant to be hard but just teaches your body to be running for a long time. In every race I've done this year I've certainly never ever dug deep in the run. To the contrary in fact, I've been so paranoid about blowing up that I've treated my run like nice 4-5hr trail run and on every occasion that's been a different pace. In Busselton my goal is to finally leave everything out on that run course and earn myself a holiday!!

My training leading into this event has been the best quality all season. Ive dropped back a bit on the duration of sessions but significantly increased the intensity. Ive also been able to increase my run mileage to 70km per week, the most I've been able to sustain all season. Ive been enjoying the running so much that I even logged my longest training run of 30km last week which was a significant milestone for me. Holly Lawrence has been awesome and introduced me to social Sunday's runs where we've been strutting our stuff over 21km up and down San Vicente and along the Santa Monica Beach bike path, sound pretty enjoyable hey!! It's really the session that has finally taught me to enjoy running so I really have to say a big thank you to Holly for that. As my runs improved I've been chomping at the bit to race. This past week is my annual pilgrimage to Miami for the best buddies challenge, a foundation I've been involved with and supported since 2013. It's at this event that I met Mary Jane Mack, the Sargent and chief of Mack Cycles and Fitness, perhaps my most loyal and passionate supporters. MJ hosts a race annually called Miamiman and it conveniently falls the same week as the best buddies challenge so presented a great opportunity for a half IM distance hit out.

Just like it will be in Busselton, the run was where I was most anxious to see where i was at. Not being an IM event there where no points or prize money on the line, merely a great opportunity for a solid training session, boy did that mentality kick me in the butt!! I had a good swim and a solid bike. I actually rode 1hr 58min for the half distance which was a PB for me and good sign my forms risen on the bike since Kona. Finally now it was time to run and de ja vu!! It was hot and humid just like Kona and I was instantly struggling with cramps and over heating. In Kona I dropped my food on the bike and knew why I didn't have enough fuel to survive the race, in Miami I simply didn't respect the conditions. I figured it was only 4hrs and I could cruise through on a couple of drink bottles which in Tasmania in the middle of winter might work ok but not in Miami on a steamy hot autumn's day. While the feeling I had of inescapable discomfort from overheating and cramping was the same as Kona, this time I was ready for it. Thanks to my knew found leg speed I was able to gallop along at 3:45-3:55 pace, a massive improvement for me. Then at every aid station I'd walk and drink 2 cups off water before taking off again, a strategy I now know I should have employed in Kona early in the run. The end result was a 1:26 run split, 4:05 ave km pace. By the end I was back on top of my hydration and nutrition and felt normal again. It was a massive lesson to learn, when your struggling take a few seconds extra to get the fuel in!! It will pay massive dividends later in the run. I was really happy with this result as only 2 days earlier I'd done that 30km Run so to back up and ride and run that quick showed that the work is finally paying off. I cant wait to get on that start line in Busselton.

The week in Miami is something I look forward to for 12months! Each year the events surrounding the challenge raise over 5 million $ for kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The marque event is a 100km police escorted ride through the city and surrounding suburbs of Miami which for anyone who's been to Miami and understands the traffic chaos there, the ride is quite a treat!! This year things where spiced up a bit as I invited my training buddy from this season Chris Froome along to enjoy it all with me. I basically mapped out my usual routine of charity and sponsor commitments and wide range of sporting activities. Having Froomie along for the ride simply escalated the craziness of the week to a whole new level. Chris also added a night at the basketball for us and once the Miami Heat got wind he was in the house he was no longer anonymous. A personalised jersey was presented on national TV to him and crazy HEAT fans where now wanting selfies with the TDF champ. I organised for us to go the NASCAR and support my mate Jimmie Johnson. This time Ford, whom are a sponsor of Team Sky, found out Froomie headed to the race and he was promptly made Grand Marshall for the event. With that came the honour of uttering those famous words in motor sport "Drivers start your engines" and like his performance this year on the bike even that was flawless. At the best buddies charity Gala Chris's donations of VIP experiences at Le Tour brought in an additional $250,000 while his presence at the ride an additional $300,000. He really did put on quite the show in miami and was basically the mayor of the city by the time we flew out on Monday. All in all was a fantastic week as it always is on so many fronts and was a really nice to do some "normal" stuff and have some fun away from the bike with Chris for once, specially after talking up my Miami week to him all season long.

So that's what I've been up lately. Certainly the events in Kona have changed things a little bit for me. I'm way way way way more determined than ever to be the best I possibly can be in sport. My focus in training is much sharper and desire to push myself to new limits has intensified, sensations that I'm truly relishing. I'm about to touch down in Australia for the final preparations for the December 3 Ironman in Western Australia. Im really excited to be back. I'll be training on the Gold Coast for the next week and will be reunited with my coach Tim Kerrison and swimming coach Denis Cottrell. Sun Yang is also in town so couldn't possibly ask for a better training partner in the pool as I sharpen up for Busselton. Riding with Chris last week and swimming with Sun this week I don't have any excuse to not have a good swim bike next Sunday. Hopefully Courtney Atkinson will also be about to whip the running legs into shape. You may have picked up I love training with the best. I simply never for a second have the opportunity to think I'm good enough at any discipline, there is always work to be done!! If you've read this blog thanks for following me, It's been one hell of a journey in 2017 but its not over yet, every single day presents a new opportunity.


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Thursday, October 19, 2017


Kona Well what can I say, what a day the 14th of October  2017 turned put to be. The Ironman World Championchips is now in the rear view mirror and while ultimately I'll see the day as a success there was also some hard lessons learned and plenty of what ifs to take away. From what I've heard from anyone who's ever competed in the big dance in Kona nobody ever gets it right, it's just who gets it most right is most successful. I can now very proudly say I've competed at the highest world championship level in 3 different sports however at days end Rowing remains the only one that I've stood atop the podium and heard the Australian anthem bellowed out, i have 12months to work on that. An ironman is a long day for everyone involved and I'll try and keep this story to minimum but please bear with me as I promise to only write what truly feel is really relevant to my experience.  We arrived in Kona on the Monday prior to the event. I'd had a fantastic training camp in big bear lake california, nailing all my key sessions, and full of optimism to execute on race day. I did a recon final 120km of the bike course on Tuesday and liked what I saw, I knew it was a course where the race could really be setup on the bike leg. The heat didn't seem to be bothering me that much and I went into my final few days taper confident I'd done everything possible to challenge for the biggest prize in our sport. Those final couple of days dragged on, again another sign of my good form, and come Friday night I was in bed early sound asleep and relaxed, I couldn't wait to wake up at 3:30am and get race day started. Finally the phone beamed to life and my feet hit the ground and felt great, I was ready to go. Race morning is always a bit of a rat race. People everywhere in varying moods and I always seem to forget something or have something to do that takes longer than expected heightening that anxiety. Through in the fact that it's Kona and that urgency about the transition is significantly amplified. Today my issue was my brake rubbing, no idea how that all of sudden happened but it took me some fiddling to centre my wheel correctly again. With the wheel true'd up the gears where no longer in tune so I had a nice click click sound I had no idea how to get rid off but figured it would miraculously disappear once in the lava fields. With that I headed off to find Fallon to go though the final routine of putting on my swim skin having those lasts bits of nutrition in a normal way. I have to admit i was pretty cool calm and collected before the start without nerves which is far from a good sign as it generally means i'm approaching the race far to complacently. Anyway Fallon zipped me up, slapped on vasoline to avoid chafing, a second layer of sunscreen, a quick kiss and she sent me on my to the start of the Ironman World Championships. I don't do much of a warmup so jumped in about 5 minutes before the start. I felt calm and relaxed in the water so didn't have any reason to think I'd be anywhere other than the front pack. I lined up incidentally next to fellow Tasmanian Joe Gambles whom was my biggest rival for the tassie cup, well my only rival actually as there where only two of us Tasmanians in the race. I said hello, he kinda acknowledged me but looked far more nervous than I was in that 30 seconds before the gun went off, soon I was about to realize why. Before I knew it we where in the starters hands 10 seconds they said followed by deafly silence and "BOOM" we where off. The Swim I quickly realized why it wasn't a great thing being so relaxed as I was instantly jettisoned out the back of the race. I did my best to find some fast feet but there just seemed to always be someone in the spot I wanted to be and I get shuffled back. Well what that really means is others where prepared to fight tooth and nail for the same position and I wasn't so I lost that position. Once the dust settled after a few hundred m's I knew that I was going the speed of the front pack and a quick look up revealed over half the field disappearing ahead of me. Bugger, there goes plan A which is having a great swim, time to resort to plan be and just float around with the 2nd pack. Obviously the swim seemed to take an eternity which it did, around 6minutes longer than the rest off the guys, I'd never ever been that far behind in all my races all season.  The only bright side was I didn't have to swim very hard which I guess is quite normal when you swim the slowest you've ever swum, your not really putting much effort in. I noticed Lionel sanders and Sebastian kienle with me so I thought it's all good as these guys will be keen to rise there way back into the race, I'll just try and spend as much off the day as possible as close to them as possible. Around 53 minutes I emerged from the water with the leading females. Yes that's right the lead women had bridged a 5 minute gap to our slow mans group and actually tore through transition ahead of me. Now I was faced with a challenge I hadn't accounted for in getting the front off the women's race before I could think about participating in the men's race!!!!! Yes that first 53 minutes was a rather humbling experience. Anyways I got on my bike, got past the women, and before I knew I was at the front of the group containing Lionel, sebi, and Boris stein, plenty of fire power and motivation to get back into the race. It was finally game on. The Bike Finally surrounded bicycles and sitting on one myself I felt much more apart of the race. Thanks to my unintentional relaxed swim I quite literally felt like my race was just beginning all be it with a close to 7minute gap the ramant leader Josh amburger. I figured all my misfortunes where long behind me and it would be plain sailing from here on in. Just as I thought that and allowed a cheeky grin to slide across my face I thought it was a good time to have a mouthful of Gu I had strapped Between my elbow pads in a squeegee bottle, holds my 8 gels for the bike. As I reached down to grab it I hit a bump and just at the second I loosened it from it's cradle it catapulted through my hands  bumped into my right leg, bounced throughout the frame like a ball in a pinball machine and careered down the road ahead of me narrowly missing my front wheel as I whized by. "Shit" I said to myself, that was 3/4 of my sodium and electrolyte consumption for the bike leg what do I do?? I considered stopping and going back to get it but didn't want to be further behind the game than I already am, I'd already worked hard enough to get ahead of the lead women I didn't want to give up my advantage on them!!! So I decided that I'd just have to figure it out as I went along and get as much flake and Gatorade as possible along the route to compensate for the fuel I lost. Game on again!! Once we hit the queen K sebi came to front and took charge. He'd closed this gap to the front every year he raced Kona including when he won off course in 2014, he was the captain of this makeshift team we had assembled or the 3 musketeers as I referred to us in my head during the ride. We each took turns at the front and sebi kept us calm with words of encouragement and info about the gap. When I pushed a little to hard he'd tell me to save the energy, we are going to catch them, stay calm. It really turned out to be a massive blessing in disguise having the swim I did and ending up with these guys as I learnt more from sebi in that bike leg about how to execute a bike leg than any of the ironman bike legs I've done so far in my career. He's out and out a champion athlete and someone I've admired watching the sport in the past years, I really had to pinch myself from time to time to remind myself that I really was riding with sebi on the biggest stage in our sport, was pretty cool! Sure enough sebi knew exactly what he was doing and we pulled the leaders back within 60km which even I thought was pretty impressive to wipe out a 7minute gap in such a short space of time. Once we caught the group I expected them to be fresh as daisies after waiting for us to catch up so the race could begin. I was wrong. As we rolled past them all to the head of the race there faces where showing way more strain than ours where, they hadn't been waiting for us at all. To the contrary they had been trying to stay away. Lionel and sebi I'm sure noticed the same and immediately went to the front of the group and pushed the pace. Sure enough one by one the lead group started to dwindle in numbers and by the time we reached the midway turn around point at the famous town of hawi it had shrunk to now more than 12 guys. Another thing I noticed on the way up to hawi was the wind and how much it was blowing all my rivals particularly Jan around. They had all opted for deep 80ml front wheels and they where struggling to control there bikes. I'd chosen a 40ml front wheel as it's simply easier to control and I'm not into wasting energy just trying to stay on my bike. I also knew the wind would be stronger on the way back down the hill so handling would be even more difficult for these guys. As we made the turn I was in 4th right behind Tim o'donell, sebi and Lionel in that order. While the 4 off us relaxed for a second to take a bottle of water I studied there faces and particularly Jans and by my observation he didn't look comfortable. at that second i decided to push the pace and make him really work out of the turn and put him on the back foot for the ride back to T2.  I instantly had a gap and while sebi and Lionel also reacted to create separation from the group, Jan was now isolated and forced to chase being the big favorite and the man everyone had come to beat. I slotted into a nice rhythm, nothing to knarly, just one should I decide to go solo I was confident I could hold for 90km and bombed down the decent as quickly as possible using all the decending skills I had in my arsenal. At the bottom we make a left as we climb back up toward the queen k and at this point I looked back to see sebi alone chasing me a few hundred meters back. I decided to wait for him as he was chasing me down for a reason which I'm sure was to go as fast as possible back to town so I figured stick with the captain and while climbing the hill provided the perfect time for me back off a little and let him catch me while also saving my legs. As we made the turn back onto the queen K sebi finally drew alongside me and simply said "we have a minute on Jan, let's go". He knew exactly what I was trying to do and was intent on doing the same and when Lionel soon bridged back up to us  as well and the 3 musketeers where back together again, this time intent on putting as much lava field between us and Jan the German Giant as possible before T2. With around 30km to ride Lionel decided it was time to really boogy and took over the pace making from sebi. Instantly a gap opened up so I rolled past sebi and told him great job and to hang tuff we are almost to T2. He didn't have the same swagger as earlier in the ride and sure enough when I looked over my shoulder 1 mike later he was gone, it was just now down to two off us. Lionel continued to pile on the pressure and at this point I looked at my average speed for the first time. I had no timer set up, simply speed, heart rate, distance, and average speed. I noticed the average was 42.7 km/h and I thought "G whiz" we are going pretty quick here, 42.5 is 4:15 pace, I wasn't aware of what the course record was but I had some recollection of someone telling me it was around 4:15, we where going quick, no wonder the guys looked like they where hurting. Around this point Lionel's pace began to drop. Now the only reference I had for this was heart rate. When he pushed I was around 150-155 bpm, pretty standard for me so he's certain,y just as strong as me on the bike. With around 15km to go however my heart rate dropped to 130. I decided to roll up to lionel and give him some encouragement to keep the pace hot, this was our chance to try and win the race and we had to push on. I gave home some encouraging words as I passed but his head dropped and I thought perhaps he's suffering, I might push the pace back to the solid 150 pulse mark and see what happens.  Sure enough a gap opened quickly and i was all off a sudden alone again at the head of the Ironman world championship. I mean I watched this race a million times on tv and YouTube since I was 7 years old, I couldn't believe the situation I'd found myself in after not even being at the head of the women's field 4 hrs earlier!!! I was now leading the men. As I rolled toward town I felt really strong and I was convinced I had a great chance at winning the race. My goal that morning was to finish by 2:40pm and I calculated I only needed a 3:00 marathon to do that. I'd already done that twice before having averaged 10 beats higher heart rate on the bike, surely this was going to be my day. Those final km went by so slowly as the world seemed to stop, it was like a dream. Physically I'd never felt better on a big keg m whole triathlon career, I'd had zero flat spots and got stronger and stronger as the ride went on. I rounded those final few curves, reached the dismount line and launched the bike into the volunteer, those first few steps felt absolutely amazing, my confidence grew even more. Before I go onto the run a little bit about the equipment I used and why I used it. At the beginning of the year I decided to go it alone and not continue my long standing relationship with cannondale. There where a range of reasons but the main was I wanted to be free to pick and choose what I believed to be the fastest possible pieces of equipment for each and every course. The bike was a no brainer, the pinarello has won 5 of the last 6 tour de France's and also hold the world hour record, besides you only have to look at it to realize it's the fastest frame set available. The new Dura Ace is just rock solid and extremely sleek and of course fits perfect with the pinarello as far as integration goes. My choice of wheels where prototype wheels from Aaron at Find Faster in scottsdale Arizona. I sent many hours in the wind tunnel with aaron testing every possible thing we could and we came up with an 85 40ml clincher combo. The suit is designed and sold by roka, was tested in the wind tunnel and also fitted me the best off all the suits which made a big difference to the data. Mary Jane Mack from Mack cycles was in charge of painting the kask bambino helmet which I don't think you can go by due to its aero advantages, limited disadvantages from head movement, and simplicity. Sunglasses by Oakley instead off a visor because it tested faster in the tunnel and also provides better cooling for the face. There are certainly some special bearings throughout the bike and a race day chain prepared by a very special NASCAR mechanic and that's how we put together the race car. I really do believe that I had the fastest bike out there and it was amazing how much that made me brim with absolute excitement simply believing in that. Moral to the story whatever combo yo choose make sure you believe init as come race day nobody stops and waits fir you because of slow equipment! The Run I raced through transition with a big grin on my face, I couldn't believe it, I was leading the race!!! It was so eary and deafly quiet in there and it's a long way around transition!!! I couldn't wait to get my shoes on my feet and start the run. I just had the best bike leg I could have ever dreamed off effort wise to set me up for a fast run and I was leading the biggest race, I jus wanted to get on with it! I reckon I had the quickest transition off my life and I was off on the run, the quicker I get the started the quicker i get finished. As I was leaving I could see the others trickling in and couldn't believe the gap I'd opened up in such a short space of time. I'd gone from dreaming of challenging for the podium on the morning of the race, to being conservative and going for a top 15 at the start of the bike, to now believing I had a chance of not only finishing on the podium but winning the race. The may sound stupid to everyone but I was leading so at that point someone had to take that off me, I had every right to dream big, and I was!!! The first couple of km's went perfect, I was gliding along with the improved stride length we'd worked so had on since wales. I was trying in vein to slow myself down but I was just running so much better and moving better than I'd ever moved before. Then as I past the 2 mile marker I started to feel tightness in my calfs and I thought oh oh!! I was cramping. I immediately thought of that 3000mg of sodium I'd planned to consume to prevent exactly this lying on the side of palani rd somewhere and knew then I was doomed. I neglected the one thing you can't neglect in the early stages of the race in Kona and it was coming back to bite me in a massive massive way. My stride started to shorten and my pace started to fall, Lionel caught me at around the 6km mark which was much later than I expected and I sensed then it wasn't to be his day, he usually moves like a freight train. Sebi rolled past and he to didn't look poverty spritely which I was really upset to see as If I wasn't going to be fighting for the win then I would have loved to have seen him take another title, he just races with so much heart.  I soldiered on and continued to slow and continued to drop places and by the time I exited town and onto the queen k I'd drooped to 5th. By this point I'd resigned myself to the fact that I'd be simply achieving a lot by making it to the finish as no matter how much salt I threw down my mouth I wasn't getting any better. Once on the queen k I ran into Norman Stadler who told me I'd broken his record on the bike and I had to at least finish the race. It took a few seconds to process anything as firstly I didn't know what Norman looked like but I did know he had the record, and I had to remember the last average speed I saw to see if it was below his 42.5 and I distinctly remember seeing 42.8 as I rolled through to transition. I pieced it all together and said mate, I don't have the record, when you set that record and you won the race, i didn't come here to break a bike course record, I came here to win and right now I'm going to be flat out getting to the finish line. Seeing him left a real empty feeling in my head and heart of the opportunity id let squander. I've competed at the top level for many years across many platforms and I know when the days not going to turn around and today was certainly one of those days. Going from 1st to as low as 18th you have the luxury of seeing everything unfold. I knew from seeing all the guys on Ali and then as they passed me on the queen k, Patrick would win if Lionel and sebi faulted. Both only had to run within 5minutes of there bp's to win and they'd be well under  8hrs but if they wilted Patrick was floating like a butterfly and would zoom right by. Sure enough when I saw them in the energy lab the later was happening. Lionel and sebi where faltering and Patrick was flying. Now I felt terrible for them as we raced the ride so perfectly to give ourselves a chance of winning and none of the 3 musketeers where going to win, that really sucked as we worked so hard to make that race. On the flip side Patrick was extraordinary and on the biggest day his back was to the wall and he had to deliver one of the fastest ever runs in the history of the race to run down lionel and take the tape. Not only that but as I'd expected that morning close to 8hrs would be required to win and he smashed the overall course record. It took a special performance to take the win and that's what I think we all wanted to see at the start of the day, the race really by the record books came a long way last Saturday. 28 minutes after Patrick I would ultimately roll accords the line in 17th. Initially off course I was extremely disappointed as my goal for the race was to swim fast and run like a gazelle and Id done completely the opposite. I've heard suggestions that I was massively incentivized to break the bike course record, that's simply so far from the reality it's not funny. I didn't have a single penny riding in me breaking the bike course record hence I didn't even bother to find out what it actually was. I simply went out there like the other 57 pros and tried to win the world championship and for about an hour there around midday saturday I truly believed it was on the cards. I've leant an extremely large amount from this Kona experience and we will use all that information as we prepare for next year. After taking a couple of days to look at what I did I'm proud of my performance. I mean I set myself up to challenge for the podium and melted to 17th. Last year Lionel finished 29th and ran just as slow as me when he was considered a contender at the start of the day, why shouldn't I genuinely believe I could have been up there aswell. No I'm proud of my performance, I at least gave myself a chance. After all all bar 5 -6 athletes came within 5 minutes of the lead after the swim and I was one of them, that to me in my first Kona as a pro was a Great experience. I saw the faces and felt the pace out on the queen k on Saturday afternoon, and I cannot wait to go back again one day and see what gets thrown at me, I'll be training my backside off so I'm as ready as I can possibly be. Cjw 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Finally a Winner

Sunday was a day I've dreamed & dreamed about happening since I started this professional triathlon journey  14 months ago. To be the first guy that runs down the finishing chute, brake the tape, and find Fallon waiting there for me was an emotion even I could never have prepared myself for. It just felt so incredibly surreal and in many ways an outpouring of relief for both of us. It had been  pretty crazy for the both of us this past 8 weeks but finally we got to experience that moment that seemingly makes all the effort and sacrifice wurfit! Like always before I get to the details of what went down through my eyes in Tenby on Sunday I'll just run you through our last few weeks since I qualified for Kona in Sweden. Most would have thought common sense would have been to have a rest after Sweden and start to focus on Kona. Well I kind of thought the same but I'd also planned to race wales more as I had prepared myself to not qualify for Kona and wanted to get a head start on ranking points for 2018. Following a postmortem of sweden we decided I'd recovered so well after Zurich and bounced back so strong in Sweden that we may aswell go to wales as apart of my preparation for Kona. To be realistic I'm not a contender for Kona.the top guys have been preparing for Kona for the entire year to be at there very best on October 14. I've been going race to race, week to week and we haven't had the luxury of much forward planning until Sweden was out of the way.  The facts are simple, I didn't have time to work on my run without sacrificing my bike and my swim needed some attention as I'd been a little off the pace in the swim in Nice, Zurich and Sweden and was an obvious area to rectify. My cycling legs have been getting better and better the whole time and that of course is now the centerpiece of my racing strategy. So simply put we decided to work hard on my swim, keep smashing the bike, keep ticking over with the run, and go to wales to test the swim and get another good long run day in the legs ahead of Kona. The bike and run courses being so brutal is was a great opportunity for a solid training day. Also I was headed to LA for my final block of training so wales was basically on the way from Nice so the race just fitted in perfectly. With what we had to work with it was the best strategy we could come up with. Following Sweden Fallon and I returned to Nice for the 3 week block between the races. We chose Nice as there where plenty of pools to chose from so easier to get lane space and do some constructive swim sessions. I really had done an uninterrupted swim session since arriving in Europe and my performance in the water had been highlighting this! Also my fellow Tasmanian and perhaps the man I've ridden most km's with over the years Richie Porte was back on his bike following crashing out of le tour to train with. Richie and I rode together every day while over the course of the few weeks we'd have a gang between 2 and 10 with the likes of Calvin Watson, Geraint Thomas, Michael Valgren, Jacob Fugslang, Ian Boswell, and Michael Mathews joining us off and on, for those not super familiar all in there own right some of the best cyclists in the world, real cream of the crop. I'd obviously raced with all these guys in the good old days and was so nice of them to not mind me tagging along. Richie still liked to remind me on a daily basis that I must be the luckiest amature cyclist in the world getting to ride with him and all those guys in europe, I simply replied by saying I'm not a cyclist, I don't really know how to define myself yet, I seem to do lots of different things haha. Was a really great group of guys and ruchie is right, I did feel privileged being able to ride with the guys.  Richie off course deserves a special mention as him being there to meet me at La Turbie at 9:30am everyday gave me the structure I needed to keep working hard and not slip into a post ironman slump, really played a massive part in keeping me progressing toward wales and off course looking ahead to Kona. So with the cycling remaining the centre piece of my day I also hunkered into my swimming and strung together a couple of good weeks of work in the pool. My swimming coach Denis being the legend he is knew exactly where I was going wrong and had me feeling stronger and stronger with every stroke in the pool, he's such a magician that guy. It was a very constructive few weeks and I trained pretty hard right up until the Thursday before wales. With Kona on the horizon I didn't have the luxury of any type of taper. Friday, Fallon and I packed up European base for the final time this year and moved our little road show to wales for one last race, the 4th I'd started since arriving in Europe 8 weeks earlier. I have to admit I've never been so calm and relaxed before a race in my life. On race morning I woke at my usual time of 4am for a 6:55 start and tucked into my porridge. I was super hungry which is a great sign as when I'm nervous I don't feel like eating and that's not overly ideal before an ironman! It was particularly advantageous for this race as I would take around 9hrs to win the race due to the very demanding course. We stayed at a little bed & breakfast called the Albany hotel which was literally 50m from the swim start and with transition not far from there was also very comforting to be right in the middle of everything. I strolled to transition to set up my bike with my shoes and hydration. While I was doing that I ran into Harry Wiltshire whom was also racing Kona and using wales as a big training day. Was really comforting to speak with him as he put it best, "I can do 8 hours alone or come here and do it with 2500 people" couldn't have put it any better really so this added to my relaxed nature before that start. I strolled back to the hotel to get myself ready for the start. I put my wetsuit on 30minutes before the start like i always do but for the first time in my motel room. This was fallon's idea as A) we where right on the start line, and B) it was jolly freezing and raining outside!! 12 degrees in fact which didn't bother me, being from tasmania I knew it would effect my opposition way more than it would effect me. With the suit on and nice and toasty and warm we strolled down to the start. I did a little warmup, felt great in the water and lined up nice and early on the line, I couldn't wait for the race to start. Before the start they played the welsh national anthem which reverberated through your veins. It's really quite powerful and for a brief moment I pictured myself at Cardiff stadium wearing the Number 10 about to take on the Lions! Strange the things you think about in the moments before an ironman. I muscled myself in next to Harry on the startline who is also one of the fastest swimmers in ironman. My biggest priority for this race was to test my swim and get myself back toward the front and as I'd never been able to exit the water with Harry so my goal was to be as close to him as possible, hence starting right beside him! The gun went of and I took of like usain bolt as we charged into the water. I hit the water first and for a few hundred meters I actually led the field!!! I couldn't believe it!! I felt great in the water and finally had my swimming arms back. Finally Harry came around me and gave me a smooth set of feet to follow, I have to say he's the smoothest swimmer I've followed since Sun Yang back on the gold coast in Denis's squad. Following feet for those who don't know is swimmings form of slipstreaming. If you've ridden a bike behind someone you know what I'm talking  about. Obviously just like with a  bike the smother the person in in front of you the easier to follow, no crazy accelerations or zig zagging, just a nice smooth pace, Harry is a very smooth swimmer and is very enjoyable to follow. I couldn't believe how perfectly my swim was going and I kept looking up to make sure I really was at the front, every time all I saw was Harry and a clear ocean ahead, just oarsome!!  The honeymoon didn't last to long though as at the first turning boy someone else decided they wanted harry's feet and bashed me out of the way. I didn't need to waste energy fighting so I just settled back into the lead pack and was more than happy for them to tow me around the course. A little over 48minutes later, my PB for the swim!! Harry lead out a leading group of about 8 of us, again I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Harry just ahead of me running up the beach, the race couldn't have got off to a better start. With the cold temperature and rain fort cast I knew staying warm would be key to having energy in the later stages of the run. I took some extra time in transition for put on a couple of extra layers and I think this was the decision that won me the race. Now at the back of the lead pack I started picking them off one by one and after 30km I was all alone in the lead. What I noticed passing all the guys was they where only wearing tri suits, no extra layers, either I was terribly mis informed about the volatility of welsh weather or for the first time ever in my triathlete career I'd made an intelligent racing decision putting on extra layers! The course was everything I expected and more! Absolutely relentless whether going up or down hill, wind that could come from nowhere and blow you off the rd, never flat, and of course some of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen riding my bike.  Speaking of my bike I had a special new toy for Wales. Wednesday last week Fallon and I travelled to the pinarello factory in treviso Italy to collect my new TT bike. Tim Kerrison (the mastermind of my triathlon foray) had organized with fausto pinarello for me to use the brand new Bolide that the Team Sky boys use. If you know bikes you know these things are pretty special and I just couldn't wait to throw a leg over her on Sunday as they say. It certainly was living up to all my expectations, firstly it's about 2kg lighter than any TT bike I'd ridden previously and was just floating over the hills, was a cycling experience I'd never had before, this thing just want to go and although I was riding in perhaps the worst conditions I've ever ridden a tt bike it stuck to the road like glue, yeah thanks Fausto without this bike I would never have been able to manage the race the way I did, the bike was just spot on!! The welsh country side and castles we rode past where and extremely pleasant distraction from an otherwise rather unpleasant activity of racing your bike 180km! Sure enough about half way through the ride the rain started to fall. I'd continued to build my lead steadily and was already around 5 minutes ahead. With the wind also picking up and now beginning my second lap which meant having age groupers also on the course I needed to really have my whits about me. What I also knew was all the guys behind me without extra layers would soon be getting cold and rather miserable, not an ideal position to be when also trying to deal with such demanding conditions, takes lots of energy to stay warm and they where certainly going to notice it on the run.  It was at this point I started thinking about winning race. I decided firstly not to take any risks as I couldn't afford to crash and hurt myself pre Kona so was very careful where it was dangerous. When the road opened up I push nice and hard to keep extending my advantage and then when I traffic and in technical dangerous spots take the opportunity to recover, fuel up (I ate two mars bars on the bike this race, little treat ummmmmm) and save energy for the run. I finally reached transition in a little under 5hrs and to be honest at the didn't care about my lead, I knew I was big, I was just happy to have got of the course safely. Sure enough once in the transition tend I learnt I had a 9minute lead and knowing the state my rivals would be in I knew a good steady run should be more than enough to take my first IM win. I slipped on the trampoline Nike Vapor flys and off I went, it felt so good to have my feet on the ground. The other great part about our little bed & breakfast, the Albany, was that I ran past it 8 times! We had 4 laps of a 10.6km circuit and that's where Fallon was perched. She actually was on a corner across the rd as we did a little sub loop so she saw me 12 times in total! Obviously, as she always does she became my point of reference for the run. With the big lead I had a simple plan, run a solid 3hr pace for the first 2 laps and then see where I'm at. Due to it being such a hard run course I knew for them to close the gap running sub 3hr pace would take it's toll in the final laps so I just want to hold them at a comfortable distance and respond if need be. My first two laps where really enjoyable and I felt great, I went through halfway in around 1hr 32min, I wasn't micro managing my pace, and waited to see Fallon for the all important halfway time check, "6 minutes" she yelled with a big grin and I knew I had it. The next lap I really took it easy as i needed to look ahead to Kona and not waste anymore energy than absolutely necessary. I knew I could afford to lose another 3 minutes that lap and then just run a solid final lap. Although now in cruise control I got reminded you can never relax in an ironman, specially when trying to win! My stomach was all of a suddenly in knots, I felt light headed and dizzy, and I felt urge to go to the bathroom for a number two, "oh shit" I said to myself! I was afraid to stop as what if I sat down and cramped or passed out! Perhaps I could just manage it and hobbled to the finish so I decided to squeeze my cheeks together. I did a quick time check hallway through the lap and realized I'd only lost 1 minute so I decided bugger it, I'll stop for a nature brake and hopefully come out a new man. 2 minutes after entering the porter loo I emerged a new man with a big giant grin on my face, oh the relief and I felt so so so so good and only 15km to go. Onto the last lap Fallon said I still had 3 minutes which was music to m ears as with the toilet break I'd only lost a minute, only I knew that but that's all that mattered  as I was the one running!  The last lap was a blur, now I just wanted to get to the finish and get this over and done with. The emotion of what was happening hit me a few times and was a little difficult to control that at times cling to terms with it all. I knew Fallon would be waiting for me when I crossed the line and I just wanted to get to her, shed been through so much this year with this circus which is my triathlon career, I couldn't wait to be with her. The crowd that last lap was just unbelievable, like listening to the welsh anthem 9hrs earlier it really sent shivers through my veins, was just an atmosphere which I only seen a few time in all my sporting adventures so a big big massive thank you to the people of Tenby for letting us take over your town and make me feel so special. When I finally hit the ironman finish carpet with merely 50m to run I tried to think of the victory salute I'd rehearsed all those times in training. For the life of me I couldn't remember what earth I'd decided on so whatever happened when I crossed the line was pure emotion. I'd worn my Mack Cycles tri suit for the race to show support for Mary Jane Mack and her family whom support me to the moon and back always and also my friends in Miami battling the hurricane. Wanted to give them all something to smile about during an otherwise harrowing time and being able to win wearing that suit, with her helmet and her hat was the best thing I could do for them to show them support that day. Obviously the emotion of realizing I'd finally won was the other contributing factor to my reaction as I hit the tape, again the relief, the effort of all those people around me, to finally show that I was wurfit was just the greatest felling I could ever imagine. Once Across the line it took me all of 1 second to spot Fallon waiting for me with open arms, was so special to finally have this moment with her, one I'm pretty sure she craved as much as I did. She quickly whipped out my phone and my coach tim was fittingly first with the congrats  message, was obviously a special day for him with his star pupil Chris Froome doing the grand tour double of Le Tour De France & Vuelta Espana & me winning my first IM on the same day, pretty versatile coaching hey! No more than a couple of minutes later a video message from my training partner froomie came through whilst in the middle of the final stage of the vuelta! He dropped back to the car and Tim filmed him saluting me with a beer in his hand! You certainly don't see something like that everyday but as I've said before he's a class act and his belief in me has certainly been the biggest influence on the belief I now have in myself during the races. Have to admit racing ironman Sweden, doing the training I did leading into wales and racing wales, felt like I'd done a grand tour myself! No doubt about it, our little squad has had a pretty successful summer.  My European adventure brought me success and opportunities I never could have dreamed would come my way. And while it's certainly in my eyes my best ever sporting performances I still have one more big appointment on October 14 in Kona so I need to maintain my focus. I've now returned to California where I'll do my final training block at Big Bear Lake. I love big bear thanks to my affinity with the boxing and MMA world with big bear being a training hot bed for the sports biggest stars, I like doing things a little outside the norm! So that's that, couldn't have scripted my summer any better cannot wait for what lies ahead. Cjw 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Long road to Kona

The Long Road to Kona I'll get to Saturday's race in a bit but first I need to explain a little the reason things worked put the way they did in IM Sweden. 3 weeks ago I announced to the world (that being the few followers I have on the social media sphere) that I was going off the grid for a while. I'd just dragged my pathetic self around the Zurich Ironman course for no other reason than the fact pulling out of Nice the week before stung so bad I hated the feeling of being a quitter. The sickness I suffered pre nice had certainly subsided but I was certainly far more weak and out of shape on the start line in Zurich than I had been the week earlier in Nice but I had demons to face and deal with and finishing the ironman that day was the only way I could see myself getting back on track. 8hrs 43minutes later I'd as expected done a very lackluster swim, an embarrassing bike leg, and something that would barely resemble a long slow trot in the woods to finish off. At no point did I feel like I was apart of the race, I was simply going through the motions and getting myself across so I could remind myself no matter how average or weak I feel I'm not a quitter. Added to that this Ironman was serving as the beginning of the most important training block I'd face to date as I'd already started plotting my path to IM Sweden 3 weeks later in a bid to earn that Kona slot as a professional I so desperately dreamed off. This 3 week plan was plotted a a week before I even pinned the number on in Zurich. On the Monday after Nice or the day after LeTour De France had wrapped up to be more descriptive, my phone buzzed & the name "Froomie" flashed up on the screen. I stared at my phone and thought this guy has just won le tour and had a billion people I'm sure he needs to be taking to, he must have butt dialed me!! I let the phone ring out and thought fuck it, I'll call him back and see if he answers, will know then if he really wanted to talk with me or not. Sure enough he answered and I must be clear we are very good friends and communicate regularly so we had a good catchup. Anyways he wanted to know what I was doing the following week as he had a training camp planned and had nobody to train with so needed a sparing partner, would i be available to meet him in the alps post Zurich. His coach Tim Kerrison and the man who's set up what he calls "team wurf" being a bunch of advisors to help me with this journey into ironman, followed up and made sure I was keen to do it and the plan was set. I was simply using Zurich as a good long days training and I'd be in chatel Monday morning following the race to get to work, coincidently chris started the vuelta the same day I would be racing sweden so we where on the same training cycle in Tim's eyes, all was shaping up perfectly. Arriving in Chatel was a bit surreal. Here's the guy who's just won le tour so at the absolute peak of endurance sports condition and me, an out of shape wanna be ironman triathlete with a wild idea that suffering like a dog for the next couple of weeks was the best way to prepare for the race of my life! Anyways I hadn't seen chris since our last training camp together in Tenerife back in April so we caught up then it was straight into business as usual, massage, eat, get to bed, it was straight into it the next morning. And straight into it indeed, we where on ourTT and Tim basically stopped us 90km from home and told us to ride as hard as possible back to the house. If I got tired I was told to sit on chris's wheel for this one as I could be a bit rusty considering the ironman and all. Well I was on his wheel pretty quickly and hanging on for dear life, I don't think I've ever suffered so much for 2 straight hours in my life. It was exactly what I needed, I was outa shape big time and body needed to be woken back up. The rest off the camp followed a similar trend however on the climbs tim was nice enough to give me a little head start so chris would fly past me usually 2/3's of the way through the interval giving me some more time to realize just how far off the pace I was but also to remind me how to dig deep again.  Camps with Tim are never as simple as riding a bike and eating and sleeping and massage and eating. No no no, Tim loves to spice things up so one day we stopped at a random lake mid ride so I could through the arms over for a little bit and Tim could get a look at froomie's freestyle technique and see how much work it will take to get him ready for Kona a few years down the line. At the monument i've still got his measure in the water. I celebrated my 34th birthday and as with everything else Team Sky does they make sure you feel really special that day. It started out perfectly as i woke up beside my gorgeous girlfriend Fallon, she'd obviously never been on a cycling camp before so guess if your going to come one this is a good one learn the ropes. The 3rd of august fell on our recovery day so Tim Chris and I started out with a little spin up some goat track Tim was curious about. Whenever Tim says he has a new road he wants to check out it's generally uphill and very steep, this was no different but it was my birthday so we where all in good spirits. When we got back Froomie cleaned my bike for me, not many people can say the TDF champ has cleaned there bike for them but this guys a class act across the board so I wasn't overly shocked. That afternoon Nik the "team helper" and Anne Marie who ran the lodge took us zip lining which was pretty amazing literally flying over the alps around chatel. Then dinner that evening was actually Fallon and my turn to cook so my favorite Mexican was served up and Chris's wife Michelle made me a cake! We finished the night off by decorating Chinese lanterns and sending them into orbit so certainly won't forget that birthday anytime soon! With the birthday out of the way it was time for the final block of training. Chris was due to meet the rest of his Vuelta soldiers at Isola 2000 on the other end of the alps a couple of days later. Tim decided it would be a great idea for chris and I to ride there over a couple of days so that's exactly what we did. Day one we spent 8hrs 30minutes in the saddle until we reached the hotel at the top of the Galibiar. Tim had spotted the hotel on the recon rides up the climb and wanted to check it out, so that's where we rode to. It was pretty crazy at the top of the climbs as everybody recognized chris as they drove past so where waiting at the top with cameras in hand, the telegraph particularly was crazy! The next day was far more civilized around 6hrs to isola 2000. The trip certainly gave me a good opportunity to re familiarize myself with the French alps, who knows I might need to race on them again sometime in the future. With our arrival in Isola that was time for me to tap out and let Wout and Diego into the ring to spar with him for a few days. Tim felt I'd taken enough punishment on the bike and it was time for me to head back to monaco to work on my swim and run a little ahead of Sweden. We were not quite done just yet however as to complete the journey Tim felt I may aswell ride the 120km downhill back to Monaco for my recovery day! Also chris had a special guest fly in on helicopter to ride with him in Kevin Systrom and his mate Pete. Chris said he'd ride halfway back with them and then I'd take them the rest of the way, didn't they get short changed!!! No they really had a great day firstly riding with the boys and talking biking and then I had a million questions about my startup that's set to take the world by storm, very interesting and watch this space!! Fitting way to wrap up a camp that at no time felt like reality, oh apart from the lactate acid if course, but really was just an incredible 10days.  Back in Monaco and I was straight the pool. My swims in both Nice and Zurich where incredibly lackluster, probably due to the fact I hadn't actually been in a swimming pool since leaving the USA 4 weeks earlier. Yep it's official, I'm not Michael Phelps, I can't not swim for a month and come out and break a world record, I'm just a hack after all! I got into a great routine in Monaco very quickly with my swimming and running. Its absolutely stunning in that area and I really enjoyed a few more long days in the saddle, I even ran into a guy I knew Chris Spence who comes from jersey, I had no idea that jersey was it's own country. Anyways spence in an animal so was nice have him belt me up for a few hours. With the race now just 7 days out I did my final big brick session I do for race day confidence. I swim 4km in the pool, then ride for 6hrs then finish with a 1hr run. I actually rode 6hrs 10min and ran 59minutes, add the 1hr swim and you basically get the race time I did in sweden, amazing how things work out but it seems to be accurate anytime I'm prepared for a race. Have to make sure the pre Kona one is around 8:00 hahaha. The work wasn't entirely done as now the boys where back in town and on Tuesday we had one final key workout to do prior to the vuelta for them and Sweden for me. All I'll say is it was a really hard session, really hard session and then I went home and did a hard 4km session in the pool while the other guys had a massage!!!! Bit unfair hey. No jokes aside being able to follow the same training buildup as chris was and absolute gift from god, well in this case chris and Kerro but you get what I mean. Wednesday we finally went our separate ways to that sites of our respective races. Now to the race! Honestly the race was rather boring as it was so meticulously planned in the previous few weeks. We had a simple plan, finish no worse than 2nd and secure that Kona slot, nothing more and nothing less. Being so well prepared on all fronts meant I lined up on the start line brimming with confidence. At some point on one of our death marches through the alps chris had told me to simply race my race as if I execute my race I'm going to do very very well. He was so right, I knew I could swim,  knew I could ride and in cairns I'd run 3:02 so I can also do that ok, was important to just put it all together. The final couple of days leading in went perfectly and Fallon ensured my tank was full with the right rocket fuel come race morning. I had a great warmup and was as calm as a kitten on the start-line, I couldn't wait to get the show on the road. The gun went off and I had a fast start as usual, I was at the head of the race as the faster swimmers emerged and converged onto each other.I quickly sort the feet of the pre race favorite Clemente Alonzo Mckernan and along with a couple of other we started to open up a gap. I was certainly feeling more like myself in the water but still not quite as sharp as I was earlier in the year. Sure enough as I feared Alonzo had another gear and when he kicked away I had to slip into my comfort pace and stick to the plan, race my race!! A couple more where dropped with me so we formed a small trio chase pack, this turned out to be perfect for me as I instantly started thinking about a strong bike and run as I was now able to swim well within myself and save plenty of energy. The swim wasn't a complete disaster and I exited the water 2min 45sec behind Alonzo, certainly a gap I felt I could wipe out early on the bike. Once on the bike my first goal was to get into 2nd place as quickly as possible. Another athlete had held alonzos feet and within the first 30km I was into my Kona qualifying position, now I simply had to stay here. It took me another 20km to roll up to Alonzo and once I was there instead of doing some vicious acceleration to hit the lead I just relaxed for 10km or so behind him to eat and drink a little as I knew he wanted me to pass him so he could pace off me. It was also a strong tail breeze so my experience from my road racing days told me it's dumb to attack in a tail breeze as everybody can ride fast with the wind up your bum! So I waited patiently for an opportunity to attack. As we rolled up to the aid station at 60km I noticed Alonzo fiddling around with his bottles so once had one hand fully occupied and sitting up so in no position to ride quickly for at least a few seconds I hit the hammer and was gone, I was now in the lead!! My plan on the bike was simply to start out stead and get settled then slowly build my power throughout the ride. Once in lead I set about doing just that. I pushed pretty hard where it was hard and was conservative where it was easy. The gap went out to 3minutes at 120km, 5minutes at 150km and was 8minutes by the time I reached transition after 180km. I felt amazing all day and with the previous two races haunting me I was afraid to push the numbers I was seeing and kept holding back, save it for the run, save it for the run I kept saying to myself. When it was all said and done I averaged 308 watts for the 4hr 14min bike leg, a record on that course by 10min. To put it in perspective I managed a measly 270 watts in Zurich, hence my reference before to an embarrassing bike effort, it was 15% off my best. Anyways most importantly the power was back, guess chasing froomie around the alps had worked out after all, it was now time to go for a run and I was dahn excited about that! The reason I rolled into transition with a huge smile on my face wasn't because of the handy lead I had or that the Kona dream was merely 42km of running away, oh no, the smile was because of the new shoes I had waiting for me!! I'd managed to get my hands on a pair of Nike's special "breaking2" shoes, the kicks developed for the attempt of Kipchoge who came up a mere 25seconds short of the elusive mark! These shoes are scarce as hens teeth so I was super lucky to get a hold of them but they didn't arrive till wednesday which meant my first run in them would be race day. Again the experienced minds would say that is suicide to run a marathon in shoes you've never run in before but I just had a feeling these things would be sensational and not let me down. From the very first step I had a grin on my face. Holly smokes, it felt like a couple of trampolines where strapped to my feet!! It was amazing. I don't look at my pace when I'm running simply my cadence. From all my training I know that 180 cadence with a comfortable stride length is around 3hr marathon pace. From there I simply try and keep it feeling as easy as possible for as long as possible. Well with these shoes I bounded out of transition like a rd runner and my cadence was 190!!! It was a nice feeling having to slow myself down as I honestly didn't feel like I was putting in any extra effort, it was amazing. I must make one other thing clear here. I paid $350 for these shoes so I ain't no Nike ambassador but these things are awesome!! Anyways onto the run and I quickly settled down and passed Fallon for the first time in the feed zone. Fallon was pretty excited about this race as she actually had something to do! Hand me my personalized hydration and nutrition at the start of each of the 3 laps of the run course. Lap one was a bottle of electrolytes, a couple of gells and an energy bar. She updated on my lead on reminded me to stay strong! Hey it's amazing how the simplest things mean a lot more when racing an ironman! The running course was an absolute doozy. When explaining it to Tim post race I always use cycling terms obviously so I said it was a combination of Strada Bianchi, tour of flanders, Paris roubaix, and Paris tour. These four one da races was the best way I could describe the changes in surface, direction, wind, road furniture, you name it, it was a perfect mix of these bike races all be it a marathon course! Anyways the other amazing thing was the crowd, there was literally 10's of thousands of people out there and offense you couldn't hear yourself think. And educated to, they all knew I was Aussie and all knew my name, I've never ever heard so many Aussie Aussie aussie chants in a 3hr period! By the 2nd lap when they knew I was approaching aussie music would even be playing as I ran buy with men at works land down under the most common song I heard. Yeah the crowd where amazing absolutely amazing, they are certainly a big reason why I'd come back to this race. Back to the race and lap 1 was all about doing it as easy as possible and getting a feel for how fast the guys behind me where running. Not surprising Alonzo was closing fast and KJ in 3rd was running around the same pace as me. Perfect, I simply had to hold that for one more lap to keep 3rd far enough back incase I have a meltdown in the last lap. When I passed Fallon for the start of lap 2 she handed me my electrolytes, a couple of gels and a nice mushy mars bar!! Oh that went down so well!! Lap 2 went smoothly, my pace seemed to stay consistent and while I knew Alonzo was coming hard I was confident KJ would now be slipping back. Sure enough as I started lap 3 Fallon hand me the usual drink and gels but also a pink piece of paper, oh how sweet she'd written me a little love letter!! I shoved it in my pocket for motivation later in the race but then throughout perhaps it's not a love letter perhaps I should read it? After a few km's deliberating this I pulled it out and it simple said, 2nd on your ass, 3rd 10minutes, the rest 20+!! it certainly made me giggle and no sooner did I put the paper in my pocket and Alonzo finally blasted by me with 10km to go. Although disappointed to not be leading I was also excited to be in 2nd, just where I aimed to be and merely a controlled 40 odd minutes away from that spot in Kona. When thoughts of going after him crept in so did common sense, I'd come so far, from 3 weeks ago I'd work my ass off to be in this position, don't mess it up, your here for one thing! From there I really enjoyed the final 10km. It turns out I closed on Alonzo in the final 5km but I didn't realize that, I didn't care, I wanted to get my Kona slot using the least amount of energy as possible and then see what I can do in october, besides to run 3:00 for the first time, I'm absolutely wrapped. Even if I'd tried to I wouldn't have layer a glove on Alonzo, he's a class act with many wins to his name, he had me covered in reality from go to wow and hats off to him, he was a fantastic rival to compete against. Crossing the line was probably the most relieved I ever felt in my life. I'd built myself up so much for this that failure doesn't even bare thinking about. Yeah I've been in do or die situations many time before, you don't have my sporting background without such moments but this was different. This year I've trained along side chris froome, richie Porte on the bike, sun yang in the pool, had tim Kerrison, Denis cottrell and Shaun Stevens there to guide me and more recently Greg welch has been there to offer the ironman specific knowledge none of us had. I couldn't have dreamed up a better team to back me, it's all I've ever dreamed of having and all we set out to do was qualify for Kona and up until this point I was making it look extremely unlikely!! Added to that there is Fallon who follows me around the world and supports me every step of the way. Cares about me in ways I certainly show little regard for but so desperately need to make all this happen. And off course my parents who have had to endure a roller coaster ride across 3 different sports now, I promised them the 4th I choose will go much smoother!! Just kidding. So the relief I felt when I crossed that line was for me, it was for me to finally be able to look all these people in the eye knowing that it was wurfwhile backing me, we hit our mark that validated what we all put into it. At the start of the season qualifying for Kona was the primary goal, the rest as they say from here on in is simply a bonus. So that's that, I've qualified for Kona as a professional. Yep it's going to be the 3rd sport I'll represent my country in at the highest level, thats something that I'm pretty proud off. As a kid I dreamed of representing Australia in just about every sport, I didn't really care which one, I thought I was good at everything, I guess nothing has changed! The last 4 weeks has taught me a huge amount about myself and what I'm capable off. From the moment the phone rang and "froomie" pooped up on the screen until them moment I stuck my toe over that finish line in Kalmar on saturday I knew there was only one option for me, qualify for Kona and achieve what you set out to do. With my back to the wall I was able to figure it out, well with the help of the best team in the world that is!!! Hope you enjoyed the read, sorry its been so long but they always are. Cjw

Monday, July 24, 2017

My 1st Ironman DNF

My First Ironman DNF Had a 1st yesterday, First time I haven't finished an ironman I started or triathlon of any length for that matter. I'm certainly proud of adding this to my list of sporting experiences but under the circumstances in my mind at least it was the right decision to make. The reason was pretty simple, I felt terrible!  Since arriving in europe a couple of weeks ago I've just been stuck in a bit of a rut. Following my Ron Burgandy exploits at Le Tour de France last week I was reminded what a cess pool of germs a bike race is and ended up with the stomach bug that seemed to wipe out a good portion of the Peleton this past week. After spending the weekend driving the porcilen bus I hoped I'd regain my strength for the race yesterday. ever the optimist I lined up at 6:25 am believing the extra rest days would only be a benefit to me and I'd be as sharp as a tack for the race of my life in nice. I say the race of my life as that's the result I need. I'm here in Europe to try and score enough points for automatic Kona qualification and a top 3 is what I need. Having never finished on the podium before as a pro it certainly makes it the biggest challenge I've set myself thus in this sport.  My original plan was to race The Zurich IM next weekend however that changed to Nice when many convinced me this was the perfect course for me, hard bike and a flat "easy" run. Yeah writing that down now make me realize how stupid I was, hard bike followed by a flat "easy" run!! When is running a marathon ever easy let alone after a harder than normal bike ride!! Yeah I was a little bit of a silly Billy on this one. Anyways I listened to advice and planned on nice. When I got sick I immediately decided to skip nice and just focus on Zurich. As I felt better day by day during the week and the excitement around Nice grew for the event it was like a red rag to a bull. I was staying here in the thick of it anyways so thought "bugger it" I'll line up and see what happens, worse case scenario I do some good swim bike training which I did feel like a needed and pull out after a few km's on the run. So sure enough race day rolled around and I was on the start line! Despite my apprehension to race and knowing it would be a miracle if I had a great day i still stood on that starting line expecting to be up front. The gun went off and I had a great start and for the first 100m I was in the lead which is becoming normal for me. Once I backed off to find fast freddy van leirde's feet who was playing along beside me I copped my first real good fist to the goggles!! Man that hurts and instantly shook me and was swamped by a couple more bodies. I then tried to accelerate to catch back to the front guys and that's when I knew it wasn't going to be a miracle today. I simply didn't have the spark and spent the next 53minutes floundering around in the ocean telling myself "I told you so, you shouldn't be out here"! Anyways I swallowed my loosen and thought bugger it, stick to the plan and at least do the bike leg.  When I exited the water I was 4 minutes down which was a good thing as in my mind I was already out of the race so meant I could ride a nice steady bike leg and focus on my nutrition and hydration and getting to know the new position on the bike I've been working on. Slowly but surely I still managed to start plucking off the front runners and soon it was only Freddy a few minutes ahead as we started the climb. I decided then that I'll aim to catch him by the finish as he's very strong and I didn't want to finish the bike on my  hands and knees, this was still in my mind a solid training session. Sure enough over the next 100km I slowly pegged him back and by the transition we where separated by a handful of seconds. I had an excellent transition and came out hot on Freddy's heals, I couldn't believe I was in this position. I decided I'd do a lap and run at a pace I one day dream of running the entire way at and try and get a feel for how fast Freddy was running. For the first 6km I kept him pegged so was good to know the pace these guys can still go at after a "hard" bike, its pretty remarkable. Obviously this wasn't easy for me and still seeing this as a training day I quickly reverted to common sense and backed the pace off to my more pedestrian pace as I like to call it. At the end off the first 12km where I planned to stop I realized 3rd was still 8minutes behind and hadn't closed at all and Freddy wasn't far ahead. This was where the mind games started, should I keep going? Well I had to keep going as it's bloody disrespectful to pull out of a race when 2nd in front off everyone when you have no obvious signs of suffering. I figured I'd just do a few 2km efforts till 2nd and 3rd catch me so I jogged to each aid station, stopped and walked and enjoyed the free buffet then jogged to the next. I did this for another 6km or so but still they where 7 & 10 minutes back respectively so I picked a quiet spot which wasn't easy to find and waited with fallon for the boys to come past. By this stage I'd plodded 18km and that was more than enough of a training day for me. I walked through the halfway mark in 4th place and then retired from the race and we walked home, it was certainly a solid hit out! Do I feel good about what happened, not at all. I honestly at the start of the 2nd lap tried to convince myself to rally and commit to racing the whole thing regardless of the outcome but that to me was pointless. I was there to try and be on the podium and with how I felt I could very well have been walking the last lap if things went the way I expected them to go and I could have finished god only knows where. I've never quit a race before. I've pushed myself to the point of peeing blood in the past simply to get to the finish line and that destroyed my entire year. Perhaps a race isn't the place to go through the motions and open yourself up but I honestly didn't know what would happen on that start line yesterday morning and the outcome was the outcome.  Anyways onwards we go and Zurich is just a week away. After all that I'll be doing the race I originally planned to do anyways, funny how things worked, fingers crossed it was meant be!! What have a learnt form this?? Well if I'm at all dubious about my health an ironman isn't the place to be expecting peak performance. A marathon at the best of times will highlight the weaknesses in anybody but after swimming and riding they will highlight them even earlier!! A few weeks out from a big event perhaps it wasn't the time to be off playing TV host with Mike Tomolaris with the TDF coverage but that was a commitment i made and at the time I felt like I could de everything. So here we are, I got my wish, I'm racing Zurich and I promise that whatever the outcome on Sunday I won't be leaving anything in the tank. Cjw

Monday, June 12, 2017

I can now kinda run!

Big day for me yesterday at ironman cairns, first time I'd cracked the top 10 as a professional! Yay! As with every IM (ironman) I've started I went in with lofty expectations. As always i had a reality check very early in proceedings reminding me this sport is no joke period! And at the professional level what it takes to be competitive is simply mind blowing! My preparation had gone perfectly to plan and I arrived in Australia Tuesday morning bright eyed and bushy tailed! Dad scooped me up from the Brisbane airport and I headed to Burleigh Heads for a couple of swimming sessions with the master Denis Cotrell at the Miami pool to put the finishing touches on what had been a great 8 week block since South Africa. On the wednesday evening session I was treated to meeting Doug Frost, Ian thorpes coach non the less aswell! I couldn't script better having two blokes watch over me for my final session before the big day and the fact I had the best swim ever yesterday is a direct result of there final pointers Wednesday evening, I pinch myself constantly the situations I find myself in and assure you I never take it for granted. With my swimming arms ready for battle it was off to cairns to put the feet up and wait for Sunday's race start. Dad and I linked up with mum in cairns and I had a very restful and stress free build up to the race which is highly uncharacteristic for me, usually I'm as chaotic as New York at peak hour! Instead I was in bed early Saturday and sound asleep, for the first time I felt ready to rock and roll.

Thanks to being on LA time I naturally woke at 4:30am Sunday morning. As expected felt sensational. I got down some breakfast and It was finally time to head to the start, I just wanted to start my pre race routine to settle the nerves, it's when I stop thinking about all the what iffs. With the bike all prepped I relaxed with mum and dad on the beach till 30min before race start when I start to get dressed and do my warmup, I couldn't believe how organized I was!!! After a little swim and final good luck hug front the parents it was finally time to get on the start line. I lined up strategically next to Clayton Fettel on one side and tim Joe Gambles on the other. I knew Clayton would be a fast starter and I know Joe would be in the lead chase group or main pack which is where I also wanted to be. Being beside Clayton however meant that if he went slow or I happened to get in the right spot on his feet I was there, highly unlikely but better to have both bases covered! I was ready!

The gun went off and as always I was one of the first into the water. I got a great start and but as expected Clayton and Josh (the megastar of the day) quickly took off. I was close to them but not close enough so waited for the next group of the big favorites and slotted onto there feet. I spotted tim van berkle and as the defending champ he was going to be in the wrong spot and followed him. Brayden Currie was to my left so I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. Once the race settled down a little I finally had a chance to think of the final pointers Doug and Denis had given me on Wednesday night. I couldn't believe the effect it had on my efficiency feeling the water better and breathing later in the stroke and I was all of a sudden doing what felt like half the stroke count that I normally would to go the same speed, everything was going perfectly. Barring a few stray arms and wacks to the back of the head from Brayden, I did give as good as I got I have to confess, the swim went by really smoothly. It was long before we where turning for the final few hundred meters to the beach and where previously I'd been hanging onto the front group for dear life I was now swimming to the front of the pack to get out of the water as high up as possible, completely unchartered waters for me pardon the pun!! We hit the beach and I was one of the first to stand, 4th to be precise as my mum took note of that!! I ran into transition with a big smile on my face, I was off to the perfect start.

My transition from swim to bike was a bit of a dogs breakfast. That work I did to get out up front quickly evaporated as I dicked around getting a drink and making sure my snazzy new oakley sunglasses where on straight!! Once i finally got on my bike I hit a small bump with 100m and my refillable hydration bottle flew from the cage sending it and my Garmin all over the rd. Fortunately I was so relaxed and in the perfect position in the field that I had the presence of mind to stop, lay my bike in the middle of the rd, run back, collect everything and put my system back together before setting off again. Must have been quite a sight to see what's meant to be a professional picking up his bits and pieces from all over the race course. With my diabolical transition process now behind me I was finally on my bike and in what I like to call my happy place.

I quickly regained contact with the main group containing the favorites and decided to stretch them out immediately. Josh and Clayton where 2minutes up the rd so my plan was to quickly leave the man field behind and get out of sight and then casually ride my way up to the lead duo. As I passed the group they had a bit off a go at following me so I squeezed out a few little 500+ watt bursts just to open a quick gap and I was gone. I knew they would ultimately let me go as I'm not a renowned runner. Once alone I settled into a nice comfortable rhythm around 300 watts and enjoyed the scenery while I rode across to the front pair. It took me around 60km to meander on up to them and I used this time to eat and drink as much as possible. My legs felt great, heart rate was through the roof but that's as for the first time ever I actually tapered my training off I think perfectly. Once with josh and Clayton I kept the same rhythm for another 20km or so where I grabbed my special needs bag and restocked for the second half of the ride. Once I sorted myself out there it was time to boogie and I began to push a little harder, the last 90km is where the race is really on.

Our lead at halfway was around 3minutes and by 120km it was out to 7. Clayton had dropped off and now. I only had Josh for company which really impressed me as I'd be lying if said I didn't try to drop him, on more than one occasion I twisted the throttle a little to see if I could rattle him but he stayed right there, really impressive. We continued to build our lead and at 150km we had almost 10min and just as I felt all couldn't be better that light headed feeling hit me again. The power quickly went from my legs and into my mind stressing as to what was going wrong, was it nutrition, hydration but It didn't matter. Josh smelt blood and like a real racer quickly attacked me hard and vanished down the captain cook HWY ahead of me while I scratched my head wondering how to get the power back to my pins. It's happened every race so I know the only option is to back off, drink and eat and prey the power comes back. This time it took about 20min to feel like I could perhaps attempt to run a marathon and Josh was now 2minutes ahead of me! I applied the peer again and started to real him in over the last 15km. If there's one thing I've learnt in ironman is never to give up as everyone goes through bad patches, i may have been lucky that mine was only 20minutes on the bike, at least at the very least I was still rolling! Better than on the run! I rallied in those final km's and closed to within 30seconds of Josh as we hit T2. When my feet hit the pavement I felt like a new man and as I'd raced Josh on south Africa where I was able to out ran him, I honestly felt like I was still in the drivers seat. It quickly became apparent I was wrong!

After my career best bike to run transition I took a few more seconds out of josh's lead as I hit the run course. Was nice to put the diabolical swim bike transition behind me! I settled into my rhythm really quickly which as my coach Tim Kerrison puts it to be uncomfortably comfortable. While it would be nice to feel like your cruising on a sunday stroll the reality is your racing professionally so I doubt it's possible to compete at that level without feeling like your having a bit of a dig. For me this pace is very straight forward, 4:15-4:20 per/km pace and 180-185 cadence or strides per minute. At the first turn around after just 3km I noticed Josh had opened his lead up to 2minutes! He was running 30 seconds quicker per km!! At that point I knew I had to stick to my strategy as the only way I'd catch him is if he blew to pieces. After about 4km I got my first look at all the runners, tim van berkle, Braden currie, Joe gambles and Dave dellow. Once again they where flying and once again I knew I couldn't worry about them and run my own race.

My goal for the run was 3hrs 5min, a modest 6minute improvement on south africa and where I felt I was at in my running development. The plan was to get into my comfortable uncomfortable rhythm for the first 2 laps or 28km and then see where I was at. Sure enough one by one the big guns galloped past me. First Braden, the tim, the Dave. Joe seemed to drop off but instead he was sticking to his race plan. When he finally passed me around half way he told me to hang in there, those guys where flying and would pay for it at some point. I was blown away with how calm and relaxed he was and that he took the time to give me a little pep up, good old Tasmanian spirit right there! As I entered the last lap I felt great. My pacing hadn't wavered and I was still within touching distance of tim and Dave. I wanted to lift it but common sneer told me that 14km is still a long way to go so figured i'd hold fire for the final 9km when I passed the start finish for the final time if I had anything left. Josh was still flying and holding his lead, I was honestly in awe how he had raced the race, he just looked like he was going for it every stoke, pedal, and stride of the event, such a gutsy display. With 9km to go dad gave me the nod to lift the pace so was time to commit. I lifted up my arms and dropped my splits by 5-10seconds in pursuit of Dave dellow. Around 2km the finish I'd closed the 1 minute gap to him and 5th place but just as I got to him and looked like I fly by he just took off like a gazelle and was gone, he's a class act Dave and I saw first hand why people speak so highly of him and his ability to run. All off a sudden I was in difficulty and for the first time my stride rate slowed and everything felt heavy. Michael fox was now hot on my heels and in the process of running a 2:50 marathon himself. When he past me with 1km to go as much as my mind wanted to fight I just don't have the running legs to match the speed of these guys, they just have gears I can only dream off at the moment. I started the final lap aiming at 5th and by the time I crossed the line I was 7th, as I knew, a lot can happen in the final 14km, good and bad!! Once again a huge part of the day was the crowds on the run course. By the time you've past everyone 3 times the voices are familiar and sincere and you'd swear you'd all been best of friends since primary school. It's just another unique wonderful aspect of the ironman family and to all those who supported me and the 100's of others put there huge huge than you, the sport wouldn't be what it is without you.

Yesterday was far and away the best ironman I've ever put together. My run split of 3:01 was absolutely unbelievable for me, I never thought I'd be close to 3hrs this early in my time in ironman. Once again my swim and run performances where the highlights for me. For whatever reason my bike simply isn't firing at the moment but I guess the time and commitment it's taken to improve on those two weaker disciplines of mine has to have a cost somewhere else. For the last couple of events my power has been 5-10% off where it was the past couple of years so that's something I need rectify if I want to be competitive. I know I have a good bike leg in me so that will come back at some point, for now I need to ensure I'm a complete triathlete and that means focusing on the swim and run. Patients is going to be my best friend in this sport!!

So a huge shout out to my competitors. Josh was simply a class above. 1st out of the water, 1st off the bike, and first across the finish line speaks for itself. I just loved how he took the bull by the horns all day, just awesome to witness. Tim, Braydon, Dave, I've seen suffering like I saw on the faces of you 3 in that final 14km and to still post 2:50 marathons is just incomprehensible to me. I realized my uncomfortably comfortable feeling will need to be adjusted a little if I want to race you lot in the final stages, a good lesson indeed. Joe raced the smartest race of everyone in the field and had it not been for a rampant Josh hambugoler hahaha he would have been Asia pacific champ. 9/10 times his performance would win the title but I have a feeling this is just the beginning of big things from Joe in the full diatance ironman races and just awesome to see another tassie export kicking ass on the world stage.

From hear I'll head to Nice IM as I'm told it's a race track I'll really enjoy. I lived in the area for a couple of years so will be nice to race somewhere familiar. I'll take a lot of positive from cairns and as with every triathlon I do learn some valuable lessons. With all the variables that can be grown at you in such an event I think everyone no matter who they are learns something new from each race, that's one of the beauties of this ever evolving sport. I have to mention Tim Reed as he is just a wonderful ambassador for our sport. Hes always there for me and just genuinely wants everyone he comes across to do well, so refreshing in the world of professional sport. He learnt me his ultra fast front race wheel and when I forgot my goggles he came to the rescue with a bright pink Holly Lawance special addition pair of Roka's for me to race in. Whatever the color they made me swim faster than ever before so won't be the last time I'll be asking for something from tim! Having mum and dad there was obviously fantastic. They have dragged themselves from sport to sport and around the globe watching me strut my stuff. They must scratch there heads from time to time to wonder what they ever did to produce a son so obsessed with sports that involve wearing Lycra!! Still 33years later they are still there on the barriers with the most Distinctive voices I hear throughout the day. It was the first race for mum but dad had been there 12months prior for my greatest ever sporting meltdown. He cut a wry smile when I crossed the line yesterday as while on one hand was proud of my improvement in the sport i still haven't been able to top his 3:00 marathon PB he did at age 55! Think I've got some decent endurance genes from big tone! I could write and write all day but I'm tired and need to catch up on some sleep. Didn't sleep a lot last night with the caffeine equivalent of 20 espressos pumping through my veins and the adrenaline of my best ever ironman made it difficult to switch off!! I'll certainly catch up on those zzzz's tonight but in closing thanks again to everyone that came along yesterday, competitors and supporters alike, your all part of the show and I can't wait for the next Asia pacific champs!!

Stats from the day

Swim (6th out of the water)
49min 49seconds

4hrs 15min
Ave power 298 watts
Ave heart rate 160bpm
Max heart rate 181bpm
Ave speed 42kmph
Work 4570Kj's

3hrs 1min
4:19min/km ave
Ave heart rate 158bpm
Max heart rate 173bpm
Work 2722Kj's

Add in a few min for my rounding Down haha and transition and you get 8hrs 11min.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, April 6, 2017

IM Africa

Catch me if you Cam, Ironman South Africa edition 

Wowsers, what a start to 2017 I've had!! While my Ironman South Africa on the weekend is the main purpose of this blog, I just need to fill you in on a little bit of the background behind how I even lined up on the start line in Port Elizabeth. I'll try and keep it as brief as possible but if you've read my blog before you know that that's something a find difficult so this may be a long one! Also as I'm currently on a flight from Zurich to Tenerife I've got 3hrs to kill and the blog is how I'm going to do it! So here we go!

As 2016 drew to a close i was staring down the barrel of failing to do anything befitting of the athlete I feel I am. In September I gave myself one final chance for salvation. A torn calf muscle meant I was unable to run for a couple of months but I could swim and bike so I decided to go to ironman arizona and at least put 2 1/3's of a race together to see if there really was any point in me continuing on this ironman journey. I worked my ass off in those two disciplines and focused extremely hard on the rehab for my calf. I'd also worked alot on my nutrition so couldn't wait to see where I was at with 3 of the 4 disciplines that make up an ironman. When my backs to the wall and I need to do something I tend to be able to deliver. Fortunately on that November day in Tempe Arizona I showed myself and a few others I was hoping to impress that perhaps I do have a future in this sport after all.

My swim went fantastic and for the first time in a pro race I excited the water in the front pack. There where a couple of super swimmers off the front but once one the bike I had them behind me within 10km and in another first, I was leading the pro field in an ironman! Once in the lead I worked on executing an ironman bike split. I didn't want to kid myself and just go flat out as one day I needed to learn to run! So instead I just rolled along at 140-150 heart rate focusing on my drinking and eating and 4hrs and 5minutes later I was into T2 feeling sensational!! I honestly hadn't planned to be leading and at this point figured my race was over as I hadn't run a stride for almost 3months but leading a race and with all eyes on you in an empty transition area I realized I had to at least try and run, at least till I was out of sight. So I pulled on the Mizuno's, lucky I packed them, and Fallon informed me I had a 3 minute lead which was a relief to here as I knew I'd be run down pretty quickly! I settled into a rhythm that I felt like I could just roll along at for hours on end and preyed my calf didn't give way. It wasn't long before the pros started flying past me be I was actually enjoying the feeling if being able to jog lightly. 3hrs and 27minutes later I crossed the line in 14th place in a total time of 8hrs 27. I couldn't believe it, I was feeling great as my run was honestly nothing more than a social stroll yet I'd don't my best ever ironman. Sure a lightning fast bike course is what made it that way but still I got enough out of that race to know that if I really apply myself to this sport and learn to run perhaps I could be competitive. I was later informed that my swim bike time was a handful of minutes under 5hrs, something I'm told hasn't been done by too many guys. While I'm in no way comparing myself to the likes of Jan Frodeno who smashed the world record earlier in the year, the basic fact of the matter was if I can learn to run I may be competitive in this sport after all. The big question however still lingers today, can I learn to run and if so how quickly can I ultimately gallop along at.

I mentioned in there than there where a couple of people who's attention kwashiorkor trying to get with such a performance. Well there was only one persons attention to be honest, Tim Kerrison. Tim is the mastermind mind behind Team Sky's dominance at le tour de France and before that had a similar roll in rowing world championship success and Olympic gold medals in the pool. I figured as I've come from two of those back grounds and need help with the other, he was perhaps the perfect man to guide me as I make the commitment to the sport of ironman. We exchanged a few emails toward the end of 2016 and while nothing was certain I hung onto a faint hope that he maby just maby will decide add me to his stable and give it a go.

As fallon and I lay in bed reading at around 10pm on a Mid January evening the phone call I'd been dreaming of receiving finally arrived! It was Tim!! We exchanged pleasantries and he quickly cut to the chase, "chris has lost his training partner here on the gold coast and Richie tells us your a good man train with out on the bike, would you like to come and keep him company for 10 days?" my response was obviously quick and decisive "absolutely" I replied. We chatted a bit more about what we would be doing then at the end of the call I heard the words I really wanted to here "oh and while your here we can have a chat about the iron mans, I've got some ideas on that aswell". Wow, I couldn't believe my ears and promptly woke my dad up to let him know and James tomkins who's for so long been immensely supportive of what I'm doing. I somehow someway managed to get whacked in the face with the lucky stick yet again and was now off to train with the current TDF champ!!

The training camp was as you would expect quite challenging. While I won't go into any specifics I will say it's the first time since my time at the AIS as a rower that's I've truly appreciated the concept of sleep, eat, train, eat, recover,eat, sleep and repeat. Days off I was in charge of entertainment as I had some buddies who live on the coast so took froomie wake surfing with Will davidson and wake boarding world champ Harkey Clifford. Like everything else he does chris quickly figured it out and seemed like a natural. He even got a taste of my medicine on a training front when tim took us on a 21km trail run after a 5hr ride. We stopped along the way but we literally ran a half marathon, not surprising was the first time froomie had run since the Mont Vontout in le tour this past July! As the camp drew to a close and chris headed off to Melbourne for the Suntour to kick start his season, tim started to put in place my training for the ironman. He introduced me to Denis Cottrell whom is obviously the man when it comes to endurance freestyle and from there built up a program to prepare for our first season objective, IM South Africa.

Fallon and I relocated to the gold coast off and on through out february and March so as I could swim with Denis's squad. While the run was still far and away my Achilles heel the swim is equally as crucial as while you can't win the race in the swim you most certainly can lose it so ensuring I can be toward the front there was the first port of call. Post Arizona I'd continued my rehab on my calf with some short runs so now I was also able to start running again. Again this wasn't a huge focus from an intensity or volume point of view we simply worked on efficiency. The bike for now also had to take a back seat as it was just fine and something we can re visit later on when the other two disciplines improve. For now really it was all about swimming and I couldn't have been in a better environment. Denis also had Sun Yang, the 1500m world record holder from china training with his group and along with the rest of the lads who'd lap me on average every 300m's made me feel right at home and not at all like the slug that I was clogging up a lane! The training went perfectly and after a half ironman test event in Coles bay in early march where I went 3hrs 52minutes which was a personal best by 13minutes over that distance, I was on track for IM south africa. Another significant change was moving away from the cannondale family. This was simply my decision as I wanted Tim and I to be free to use whatever we felt was best for me to do well at any particular race. Its the first time in 15years I haven't been in some way associated with any sponsors. Roka and ceramic speed are kind of the exception in that they give me they awesome equipment to use but in all honesty i was prepared to buy it but they insisted on giving it me. It really gives me piece of mind to know that I've got best possible equipment I believe is available and eliminates the possibility of blaming my tools, it's all down to me! With that I have to make a special mention to stuy saunders and sherriden and terri moore who allowed me to treat storm cycles on the gold coast like my garage and built everything up absolutely flawlessly! Anyways With the amount of training going on time flys by and before I knew it I was on the plane finally for south Africa chomping at the bit to get the race underway. I arrived a couple of days early to scope out the course and get the lay of the land and woke up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4am race morning thanks to the favorable jet lag coming from australia!

At 6:25am on Sunday I elbowed my way onto the start line beside Frederick Van lierd. I'd identified Freddy as the man I wanted to follow and a previous Kona winner, IM south Africa winner and consistent front pack swimmer. My tactic for the swim was pretty simple, if possible get the lead in that first 100m and make the fast guys swim over the top of me that way making it easier for me to get on there feet. I got a perfect start and was first off the beach into the water, I had a good body length on Freddy and after 200m I eased a little to let him past. From there for the next 3600m he guided me perfectly around the swim course and I exited the water right where I wanted to be in the front pack. I had a smooth transition and as I'd done for the swim I followed freddy all the way to our bikes and out of transition. Once my feet hit those pedals I felt awesome. The taper we had planned worked perfectly and it felt effortless pedaling along on my super bike. A couple of quick swimmers had exited the water a minute ahead of us but by 15km I was in the the lead, everything was going perfectly.

Once on the lead I really relaxed and settled into the days work ahead. I got my heart rate nicely under control which had been up a little with all the adrenaline involved in a hectic professional ironman start. I've never felt better on the bike kept holding myself back which is what you need to do in such an event in those early stages. I simply couldn't believe how effortlessly I was riding away from the field, seemed to good to be true!! At the halfway turn around I was right where I wanted to be, heart rate was in the mid 140's and I'd eaten my prescribed nutrition thus far. I had 4minutes to Ben, and nils and as the big group id seen them with 40kms earlier had completely exploded I know everyone was working hard, perfect! I grabbed my special needs bag and that's when things started to unravel. My hydration system hold 1.4L and I wasn't even able to empty one 700mill drink bottle into it before it was full again!! Uh oh, feeling so good I'd made the same mistake as cairns and forgotten to drink again and as I'd been loading up on sugars I knew what was coming, a massive sugar crash as my stomach struggles to deal with all that sugar. My heart rate began to rise and dropping the power did little to change it. I spent the next 60km in damage control getting down as much fluid as possible in an attempt to get myself back together for the run. My power dropped from 320-250 during that period as I bled time to ben and nils determined to hunt me down. Fortunately for me about 20km from transition my body resumed to normal, power came back, heart rate settled and all was good again. I entered T2 in the lead all be it very slight, I'd lost 2minutes to the charging Hoffman and Fromhold on that disastrous second lap but that was of little relevance now, I simply had to run my marathon and what would be would be.

Once on the run I felt pretty good. One positive of going through that difficult moment on the bike is you feel better and better as you come out of that. Ben and nils blew past me like I was a standing still after only a few km's so I knew i wouldn't see them again. We had a simple plan for the run as I'd never gone quicker than 3hrs 27min, take the first 30km as easy as possible and then suffer in the last 12km! My target for the marathon was 4:30km pace, slow I know but you have to learn to walk before you can run! I settled into that and as I slipped back down the leader board I became more and more relaxed at that pace. Once out of the top 10 I decided to walk a few aid stations on that 3rd lap just to ensure I don't put myself in a whole and don't finish the race on my knees, I was only racing myself at this point. Into the last lap and I felt fantastic, my pace dropped to 4:15's and I felt so comfortable. I was having an absolute ball out there and didn't want the run to end, just how you want to finish a day like I'd had! I hadn't taken notice of my rivals assuming the pace they past me at they where long gone and with everyone on course it was hard to pick people out. It turns out I was running down the few guys ahead of me which I'm really excited about to know for the future, you can do a lot of damage in those final 10km if you have the legs. I crossed the line in 11th place in a time of 8hrs 25min, another PB for the full distance and a 3:11 run split, 4:31 per km average, basically bang on target. 

So all in all it was a great day for me. I had the best swim and run I could have hoped for and a disastrous bike leg. I know I'm capable of riding a bike pretty well so take a lot of confidence into my future races knowing when that clicks aswell I can be even more competitive. I'll need to be harder on myself with hydration but although that really wrecked any hopes of a good result I was pleased I was able to identify the problem and rectify it during the race and still do my best ever run, I have to be content with that for this time around. For the past couple of days I've been playing Terry tourist and getting to know the locals in Port Elizabeth, humans and animals alike. Having elephants basically step over your Toyota corolla is an experience I won't forget anytime soon. The locals also are just the most hospitable people and I really encourage anyone and everyone to check out the area, I'll certainly be in the future.

So time to move on and I've now landed in Tenerife where I'll meet up with Tim and a few of the guys for some rides including froomie for a little training camp. IM south Africa was just the beginning of this journey I've been searching for my entire sporting life. I'm so motivated by what lies ahead and will do a much better job and keeping all you my blog readers up to date!


Race data 
Swim: 49:13
T1: 2min 17sec
Bike: 4:20.11
Power: 305watts
Heart rate ave: 153bpm
T2: 2min 6sec
Run: 3:11.44
Heart rate ave: 152bpm

Total: 8:25.31

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