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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