Thursday, November 14, 2019

Jumping in the Deep end

Jumping in the Deep end

I'd like to say i was dipping my toe in the water on Sunday but that's not really the case. Following Kona i made the bold statement that i was going to attempt to qualify for the olympics in Triathlon. So thanks to opening my big mouth so loud I wasn't dipping my toe.. Oh no.. I was diving head first into the deep end. Every single race i did between now & the qualification cutoff in the middle of May was a case of sink or swim, literally as it turned out. In my defence after finishing 5th at the "World Championships" you'd think that wouldn't be such a bolds statement would you? despite being a shorter distance, 1hr 45min as opposed to 8hrs, it's still swimming, riding, and running after all??

Well, i found out quite emphatically on Sunday that the "shorter distance" or Olympic Distance racing is basically an entirely different sport.. I was left so far behind after 5 minutes of the race on Sunday that the spectators could've been excused for assuming i was a local weekend enthusiast who'd gate crashed the local ITU World Cup event in Santo Domingo.. I promise to keep this pretty brief as the reality is those who watched TriathlonLive.TV got a much better view of hows things transpired than i did.

My day began with a huge amount of optimism. Let's face it I'm ever the optimist & despite everyone telling me i was insane for believing i could pull of Olympic qualification, i needed to find that out for myself. I've never been afraid of failing, & taking risks has always brought me the biggest rewards. I believe you've got to be prepared to lose big if you want to win big & pulling off qualifying for the Olympics in a second sport would certainly constitute attempting to win big in my book.

Back to the race. So the day got off to a great start. I was up early feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, i couldn't wait to get the race underway. During a conversation with my Dad before the race i reminded him i was off to a far better start than my debut in IM as a pro in 2016. Well i ended up having 2 debuts, neither of which went very well at allfor vastly different reasons.

The first Debut was at the Chattanooga 70.3 where I was awoken to the sound of the starters cannon. I was staying nice and close to the start to be organised for race morning & in the end all that great logistics brought me was a frightening alarm clock. Basically what happened was I'd arrived from LA the day before and for whatever reason forgot to adjust my phone. Sure enough just as the cannon went off so did my alarms, perfectly 3hrs after i thought they where going to. Opps, so that wasn't even a DNF it was a FTWU, Failed To Wake Up.

My second debut came at the Cairns Ironman a few weeks later & while this time i made it to the start line on time the day didn't go overly well from there. Halfway into the run i was still in the top 5 when my arrogance around how much fuel & hydration you needed to take on caught up with me. The 2nd half of the marathon went really pear shaped to the point that in the last 5k i was actually running the wrong way. I was completely out of it & didn't even know where i was. I managed to finish in just under 10hrs from memory so hardly the debut you'd expect for someone dreaming of being a kona contender one day. Anyways fortunately things improved from there and the last few years have been a nice progression giving me the confidence to try my hand at the shorter version of our wonderful sport.

Once i got down the race venue i instantly realised i was in for a rough introduction. The energy & atmosphere surrounding the event was nothing like I've become accustomed to in IM racing. The Yawns & Scratching of sleep out of the eyes of the athletes was replaced with kids warming up full gas on the stationary trainers, running around doing sprints for activation, and some even looking like they where doing a CrossFit workout! It was just a hive off activity which i thought was simply youthful enthusiasm & the old bull being myself would be the one who was fresh when it mattered most when the gun went off. My optimism grew even more! I set up my transition which was far simpler than normal. The 3000 Calories you strategically pack to your high tech tri bike was replaced with a full drink bottle in a cage on your regular road bike. No transition bags in site & instead your shoes, sock less for my first time ever, sat lonely next to your simple bike. I had no idea what to do with all this spare time, perhaps I should've jumped in with the CrossFit kids after all!! Finally all the pre race formalities where complete & the moment had finally arrived.. I was lined up on the famous ITU Start Line Blue Carpet ready to through myself into a new challenge.

The gun went off and as usual i had a great start. A few sneaky elbows meant i was one of the first into the water & swimming. I actually felt bad as i noticed there where quite a few behind me whom i knew I'd be holding up but hey, first blood to the old bull. The first four hundred meters i thought where going fantastically as i had bodies all around me & was thinking this is nowhere near as bad as i expected, I'm crushing this!! Well that just goes to show how aware of my surrounds i really was as by the time we rounded the first can around 450m into the swim i was at the very back of the field. Yep, I'd managed to not notice that all 64 other competitors had swam straight around me, whoops!

And that's about where my evolvement in the race ended. Less than 5 minutes into the 1hr 40 second ish event i was dropped and all alone at sea. Definitely should've joined the pre race CrossFit group.. The swim was two 750m laps & to be fair I wasn't overly far behind after the first lap, around 20-30 seconds i was later told. The 2nd lap however where I was left to swim under my own steam i lost a further 90 seconds which ensured i entered Transition for the first time looking very similar to T2 in most IM's i race, absolutely empty expect for my bike!! That was very humbling. At this point i still held out hope that i could somehow ride my way back the front of the race. Once actually out on the bike however i quickly realised I hadn't ridden in a draft legal event for years. When your dropped from a peloton of 20-30 guys, the field split in 2 in the swim, well 3 if you count me, you've got zero chance of riding back to a pack that size with the advantage of momentum they have. Sure enough after the first 10km the gap had gone from 2-3 minutes & i simply wanted to get off my bike & hide behind a rock.

Quitting however for me is never an option especially when you want to do it because your getting your backside kicked in! That's simply pathetic so off course I removed those thoughts from my mind & instead looked for some new objectives. Justin Drew, our High Performance director at triathlon Australia had told me before the event that just finishing the event by avoiding time cuts & being pulled off the course would be a good start. At the time I laughed that off and thought how hard can that be but sure enough i was now faced with the harsh reality of being pulled off the course by the officials for being so far behind. I calculated that to avoid being lapped on the run i needed to be no more than 6 minutes behind when i started the run so that i could be starting my 2nd lap before the leaders started there 3rd lap! They where 3.3km laps meaning to achieve this i had around 10 minutes up my sleeve to play with. I figured if I lost 6minutes on the swim/bike, then I'd have 4 minutes up my sleeve to hold them off for the first 6.6km on the run. It was definitely touch and go..

I kept my head down & hammered away as best i could on the bike. After 20k or so i caught a few guys who'd been tailed off the chase group & they thankfully had a similar goal to me & did everything they could to keep our train rolling. In the last 10k we actually stopped the bleeding and started to hold the front pack around 5 minutes & claw some time back on the 2nd big pack with them only 2 minutes ahead. The day was slightly improving! As we made our way towards T2 on the final lap i was keeping my eye out for how far into the run course the leaders where. We ran on the same course as the bike course so you always have a great idea of where you are. When I saw the lead moto coming towards us on on that final lap it was moving so fast i figured we must've had anther lap to go on the bike?? Nope it was just Team USA galloping along like a pack of gazelles which left me with my jaw dragging along the road, they where absolutely flying & I couldn't help but admire it!!

Into T2 & it was easy to find my rack as there was only a couple of spaces free. I slipped on the fancy fast Nike shoes & off I went. I was actually pretty impressed with my Transition time as it was only 5 seconds slower than the fastest guys on my first attempt, I'm sure i can improve quickly in that area. Onto the run & Jan Frodeno had given me some great advice. He said go to the point where your feeling like suffocating & then back it off a little. It took around 100m to get to that point & the highest heart rate I'd recorded all year so I figured i was performing at my optimum. I didn't have time to pat myself on the back for executing Jan's advise that carried had him to Olympic gold though. No.. While Matt McElroy was figuring out when and where he'd drop his 2:45km to show his teammates a clean pair off heals, i was calculating how not to get caught by him & pulled of the course. By my maths i had 4 minutes up my sleeve which meant 2 minutes per lap. I decided my best strategy was go as hard as possible early while had some freshness & hope to have a buffer should i blow up on the 2nd lap. 7km basically became my finish line!!

My plan worked out perfectly as after the first lap I'd only lost 1 minute 30 sec. halfway through lap 2 I actually felt good about myself for the first time that day as I'd only lost another 30 seconds in that half a lap!! I was now only 2km away from being allowed to complete the course safety.. I gritted the teeth and sure enough started my 3rd and final lap with still 90 seconds to spare which is probably the best feeling I've had in any race all season to be honest. I was able to witness Matt drop his grenade on his fellow countryman & as he flashed past i paused briefly to marvel at how amazing he looked.. I said to the guys after the race that to be on the same course as them at the same time & realise how massive the gap between our abilities was, was one of the most humbling experiences of my sporting life. I was absolutely powerless to do anything but give it my all to finish 10 minutes behind them. That just really impressed me no end to witness first hand just how dam good these guys are at there version of Swimming riding & Running.

This experience reminded me of the last time I'd felt like this. My very close mate Sunny Garcia had taken me to surf the famous Trestles break in North County San Diego a few years ago. Sunny for those who don't know was a multiple world champion, the first surfer to earn 1 million dollars in prize money & basically the pioneer for the success of the surf league today. A true sporting legend. Sunny had learnt me one of his boards & we both had the same Xterra wetsuits on.. I remember taking off on the famous A frame wave with Sunny, he want right, i went left. As i cruised along with the wind in my hair i could picture the amazing carves & Ariel's & god knows whatever other mind boggling tricks Sunny was doing on his side off the wave. At the time I thought too myself Wow, here i am with all the same stuff, I'm even on the same wave & i cannot comprehend how on earth Sunny & his pro surfing buddies can do what they do. It was simply an incredible experience. This was the same feeling i felt watching Matt & his band of merry men wearing the Stars and Stripes this past Sunday.

So obviously everyone is wondering where to from here? Well like i said at the start this wasn't about me dipping my toe in the water & seeing what its all about. No. This was jump in the deep end & see if i sink or swim. Obviously we found out that i sank rather quickly but managed to get my head above water just enough not to drown. So with that being said nothing changes & we move on with the project. I'll take a break now for the rest of the month of November before getting myself fit again in time to start serious training January 1. In the meantime Triathlon Australia & I will come up with where we go from here & which races they will allow me to represent the green and gold in next. Whether that's South Africa, Australia, USA, Mexico, Spain, or France, I'll definitely be on another start line early in the new year too see if i can compete with these guys. I said from the start I'm under no illusions of how much of a long shot it is for me to pull this off, however as I've said all along the improvements that I'll be forced to make in my swimming & Running & Riding will only help add a few more strings to my bow for Kona in 2020. For now thank you for following my journey in 2019. It's definitely been a nice improvement on 12 months ago & I'm excited to now freshen up & come back & start working on making more positive steps forward in 2020.


Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, October 16, 2019



The big one has once again come & gone & I'm leaving kona with a slight sense of satisfaction about what went down on Saturday. I certainly have to confess that i never envisioned the race panning out the way it did for me, however, having the luxury of now being able to analyse my opponents & how i felt on the day, 5th was as good as I could've hoped for no matter which way the cards had fallen for me. Since Italy everything went exactly as we had hoped it would. Fallon, the Dog, and I had a very seamless travel and transitional week from Italy to Kona. We checked into LA for a few days allowing me to do a little bit of active recovery & soften the 12hr time change between Europe & Kona.

We arrived on the big island on the Friday & I was instantly back in a normal routine sleep wise so we most definitely nailed that. I was able to do a really good 10 day block of training which I'd never done before in Kona which to be honest made me wish I'd chosen to come to kona a lot sooner for some training. Each session i felt better & better in the heat & off course grew in confidence that i could be a contender for the biggest event in our sport. It's one thing for everyone else to tell you that your a contender, its another thing to truly believe you are yourself. While Italy was a big step in the right direction I knew first hand that that meant absolutely nothing when it comes to delivering a solid performance in the Lava Fields. The recovery week was great & my muscles felt fresh & ready for battle. One thing i was a little concerned about was how much sleeping i was doing especially during the day, usually I cant sleep when i take training away as I've got so much more energy. Might be something, might be nothing but I'm certainly going to look into that. The week definitely seemed to take an eternity as is often the case when your well prepared & when the alarm went off on Saturday morning at 3:20 i was ready to go.

The Race


Kona is the race I've done more than any other in this sport. In fact I've done kona double the amount of times of any of the others which i guess is pretty common however that means it totals 20% of my career days racing triathlons. Suffice to say Fallon, who's been there with me on each of the 4 occasions, & I have a set routine of when to arrive, get me dressed, & get me to the star line in plenty of time. It certainly helps with nerves when you've done it all before as they say & this year i certainly felt more in control of my thoughts than previous years. This year my Mum also joined us in kona for the first time & when it was time to head of to the swim start giving her a hug & realising how many race starts shes been there for to send me on my way, & in so many different sports & levels of competition was a pretty special moment & gave me some reassurance its was going to be a good day.

En route to the water entry i ran into Jan who looked imperious as always, its impossible not to admire his physical stature. What struck me more was how calm he was, making jokes about having my phone confiscated & making it clear he was up for the fight. This made me excited now as I didn't care who won the race or filled the top spots & i just wanted those spots to be filled by guys like Jan who was there to make the race & not simply sit back & wait for others to falter as we'd seen in the last couple of years. Finally was time to get into the pacific & then i always feel calm, guess that's because i grew up surrounded by it! There is nothing quite like the start line in kona, it just feels so mythical & I couldn't wait for the sound of the most famous cannon in our sport to reverberate along the kona Pier. We where off!

Up until this point everything had seemed to go perfectly. From this point on everything panned out in no way shape form the way I'd envisioned. Usually when I'm sharp i get off to a fast start in the swim which gives me the chance to keep an eye on the leaders & stay as close to the front as possible. On Saturday i had a very sluggish start & the arms simply weren't turning over like i wanted them to. Instead of being in control i was instantly retreating into the washing machine of the main body of the field with no idea where anybody was. One thing i knew for sure was that Jan, Ali, Josh & any other fast swimmers where long gone. I have to emphasise I didn't feel tired at all, to the contrary in fact, i felt great, i just couldn't get myself going, was just flat.

Anyways I've learnt to swallow my poison & except that was where i was at & bobbed along in a group that i had no idea who was in or how far behind we where. I have to also confess as we got closer to the Pier i did start looking back as I was concerned Lucy was going to catch me again, i wasn't overly optimistic it was a surprisingly fast swim i was having that's for sure! Finally we hit the pier & to my pleasant surprise most of the guys around me where the same as 12 months prior & once again Lucy hadn't been able to catch up! I say that's a success but she still swam over 3 minutes quicker than me. Happy with who was around me the next concern was where was Jan?? 5 minutes up the road... Great, not what i hoped for but probably what i expected, was time to get to work on the bike.


With Sebi & Lionel in my group I thought I'd like to get away from them if possible so I really jammed it when i got on the bike. Well i tried to really jam it however this was when i realised that sharpness i was searching for in the swim was also not there anymore on the bike. Once again & very early on i accepted my poison on the bike & just had to cross my fingers i had it in me to stay close to the front of the race. I settled quickly into my grinding tempo that i knew i could hold all day & waited to see if Sebi & Lionel would reenact 2017 & lead the charge to the front group. That's a lie, i was preying that they would do that as i knew I didn't have the legs i needed to get across a 5 minute gap to Jan, TO, & Ali. This time around there was Cameo from either of them & they seemed very content to instead pack themselves behind the Cam eo instead. While this shocked me at first i also have enough respect for both of them to know that if they felt they could push the pace they would & that my pace was better than they could muster up. This gave me a little more confidence that I wasn't going along too badly & i settled in for a lonely ride on the front of the train. I definitely wasn't annoyed in anyway shape or form in fact to contrary, i thought wow that's a massive sign of respect from those guys. 2 years earlier I'd sat behind the pair of the as we rocketed up the queen k hanging on by the skin of my teeth. With what's transpired since then its obviously my responsibility to set the pace as I've created that tag for myself. Just unwritten rules of the sport & to be honest i prefer to be on the front as I'm paranoid about getting a drafting penalty. I'd just do the best i could.

As the miles ticked by we started to eat into the lead. Certainly not as rapidly as I would've loved to have been able to but heading in the right direction as they say. One by one guys also starting dropping from that group which was nice to be moving up places but also told me they are not messing around up there! When we caught Patrick who'd had the swim of his life, ridden harder than anyone had ever seen him ride for 60km I couldn't help myself but to take a jab at him. I slowed a little as i passed the lone figure & as loudly as possible said to him "YOU LOOK A LITTLE LONELY THERE". I noticed he'd snivelled his way into our group a few miles later when i glanced back so i mustered up some strength to blow him straight out the ass of my following chew chew train & i knew that would be the last we'd see off him that day. It's a long way on that highway when your left to your own devices.

When we finally made it to Hawi I finally had the opportunity assess what was going up front. As expected an looked smooth & relaxed as did TO. Ali was already looking pretty ragged which wed all predicted so was very impressed to hear soon after that he'd punctured & been able to ride back to the front of the race. Was certainly something I obviously I wasn't capable of doing on the day. Once on our way back the Decent from Hawi had been my launch pad in the past, not this year. Try as i may to spark some pace i just couldn't get myself going, was just one of those where the mind needed to be stronger than the body.

Coupled with my lack of speed was the wind direction. It was basically a block headwind or howling tail breeze. This meant that into the breeze i was protecting all those behind me whom i knew many of which where much faster runners than me, not a good situation. And then when the wind was from behind the line behind me had the reverse effect of blocking me from the tail breeze so I couldn't maximise that like i usually can & try to squeeze the throttle. I had to take advantage of the rare crosswind sections & steeper rises to attempt to take some sting out of there legs so i stood some chance of running my way into a respectable position. Fortunately as we got closer back towards town i got some favourable wind & was able to pretty easily dislodge the tag alongs & give myself a nice buffer on them into T2. On top of that I'd managed to pull back Ali & blast straight past him which reiterated that i was perhaps in better shape than i thought to salvage a top 5. For the first time in my professional triathlon career I didn't enter T2 in record time & with nobody in front of me. Nope, i was 3rd, over 2 minutes back on Jan & TO & it was certainly very humbling. I say that but i was also slightly chuffed as since my arrival we've seen an entirely different dynamic & level play out on the bike. If your going to dish it out you have to be prepared to take it & was certainly being whacked with a good dose of my own medicine. As Arni would say, I'll be back.....


Through transition & finally onto the part of the race I'd been most anticipating. I obviously wasn't in the situation I'd envisaged so instead of calculating what i need to run to stay away I was now working out what pace pace i believed i could run from start to finish. I felt 4:00 per km pace +- was a realistic goal on the flatter sections & that would allow me to be conservative on the harder parts of the course. As i expected Ali, Sebi, & Lionel took off like greyhounds & sprinted past me in the first few km's. Sebi looked great & was going after Jan while the body language on Ali & Lionel meant it wouldn't be long before I'd be running back past them out on the Queen K. To say i felt comfortable would be a stretch however seeing how ragged the others looked reinforced i was certainly within my capabilities.

At the turnaround on Ali Drive i got another look at Jan where just like before the swim start I couldn't help but admire his athleticism, as we crossed once he made eye contact i just said "please smash that race record". TO also looked great, his signature head tilt in perfect position as always & at 39 in the form of his life, Go the old guys i thought! Sebi looked great as well & while i knew he'd fade later in the run i also knew I didn't have the running legs to up my pace & stay close enough to capitalise our that. Ali & Lionel continued to look vulnerable & upon examine those behind me I knew Ben Hoffman was the only one who looked like he had the legs to run me down. 4th to 5th was my revised objective which to be honest was a lot better that was i was contemplating on the bike where i felt a Top 10 would've been the best i could hope for. The day was improving finally!

Once out on the queen K i got into a nice rhythm & quickly picked off & dispatched first Lionel & then Ali. Really says how far my running has come when you've got the confidence to let guys like that blast past & know you'll be back past them in the not to distant future, specially someone of Ali's pedigree. While I'm one of Ali's biggest fans with what he's achieved on race day he's just another opponent to me as I'm able to judge him on what i can see & not what i know about him. If i allowed myself to fall into one of my man crush moments about his Olympic Gold Medals I'd probably have been to embarrassed to run back passed him. In my book what that guy has achieved in this sport he's in a league of his own. Anyways back to the racing.

Into the energy lab & i allowed myself to switch off a little & freshen up a bit for the final slog back along the Queen K to the finish line. At the turn around nothing had changed in my assessment, Jan was on course record pace, TO's head was still perfectly tilted to the side & Sebi was tiffing it out like only Sebi knows how to do. From behind the Hoff was absolutely flying & i knew 5th was now best case scenario. I also took notice of Joe Skipper who was within striking distance & with a 2;38 marathon to his name i knew that I'd need to really get to work once back out on the Queen K to keep him at bay.

The Hoff stormed past me quicker than expected so much so that he actually frightened me! I tried to up my pace but knew that was a hiding to nothing & got back to maintaining the rhythm I'd figured would be enough to keep Joe from doing the same thing to me. By the time I'd grind'd my way to top of Palani Road i still held decent buffer on Joe however not wanting to leave anything to chance i let the legs go & set about emptying the tank over the final few km's. That section the run course has actually been pretty good to me the last couple of years. 12 months prior Javier Gomez became the first professional triathlete i ever past on the run course. Fast forward 12 months & i was running my 2 fastest km's of the race en route to defending a top 5 position, isn't i crazy how much better a top 5 sounds than coming 6th!! Sorry Joe. 6th doesn't get you an invite to the post race press conference for starters.

When i finally hit Ali drive i was searching so hard for that finish line & the sound of Mike Riley's voice, i was hurting big big big time. Across the line & i felt very content, I finally managed to race an entire swim/bike/run in Kona! While I'm well aware many saw 5th as a disappointment its most definitely far from the case for one simple reason, the 4 guys that finished above me. Two of them are previous champions of the race & the other 2 have both finished 2nd, I'd most definitely finished in the position i truly deserved for where I'm at in this triathlon journey. Jan set a new overall course record which was another monumental step forward for the sport, specially in less than favourable conditions.

So that's that, another Kona in the books. Ive already qualified for the 2020 edition so baring injury or illness ill be on the start line on oct 10. For now its time for me to switch gears & tackle some ITU racing, see where that gets me, worst case scenario it should help me with that very vulnerable swim! Only time will tell i guess however one things for certain, i truly love each & every second of what i do!


Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Euro 2019

Euro 2019

The time has finally come for Fallon, Olive & I to head West again. In what's been our longest European stint thus far as a rolling circus we've also accomplished quite a bit since February.. Firstly we got Married, TWICE, become official resident's of Andorra, Olive had 7 months of un interrupted Dog swimming lessons, Fallon has been on the Deans roll of excellence for the first two semesters of the year studying wholistic nutrition, Ive broken my Nose & Rib in my first bike crash in 4 years, & I've won 2 Ironman's. All in all its been a rather productive start to the year for all of us. It's been a rather long time since i last wrote a blog which is largely due to the fact I've been flat out training a hell of a lot more than i have ever trained, specially running, that has really taken it out of me. Every time i started writing a blog I'd fall asleep so i just gave up. Now that I've finally had an easier week & a couple of days off I'm confident i can pound one out & give everyone a run down, pardon the pun, on what I've been up to.


After Ironman Australia Fallon & I embarked on our wedding tour. We had our first ceremony, the legal one, at home in Tasmania with my side of the family. Then a week later we travelled to the USA to get married in the eyes of the lord in a church with Fallon's family. Both where very simple services & for a reception we went out to a nice restaurant for a family dinner. I've never wanted for a big wedding & with family and friends all over the globe it gave us a headache figuring out where and when so we just went with simple by bringing the party to those closest to us. At the end of the day we really needed to have each other up there on that alter to say I do so anyone else who could make it was a massive bonus. I certainly appreciate now however how important it was for our parents to witness the occasion, that was really special to share with both sets of them & certainly very happy we didn't do what we originally planned & elope. Following our 2nd wedding we finally made it back to Andorra where we'd left olive 5 weeks earlier, she hadn't wanted to miss her swimming lessons & we had the band back together again.

Crash & Roth

I'm not a huge fan of travelling from the USA to Europe as the jet lag really kicks me in the backside. I'm useless for a couple of weeks so fortunately i have learnt from past experience & just go with it & enjoy sleeping in until midday, andorra is next to Spain after all. Sure enough after 10 days or so i started coming around until i got a nasty reminder that i was still a bit dopey! I was cruising through town with Pavel Sivakov & Jack Haig heading out for ride & following the car in front way to close. Sure enough someone wanted to cross the road so the car suddenly stopped & i went smack bang into the back of it. It looked a lot more messy than it really was but before i knew it i was having my first ride in an ambulance. The funny thing about that was I'd crash about 100m from the entrance to the hospital but as it was a one way street they had to take me for a joy ride around the block to admit me. I would've walked but was a bit groggy thanks to a mild concussion which gave me a headache for a few days, another first for me.

Immediately my biggest concern was challenge Roth as it was only 3 weeks away. Fortunately the doctor told me I'd only make my fractured Nose & Rib worse if i crashed again so the question was how much pain i can deal with & you'll have a slower recovery. The fractures where not displaced so where not major so i decided I'd nurse myself through Roth then have a proper rest as planned before beginning the build up for kona. Sure enough Roth wasn't overly pretty. The broken rib meant my weak swim was rather embarrassing as i only had power in one weak arm as a-posed to my two weak arms I usually rely on. The bike wasn't much fun either & i was pretty crooked & twisted to find a manageable position but got through that the best i could. Once on the run i was a little more comfortable as i carry my arms rather high which braces my rib cage & was able to sneak onto the podium. After Roth i enjoyed a week completely off & another couple of weeks managing the rib & i finally started to heal up. I was good to go for the most exciting part of the year, the build up for kona!!

Kona Build Up

The rest did me the world of good & i began the crucial 8 week block feeling great. I hadn't done any intervals on my bike since august 2018 so was great to get stuck back into some climbing & TT efforts. This wasn't by choice, I'd simply been so tired all year from increasing the running volume that we didn't want to risk overload & increase the probability of injury. We felt if we spent the first 8 months building up my running stamina we'd have enough time to add the intensity on the bike & swimming back in & be ready in time for kona. I guess we will find out on October 12! But the logic makes sense i think. Work on your weakness but respecting the fact you suck at it! In that i mean give it all your energy to improve properly & then slowly re incorporate the other disciplines on top of that. Lets face it my running was rather terrible so we had to commit 100% if we where going to make some meaningful gains in that area this year.

I obviously haven't raced anywhere near as much this year as in previous years. I've learnt a lot over the previous years with the large amount of racing I'd done so was time to lay some more foundations during the training phase as that's just difficult to do when your racing & recovering all the time. We also had a close look at when I'd done my best IM performances. In every case my best performances, Sweden & Wales in 2017, Zurich in 2018 & Port Macquarie earlier this year came 2-3 weeks after a race. Basically if i raced 2-3 weeks after another race i always did better in the 2nd race, guess its the cyclist in me. So we had a look at the IM schedule & IM Italy & Barcelona where right in my sweet spot.

I wanted to do Barcelona but Italy was a more logical choice as it meant I could visit the pinarello factory on my way to the race to collect my Kona bike & give it a proper test drive. Also the travel to kona is literally the other side of the world so racing Italy meant i could travel to kona this week and recover from my 8 weeks of intense training while easing the body into the new time zone. I'm a train-a-holic so was important mentally i felt I'd earn't a recovery week to not rush that process as it is something that knocks me around. I also wanted to leave Europe ready to go, ensure I'd done all the hard work & was simply a case of sharpening up & freshening up when i got to Kona. I've been in a fantastic training routine all year in Andorra so didn't want to disrupt that. All made perfect sense to me so IM Italy was set to be the final hit out before kona.

IM Italy

The race on the weekend obviously went a lot better than i expected although my personal objectives of how i wanted to race it went exactly to plan. I'm sure that doesn't make much sense so ill try & explain. The month of august was a very concentrated swimming block. I had my swimming coach Sean Kelly with me for the month & he brought Tom Hammer along to kick my backside in the pool. Tom is a paralymic athlete whom last week broke the 100m freestyle world record at the para world champs swimming 51.4 seconds!!! Yep he absolutely smashed me to pieces every single session, I couldn't even beat him with Fins on!! Anyways we had a great few weeks which I'm really proud to say we both benefited from judging by Tom's results last week. Watching this was so inspiring and had me chomping at the bit to test my swim in Italy. Unfortunately it was a wetsuit swim but still i got all the answers i was looking for as it was by far the best swim of my tri career. It felt so good to put all those 6k session's into practice & I was actually a bit disappointed when it was time to get out of the water as i was so excited swimming on the feet of Tim Don! Massive improvement for me.

Thanks to my new found swimming arms i was at the front of the race pretty quickly. This was a welcome change as at my last race in Roth it took me 25km to catch Lucy Charles who's steamrolled over the top of me in the swim! In Italy it took me less than 25k to overtake former Olympic Swimmer Lukasz Wolt who'd put 2 minutes into our group. Amazing what those 6k swims will do for a bloke!! Once in the lead i did my best to keep my foot on there throats & extend my lead as much as possible. Being a 2 lap course & beautiful Italian country roads i knew it would get a little crowded on the second lap with the age groupers making it more difficult to increase the advantage. I'd already crashed once this year & suffered those consequences in Roth, I didn't want to go through that again for Kona. I made hay while the sun shined as they say on the first lap & put myself in what i felt was a commanding position.

This meant the 2nd lap i could just enjoy the experience of the race, take in the beautiful Italian countryside & being among the people, had quite a few great conversations on the climb in particular. With my socialising completed i headed back to town for the final 20k which was again on empty roads allowing me to open the throttle a little bit again just to pad that advantage out a bit more. I hit T2 feeling great, the new bike had been flawless & with zero pain in my lower back that we'd feared from the new handlebar. I was very very happy. Honestly i was also relieved as i always feel very vulnerable on the bike worrying about a crash or flat tire. I'm always relieved sticking the pinarello back on the T2 rack for the day.

Once on the run i felt like i was again completely in control of the rest of the race. I've averaged 100km per week this year so running is probably the thing that feels most comfortable for me at the moment. I had a pretty simple objective on the run. Win the race. Normally i go out all guns blazing leading to equally spectacular blow ups. This time i decided to back myself & wait for them to catch me & have the energy to respond if need be. Sure enough in the first lap local hero Molinari slashed my lead from 8 minutes to 6 minutes. I thought I better get moving as if he keeps that up he'll catch me on the last lap. Then i realised i was running at 2:44 pace so I'd just stick to my comfy tempo & assess the situation the next lap.

Sure enough the gap went back out to over 8 minutes. Same tactics for the 3rd lap & the gap was out to 10minutes! This was a first for me increasing my lead on the run. Secretly i knew the run course record was 2:47 & if i could get this without digging too deep I'd be really satisfied with my day. I maintained my 2:44 tempo for the last lap & even allowed myself to back it off a bit in the closing 5k to enjoy the ambiance with all the age group athletes now on course & a fanatical Italian crowd getting loader & loader as the afternoon wore on. Down the finish chute & a quick check of the watch told me the run record was mine so then i could enjoy a long celebration down the red carpet. I lived in Italy for 8 years during my cycling years so the Italians obviously adopted me for the day & really made me feel special & showed there appreciation for the records I'd set on there course. Italians love winners & they really love new records! After winning IM Australia earlier in the year I feel like i've won my other Home race in Italy on Saturday, was really special.

So that's that, Euro 2019 comes to an end. We are nearly landed in the USA & after 3 days in LA to break up the trip & enjoy some rides on some of my favourite routes we'll be in kona on Friday. I'm well aware there are a lot of people scratching there head about the weekend & why I'd race an IM 3 weeks out from the biggest race of the year. Basically we don't look at it that way, we saw it as merely apart of what we believe to be my best preparation. Everyone has an opinion & I realise it's unorthodox for the sport. Having said that no one else in the pro field on October 12 have a Olympic rowing background or world tour cycling experience. We are obviously going to have completely different ideas about how to train & freshen up & whats works for me certainly wont work for them & vice versa. I have no idea what will happen on October 12. All i know is I've done everything we've set out to do & i cannot wait for the cannon to fire on Kona pier on October 12. Around 8hrs later, probably less looking at the strength of this field, we are going to have all the answers & that excites me big time!


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Thursday, May 16, 2019




It's safe to say 2019 has started really really well for me. Last weekend in Port Macquarie months many months of work where put to the test to ensure we're on the right track for Kona. While there are always things to work on, no matter how good you are at anything you can always look to improve, I'm certainly very excited to see the fruits of the hard work of many that have helped me get to this point in Ironman racing. I haven't written a blog for a very long time, simply put I've worked harder on my running than I've worked on anything in my life & haven't had the mental energy for a keyboard marathon. I'll do my very best here to bring everyone up to speed on how everything came together the way it did at Ironman Australia.

For the 2nd year in a row Fallon & I headed to LA to see in the New Year & for me to restart my training with Geraint Thomas or G as we affectionately call him. We both had a rather successful year by both of our standards, guess that's a rather massive understatement!!! So there was no reason not to start this year the way we started last year. This time around i was a little more behind the eight ball as i needed a longer break at the end of 2018, the 8 Ironman's certainly took there toll & with the running set to dominate 2019 we knew my body needed a good rest & reset before getting back to work. This meant LA was a real suffer rest for me as G was a couple of months into his preparation & well & truly putting to the sword. Last year we'd go toe to toe for 2hr TT efforts while this year I'd last about 30 minutes before retreating to the coffee shop & a caramel latte while I waited for him to finish. On top of that i started running again with the goal of building up to 100km per week by the beginning of February & with the 5-6kg extra I'd packed on over Christmas this only compounded to my daily torture. The positive during this period was my swimming as the combination of Gerry Rodriguez's Tower 26 crew & my extra flotation flab meant my swimming was far more enjoyable than normal & made the 5am wake ups something i looked forward to.

As is always the case for in LALA land i often have to pinch myself with what's going on around me. If getting up early to get your swimming done so you can be finished in time for the Tour De France champion to meet you for training at 9 wasn't uncomprehendable enough, the mindset & structure to my running really took me by surprise. Last year Brett Kirby was a sounding board for the queries we had on the run & was a major factor in the improvements we made there. Brett is a physiologist with Nike & most would recognise the name from the Breaking 2 project if you've seen that. In 2019 Brett was keen to play a more active roll in my running trying and work alongside my coach Tim Kerrison to offer his expertise.

Once again, I really had to pinch myself on one drizzly January morning when i rock up to the Santa Monica Track for my first interval session for the to find Brett, Tim & Per Lundstum all waiting patiently for me to pull on my shoes & get to work. Per is head of high performance at RedBull so basically the 3 off the greatest sporting minds on the planet all waiting to see how i run! And not only that standing there in the rain! Brett actually joined in as he's a great runner in his own right which left Tim & Per to do the supervising while Brett kept closer eyes on my snapping right at my heels for the 10 X 1200m reps we banged out. For so many reasons this session was a spin out. Carl Lewis is one of my absolute sporting idols so I'd grown up watching videos of him galloping around that very track & never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be on the same track having these guys watching over my own athletic endeavour's, absolutely mind boggling moment for me. Safe to say by the time that session was finished & we'd had the de brief i was 100% focused & determined to give it absolutely everything i had to improve my running.

I survived January with G & as it should be with a re commencement camp i was far fitter than when it began. I was now doing 90 minutes of the 2hr TT sessions & ready to start the 100km weeks in February. Fallon & I packed up Olive & headed back to our home in Andorra to enjoy my first real winter ever!!!! I'd literally enjoyed an endless summer for almost 2 decades so winter smack bang in the Pyrenees was certainly a bit of a chance. Andorra is special in so many way but most uniquely is that the town actually sits quite low at 1000m elevation while all the ski hills don't start till your up around 2000m. So with that being said each morning Fallon & I would leave the apartment together, me in my running, riding, or swim gear, & her dressed in her Snowboard Kit. I'd turn left & go to work & she'd turn right & walk the couple of hundred meters up to the gondola to do some shredding, certainly not the mountain winter I'd envisaged hahaha. No jokes aside the winter was very mild & barely affected my training at all & when it did I'm more than happy spending hours on the stationary bike or treadmill catching up on YouTube or watching Eurosport.


Throughout February, March & April the running was my absolute focus. In February in particular i only rode my bike twice for the entire month. I cannot remember riding that little in a month long period since i took my first paddle strokes at 2 years old!! Probably managed a few more swims in the vicinity of 5-6, every ounce of energy i had was going into building up a healthy running body. By the beginning of march i was regularly knocking out 120+km weeks & it was time to ease the riding & swimming in again to a level more required of a professional Ironman triathlete haha. When Tim & I sat down with Brett in January it was decided that I'd use the running focus to prepare for the London Marathon.

Now The time in which i ran the marathon wasn't really the focus but more the mental & physical application that I'd be required to adopt to endure such a training regime & running load I'd obviously never endured before & never thought I'd be capable of enduring. When you have the best minds in the business setting your regime however & the knowledge that Eliud Kipchoge is on a similar schedule all be it with paces around 1 minute faster than mine per km!! Isn't that just amazingly awesome!! It's easy to not ever think your working to hard as you know dam well there at least one Kenyan out there working a hell of a lot harder!!! Anyways as march rolled on & my riding & swimming picked up we noticed that i was actually running better with those two disciplines back in my routine than i was when i was basically only running.

We therefore decided to scrap the London Marathon idea & do Ironman Australia instead to get a real idea of exactly where we where at & what modifications we might need to make on the crucial next phase with kona now only 5 months away. The fact that I'd ridden & swam a hell of a lot less than usual was in many ways seen as good thing as it would probably put more pressure on my run if i wanted to win the race which obviously was my goal. With the plan now modified we found a tune up race, the Cannes International Triathlon to basically dust the cobwebs off my triathlon skills. The race was 2 weeks out from Port Macquarie so fitted perfectly with finishing the big weeks of training & allowed plenty of time to freshen up & travel to Australia.


Fallon, Olive & I packed the car and headed down to the French Riviera for the week leading into Easter. Sounds exotic doesn't it? Well it wasn't much of a holiday. G was home in Monaco so I took the opportunity to have my backside handed to me for a few days on the bike in the hope I wouldn't embarrass myself in the race that weekend. I really fitness crammed that week culminating on the Thursday where we rode for 6hrs before I pulled on the Nike's & ran 33km from Nice to Cannes. Friday i pre road the course for some active recovery as i was rather buckled from the previous 4 days & then enjoyed a very relaxing Sunday to freshen up as much as possible for the race.

Ive never been so excited to start a season which was a great feeling as i knew subconsciously my running wasn't going to be as bigger weakness as it had been in the past couple of seasons. I wasn't sure about the other 2 disciplines but i know i had plenty of time to get them to where they need to be for kona so that didn't really phase me. Besides I've always dreamed of winning a race by out running someone so a weak swim & bike could be exactly what i need to achieve that. You have to be careful for what you wish for as sure enough i got off the bike with Tim Don, the first time I'd got off the bike with someone in a long long time! I thought beauty, we are about to find out how my run legs will hold up.

The unique run course in Cannes was also only 16km so with Tim being a former Olympic Distance World Champ i doubt anyone except myself would've given me any chance to win that duel. To be brutally honest if I wasn't so stubborn I wouldn't have given myself a chance either but I'd dreamed of this scenario and now i had a chance to walk the walk or run the walk so the speak. I pinned the ears back and went for it straight out of transition to establish a small 15 second lead on Tim. There where multiple U turns per lap so wanted to be in front so i have an ideas of where he was and what was doing at all times. I held that gap through first 4km lap which was already a huge surprise. I was already rather uncomfortable so decided to get a little more uncomfortable & try to extend the margin & doubled my lead in the next lap.

I sensed he was really struggling so i sunk the boot in on lap 3 & doubled my lead again. I've lost so many races, basically every race I've done on the run I didn't let up & kicked again to double the lead yet again & win by 2 minutes. Obviously the perfect start to the season but with the cheer squad i had assembled i really couldn't lose this race. Gemma Porte (Richie's wife) & Sa Thomas (G's wife) had traveled down from Monaco to keep Fallon (& Olive) company during the race & add some firepower to my support crew. Pretty powerful female support right there so was really enjoyable to share Easter Sunday with them & i feel earn some Easter chocolate for the drive back to Andorra to get ready for our trip down under. The season was off to the perfect start.


We headed to Australia the next day in order to have a good week at home in Tasmania to re calibrate onto the Souther Hemisphere. Also I be got an awesome crew of guys i train with when I'm back in Tasmania & still bing light on the cycling fitness i knew Fox & the gang would bash me around the ears & harden up for my first Ironman of the season. I've got the best sponsors I could ever dream off & while obviously making money from sport is awesome its the support i have that make those deals priceless. Ive got bikes & clothing in each continent we spend our time. Los Angeles & also the east coast in Fallon's Home town, Tasmania & off course Europe. The stress of not having to lug stuff all over the worlds just makes it so easy to simply do my job & sure enough i was on the bike at 6:30am to meet the gang for a few hours of torture 7 ensure Jet Lagged had no chance of getting me down. After a great ride with the gang I knocked out a run on my favourite trails around the house & straight away i was back in the groove. The next week at home followed the same pattern, the guys would meet me early for a spin & we'd fit swimming & running sessions in around there work schedules. These guys are so tuff it just always kicks me in the butt. I basically now know if i can manage not to get dropped during our sessions then I'm in really really good shape! With that knowledge I headed to Port Macquarie full of confidence.

Port Macquarie

Racing in Port Macquarie had some extra significance for me. My parents divorced when i was 3 & Port was the town Mum decided to move us to where she felt she could bring me up on her own the best way possible. We remained there till i was 7 when we moved onto Lord Howe Island so most of my earliest memories in life are in Port Macquarie. I leant to swim, started little athletics, got my first geared bike & off course started school in that town so i was anxiously excited to go back & perform in what was in essence a home town crowd for me. Sure enough the town had embraced me as there own once again almost 30 years after mum & i had left. I got goosebumps when being introduced to the crowd & would start the race with the entire town in my corner & the weight of a home town victory firmly upon my shoulders. We arrived in Port a couple of days early so that i had the time to check out the bike course. As always the bike the centre piece of my strategy, its where I'm either on the front foot from the get go or giving myself a chance to get back into the race.

Not knowing what position I'd find myself in come race day but obviously wanting to win i knew a good recon of the bike course was crucial. It was 2 laps of a 90km course so much easier to recon than single lap courses. My Dad had travelled down from Noosa to do this ride with me & off course watch the race & that made it the first time I'd actually done a recon ride of a course with someone else. It really helped having dad there to discuss the things i was seeing & have some reassurances that i was reading the course the right way. No matter what sport I've done over the years dad has always been there to support me in anyway possible & give me every opportunity imaginable to succeed. To see him look at me with a set of eyes like i finally after all these years of sporting failure had some idea of what i was doing gave me huge confidence for the race. His been my biggest fan but also my biggest critic or perhaps the person most capable of giving me a reality check so this look of belief & approval meant a huge amount to me. With the all important course check done i was relishing favouritism status for the very first time & simply couldn't wait for the gun to go off so i could get stuck into Ironman Australia.

Ironman Australia

When the gun finally did go off i had a terrible start. I dangled to the front group for as long as possible before a combination off disorientation & fatigue meant i raised the white flag to swim my own pace. I quickly swallowed my poison & accepted I deserved this with my lack of swimming & decided to look for the positives, this was definitely going to put more pressure on my run. I excited the water 4 minutes behind with a big smile on my face which seems odd doesn't it? Well the reason was that firstly I'd expected to be a lot further behind considering how easily I'd swum, & secondly I hadn't been caught by the girls who started 1 minute behind us!! I'd got lost on the swim back from the turn around & assumed they'd gone past me whilst the life guards where getting me back on course. Instead I wasn't in such a bad position at all specially considering the caliber of swimmers that where only 4 minutes ahead as i know i could wipe out that advantage on the bike pretty quickly.

I got straight to work once on my trusty Pinarello & within 60km i was alone any the front of the race. I simply wanted to get control of the race as quickly as possible so that i could dictate things on the run the way i had in Cannes. Once in the lead however i got the adrenaline rush i always get when leading a major IM & decided to keep the pressure on. I surprisingly felt fantastic & very strong, perhaps the best I'd ever felt in the early stages of a bike leg. I'd been top have a bio mechanical fitting & aerodynamics checkups with the guys from Gebiomized & Staps in Cologne Germany. I can honestly say these guys are absolute genius's as i felt stronger than ever & faster than ever aerodynamically. We also did some product testing so all in all i was very excited in the knowledge of the speed we had found for free basically, I love technological evolution! Back to the bike & the sensations didn't change. I continued to feel strong & my lead continued to grow & not only that but it felt way easier than it had previously.

Brett had suggested that my unique physiological makeup thanks to my rowing & cycling background should mean that the more running i do the stringer i will get on the bike. Surely this wasn't the reality though as everyone always told me that when you start running more your cycling will really suffer!! Well on evidence of the first test for 2019 I'd say I'm going to have to side with my running coach Brett on this one as i felt awesome & by the time I'd reached T2 I'd averaged more power than ever for a IM bike split of 307 watts or 316 normalised for the scientific minds. As usual all this data is on strava so you can analyse it yourselves there but the best part was my heart rate was also much lower than normal so I'd really done this ride well & truly within myself. I was absolutely buzzing with excitement to pull on the trusty Nike's & get stuck into the marathon as I'd never ever started a run feeling so good.

Once onto the run course I instantly felt in control which again was a feeling I'd never experienced before on a run course. This i guess was where the 1600km over the first 4 months of the year where paying off, that's further than i ran during the entire 2018 season, felt the first time like I actually had some control over running. Once i established where my rivals where in the first lap i settled into a pace that ensured they didn't close on me at all. My good mate Tim Reed was my closest challenger & he was definitely pinning his ears back to come after me in his budgie smugglers. To keep him at bay & in an attempt to crack him psychologically i was forced to knock out a 1:20 first half of their marathon, my second fastest half marathon ever!

I felt like i was doing it easier than Tim judging by the pain on his face but he could also have been playing mind games so i just focused on trying to extend the lead. Unfortunately i lost focus a little on just doing what i was doing & maintaining my rhythm & started to panic that i was running to fast. Noe I didn't try & slow down but i did start consuming double the calories we'd planed for me to consume. My thought was I'd never run this quick before & i could run out of fuel so better cram some more in. This is perhaps the dumbest mistake you can make when your stomach is over 6hrs into an IM & sure enough it wasn't long before the wheels started coming off. Through 30km my lead was still stable but trouble was imminent.

I stopped for a nature break with 11km to go & once going again experienced my first ever stomach stitch in competition. Having never had one before i had no idea what to do so rattled my brain & remembered seeing Craig Alexander digging his hand into his ribs one year en route to winning Kona so hand into the ribs it went! After a couple of km's or so it subsided & while my lead had dropped a little it was still in excess of 6 minutes so i knew with 8km to go I just had to manage the engine carefully & limp it to the line if necessary. I knew exactly what the problem was so obviously stopped eating & gave my stomach a chance to deal with the excess calories I'd pumped into it.

Once around the final turn around & only 4km from home i was starting to feel not so uncomfortable again. I had a look at the watch & saw that a 2:46-2:47 marathon was still on the cards so i got back to work on finishing this thing off. I passed Tim for the final time with over 5 minutes still up my sleeve so i knew i could go for broke & worst case scenario grovel over the line before he could chase me down. I had a real spring in my step which in the final 4km was again a very foreign feeling for me, was like absolute night & day my experiences I'd had in 2017 & 2018 compared to in Ironman Australia, it just felt so dam good to know where those double run days had got me. Sure enough my eye's got too big for my belly & with less than a km to go my stomach said enough was enough & brought me to a grinding halt to empty its contents.

Safe in the knowledge i was over 5 minutes ahead I didn't panic & let my tumbling tummy sort itself out & once i did I straightened myself up & finished off the run with a real spring in my step. Running down that red carpet to the roars of my hometown crowd is a moment I'll cherish for the rest of my life, it was without a doubt the ultimate homecoming. I thought about all those hours if uncomfortable running I'd done over the winter & it made the effortless feeling i know have trotting along feel all the more sweeter. Fallon, Mum & Dad where all there waiting & after Fallon really went mad at me for giving up the fight in Busselton it was important she knew I wouldn't do that ever again. However the special moment was reserved for my Mum & she was the first one I turned to. As a young single parent she'd packed up her life in Tasman to come to a town she felt would give me the greatest opportunities to grow up in the best possible way. When I was 5 I distinctly remember coming dead last in my first 200m race at little athletics & crying my eyes out as i ran into her waiting arms. She simply looked at me & reminded me i was her little champion, 30 years later where it all began I finally got to prove her right.


P.s. as always all of my race data from both Cannes and Port Macquarie are on my strava feed as is my training for the period as well.

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