Sunday, December 5, 2021

A reflective Blog, the seasons that didn’t seem to end.

A Reflective Blog

I don't usually reflect on a season or in this case seasons. In light of the uneventful end to of my 2021 competitive year, & the need to obviously look & plan ahead, in this case, I felt the urge to do so. For me this season started all the way in January 2020 when I unexpectedly found myself back in Cyclings World Tour with non other than Team Ineos, formally Team Sky, which later that season became The Ineos Grenadiers. The 2020 season didn't finish for me until the middle off November with the conclusion of the Vuelta Espana. Having not raced a Triathlon at all in 2020 the season to me at least, didn't feel complete. 

Instead, following the Vuelta's conclusion, I immediately set my attention to 2021. I got back into serious swimming & running full off optimism for a "normal" season, ideally culminating in Kona in October. Alas, that wasn't to be & two years on from my last trip to Hawaii, there's still been no Kona, & I've once again got that feeling that this season hasn't really ended either. Obviously as far as the colander goes its well & truly finished & tomorrow I'll head to Majorca with my Ineos Grenadiers Teammates & Staff for the annual pre season training camp to begin preparations for the 2022 season. My 21st year competing internationally. 

I look back over all those years I don't have a lot of significant results to hang my hat on. An Under 23 World Championship in Rowing, an Olympics appearance, some participation's in the Giro d'italia & Vuelta Espana, a few podiums in lower level professional bike races, a few Ironman Victories. Probably a good argument at multiple times over all those years to give up on sport & do something more constructive with my life, however, every time i ask myself that very question I'd be thrown back in the ring by those that believe in me or achieve some significant performance that indicated to that one day just maby I'd nail that major victory. 

And that brings to the hear and now. I'm finally very settled in Andorra, married, child, dog, & coming off what i feel to be the best season of my sporting life. At the beginning of 2021 i had two specific goals, one for my cycling career, & one for my Triathlon Career. The goal was to be apart of One Victory with the Grenadiers, & win one Ironman. In 2020 I didn't compete in a single Triathlon & was a team member for a number of 2nd places with the Grenadiers, most notably Richard Carapaz's 2nd place at the Vuelta Espana. To me these goals where simple to set & would show me that I'm still improving as an athlete & reaffirm my decision to continue pursuing bigger goal in my chosen sports. 

I didn't need to wait long into this season to tick off the first of my goals. Dylan Van Barle won the Semi Classic Dwars Door Vlandarin in early April which was a really special feeling to be apart off. Dylan decided the day after Gent Wavelgem, another semi classic of 250km some 3 days prior to Dwars, that's he'd like to do some recon for the upcoming race. Everyone was pretty exhausted as you can imagine from the 250km we'd just raced, & where looking forward to a day laying in bed watching TV & perhaps an easy coffee shop ride. 

When Dylan asked if anyone would join him on this 3hr expedition of cobbles & Flanders climbs there obviously wasn't many volunteers to join him. As the fill in guy known love training everyone looked to me to take one for the team so to speak & give Dylan some company. I joked at the time I'd do that is was confident the recon ride & my presence talking his ear off would be crucial in his quest for victory. Low and behold he won & consequently we all had a good laugh about my crucial sacrificial lamb role. The boys really made me feel special acknowledging my contribution to Dylans preparation & our teams execution of the plan on race day. 

I'd barely had the chance to stop celebrating achieving my first season goal when Tom Pidcock went & won the first Road cycling race of his Professional career, I had a call a few days earlier asking if I'd like to do the race & i told our sports director (the guy driving the car dictating tactics over the radio) Brett Lancaster, absolutely as i was confident Tom would win. Sure enough he did & that was 2 races in a row that I'd ridden & a team mate had won. If something happens once it'll probably never happen again. If it happens twice they say it'll happen a 3rd time. So when Brett called again a couple of weeks later to go to the Vuelta Algarve in Portugal I didn't hesitate to predict Ethan Hayter will win a stage & I definitely want to be there for that. Sure enough he did & that was 3 races on the bounce I'd been apart of some wins, a perfect start to the season for me. 

After Algarve in late May i switched focus to winning that IM. I didn't pick a race as i needed to do some decent training first. I raced a local event in Girona to ensure I hadn't forgotten how to swim & run. Next i had the local Half Ironman event here in Andorra where i finished 3rd & finally felt like a triathlete again. I then had 6 weeks of training at home which meant Copenhagen fitted perfectly as a reference check & first objective of the season in in the build up to Kona. Boyd from achieving my cycling goal for the season, I was beaming with confidence ahead of Copenhagen & won the race quite comfortably. Obviously at the time i was excited to have won but had my eyes on the bigger prize of Kona in October. Unfortunately just one week later Kona was postponed & later canceled all together for the 2nd year running & that was that.           

Never one too Dwell on misfortune i quickly looked to some new objectives to finish the season. I'd been taken out of the rotation for bike racing in late august to allow me to focus on Kona. When that was canceled I obviously went back onto the rotation of available riders for the end kid season races. Once a series of One Day races was scheduled for me in late September, early October, this presented the opportunity to not only be the best teammate i could be but also race another Ironman in Majorca just One week after my final cycling race for the season. 

Obviously post Copenhagen to swimming & running had become what'd best be described as a maintenance routine to ensure i was as fresh & sharp as possible for the bike races. This was more important to me during this period as seven teammates where relying on me at each race & i wanted to be the best i possibly could be for them. Adding Majorca onto the end of the cycling season was really an ego trip to try & show myself i could compete in both sports one weekend after another at the highest level. In the case of the Ironman, rely on the years of work I'd done to get me through it, as opposed to any type of specific preparation as was the case for Copenhagen in the summer. 

The bike races went reasonably well. A third for Ben Swift in northern France kicked things off & a second for Adam Yates finished things off for my block of racing in Italy. No wins during this block. That would also be the case in Majorca. Despite a extremely low volume for swimming for a couple of months, i started the race with all the confidence in world in my cycling racing fitness. In turn i had an awesome swim which basically came about because i was most certainly very fit & being a wetsuit swim was able to through my arms over nice and fast & have a great swim. Unfortunately this enthusiasm & self belief bit me on the backside. I was absolutely exhausted from this brilliant swim & struggled to drag myself up the beach & into Transition to start the ride. 

On the bike I obviously feel rather confident & convinced myself I'd have a 2nd wind. That wind never really came & it was all i could do to keep myself at the front of the race with a couple of guys hot on my rear wheel. I didn't worry about them or trying to distance them as i knew I didn't have the legs to do so without completely running out of gas & with a marathon to come that's never a good strategy on the bike. I instead focused on keeping the rest of the field as far back as possible so i could potentially salvage a spot on the podium. The podium is always an important result for me as it means Champaign but more importantly Flowers. My wife Fallon always reminds before the start to have a great race & that she'd love some flowers. Consequently on those difficult days when I realise  winning is not in my capabilities I refocus on winning some flowers. As a result of this I've got a lot more 3rd's than 2nd's as i tend to race very defensively for the flowers, & subconsciously seem to prefer to safety of 3rd & getting flowers, than risking fighting for 2nd & ending up 4th & not getting the flowers. I know its stupid. 

In the case of Majorca I didn't have to worry about fighting for 2nd as Florian Angert was absolutely motoring from behind. He ran past me so quickly while i was grabbing a drink at an aid station that I didn't even realise he'd gone past. It wasn't until i saw him at a turnaround where we crossed paths that i realised I'd already dropped to 3rd. Leon Chevalier had long since bolted up the road & was on his way to an emphatic first Ironman victory for him, I'm certain it wont be his last. I left now to fend off the rest for the final flower earning position on the podium which I managed to do. For me, realising how well the guys ahead of me had performed, & the caliber of athletes whom finished behind me, I couldn't help but be satisfied that I'd proven to myself i could compete at the highest level in both sports within the space off a week. 

Obviously I'd have loved nothing more than to win in Majorca & I definitely started the swim with that intention. I learnt that I'm pretty good but no means exceptional & if i want to win under that type of preparation I'll need to do a few things differently during the bike racing phase to be ready. Covid has obviously been a rather limiting factor in many aspects for all of us, obviously that's a massive understatement. One positive for me as we come out of this pandemic & restrictions lift I'll be able to execute managing both sports much better as I'm able to do the training i want to do when i want to do no matter where in the world i am, particularly in relation to swimming. Leaving the team bubble during bike racing blocks just hasn't been an option to ensure everyone within the team stays as protected as possible. I'm really excited for the upcoming season where i feel I'll be able to put a lot of lessons I've learnt from the last 2 years into practice & become a better athlete in both sports. 

And that brings me to the ill fated attempted final month of the season. Halfway through the run in Majorca when i realised I wasn't good enough to win the race & i switched to salvaging the flowers for my wife, i decided I'd race the following weekend in Sacramento. The race ended up being canceled due to flash flooding in California, however, i was never making it regardless as we missed our flight from Europe to the USA. Under the entry rules for the US at the time Europe was still shut out & i was only able to enter as I'm married to Fallon who's American. I'd received pre approval & consequently didn't realise i needed to still carry our original marriage certificate to board the flight. Long story short they wouldn't let me board. I'd left the travel till as late as possible & when the following day wasn't an option it left no chance of making it to California in time. ,in the end it didn't matter as the race never happened. 

Ironman officials gave the athletes from Sacramento the option to race the Ironman in Florida 2 weeks later. The race wasn't scheduled to be a men's race however following Sacramento they made an exemption for a pro men's field for those on the start list for Sacramento. Morally i should never have accepted this opportunity as i never would've made the start line in Sacramento if the race had gone ahead. Selfishly i rocked up in Florida after gallivanting around California for 2 weeks pretending to train expecting to go out there & smash the field. 

Karma well & truly came back to bit me on the bottom & i made it as far as 70km into the bike before winding up on the side of the road completely emptying everything inside my body. I'd woken that morning feeling a little off but figured some extra paracetamol would get me through the day. It seemed to work for a little while as i swam at the front of the race & was in the leading group on the bike when i had the sudden desperation to pull over. Once i gathered myself a number of minutes later & stood up straight, I realised how weak i felt & how far there was to go. If I'd have happened in the run I would've definitely soldiered on as i have in the past as many of my readers are aware. In this case however I knew that the best option was to ride back to hotel with my tail between my legs & accept I had no business being at the race in the first place. Life has its ways of putting you in your place & that day was most certainly one of them.

Once again not wanting to dwell on a negative I quickly found a new focus in the Sacramento Marathon. I felt i could "somewhat" prepare for this properly. I say "somewhat" as i had only 4 weeks until the Sacramento Marathon. My decision was based in the fact i felt i owed it to myself to set some sort of target, do 3 weeks of structured training with an objective, & go & execute to the best of my ability to finish off the season on a relative high. Obviously I wasn't harbouring any ambitions of winning the event instead setting the target of finishing within 30 minutes off the winner. Along with my amazing coach at Nike Brett Kirby, we set a plan which went perhaps better than expected. The basics of the Plan where some longer sustained time on the legs runs, & some over speed work. 

The final form check was the annual thanksgiving 5k turkey trot race in Fallon's home region of Garret County Maryland. The event obviously attracts all ends of the exercise spectrum from elite college runners to mothers pushing prams. For me the elite college runners was a great opportunity to race against & learn some running race craft from seasoned competitors in that sport, obviously a bunch of youngsters half my age. In the end i found myself in a ding dong battle for the win with Evan Pyles which i was truly appreciative off. Digging deep in the final 50m's or so to win by the narrowest of margins over a competitive College X County & Track & Field athlete was a massive satisfying moment for me as i also ran much quicker than ever expected i could over that distance. A time of 16:03 on a course with 100m of climbing was a big shock & as a side note a course record. I certainly left the 5k full off confidence & enthusiasm to line up in another running race the following weekend in Sacramento for the marathon. 

Sure enough there was one more curve ball to come my way. The word fluid has been used more often in the past two years than I've heard during the rest of my life & yet again this fluidly changed our plans in a flash. A message from the Team Doctor a few days ago asking me to return to Europe ASAP to minimise the risk of being subjected to any potential travel ban changes due to this new Variant detected in South Africa. Off course considering the latest bombshell in the fight against COVID, running alongside 20 thousand people, flying halfway around the world immediately afterwards directly to team camp, is far from the most responsible thing to do. 

Team camp is obviously a time that keeping the team bubble as safe as possible is the top priority. As a result I'm already back in Andorra ensuring doing all i can to not take this dreaded virus to the camp. With no Marathon to cap off the year I'll end the season with the thrill of victory instead. Certainly the way the last couple have moths have panned out I'm absolutely chomping at the bit to get to team camp & start planning for 2022. I've learnt an incredible amount these past 2 years & cannot wait to use those lessons to continue my evolution as an athlete.

This blog ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated however it was more for personally to write it all down & move on. No time to dwell on what did or didn't happen, onwards. 


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Friday, August 27, 2021

Catch me if you Cam

The title Catch me if you Cam has never felt more appropriate for a race report. As has become customary with me with regard to race planning, I decided at the very very last minute to participate in Ironman Copenhagen & I'm obviously happy I did indeed line up. It'd been almost 2 years since I'd had the opportunity to put together something that resembles Ironman Training, its not been since the lead up to Ironman Italy in 2019 I actually felt I'd done the work to not only go the distance, but also be prepared to race every single centimetre of it. 

The reason for the last minute decision attributed to a number of reasons. Firstly, my Teammates success at the olympics with Gold Medals for Tom Pidcock, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, & off course Bronze for Rohan Denis, was so inspiring I simply wanted to race myself & show what i could do. Coupled with that, I'd missed out on selection for the Vuelta Espana so i wanted Dave B & the management to know that i was ready for the race, in great shape, so they take that into consideration next time they are considering me for a converted spot in a grand tour squad. 

Secondly, Fallon's sister Kira was visiting from the USA. I needed to make sure she was happy to tag along with our circus to an Ironman. Fortunately Kira was happy for a new adventure, she'd never been to an Ironman before, let alone Copenhagen, so she was a resounding yes. I greatly appropriated her allowing me to interrupt her holidays to come along and watch me race around swimming, biking & running in Lycra. 

The third reason was due to my training load. I'd managed the most consistent 6 weeks of IM training I believe I've ever been able to execute. It seems the road racing has given my fitness a nice little bump & as a result i found i could push myself much harder in my swimming & running while maintaining my cycling, than i could in past years. This however has a toll & the cumulative fatigue started to hit me 2 weeks ago & i knew i needed to take a break to absorb that great work. Knowing that I'm hopeless at taking a break from training, i felt that if i did an Ironman to "finish" off the block, I'd be more likely to take a proper break from training for a number of days. 

And the final factor was my 2nd vaccine. It was scheduled for last Thursday so 3 days before the race. I'd certainly felt pretty average after the 1st dose so was quite concerned about feeling flat in the Race after my 2nd dose. In the end we decided to take the gamble & I had the vaccine the morning we traveled to Copenhagen. I took Thursday completely off, Friday as well to be on the safe side, & to be on the safe safe side i took the day before the race off training as well. Actually that's a small exaggeration as on Saturday I did a 50m swim with or Dog Olive so she could get her paws wet in the Baltic Sea, she loves swimming. I certainly still wasn't confident i felt "normal" but I didn't have a fever like after the 1st dose so decided I'd roll the dice & tackle the Ironman.

Once we arrived in Copenhagen it felt so good to be back at a proper Ironman event. Obviously this time was a little bit special as we had Wyatt with us for the first time. Last time he attended an Ironman was in Italy & Kona when he was the size of a Prune inside his beautiful Mumma. 2 years down the line & he's 15 months old & ready to begin his IronKids career which he did on the Saturday before my race on Sunday. I have to admit, he's pleased Kona has been postponed as he's definitely got a few areas to work on, particularly getting off the starting line on his own 2 feet. He was chomping at the bit in the build up until the loud music & crowd fired up. His little sensory senses haven't had much exposure to noise during the Lock Down dominated first 15 months of his time on the planet. Anyways the extra 5 months we have to prepare for Kona will be invaluable I'm sure as he looks to improve on his first performance in Copenhagen. 

Pre Race wise for me was dominated by the recent appointment by Lionel Sanders to make me his coach. I never offered my services, he simply appointed me. I agreed to do the job for this 1 race & 1 race only. I was so confident in my ability to get the best out of him that i knew he wouldn't need me after Copenhagen, he'd be back on track. I shouldn't give away my coaching secrets but I'm a bit off an open book so here you go. I simply told him I'd lead by example, simple as that. There was obviously plenty of banter & interviews for the pair of us which was a welcome return to what I've become so accustomed to at Ironman events, & most certainly, what I've missed so much these past 2 years. I really love everything about Ironman events, the build up, the race obviously, the day after with presentation if you've earned a place on the podium. I really love the whole thing & to now be able to include my son & the activities for him into that makes it even more special. 

Race Day

The Wurf's are pretty dial'd in with race day mornings & despite the introduction of Wyatt & my Sister in Law Kira, everything went as smoothly as it ever has. My bike setup it pretty straight forward. Check the tire pressure, 110psi in the front & back, fill up the hydration system, refill water bottle behind my seat, 2 oversized squeegee bottles containing 5 gels each & 2 energy bars in the bento box, clip in my shoes, Garmin, & I'm good to go. A process that used to take me 1hr now takes 15-20 minutes. From there its off to find the family to relax a little before getting suited up for the race. 

Finally on the start line & the final countdown seemed to take forever. So long so that my front foot started sinking into the wet sand & just as I lifted it out to reposition it, the race started & i was quite literally on the back foot! Fortunately i was able to bash my way through the field & latch onto the back of the strong swimmers group. I was certainly at maximum revs trying to stay with the group & unfortunately just after half way i lost touch with those guys & slid back to the next group. Fortunately this group wasn't overly far behind but what surprised me was that Lionel was leading it! He really was taking this follow my example seriously & was swimming the best I've ever seen him swim. As humbling as it was slotting into this group i was comfortable in the knowledge that there was only a handful of guys ahead of us within a couple of minutes. Well, all except Lukas Wojt, the former Olympic swimmer who was giving us all an absolute schooling in the discipline. It would take me the best part of 120km on the bike to overhaul the 5+ minute lead he had built up in the swim. Fortunately he was alone & the rest where well and truly within catching distance nice and early on the bike.

Once on the bike & we'd navigated through the first 10 very technical Km's, i went to work on making my way through the field. First thing i needed to do was put Lionel & the rest of the group we'd swam with in the rear view mirror & put what i felt to be my biggest rival for the day on the back foot. I'd studied the course & wind direction & knew that a long exposed cross tail wind section came after 20km. As we hit this section of road i twisted the throttle & instantly had a gap on Lionel & the group & was off in pursuit of the faster swimmers further up the road. Once I'd established this initial gap on Lionels group i settled into a nice comfortable rhythm ready to twist the throttle again as i caught & passed those ahead. By halfway through the bike only Lucas remained infront of me but as I'd averaged close to 45kmph for the first 90km i knew he'd been working very hard to maintain his lead & it was just a matter of time before i caught & passed him as well. 

Sure enough around km 110 i sailed passed Lucas to give him a taste of the same medicine he'd dished out to us in the swim & i was in the lead. I've got to admit i took a moment to savour the fact i was leading an Ironman again & i now simply couldn't wait to get off the bike & get into the run & finish it all off. The final 60km i just kept my nice solid pace & i was pleasantly surprised but my pace. I've certainly done some work on my position off late & obviously racing at the world tour level has opened up the energy systems quite a bit. Was definitely a nice feeling to be able to maintain such a pace & at the same time feel like i was well within myself to have a good run. As soon as i dismounted the bike & my feet hit the ground the sensations where confirmed & I felt great running into transition to strap on my running shoes. 

Onto the run course & my first objective was to get an idea of where my rivals where at. I knew i had a decent lead but I had no idea really how big it was & who was where. Fortunately there was a turn around after 2km so I'd get a good look at the field. Off everyone i saw only Jasper Swenson who was at 6 minutes & Lionel whom was at 9 minutes back, looked like they'd be capable of catching me. They where both still running at 2:36 pace after 10 km when i got a 2nd chance to asses the field so i ran some calculations in my head to set my race plan. 

I figured if i ran at 2:45 pace it'd be fast enough so that they have to maintain there rapid pace to catch me by the finish line. Neither had run a marathon that fast before but i have too much respect for my rivals to count anything out so I figured it was best to be on the safe side. Fortunately for me this pace felt very comfortable so i made a rule with myself that I wouldn't react until they got within 1 minute of my lead. I was extremely confident i could up the pace if need be but with it still very early in the build up to Kona I wasn't prepared to work any harder than was absolutely necessary in the run. Sure enough lap by lap the gap to these two continued to plummet & it took a lot of patience to stick to plan & wait as long as possible before reacting. My ego wanted me to burry them early on but common sense or perhaps maturity ensured i stuck to the plan. 

First Jasper fell off the pace & only Lionel remained as a threat as i began the final lap signifying 10km till the finish line. At this point the gap was down to 2 minutes which meant he had to run 10-15 seconds per km quicker than me to catch me before the finish. I stayed patient and maintained my 4:00 pace knowing 3:45's where a big ask for anyone in the sport at that point in the run. With 4km's to go the margin was still 1:20 so his paced had began to slow & i knew i had it in the bag. At this point i allowed my self to have a little fun & stretch my legs over the final few km's to the finish. At that point I didn't see any need to be out there any longer than necessary & was excited to hit that finish tape 1st for the first time in 2 years & celebrate with my family waiting at the finish. 

That feeling of crossing the finish line didn't disappoint & was as exhilarating as always. Was a pleasant surprise to learn I'd broken the overall course record by over 3 minutes with a time of 7hrs 46minutes, which is always my goal as it means you've also won the race! People talk about bike course records however my opinion is you ride for show & run for the dough $$$. So that was that. In the end I'm extremely happy that we made the last minute decision to go to Ironman Copenhagen. Obviously winning makes me feel less bad about dragging Kira around Europe on a work trip during her holiday although she seemed to really enjoy herself so that was good. Being a dad is the greatest thing in the world so feeling like I'm setting a good example for my Son feels good as well. All in all Ironman Copenhagen was a very satisfying outing.

With Kona postponed till February we've obviously had to change plans accordingly. I'll now finish the cycling season racing on the road with the Ineos Grenadiers. i expect to race a few 1 day races in Italy & belgium over the next 6 weeks. My race program is very flexible with the team as I'm basically one call for everything but I'd expect to just do a number of 1 day races between now & the end of the season in October. From there ill take a bit of break before building up for Kona with my annual training block in Los Angeles in December & January. Obviously it's disappointing that kona has been delayed from the perspective that Hawaii is still struggling from the COVID pandemic. We can only wish that the island gets on top of that so they can safely and happily welcome the Ironman World Championship back to the island. Obviously public health & safety is of far greater importance & significance than any sporting event. So having said that, whenever it is we are fortunate enough to be back on the big island for Kona, I'll be ready!


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Monday, May 31, 2021

Blogs Back

Going to do my Best Josh Amberger impersonation here...

Have a free weekend at home & discover there is a Full Distance Triathlon Happening 2hrs Drive away🤔 check the training plan👨‍💻 🏊‍♂️🚴🏻🏃‍♂️on schedule, great, why not share the pain with 1000 other fellow endurance sports tragics. Pack the Car, wait we now have a Baby, Baby stuff takes up most of the Trunk Space, guess I'm not taking the spare wheels, helmet, wetsuit, or extra nutrition I'll actually never use. Having a baby simplifies packing👌Oops forgot we still have the Dog🐩🤦 There goes the space for the unnecessarily overloaded tool kit. Wife & her kitchen in a bag in 🚘 & off we go. Kitchen bag now stashed at feet as no longer room anywhere else in the car, wife's knees tucked up under her chin. Feels like we've never been to a triathlon before.

Race Day...
🏊‍♂️Off to a decent start for the first 5 stokes before lactate sets in, that's right haven't done this for nearly 2 years. Still in a good Group. Peleton skills coming in very handy, if there's one thing I've gotten very good at over the past 18 months it's following Men's Bums & Heels, you touch plenty of both fighting for position in an Open Water Swim bash🙄 Halfway through the swim expectations & capabilities finally collide, Fractured Rib from 3 weeks ago rears its ugly head, I was meant to take the swim easy🤦 Too late now I'm committed, the trusty left arm & kicking will have to do the work🙏 Somehow manage to hold onto the pack, exit the water in the Top 10, surprisingly great swim, again peleton skills saved me👍.

Onto the bike & quickly reminded by my lack of swimming fitness, I'm absolutely exhausted. Somehow find my way into the lead in the first 25k, figure the quicker I go the quicker I'll feel good again? Yeah I know, stupid! Haven't done this for a while ok!!! By 30km the bumpy roads have snapped off my rear bottle cage, brake hood is hanging out of the bars, gell canister has flung out of my bento box, 150k to go on the bike, no worries hand up for the team car, bottles & food required, Oops I'm not at a bike race🤦 I'll find water & gells at the aid stations, all good👌.

Find a random piece of tape on the hydration system, use that secure brake hood back in the handle bars, in long distance triathlon Improvisation is key! 30k to go, haven't managed to grab enough food at aid stations, hunger flat, completely lights out. Fortunately on a climb, will recover on decent & grovel to Transition. Off the bike first with a 6 minute lead, not as bad a situation as I expected!

Onto the run with renewed enthusiasm🥳 Wait what's that, oh yeah fractured rib & now you jumping up and down🤦 Focus shoots from running form to learning to run without breathing of bouncing, can't find a solution, suck it up & just going to have the cross the fingers here. I see Fallon, Wyatt & Olive out on course, motivation again rises! 10k down, still leading, amazing, I'd forgotten what it felt like to lead race, to finish first first you must get into the lead! Enthusiasm growing for the fairytale tale ending to the group training day. 15k in, wheels start to really fall off, lead evaporates quickly and by 19k I'm over taken by Sam Laidlow who goes onto win, chapeau.

Focus turns now to actually finishing as with half a marathon still to go it's going to be a long slow death March! Maintain 2nd for the next 15k as pace rapidly drops, walk aid stations in the hope of a miracle revival, black magic (coke) by the Gallon with water, isn't working like it used, why can't it be 2019!!! Richard Spink (Physio) & Brett Lancaster (Sports Director) from the team where there at special needs to hand me bottles, or as we call it in the world tour "extra feed". I wish I had a convoy off cars to hide in or a peleton to get towed along by at this moment that's for sure! In the last 5k I'm past by 3 more guys, vision is now going cross eyed as I grovel to the finish line & I don't even notice them passing me.

Finally reach the finish, 5th, just the way I left off long distance racing all those years ago in kona, 5th, great consistency Wurfy👏👏 No, jokes aside, it was simply great race & in the end finishing felt like an achievement. If you have any weakness a Long Distance Triathlon will find you out, particularly on the Marathon! It'd been so long I kinda hoped that aspect had changed, wishful thinking obviously🙄 Great to be back racing, go through the motions as they say, will make sure I'm healthy & more organized before I tow the line again.

Congratulations to all that took part, just surviving that spectacular course was an achievement in itself. To the organization for putting on fantastic safe event given the current climate the world faces. The host region of Girona & off course the city of platja d'aro, you have all the ingredients off making this one of the most iconic, Long Distance Triathlons in the world. Truly a heart bed of endurance sports, particularly triathlon. Definitely a Bucket List Event! And finally but by no means least, the volunteers. You guys & girls are the heart and soul of any Long Distance Event, without the athletes simply run out of fuel Haha. Jokes aside we wholly & solely depend on you to realize our dreams, Thankyou!


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