Last two races of 2013
I had a good race, my first Olympic distance race of the year: second out the super-clear starfish-dotted warm water, a cheeky breakaway on the fast, flat 4-lap bike with Ben Collins only to get pipped at the line by 1 second in a sprint finish on the sand with Jarrod Shoemaker. It is the only race I have ever done where there was Champagne, pizza and designer cup cakes at the finish line on the beach for everyone! What can I say, you got to do it next year really, a family holiday if ever there was one. I for one will be taking my family next year.
After our race came the real work. I was the chief marshal in T1 and T2 for the kids race - it was awesome. All the pros had marshalling jobs; Luke Mackenzie who finished second at Kona this year was the run turn - literally, Gwen Jorgensen was the official starter with Sara McClarty and Ben 'the Hoff' Hoffman helping everyone out the water. As I say, a real Pro-Am race.
Everyone was a winner, I have a feeling it will grow and grow and with all profits and money raised going to charity it was a great weekend racing and meeting new people.
Back home for three days then back on a plane to Orlando for the final race of the year: a half-ironman distance Rev3. It was another great event: there was a ratio of 1:1 when it came to the volunteers and with their average age about 80 it really is the place all Americans go to retire. They were great, we got water, Coke and no one went the wrong way. I had an average race due to all the travel to UK and Bahamas and the jet lag. I had missed a few 100kms training on the bike and run over the last four weeks so I was fine for the first 70k on the bike then I was in survival mode and that was when the sun came out too and it got hot!! I rode a 2:06 for the 90km but we all suffered on the run. I lost about three minutes in the first four miles, had a quick toilet stop then got back on it dropping to 15th or so then working my way back to 7th.
My first season done and done in 70.3 / half ironman racing!!
World 70.3 Champs
My first ever non-ITU World Championships came and went rather swiftly as I took on my first Ironman 70.3 World Champs in the crazy hot, windy and rather cool city of Las Vegas. Well, for one they had half the year's rain fall on race morning, for two no wind and three, it was not hot. At least I had done the heat, wind and hill prep for it!!!!
I loved it up till 83km of the bike. An average swim but was comfy in the main pack, on to the bike which I have really been working on, play the waiting game get fueled and stay hydrated. All was looking good and on the last hill with 20km to go I moved up to fourth in the rather long pace line. Julie would have been proud of me. Stay there till T2 then run, run, run. With 8km to go I felt I was working rather hard and losing control of my front end: a front puncture. Gutted is an understatement, I lost nearly four minutes in the last 8km and pushed some of my biggest watts.
I came into T2 deflated, frustrated and way off the podium or even a top 10 (pay day!!). I ran out and could already see the leads on their way back on the first out-and-back section, My heart sank even more. All the hours, all the work, all the sacrifice gone. I decide to race with my head not my heart so I pulled the pin as I had the Cozumel 70.3 two weeks later then just a week after that the Augusta 70.3. Re-group and re-focus! Learn and move on. I will be back!!
Calgary 70.3 and getting ready for 70.3 World champs
So I have been doing my secret training and I was chuffed it came through in Calgary 70.3 and I could get the win. I had a great swim with about 1 minute to 2:30 on my main rivals. I led the bike till 65km, being out front was a cool feeling: open road, lead car, closed roads. When I got caught by Tyler 'Butterball' Butterfield and Trevor Wurtele who, can I say, is so goddamn smooth on the bike we rolled in to T2 together. I was able to push on from the start of the run and get a nice lead and just maintain it to the finish, well kind of, still pushing on a little bit. It was the first 70.3 where I have nailed my nutrition and that made a big difference later in the race. It really gave me a boost to get third in South Africa, a second in UK and then the win in Calgary - especially as it was my last race before the World Champs in Vegas.
It's been head down and getting the work done since. I flew out to Vegas with Julie to check the course out (no stone unturned). I will be honest, the race is not even in bloody Vegas - it is about 30km away in the desert and T2 is in the car park of a swimming pool. Not quite what I had imagined - not all the glitz and glamour of the 'Strip'. The bike course though is crazy hard hills wind or hairdryer temps in the mid 30s - or low 100s as I have to say now - and the run is up or down, a proper hard arse course!! I like it!!
I have also visited (don’t tell anyone) Specalized HQ. Oh my, it is something! So many fresh bikes. They have just built their very own wind tunnel and I was in there for about eight hours getting my hair blown dry at 45km/h. It was great, we made lots of magical marginal gains with position and equipment as well as a big haircut! All to save precious watts, ride at the same speed with less effort and be fresher for the run. So with a gangster fresh new paint job for Vegas (wait and see) and all the changes, well I should be a shoe-in for the World title ... but then again I forgot about everyone’s else's secret training so that will level the playing field a bit.
First 70.3 of 2013 in January !!!!
Race morning came and up at 4:15am for a 6:45am start is not like a French GP or ITU race, which start mid afternoon. A light breakfast of white toast with jam and some energy drink with, of course, a strong black coffee with fueling the body the three days before done.
Down to set my bike up and put my kit in my bike bag and run bag, all new to me! The buzz down there was sweet, so many age groupers (3000+/-) normally it is just 80 ITU guys who are totally in their own zone!! It was amazing.
The swim was choppy but I could swim round the first boy with no bun fight - it was great. I got into my rhythm as I knew it would be a long day and wanted to focus on pacing my whole race. In to T1 - no mad rush ITU style - no 15 second penalty here, very relaxed really, on to my trusty Shiv all set up and very aero (or so I am told ). 90km here I come. Game plan is to stay fueled and focused on the small things, keep drinking and work on my set power output (in Watts) and cadence. No heroes in the first 30km, right!!! Well Bart came past me and my ITU mentality kicked in, hey he’s not going that fast I will just go with him. About 5 minutes later, relapse over, back to MY game plan. I came off the bike in the top 5 to someone actually taking my bike off me (I love transitions in Ironman racing). With my Garmin 910XT on it was down to refuel re-hydrate and stick to 3.45per/km no matter what. After 10km I could see Marco in third and slowly went past him. I did the usual; held my breath, tried to look like I was just out for a Sunday stroll, nice and smooth (game face on!!!). He did not respond and the next thing I know I am at the finish line in third, 4 hours gone by in what seemed like two. Asked if I enjoyed it, Hell yeah this 70.3 Ironman thing is definitely for me!!!
Next up, look at my watts on the bike and see what areas need work. It's only January so lots of time to work on my weaknesses, six more weeks in the sun in Stellenbosch then a cheeky week in the UK for the Tri Show en route to Boulder (I hear it's good for triathlon training) for some altitude work before I hit two 70.3 Ironman races in the US and then one of my goal races in 2013 UK Ironman 70.3.
So I have my 5-year Visa for the USofA and it's 70.3 all the way, at least for the next two years.
I have followed the Beatles and Beckham over the pond and relocated to Boulder, Colorado to make a name for myself and learn how to race 70.3.
It's spring time here with eight inches of snow! So it's a bit of a shock to the system especially as I am swimming in an outdoor pool (Dave Scott is the coach amazzzzzing). It really is Triathlon Triathlon Triathlon out here, the coffee shop even has a transition rack outside as there are so many cyclists here.
My main goals this year are UK70.3 and 70.3 World Champs with a fair few other races to learn and improve. As most of the big races are in North America, it made sense to move to cut down on travel and time away from my family. Boulder was the only real choice as it is also at altitude which really agrees with me and it beats sleeping in a tent in your bedroom. My new coach, Julie Dibens, lives here too, so we can really work together on stepping up a distance.
The other big thing I will be working on over the next few years is coaching. I am aiming to coach 5-8 amateurs over Olympic distance. My goal is to offer a professional service of individual programs aimed at the athlete's strengths and weaknesses, with a big emphasis on "Best Performance on Race Day". I am a big believer in communication between coach and athlete, and from all my experience I know that is how to squeeze the best out of the athlete. If you would be interested in working with me drop me an email (via my website).