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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Noosa, Hamilton Island, Off-Season & Retroactive Blogging

My blog has been neither here nor there the last couple of months, so a tip of the hat goes to those still checking back for updates!

Winding the clock back, I had three consecutive events in November that I wanted to hit hard so I could  finish off the fantastic year. They were going to be the Noosa Tri, Hamilton Island Tri and the Endeavour 500km Road Relay for a bit of camaraderie and fun. The short version is that neither of these three really worked out. Let's begin with Noosa.

The Noosa Tri is a stalwart on the Aussie calendar, a must do race and a perennial goal of mine. 2012 was the first year I truly felt I was at a  level where I could win it, and my lead up to the race was perfect. My brief return to ITU racing in October for the Auckland World Champs did wonders for my body, & the change in training volume & intensity really lifted my strength & speed. I was doing my local TT circuit in record times each lap, & I was swimming & running just as well. Though as the saying goes, shit happens, and I fell sick about four days out from the race. My condition was so average that on race morning, I was playing with not starting up until about 15minutes before the race. If it were any other race I would have scratched before the start, and only my respect & love for Noosa got me on the start line. My body held up for about 30minutes of racing before things started to slow down & and I decided to call it a day. This photo is all the evidence I have

Sadly, the Hamilton Island Tri was much of the same. My illness continued for another 5 days or so, and my race shape had withered substantially. Hamilton Island is only a sprint distance race, but it's an ultra brutal & demanding course that commands 100% of your stamina and focus, and I didn't have much of these two things left. For a small race and almost no prizemoney on offer,  it had a surprisingly strong field. I ended up coming in 4th, and had a camera on my bike to document the evidence. Check it out below

The final event of the season was to be a 500km road running relay with a bunch of lads for charity. After two bad weekends in a row I decided to withdraw from the event and start my break a week earlier. Though I have a huge love for the relay, so I went along for the three days to help out and give the lads some support. I also documented some playful footage of the event and here's what I came up with!

The final note of the blog are pictures from my camping holiday with Ashleigh on the majestic & beautiful Moreton Island. No roads, no cell signal, no power, few amenities... just one big sand playground. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

So you might have noticed that I've penciled in my first races of the season. Until then, it's all about the miles of trials & the trials of miles. Thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Auckland U23 World's, the Bastion of ITU

I said a lot in my race preview below about how I came to be on the team, and about my expectations for the race. I'm not going to go into that again, but looking back, I can say that while I only somewhat delivered for my person, I totally delivered for the team. I finished 11th, & completed the full Australian team results of 1st, 5th & 10th. This result is mighty, and the world has certainly taken note. People may have doubted my position in the team or wrote me off as a contender, but it never bothered me and still doesn't. 

I say I only somewhat delivered for myself, because my run clearly let me down. But this does not make me unhappy. I gave myself every opportunity to be ready with the time I had available, and my tactics and execution on race day were perfect. Come to think of it, the word unhappy is not pertinent in any context when talking about Auckland. Why? Because I had an absolute blast. It was hands down one of the best racing experiences I've had in Triathlon, and I have no regrets of taking the opportunity to race.

The course was sublime. The location and ambient city vibe was majestic. The crowd was inspiring. This is why I have called Auckland the bastion of ITU racing, because this city has set the bar for ITU events to come. 

A lot of old friends and competitors asked me at some point if I was returning to ITU racing. To answer frankly, I'm not, but I'll continue to compete in a few one offs. I don't want to close this chapter just yet. Part of the reason why I stopped ITU racing was that I lost my love and passion for the format. I was angry and frustrated during and after every race, and there was nothing to inspire me to continue. I had been ostracised and kicked from team after team, & removed from funding. Ultimately I had to move to something different to consolidate my love for the sport. Auckland however showed me that there is still opportunities to enjoy ITU, and that the ITU can still turn it on when it wants to. 

 So cheers to Aaron Royle, world u23 champion. Congratulations mate. 

The Course

Swim: Nice two lap swim in chilly 14 Celsius water. Clean harbor water, a little swell and some tidal current. Not overly hard, but certainly not easy.

Bike: Eight laps of sting. Very technical, very hilly. Strong legs and very good skills needed to stay fresh on this course.

Run: Four laps, exposed to winds, mild gradient and three u-turns a lap just to drop some extra sting in the legs.

The Evidence

^having some end of season weight problems in this picture

(thanks to all who's pictures I've poached)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prelude- Auckland ITU World Championships

My preparation for Auckland is almost complete, and I'll race this Saturday in my final chance to take an U23 World ITU title. This will be my second World Championship this season (Las Vegas 70.3 being the first), and my first start in an ITU World Championship since 2009 on the Gold Coast.

This has been somewhat of an awkward race to prepare for. Firstly, I haven't been racing ITU consistently since 2010. Secondly, it's right at the bookend of the season. It doesn't take a genius to understand the different training approaches needed to be at the top of either non-drafting or ITU at any given time. I've been training to race non-drafting pace all year, and suddenly at the end of the season, I need to train to handle high intensity lactate coming-out-of-the-ears kind of stuff. But this was a fantastic opportunity to be given, and I am really pleased to have taken it. And while I've had to sacrifice a chop at the Australian 70.3 Championships in Mandurah (also held this weekend), I wouldn't be racing if Auckland was going to be typically won by an athlete that can win it with run speed alone.

While I can say it's a difficult event to prepare for considering my circumstances, I can also say there's a few things about this race that play into my hands. The biggest positive for me is this course is brutally hard. 8 bike laps with stinging climbs (course elevation profile here) will literally be served cold throughout the race. If it's a tough course with frightfully hot or cold conditions (very cold in this case), you can bet I'll always be one of the last ones standing. Secondly, there's no one that's going to find some magic new level of form at the end of the season, and I've come into my training knowing this. For me, the base endurance is omnipresent from my non-drafting and 70.3 training, which will always put me over the line in any hard short course race with a tough bike leg. So while I don't have a large capacity of ITU-specific training to draw on, I know I've got an enormous bastion of mental strength and base endurance that the others competitors might not have. I haven't been trying to cram lots of lactate or speed work in, but rather just putting in little parts to refine what my muscles and energy systems can adapt to in the time I've had available between Las Vegas Worlds and now. I'm confident that I'll still certainly have what it takes to be competitive, and with no expectations, I might very well surprise myself & others.

I'm not on this Australian team because I've done a huge amount of ITU races and ticked all the seemingly endless selection boxes. In fact, I haven't done a single thing the policy requires. Moreover, I was picked for the team because I'm on-form, It's that simple. So I'll put this feather in my cap and accord myself not to leave anything out on the course come race day. If I get a good result, that's fantastic. If it doesn't work out, I'll have no regrets. At the end of the day, I've earned my satisfaction at both Hy-Vee and Las Vegas, so more results are a bonus.

Now, the only decision I have left is to choose what race flats to wear? I might need some help on this one so leave your feedback below! Flyknit or LunarSpider?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Las Vegas 70.3 Media

An interview from the race and a short race production video, thanks to Verdict Media! (the embed codes don't work for some reason so you'll have to follow these links to watch)


Race Video

I'm currently preparing for the U23 ITU World Champs in Auckland New Zealand in a little over two weeks time. I've come up really good from Las Vegas, strong an uninjured, and very motivated to race at another World Championship. The format isn't something I've obviously dedicated myself to the last couple of years, but it's the style of racing that I'm blooded in so I'm confident I'll still be competitive, especially considering the brutal strength based course. Running a quick 10km with the top ITU guys is a little out of my depth at the moment, but I can certainly grind out a strong run like in Hy-Vee & Las Vegas 70.3. Though the bike leg will be my weapon & the course is certain to bring more pain than a Cold War era Rambo trilogy. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

7th in Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships

This race wasn't on my calendar early on in the year, and I didn't really intend to jump in 70.3 racing so fast. That all quickly changed when I won the Singapore 70.3 back in March, and my success there left me complusively wanting more 70.3 pie. There were a few things that drew me to compete: I hadn't contested a World Championship since the Gold Coast ITU World's in 2009, it's a notoriously hard & hot course, it was optimally placed one week after my season A-race in Hy-Vee, & I just love hurting in a sick kind of way. Someone once told me Ironman gets addictive, & I can believe them now.

The Course


The swim course was a little too easy.  Only two turning bouys means the swim will be bunched up for most of the 1,900m. If this was changed (which it really can't considering the shape of the lake), the swim would be a little more significant and spread out.


This is one of the best bike courses going around in Triathlon, though not looking like much on the map above. Entres of hills, scenery and pain is served constantly throughout the 90km, and there's never really any section to get comfortable. The road is also smooth and nice to ride on...bonus. My Garmin file is below, but still with no special power meter or anything really of interest other than speed, elevation & time etc.


A glance at the profile above confirms that this course raises more than my girlfriends special banana bread. There's uphills, downhills, footpath switchbacks & u-turns. This makes for a long, slow, & painful grind to the finish line. A course that would either make or break ones result.

The Memory

I was super relaxed before the start of the race. There's something about lining up in transition with all the amateurs that comforts me and pipes down my nerves a little. I was also relaxed by the fact that with such a strong startlist tantamount with my inexperience in the format, I realistically couldn't expect much of myself. Irrespective, I still knew I could grab a red hot result.

I took to the lead early on in the swim, but was passed by Andy Potts after about 500-600m. I sat on his feet at a steady pace, but the whole time being well aware of his average sighting skills. Coming down to the last 300m, he made an error in one of his lines to a bouy, and I backed myself to swim straight and I edged him out of the lead pretty easily to lead out of the water.

The run to transition was long, and the run out was longer. But all fun nevertheless. I wipped off my skinsuit, put my socks and helmet on, was out the door hitting that first long hill VERY suddenly. It was a nice little challenge and warm up for the legs, and I positioned myself in the pack and got myself mentally ready to play the game. My plan was to just sit in for as long as possible & let the experienced guys take control. About 20km in, people started dropping & I think the first to go was Matt Reed. I knew I just had to stay out of trouble, and I made an effort to bridge a lot of gaps where I could see guys weakening. The last thing I wanted was to be left behind because of some dope not paying attention.

I think about 60-70km is where the action started happening and where athletes were dropping wheels. Just beforehand, Kienle rode through our pack and took off like a Nebelwerfer. I was somewhat humbled by the sight of him gapping up so quickly, but knew I just had to be patient and stick to my plan. The Last 10km is where the vice tightened and I had to start showing some aggression. I bridged gaps over guys and ended up second wheel behind Crowie who was switching the lead with Potts. We were putting the pressure down and gapped the field slighty and really made the other athletes burn their legs heading into the run. I has goosebumps this whole last section of the ride, and was overwhelmed to be riding at the front of the race (bar Kienle the crazy Deutcher) with two legends of the sport. I was proud to have just put myself in that position with as little effort as possible. At this stage I was still quite comfortable and hadn't had to use much gas at all.

I was second off the bike, and probably stole a little glory from the guys that worked the most, but I didn't care. I need the exposure more than them and I really didn't have to think twice about snatching it! I was also second out of transition and led the run pack for the first km or so, a pretty stupid move a stary eyed novice like me would make. From here, I was overtaken, and kept going backwards to 6th place, where I stayed for the entire run until the last 10minuntes where I got done by Bart the Belgian bullet. I was feeling strong most of the run bar the last lap. I went into a daze and started making weird noises that I didn't know how to control. I'm sure there's others reading this who've had similar! I has Faris Al-Sultan on my tail and he kept the pressure on me all the way to the finish.

I'm overjoyed with 7th, and will definately be back stronger and faster next year to improve on this result. This is my kind of race, and I can see myself developing a kinship with this course over the years to come. I was the youngest and maybe least experienced in the field by a fair way, and stuck it to a lot of pros more seasoned than a Texas BBQ. Bring on Las Vegas 2013, and I hope some of you readers come out with me to join in on the ritual.

Cheers for the support, it never goes unnoticed. My main race kudos goes to Sebastian Kienle. This guy is a space traveller and was on another planet that day. Sincere respect.

The Evidence

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hy-Vee Highs, Lows Leave the Hall.

Last year I wrote about this race in a bittersweet way. I won a shit load of cash by leading a 3xlap, 3xprime swim, but I finished with an embarrassing result. I've got a smile on my face to say I reversed those fortunes in this years edition of the Hy-Vee 5150.

The Course

A very untypical course for a non-drafting Olympic distance. More ITU in nature, a lot of corners, obligatory u-turn and some punishing asphalt inclines to weather the body and drown the soul.

Swim- The new course had me yearning for a return to last years river swim. In the week before the race, they relocated the swim from the river in the middle of town to a static lake, removing any challenges we were to face in the river. The river swim in Des Moines is next level; fun and hard. But the Mid-West drought has left the river depleted and uninspiring for the race directors. Two laps instead of three laps meant only two primes were on offer this year.

Bike- The bike course is next level. As said, 18 corners a lap x4 makes for a hard course, especially with some good kickers thrown in. A course of this natures takes the advantage for the typically good strong riders like Cam Dye, and hands the advantage to the technically capable. Throw in some wind, some shitty tarmac and a brutal strong field, this is the leg that would make or break any athlete.

Run- Slow and hard course. 4 laps, with hardly a flat section on the course. You're either running steep down, steep up/down, or up/down 1-2% grade. How strung out the field was by the end was testament to the challenge of the run.

Conclusion- a course worthy to hold a championship race, but the river swim is always a treat.

The Memory

This is a big money race. This is what I've trained for all year, focused on all year, and I sure as hell wasn't going to walk away with last place pay cheque. There's two ways I can make money at this race. Blast every prime worth $5,150 each (10 on offer), and hope to finish the race just to collect the primes. The other way is to go for one or two primes, but save myself for a good result. I tried the first option last year, but despite making $20,000, I wasn't really happy. A good result is what I was after.

I knew I was swimming well, so I went about my business getting to the front and showing my chops for the first prime. I got to the line first, but was swimming scared that someone would out sprint me. A few guys were talking shit before the race about these primes, and maybe someone wanted it more than me, you never really know.  The second lap was a different story. After the 30 second run in between laps, I dove back into the water a little more depleted than I would have liked. I was happy conceding the the next prime to the willing to save my body for the rest of the race. Gomez took the lead and I settled in third. The second swimmer (Dye? Not sure) ended up dropping Gomez' feet before I realised, and I didn't want to bust myself chasing down a gap that we would get back on the bike.

I took to the lead on the bike early and tried to consolidate, but Ben Collins pulled me in, and with 10 or so guys swarming like Charlie to avoid stagger violations, I knew I just had to sit in the bunch and stay clean. A few guys blew off the front on the ride, Benno, Barney, D. Thompson and Ben Collins sporadically got away. I was riding with a lot of good runners, but wanted to stay cool and save as much energy for the run. I knew the hard bike course would be sapping the weaker guys every second, so I just wanted to continue with my own race.

I was right about the demands of the bike leg, and a lot of guys little triathlon bones crumbled early on in the run, maybe even before the end of the blue carpet. I felt good coming off the bike, and wanted to capitalise on the other's tired legs. I even ran in front of Gomez for all of maybe 10 seconds,and thought I was awesome running with Alistair until I realised he was just having a bad day. I felt strong the entire run, but never really had enough pace to run up to 6th. I finished in 7th, in what is maybe my best complete race ever against the best non-drafters in the world.

Hard work certainly pays off, and even if I have shit results for the rest of the season, it will still to me be a break through year. A professional pay cheque in the bank means more motivation for next year, with bigger dreams and bigger plans. A special thanks to everyone for the support in the lead up to the race, and the nice words afterwards. I like everyone who cares to feel a part of my journey, and always know that every detail in the tiniest never goes unnoticed. I'm a lurker and see everything :)

And of course, eternal thanks to Hy-Vee for the world class event. There's only ever good reports from this race, and it's with good reason.


The Evidence

Monday, July 30, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Triathlon As Salvation

I'm not often I'm contacted by anyone outside my family & friends circle, but here's some text I received from a lad called Joseph down in Tampa FL this week. Unmanipulated, as follows...

No problem with the comments mate. You deserve every one of them. I'm on business in Panama City, FL this week. Got a chance to swim and run on the IMFL course through St Andrews State Park as the sun was setting over the sand dunes. Absolutely stunning views! Was pretending I was Ronnie Schildknecht as I ran the course and thinking about him breaking the 8 hr mark for a full IM last November on that course! Then I said, forget that crap, you're Burgzzzz dude, and then my cadence immediately picked up and I left Ronnie in the dust! Seriously though, I want to thank you because you have helped me improve in the sport and you don't even know it. This sport is just my hobby but it has changed my life. I did my first triathlon in the summer of 2010 as an overweight couch potato at 6' and 205 lbs. Now, 2 years later, and 8 triathlons under my belt, I'm down to 175 lbs and still 6'. Ha, gravity hasn't diminished my height just yet, but it's giving a go at it for sure. I've been able to string together 2 consistent years of training and have seen the improvements. My allergies are gone now, I don't get sick anymore (knock wood!), and I feel so much healthier.

Now you have motivated me even more and I want to thank you! You just don't know how much it means to me. I'm a slow poke, but I'm having so much fun seeing my improvements, watching my body change (I just got another new vein popping out on the front of my shin! Yeah baby!), and attacking new challenges, such as the 70.3 distance. I love one of Josh Cox's (American record holder in the 50K ultramarathon distance) quotes that has really stuck with me and that is "do the thing you are not sure you can do." This doesn't imply a lack of confidence, rather I see it as always trying to go bigger and leaving the status quo in the rearview mirror at home with the wimp dogs.

Thanks for following me with my Pocono race. It really shows your character, another attribute of yours that has attracted me as a Mad Fan. As you become the next Crowie, don't let it change who you are, as I know you won't. Stick to your character and your morals. They say way more about a man than any worldly accomplishments. Amen bro? No matter what becomes of your career, just know that I will always be a Mad Fan.


Find your salvation, & enjoy life.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Omens, Portents & Second Place Finishes- Muncie 70.3

Three races, three second place finishes. I remember this sort of stuff happening to Bevan Docherty in his consistent days circa '08, or in more modern times (sorry Bevan you're old) & taking in a broader demographic, everyone finishing second to A.Brownlee. Nevertheless, if I can keep this up and finish second in my next two races, that will mean I will be bringing home some HyVee & Las Vegas bacon, which as it happens, promises to be some super fine and luscious bacon.

There was a lot of drama surrounding Muncie last weekend (see most US based Tri forums) because the Indiana vastland was bulk serving record breaking temperatures. The race organisers made the call the day before the event to shorten the 70.3 to something just above Olympic distance (1600m, 48km, 10km). I was somewhat disappointed because I had gotten myself mentally and physically ready for a 70.3, treating the Berlin 5150 six days before as just a warmup. I know I need more practice at the distance for Las Vegas 70.3 Worlds, so it would have been nice to do the full race. Though at the same time, I knew the shortening of the race gave me a small advantage over the regular long course guys competing, but at the same time it pitted me against one of the best short course athletes ever, Greg Bennett (half Aussie, half Yank, full traitor, just kidding Greg). I didn't complain, and was just keen to get the race underway to test myself! Best on the day right?

The water at the reservior was a nice warm broth of 32 C or 89 F, but I hacked it out and led the swim by just over one minute to mentioned old hat GB. I somewhat felt before the race that the winner would come from either of us. My chances of this however somewhat diminished when I stupidly took a wrong turn on the bike about 1km in because a police car was blocking the course. I kind of knew I was going the wrong way, which makes me sound really dumb for doing it in the firstplace, but without a lead motorbike youn can never be too sure. I fixed myself however and probably lost a good 30 seconds straight up. I continued to hold a nice lead on the bike through 'till 40km, but it was this point where I saw Aussie strongman Christian Kemp & GB slowly pulling me in. Once they were about 100m from me I sat up and decided to sit in and wait for the run. I'm really happy with my riding this season, I can say that most of the big miles I've put in have paid off, so hopefully some good wire to wire performances are coming.

In Singapore 70.3 I predicted that the run would be between Kemp and I to the line, and because he's got some fast feet I also thought he would be running well in Muncie too. While I would try to run with GB for as long as I could, I knew second would be between CK and I. Though like Singapore, CK was off the pace and left GB and I to battle off the front for the win. Though on the sharp Muncie rollers I wasn't much of a match for Greg, and he took the crown from me by 1.13.

So second is ok! I banked some spending money & secured my spot for Las Vegas. Now it's time to get back to some long miles and cough up a lung in the hypoxic town of Boulder CO. Cheers

(apologies for the bad pictures)