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Race Report Vitoria Gasteiz Full Distance Triathlon 2017

I decided to take part in this race last year due to how great I heard it was and how great the race organizers were to communicate with. When I hurt my back/glute in my final session of my final build I was devastated. This is the 2nd time this year I have made it to taper for my A race to have all that work be undone by a crash and injury of which I am confident was a result of the crash and things not being aligned 100%. I now had to make the decision whether or not I was going to make the trip to Spain in the hope that the injury would settle down in time to be able to complete and basically have two weeks off instead of tapering.

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I decided to roll the dice and give it a shot. All of the ‘experts’ I had spoken with had ensured me that it would most likely be fine and I think sometimes the body does amazing things which I’ve experienced in the past when you think you are in big trouble but things quickly settle down and come together perfectly. It’s a knives edge we walk as Full distance Triathletes.

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The week leading into the race I was far less calculated than I would usually be. My attention to the details were slack at best as my motivation was low due to stressing about the injury and if I was going to be able to race, fulfilling media commitments and jet lag. As I said earlier in the two weeks leading into the race I did virtually zero running and three short rides and a few swims due to the injury and my prep was limited due to the bike crash and surgery back in April which sidelined me for five weeks. So I’ll be honest my headspace was definitely NOT very positive.

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The days leading into the race and race morning I was more relaxed about things that I shouldn’t/ wouldn’t normally be like studying the course, course nutrition and my nutrition. Even my partner made comment that I wasn’t as focused as I would usually be. I knew this was true but the one thing I did know was that I was in trouble and that my fitness was poor BUT I was going to start the race and go as Hard as I could until I experienced pain in which case wherever I was, I would stop.

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The race was an 8:50am start. I know right! That’s a luxury for a long course race! I did a very short warm up maybe 1-200 meters then we were called onto the line. I was going to take it easy running into the water and transitions as running was excruciating pain but then once I got into the water I was going to go for it. 2-300 meters into the race I found myself in unfamiliar territory leading the race! I quite liked going around the buoys without being bashed. The course was a 2 lap triangle shaped course. When I was inbound on the 2nd lap I could not see much as one of my goggles had filled with water and I had caught the field from the 70.3 race, which started before us, which made navigation and seeing the competition difficult. At some stage a fellow competitor caught me and was a few meters in front. During the beach run onto the 2nd lap of the swim I took it very easy and adjusted my goggles. I caught back up to the lead swimmer and we had a gap on the rest of the field. In the final stages of the swim I started to slow a little and I lost touch by 30meters or so on the lead swimmer. Now T1 was a sure reminder that it had been 5 months since my last race as I was very out of touch on my transition skills. I had issues with getting off the wetsuit and dropping my glasses then running past my bike. All I could do about it was laugh and ride HARD to make up for it.

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Despite all of these errors I still managed to get to the mount line at the same time as the lead swimmer and we were both keen to ride hard and gap the rest of the field. We road legal and rolled turns with the officials watching us closely for about 10k until I road away. I was now leading the race with a sizable gap and I was feeling very good which I was very surprised about.

 

It stayed this way for approx. 50k before I made a critical mistake (which was a result of my poor preparation in course recon) and overshot a turn. There is a small out and back, which the competitors of the full have to do and not the half. So I was head down and pushing hard not paying a whole lot of attention to this out and back as I thought we only had to do it on the last lap and it wasn’t marshaled/ signed great but ultimately it was my fault and my fault alone. So I was 1-2k down the road until the motor bike pulled me up trying to tell me to go back but they didn’t speak English (and of course lazy me doesn’t speak another language other than English) so I was standing there trying to figure out what was going on loosing time until some spectators came to my rescue and translated for me. So I road back to the point and did the course correctly which cost me 3 places.

 

I think I road too hard trying to make up this time OR it was my lack of fitness catching up with me and I was starting to cramp BIG time in my VMO on both sides to the point where I could pedal. I don’t think it was nutrition related rather neuromuscular due to not being fit enough to sustain the spike in power my mind wanted to put out to get back to the front of the race. Needless to say the rest of the ride was survival and in the middle of the lead and 2nd pack AKA no mans land. I wasn’t experiencing any injury pain but was in plenty of pain but I was going to continue with my plan. Now this is the funny part, during lap two coming up to the out and back I missed on the first lap I was ready for it but when I got up to it I missed it AGAIN as there are two small streets that are next to one another and I was just confused/delirious but it was only a meter or 2 but the real kicker was that the guys who translated for me earlier were there and yelled out something like “How could you miss it again!?”. Which at the time I was so mad at myself but now I just laugh about it and will hopefully learn from it but I think its always very difficult in long course triathlon when you travel to new venues the week of and you cant see the whole course which leaves you open to these sorts of errors, but ultimately it’s the athletes responsibility to make note of these POI’s.

 

In the back end of the ride my lack of race fitness and conditioning was catching up with me and I was slowing and during this time 2 packs of 3 or so athletes caught and overtook me leaving me in T2 in 10th place.

 

I was surprised to be jogging into T2 with no pain in my back/glute or cramps. Out of T2 I was feeling good and running pretty well for about 6mins when I started to notice a little pain, which started to get worse to the point it was affecting my technique, which I knew was time to stop. This was one of the hardest things for me to do for so many reasons. This course is famous for its unreal run course and finish line atmosphere, which I was really excited to experience but unfortunately would not this year. However, the 2k I did experience was amazing and even when I tried to stop I had spectators doing everything they could to get me to keep going from cheers, offering water, suggesting stretches all the way to one man massaging my butt and back for me which I have to admit was awkwardly nice.

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I handed in my timing chip and walked back to the hotel for a shower, food and a short sook before picking myself up (with the help of my partner) and taking the negative and turning it into a positive.

 

With this and the bike crash, this year has been very challenging for me across all aspects of life. This sounds dramatic but trying to be a true ‘professional Triathlete’ and make a living from the sport is cut throat and when things are not going to plan especially over a long period of time and your income and support is at stake its very emotionally draining. I think there is more to be said about a person in their actions during low moments, than in their successful ones. I cannot thank enough my partner and coach for their support during this difficult time. I will hopefully come back to this race next year 100% fit, healthy and race ready. (I now know the bike course well so no mistakes should help!)

 

I have to thank my mates for letting me stay with them and do some training in warm and sunny QLD and Toby from SCTA for taking some time out of his holiday to help with some stroke correction. He’s the real deal on the Sunshine coast. And my Spanish friends at Fisio2 who did a spectacular job helping me with my injury in the short period of time I was here.

 

 

 

As always I am VERY grateful to my sponsors who keep me in the business for Triathlon.

  • ESA
  • Giant Bikes Aus
  • Anker Conrete

 

And for the support from these guys which makes life SO much easier

  • Mizuno Aus
  • CEP Aus
  • ‘Cannibal
  • Xterra Aus
  • Echelon Sports

 

 

Jul 11

Warrnambool Sufferfest

I have toed the line 4 times at this race with solid podium finishes but on Sunday I got to break the tape at one of the hardest courses around. In past races I would get off the bike having to make up time to the leader/s and usually be closing the gap but run out of road so to speak. This year I wasn’t going to play the same old game. I was determined to make this my year to win so I had to change up my game plan and test my ability by taking some risks. I knew by doing so it was going to make or break my race but it was a risk worth taking for the chance to walk away with the win.

 

I have always put this race on the ‘must do list’ when planning my race calendar for the year because its location is ideal for a great race and has plenty to offer in terms of things to do and see if you want to do some adventuring. My preparation wasn’t great due to a cold but it didn’t affect me on the day. This is how the race played out through my eyes.

 

The Swim

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This years swim start required a short run into the water allowing myself the chance to get a good start with Leigh Stabryla and we managed to make a gap on the rest of the field which included 4 x IM Champion Eduardo Sturla and ex pro cyclist Kyle lierich. I got out of the water in 2nd place just seconds behind Leigh.

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Onto the Bike I wasn’t going to waste any time I got straight onto the pedals soon overtaking Leigh and riding HARD to get away from him and the guys behind him who I knew could ride. The course is a Undulating 4 lap course with a difficult climb in it and 3 U turns which allow you to assess how you are going. At each turn I would ride harder with the motivation of making more time on the rest of the field. I got to T2 in first place with a handy lead (and the fastest bike split) on the guys but I laid everything down on the bike so I knew it was going to be survival on the run.

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The run course is quite difficult as it challenging to get into a rhythm with some sharp inclines and declines, several variations in surfaces and twisty sections. These factors combined with the difficult bike leg make for some slower run times. It can be difficult at times to gauge how you are going as the pace is low but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are running bad its just a difficult section so you almost have to throw out the GPS and go old school and run to Perceived effort. I did exactly that and just ran as hard as I could and focused on my form and the race rather than clock watching. The run wasn’t pretty but I managed the fastest run split and to hold off the guys to come away as a Sufferfest Champion.

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I dont know what I was happiest about. Winning, being at the finish line or seeing the kids smiling faces! Thanks to the Event People for putting on another great weekend of event and my family, friends and sponsors for their continual support.

 

  • ESA
  • Anker Concrete
  • Giant Australia
  • Mizuno Australia
  • Xterra Wetsuits Australia
  • Hammer Nutrition Australia
  • Zipp Australia
  • CEP Australia
  • Cannibal Australia
Mar 07

Ironman 70.3 Geelong Race Report

This race marks 1 year racing in the professional category. I battled for 13th and in the overall context of things I am happy with that except for the swim, missing the second pack. After Busso I had all of December off for some much needed R&R so I really raced off of 5weeks of training so I have to be realistic of what I was expecting. Here is how the day unfolded.

The Swim

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I had a solid start off the mark and was on feet for about 400 meters when a couple of kicks put me off and I found myself in no mans land. It’s been a frustrating ordeal working on my swim leg. There have been times were I feel great and swim bad or feel terrible and swim well or swim faster in the pool but not in the open water. Working on weaknesses is never easy so ill just have to keep working away at it and trusting in the process.

 

Out in 26th

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Onto the bike I road HARD out to point Henry with a couple of guys with me but being 1min back from the 2nd pack is a very hard task to make up. There are not may athletes who are strong enough riders to make up that gap so I either need to become one of them, or swim faster if I want to be in the game.

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After riding much of the 90ks solo I managed to come off the bike in 19th

 

Onto the Run leg I knew I was going to have to go out hard to make up for lost time and then try and hold on. I managed to catch up to a group of guys at ripple side on the first lap and slowly over take and hold them off fighting my way back into 13th place.

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As I said earlier taking into account my limited preparation for this race I am mostly happy with it. The reality is you can’t be at your best for every race but racing underdone I think is important for your development. Otherwise you can’t be happy with 13th, but I can look at the whole picture and how I fought for that 13th and be happy with that.

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Thank you to everyone who braved the very cold conditions to cheer me on! It was the highlight of my day seeing so many friends on there! And thank you to my sponsors for sticking by my side during this very difficult part of my career.

Giant Bikes Australia

Electronic Signage Australia

Anker Concrete

Mizuno Running Aus

Xterra Wetsuits Aus

Cannibal

Hammer Nutrition Aus

Images from Stef Hansen (WITSUP), Jaimi Joy and Maddy Kate.

Feb 20

Sunsmart Ironman Western Australia Race Report

After missing the first half of the year with some ongoing niggles, I decided to push my boundaries and do three Half’s and two full distance races in the second half of the year which is typically what I would usually do in one whole year in the past. Doing two Full distance events 2months apart was an unknown for me but surprisingly I felt great in my taper.

When I woke up race morning I felt very tired which was a little unusual but it didn’t affect me at all.

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On the start line I was ready to go, I ran hard off the line and 50 meters into the swim, I got knocked in the face and both goggles flooded with water so I had to stop and fix that. Not a massive deal in an ironman really but not a great start. I felt pretty good in the swim, it’s not my strong point but I held onto the 3rdpack till about the 1.5k mark then I took the front position of the pack.

Out of the water in 53mins and in 18th Position

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Onto the bike and again not a great start when I lost my rear drink bottle mounting my bike. These things happen in racing and you cant’ let it effect you, you just have to stay calm and come up with a plan to over come it. I think it is very rare that things go 100% to plan during an Ironman. I rode HARD out of T1 to try and catch the guys in front, once I got an idea of where they were, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to catch them and a small pack of three including Evoe caught me from behind. We rode legal but together for about 60ks (this is one thing that takes A LOT of getting use to when going from AG to PRO field racing. Everyone is strong so you can’t just time trial away from your opponents. Its very tricky.) It was here that Evoe split the small group we were in by attacking off the front just after an aid station. The others in the group were none responsive to his attack and I knew it was very important for me not to let him get away. I gave it my all to try and bridge the gap but I just didn’t have it in me. Evoe is a very strong and experienced athlete and this situation is testament to that. I was now in no mans land for basically the rest of the race.

After some confusion with the turn point at the 90k mark, I stopped at the special needs to grab some fuel, as I had not trained on Endura so I wasn’t about to start using it in this situation. As a guide for anyone reading my blogs who is starting out, don’t ever try something new race week!

Toward the end of the bike leg, I was over taken by Cross but I was too fatigued to do anything about it. The cumulative load of the hard ride had taken its toll.

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I was off the bike in 4 hours and 38mins in 16th position

Onto the run I was defiantly feeling the full effects of the work done on the bike. My back was killing me, my gut and ribs hurt, I was simply suffering for the first 10k of the run. On top of this pain, one of my gel flasks wasn’t working properly and my nutrition was leaking out the sides and I wasn’t getting the full amount in. But I didn’t stress about it, I just got in what I could and tried to supplement what I could safely use from what the course nutrition had to offer. I knew I was going to have to suck it up and get though the rut I was in and stick to my guns. Lucky on this occasion it was paying off and things were starting to turn around and I was feeling reasonable again. I think the crowd support was a major contributor to this. I was amazed by how many people were cheering my name and positive feedback. I am sorry if I didn’t give you anything at the time, I was in the hurt locker zone. But know that I heard and very much appreciated it!

In the last 20k or so of the race, I think I pick up 3 or 4 spots with one coming at the 42k mark slotting me into the top 10.

Run time of 2:52 and 10th position. Total time of 8:28.

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Something will always not go to plan during an ironman event. It is very rare anyone can execute the perfect race. You just need to stay positive and calm and do you best to overcome these and minimize the effect they may have on your overall performance.

This race, although was my fastest it was also a harsh reality check of what it takes to be a professional triathlete. It is just so competitive in every aspect. There is much work to be done.

Thank you to the Ironman WA staff and volunteers who put on a fantastic and to everyone wished me luck and cheered for me on race day. I was over whelmed by the support.

I am now going to have a few weeks off over X mas and make a plan for the coming year.

As always I am very grateful to the following people for believing in me,

-Electronic Signage Australia

-Anker Concrete

-Giant Bikes Australia, Hampton

-Hammer Nutrition Australia

-Cannibal

-Xterra Wetsuits Australia

-Mizuno Australia

-Echelon Sports (For hooking me up with the Zipp wheels)

-Jarrod Evans (performance advisor)

-Maddy (my rock)

 

Dec 06

Challenge Shepparton Half

Here is a little report of how the day unfolded for me.

 

My swim was ok, I was by myself most of the time between the 2nd and 3rd pack. Its something I have been working on, spending a significant amount of time focusing on it earlier in the year and I will continue to work on after Ironman Western Australia. I know I NEED to wipe off 1min and 30secs to be in the second pack and be more involved in the race rather that playing catch up. My swim has improved with my times decreasing by 1min over the half distance since this time last year so I hope its just a matter of keep doing the hard work and the improvements will come.

 

I was 7th out of the water

 

Onto the bike and it was a tough solo slog for 90k. The stronger swim/bikers were off the front and apart from Matt Burton, no one else caught me. The conditions were wet, cold and gusty which made the ride tough. Just the way I like it!

 

I was in 5th place off the bike with the 5th fastest bike split.

 

I knew if I was going to get myself onto the podium I was going to have to run a 1hour 15mins. I have done this in the past so I went for it. The run course was 3x7k laps. I ran the first lap on target for a 1:15 half, the second half the fatigue set in along with some rain which make things harder again and I slipped behind that 1:15 target pace. I could se at the turn points that Walsh was gaining on me and that I was catching Betten, so I gritted my teeth and ran as hard as I could. In the end I couldn’t hold off Walsh who went on to run the fastest split, and I was on the red carpet with Betten sprinting to just miss out by 3 seconds.

 

So I ended up on 6th position with the 3rd fastest run split.

 

I have been on the rough end of some finishes, but I am sure if I continue to work hard on the swim and keep learning race dynamics, tactics and the mental aspects of racing Pro, I will be on the good end soon. I am just going to have to continue to work hard and be patient and allow myself to adapt and learn which I am getting a little more knowledgeable and confortable with each race. (inspired by some wise words from Luke Bell)

 

 

Thank you for to my sponsors for their ongoing support. It is these relationships with my sponsors and the relief to have a stable platform to work off of that allows me to focus on my athletic development. I cant thank you enough for making it possible for me to do what I do.

 

Next up, Ironman Western Australia in three weeks time (Dec 4th). This venue is where my Ironman racing career was born, so I am looking forward to returning here to compete in my first professional Ironman on home soil.

 

 

Thank you to my performance advisor, Jarrod Evans who is helping me through this transition.

 

Electronic signage Australia

Anker Concrete

Giant bikes aus

Giant bikes Hampton

Mizuno running aus

Cannibal Australia

Hammer nutrition aus

Compress sport Australia

Xterra Australia

Enduranceteam

Nov 15