Saturday, 18 December 2010

2011 Race Plans

So nearly 2 weeks on from Ironman WA, thoughts have turned to next year and what events to focus on. The rough plan at the moment looks a bit like this...

Early 2011 = mainly sprint distance racing:

Feb / March = XOSIZE Tri Series races 4 & 5
Feb 13 - Falls Creek Long Course
Feb 20 - Geelong Olympic Distance
+ going to have a go at a few Crit races when I have the time SKCC Crit racing

Then I'll start moving to having more of a running focus:

Mid April - Run for the Kids
Mid May - Great Ocean Road Half Marathon
July 3 - Gold Coast Marathon

After that I'm going to get back into Ironman mode (very predictable I know)

December 4th 2011 - Ironman Western Australia

Erika is thinking about running the full marathon in Melbourne next October, so another goal for the season will be to help her with a training program for that. I won't run Melbourne marathon next year. I found it was too close to Busselton but not from a running recovery point of view, more from the fact that I lost a couple of weeks of good bike volume as I tapered for the run. I could do it without such a taper but I think that kind of defeats the point so this year I will hopefully act as coach instead (although I may still have time to sneak in the half marathon on the day!!).

The Ironman still motivates me to get up and train in the mornings and keep myself fit so I decided to put it on the agenda again, after 3 races in 18 months I am pleased that this one is still a year away though. It gives me a chance to try out some other things. I'm keen to have a go at some bike racng and see how I stack up in what I consider to be my strongest sport. Planning to have my first crack at this tomorrow at the SKCC crits, gave my legs a little outing with the North Road bunch ride on Thursday and all seemed good so we'll see what happens.

My cycling informer (thanks MG!) has told me that she thinks I could cope with B grade but might be able to mix it up the front of C grade. I was all keen to start in D grade!! Half of me expects to get dropped from the group early as the style of event is so different from long course triathlon but we'll see what happens...better start coming up with some excuses now!!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Ironman Western Australia - Race Report

I’ve found the build to this race fairly frustrating as fitting in training has been harder than ever. Being Ironman number 3 I found that the nerves did not kick in until much later and I got to enjoy the carbo dinner and the last few days as the tension around town rises. Pre race training was a simple lap of the bike course and a bit of a swim to check out the course, other than that it was feet up for most of the time!
Catching up with some of the TA crew as they head out to check out the course

It's a long way to the end of that pier!!

By the time my alarm went off on Sunday (at 3am!!!) the challenge ahead still felt pretty daunting. The weather forecast looked good, only mid 20s and a little windy but I’ll take some wind over heat anyday!
Some of the team pre-start - some nervous faces??

Some of the dedicated support crew ready for a long day

And so we found ourselves on the start line and before too long the cannon sounds and we are away. The swim is pretty straightforward, just do a lap around a very long pier!! I got a bit bashed around for the first few hundred meters but then moved right of the main pack and had a fairly uneventful swim out.  There are a couple of buildings out at the end of the pier and I was pleased to finally get to them so that I could turn for home only to find that the turning buoy was 100m or so past those!

Once you turn for home, you look up and realise that 1.9km out to sea is quite a long way!! There was a bit more chop to deal with on the way back in so I struggled a little to maintain my rhythm and got a couple of kicks in the head resulting in some water filled goggles which was a bit annoying!! Wasn’t too long until I was back on the beach though, checked the watch and I was on 1.04.xx, pretty much as expected, a little slower than I would have ideally liked but more than happy to be on my way to the bike.

T1 was chaos as ever, I went for a full change into bike kit but seemed to get through without too much fuss then it was off out on the bike.

Lap 1 - Feeling good at this point
My plan was to take lap 1 very easy, I have a habit of going out too hard and I think this comes back to get me later in the race so lap 1 felt fine. Lap 2 was also passing without too much trouble, the effort level was up a little but still felt comfortable. I stopped at the 90km mark for my special needs bag (more calories) and a quick toilet stop but was soon back on my way again. With the course having so many out and back sections, I could keep track of all the other guys from the squad which at least gave me something other than 180km of flat road to keep my mind occupied!

End of lap 2 - starting to feel it a little
I started to feel the fatigue as I went into town at the end of the second lap. So lap 3 was a bit more of a struggle but my pace didn’t drop too much apart from the last 10km or so when I clearly started thinking about the run rather than keeping my pace up on the bike. I’d done a pretty good job with nutrition and although my legs were tired, I was almost looking forward to getting on with the run.

I headed out of T2 and my legs felt relatively good, I tried to hold back with my pace but at the same time was keen to get some of the k’s out of the way as quickly as possible. As I ran past the race clock within the first few hundred metres is said 6.39 so I knew that my best run might get me close to 10.30, and it is nice to know that you have 5 hours up your sleeve to still get a pb!

On the long stretch between aid stations - someone pass me a gatorade!!
The run course was pretty straightforward with 4 laps, each time going right past the finish line in the centre of town. My only complaint was one section where you had to run about 3.5km between aid stations, might not sound much but by 2km you are hanging out for some more liquid so after the first lap I ran into that section with a cup of ice so that I at least has something. 

Coming round for the end of lap 1 I heard lots of shouts of ‘go Rob’ quickly followed by ‘go Kev’ as Mr. Fountain came bolting out of T2 like a man possessed, clearly relishing the fact that he was now onto the strongest part of his race. 

I watched him disappear into the distance and just tried to settle back into my own pace. I hit a tough patch on the end of lap 2 and into lap 3 but for the first time in an Ironman, I actually seemed to come out the other side of it and although I was not running fast the km were still ticking over.

As I went out on lap 4 10.30 was probably just out of reach but I started to focus on making sure that I got my run split under 4 hours which was one of my main aims in the lead up. I saw Brad, who I had done plenty of training with heading back in for home, he’d had a great race and that was the first time I flicked my watch to elapsed time to see where he was at, it was on 9.52.xx so he was going to break 10 hours which was awesome, gave him a big shout and that actually picked me up for the next k or so as I enjoyed covering the lap for the final time. As I got to the far aid station, I thanked all of the aid station volunteers and in the nicest possible way told them that I was please not to be seeing them again, I think the understood!!

Before too long I was making my way to get my final wrist band, the coveted red one! I also grabbed the t-shirt that I had in my special needs bag, the white top that I had been running in was a bit of a mess, covered in coke, Gatorade gels etc! From there it was on to the finish area and a left turn to the finish line.

This is where you get the pay back for all the training, it’s an awesome place and for once I managed to spot Erika in the crowd rather than running straight past! I tried to soak up the atmosphere as much as possible, it takes a lot of effort to get yourself to this point but it passes so quickly! A few more metres and up the ramp to the finish to be called over the line by Mike Reilly; “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.

Official time 10.32.30 - they stole 1 second from me!!!!

It was then great to be able to go back to the finish line and see the other guys come in and complete their first time finish. We stayed at the finish line until the 14.5 hour mark and the final member of our squad came made it to the end. I was shattered by that point though so it was off home, via KFC to try and get some well earned sleep!!

I’m so happy with my time, 10.32.30 is a 70 minute pb and a time that I am really proud of. I’m really grateful for everyone that helped me to get this far, Erika continually puts up with my tiredness and constant eating and is simply the best race day supporter there is.
I’m also grateful to all those that have trained with me over the last year, it’s been fun sharing the journey with others and I’ve enjoyed having others push me on. Also thanks to Scott and the guys at XOSIZE for their support.

Plans for 2011 are still being this space!
Monday = recovery day - for supporters too!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Podiums, half-ironman and taper time

So the lack of updating this blog pretty much shows how difficult I have found it fitting in work and training, there has not been a heap of time for anything else.

Since my last post, I seemed to recover well from the marathon, although I lost a bit more biking time than I would have liked over the marathon taper/recovery period.

Since then the focus has been on the bike, running has purely been about trying to maintain fitness, but I have not done any really long runs instead opting for 2 x 20km ish type runs per week, I’ve definitely found this approach to leave my legs a little fresher for my other sessions.

Racing wise, I had my first ever podium at the first XOSIZE race, set up by a decent swim and a really strong bike. Given a lack of much speed work on the run, a 5km run really hurt, I was pleased to pick up one place in my age group on the run, and didn’t get overtaken by anyone with the end result that I came third so was really pleased with that.

I’ve also ticked off Half-Ironman number 4, after worrying about the weather conditions, race day turned out to be a cracker, not too hot, hardly any wind and the course is flat and fast so I was confident in getting a pb and finally ducking under that 5 hour mark.

The swim went well, that is actually one of my stronger legs now relative to others, I got in a rhythm early and although it was a little annoying having to weave through slower swimmers from earlier wave starts, it was pretty uneventful and I was happy to be at the swim exit in about 31.5 minutes. I took my time through transition, I was running through my routine that I will use in Busselton which involved a change into bike kit, was out within a few minutes and on my way.

The bike was fast, I settled into my planned race effort and was moving along at around 37-38km/h. I stuck to the planned pacing and concentrated on getting the nutrition in and felt pretty good. I managed to maintain an average speed for the whole bike leg of 37.5km/h so heading back into T2 I knew I had the sub 5 and a pb nailed as the race clock was just on 3 hours.

The first lap of the 3 lap run course seemed to pass by pretty quickly, I settled into a relatively comfortable heart rate and just kept ticking the km’s off. I slowed gradually throughout the run which probably showed a bit of my lack of running but nothing that I was too worried about. I was conscious of not destroying my legs only 3 weeks out from the Ironman but was certainly pretty happy to stop when I got to the finish line, crossing the line in 4.39.09.

Since then I have had another week and a bit of big bike km’s and have now settled nicely into the taper. The Melbourne weather is forcing me to taper well, wet and windy today so not taking the risk of heading out on the bike.

Not too much more I can do now, I’m looking forward to heading over to Busselton on Wednesday and getting on with the race!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Melbourne marathon

Didn’t go quite as planned but if I take a step back and just look at the overall time, 3.22 something, I am still pleased. If I remember where I have come from over the last 3 years that is still a damn good effort.

If I analyse the race a little closer though I definitely take away something to work on.

With a half marathon pb of 1.29 I had set out a pacing plan to run a 3.10 marathon, that involved trying to hit halfway in about 1.34 allowing for a little fatigue in the second half. I got nice and close to the front at the start so didn’t have too many slower runners to get past, although I did still manage to turn my ankle on the edge of the road after about 400m, not an ideal start!

The first 15k or so was just a non-event, I started relatively easy, my pace plan was to knock of the k’s around the 4.25-4.30 mark, no faster, and that was going just fine, I felt great, heart rate was under control and close to where I wanted it, all was good. Bit of a weird feeling really, I felt like I was travelling to the actual race rather than running in it, I knew it was going to get harder I was just waiting for it to kick in.

Sadly, without me really noticing anything in particular, my km splits started dropping around the 22km mark. Having hit the half marathon point pretty much on schedule, my heart rate was still the same but I could not start to feel stiffness in my legs and my heart rate fell as the pace dropped off. This trend basically continued for the rest of the race, no dramatic ‘hitting the wall’ type incidents, just a gradual dropping in pace first to 4.40minkm’s then 4.50s then 5’s. At the 32km point I knew that I could still run 5 min km’s and make it around the 3.15 mark but sadly the decline continued until the best I could manage were 5.30-5.40min/km.

The decline in pace was matched by decline in heart rate which to me shows that it was not such an issue with cardio fitness but more a muscular problem. For the last 15km my legs felt like they were on the verge of cramping and I had a few occasions where I had sharp pains in either calves of quads that were not much fun.

So all in all a good learning experience, a marathon pb by quite some way and a nice benchmark to beat next time out!

This week has been all about recovery, I’m starting to feel fresh again so next week the last block of build to the Ironman really starts...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Apollo Bay Training Camp

A late addition to the plan ended up being a tough weekend. Luckily I toned down my training on Thursday and Friday of last week to try and give myself a chance to be a bit fresher for the challenges that were to lie ahead. All I knew was the format was expecting to be something like 150km ride + 20 km run each day.

Things I actually learnt were as follows:

1.     The Otway ‘rainforest’ is called that for a very good reason
2.     It’s not just magpies that attack cyclists
3.     The wind is not my friend

For anyone not living or from Australia I need to clarify point 2, some of you will think “attacked by a little bird, don’t be soft” – please refer to link below and see what we have to put up with. This is one of those things that when you see someone else getting hit, side splittingly funny, when it is you, not so much!!

However, the little bugger that decided to attack me did it after 20km into a roaring headwind and by all accounts from those behind me I did not even flinch, such was my pain and suffering due to hatred of the headwind!!

Anyway; a brief summary of each day:

Tried to start easy but felt rubbish, first hill was ok, slow but nothing too bad, long headwind section nearly destroyed me, was in an unhappy place at the time! Thankfully the Coke doctor was able to help me out and I managed to get through the long undulating climb through Forest and enjoyed the descent into Skenes creek.

Here’s a map of the ride, wind was from the southwest so no surprise that the second half was tough

A quick change into some clean and dry clothes and then out for a run, it felt very easy for the first few k’s until I remembered that I had a massive tail wind behind me, reality struck on the way back but I got through it ok, was back in town with 18.5km on the clock and decided that was enough.

Then legs in ocean, and an hour laying down before destroying a parma in the pub for dinner and then into bed by about 9.30.

More of the same, although this time up the first climb I felt a little fresher caught everyone in front of me to the top of the second climb, Lavers Hill. Nice work by Ollie riding the whole day in the big chain ring, I think my knees would have exploded! Unsure of the turnaround point, Ollie and I decided to call it after 69km at the top of yet another hill! The weather for the ride back to Lavers Hill was miserable and everytime I thought I was nearly at the top, another hill popped up. The Pepsi doctor was in surgery today and he brought his friend Mr Snickers to help re-fuel at the top before a cold but fast descent and just one more hill until Apollo Bay.

We also took on Wild Dog Creek Road, sections at the top nearly 20% in gradients were tough but the views were stunning, had to stop when the road ran out.  Here’s the profile of the ride:

Another change and out for the final run, felt terrible this time but just tried to tick off each km, was in my own little world and managed to get through it, another 18km done.

Another trip into the ocean to cool the legs then a hot shower and a red-bull fuelled drive home.

Totals for the weekend were 320km of riding including 5,100m of vertical climbing (12 hours 30 mins) and 36km running (3 hours 5 mins). Fair to say that I slept pretty well last night, not too sore today but have had a day off completely to help the recovery. I’m pleased with the way that I ran off the bike, getting that Ironman marathon time down under the 4 hour mark doesn’t seem quite such a long way away now, just need to make sure I deal with the heat well come race time, because this weekend gave me no practice with that!

Friday, 17 September 2010

And the winner is....

So clearly some of you are stalking me or actually put a bit of thought into it, Lynne wins the prize for being within 1km of the correct bike distance and closest to the overall total!!
Actual totals are:
Swim – 204km
Bike – 5,999km
Run – 1,463km
Total – 7,666km
Miranda was closest with swim and run but clearly I talk up my biking a lot more (or you were looking at your own stats!!) which meant that in total Lynne was the closest. Voucher will be winging its way to you soon (possibly via Kev so make sure he doesn’t steal it)!
Training this past week has been tough, a big weekend with a 165km ride and a 31km run and I’ve backed that up with 49km of running in the last 3 days. Marathon prep is coming together, had a nasty set of 15 x 1km to get through on Tuesday at just quicker than goal marathon pace (with 1 min rest in between each) and actually managed it a lot easier than I thought I would, thanks to the nice wind blowing me home!
As Erika decided to go back to the UK for a week to attend her nan’s funeral I thought I’d tag along to the Tri-Alliance training camp in Apollo Bay this weekend, sounds like the plan is for a ride of 130-150k in the hills each day followed by a 20km run off the bike, I think I will eat and sleep well on Sunday after that! Should be a good chance to practice race day nutrition and pacing and remembering what it is like running on very tired legs, hopefully the weather hold up ok.
Following the camp I’ll have a couple of easy days and then hopefully hit my last really big week of running in prep for the marathon before having a bit of a taper. The goal is to run 4.25-4.30/km pace which would give me a 3.06-3.10 marathon, am actually really looking forward to it as hopefully I will get to start the race feeling fresh (more on this another time), somewhat different to most of my training runs and my 2 previous marathons where I have had a 7 hour swim/bike warm up and 30 degrees plus to contend with for the start of the run!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Team XOSIZE + free money!

I'm pretty excited to announce that I am now a member of team XOSIZE. This is a cool initiative started up by the XOSIZE guys to make everyone feel like a pro (even me!). Athletes involved with team XOSIZE will receive VIP treatment and access to the latest and greatest products / services from leading brands at VIP prices.

Check out full details here, and make sure you join the facebook group:!/group.php?gid=31535915009&v=wall&ref=ts

The XOSIZE shop in Bentleigh has everything that a triathlete could need so check it out next time you are in the area, in order to work out if anyone actually reads this blog, I've got a $50 voucher that I'll give away to the person who can get closest the answering the following question:

In total, how many km of Swim/Bike/Run have I completed between 1 January 2010 and 31 August 2010.

Prize will be awarded once I have a few guesses, just add a comment at the bottom of this post! Probably only makes sense to give out to Melbourne based people but for others feel free to guess. If no one reads it and responds then I'll just have to spend the money myself!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Laying the foundations

This month has been a tough one with work being very busy. That has meant the majority of my training has been done early in the morning, you do get used to it but the 5am alarm call is still rarely a happy moment of each day.

Despite work being hectic, I've managed to keep the training fairly consistent and in the last few weeks have really been focussing on the long ride on Saturdays and the long run on Sundays, particularly given that the Melbourne marathon is now only 5 weeks away. I'm still not able to run as often as I would like for a proper marathon build up but feel like I will be in decent shape come race day.

Swim - 23.4km (8.07)
Bike - 721.15km (24.45)
Run - 233.95km (18.39)

If I look back to the early build up to Port Macquarie, I entered that race with only 12 weeks to go until race day and prior to that we had the move to Australia and plenty of other things going on so whilst my fitness was ok it was not great. The benefit I have had this time is a longer period of consistent training. I compared the hours training from 30 weeks out until 14 weeks out (i.e. where I am currently) for both races and came up with the following:

That shows fairly clearly that I’m in a better position now than I was 14 weeks out from Port Macquarie. The big dip at week 12 on the blue line was due to a skiing holiday in New Zealand where I was still pretty active!

The challenging part will be matching the final 14 weeks of training where for Port Macquarie I had a great period of consistent training, averaging nearly 16 hours per week.

I’m sure work will try its hardest to make this difficult for me but we’ll see where we get to!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Resurrecting the blog...Ironman number 3

I've decided to start the blog up again to track the last few months of my training for Ironman Western Australia. Having kept it fairly regularly for Austria, it's nice to look back at how that went and it's a bit of a shame personally, that I didn't do the same for Australia earlier this year.

So I've updated the bits around the edges a little, it was nice to be able to update most of my personal bests, makes me realise that I have continued to improve over the last year and a bit.

Ironman Western Australia is now just over 4 months away, I've had a pretty good period of base training so far and have just come back from a week in New Zealand with no training at all (apart from the skiing!) so I'm now setting about hitting the training fairly hard again. Have not enjoyed the early alarm calls so far this week but with work very busy at the moment there is no real choice but to try and fit the bulk of the training in the morning. Tomorrow sees a 5am alarm call for an easy roll down to Mordialloc and back, a classic Melbourne ride down beach road that is a 53km round trip from home.

I'll update on lots of stuff that has happened over the last year and the plans for the next 4 months over the coming posts.