About a month ago, I had a rethink of my season, and made some midseason alterations to my calendar, and my focus for the remainder of 2013. Rather than bore you with the details of the next six months, I’ll try to cover these races as they happen.
Several weeks ago I began my preparation to do an Olympic distance race (i.e. Port Douglas 5150) on one weekend, then back it up the following weekend with the Cairns Ironman 70.3. The reason I decided to do these races is that it had been such a long time between races and also coming off a chest infection, I just wanted to see where I was at in terms of fitness. The 5150 was mainly a hit-out event, and I was preparing myself to have a good crack at the Ironman 70.3.
So the 5150 race was great, I felt good and enjoyed it, I got a 6th place there, which was what I expected for the field of athletes, and my ability in short course racing. I spent the week in Port Douglas (about an hour drive north of Cairns, Queensland) training with Clayton “Clayto” Fettel and Joey Lampe. I had recovered so well and was feeling on top of my game. Clayto was racing the full Ironman, while Joey and I had booked our start for the Ironman 70.3, which was being held simultaneously with the full distance event in Cairns.
Then, in a moment of sheer stupidity, the thought came into my mind to give the Ironman a crack. With no proper Ironman-build in my training, and only six days from race start, I tossed out the idea to my Team. Weirdly enough, I got the support of my coach, manager, and wife, which mutually supported the idea, and with less than six days to go, I got the go ahead to do Ironman Cairns. My preparation for this race was not what I usually do, as it was all about the 70.3 distance, so it was to be interesting to see how the body would hold up.
Race morning/wife’s birthday, I was lucky enough to see a nice clear ocean , which I was told was infested with Croc’s (the reptile, not the fluorescent foam shoes) and only a little whisper of breeze. My swim was pretty crappy and I came out further back than I normally do due to missing two weeks of swimming (as I had a chest infection leading into this race). So after a quick transition I was onto the bike and looking forward to a scenic ride up the coastline and seeing the gorgeous tropical North Queensland …I wish!!!
It was “balls to the wall” to play catch up to just get back onto the main pack of riders I was expecting to come out of the water with. So I caught New Zealand ‘s Cam Brown, Matty White and Todd Israel around 15km mark. Knowing that Luke McKenzie, Clayto, and Chris “Macca” McCormack weren’t in that group, I knew I had caught onto the group riding in equal forth.
Another 15km up the road we caught Macca. Feeling quite good, I was driving the group up into Port Douglas. Macca took a turn up front and I was sitting second with Cam, Matty and Todd still intact. We approached a bit of a tight spot on the road, and we naturally bunched up, and there was a Technical Official sitting off the back of our group. He rode up to me and issued me a drafting penalty. It was a silly mistake, where I wasn’t able to drop back quick enough in a technical section of the course. He might not have had the best angle to see it, but he made the call, and I had to cop it.
It was a little disappointing as I felt I had been off the front of my group for most of the ride and this happens in such a silly spot. So I then decided to surge forward and haul a$$ up the road as I had to get into the penalty box, knowing I didn’t want to lose the ground I made to even catch these boys in the first place. Plus I knew I still had Luke and Clayto out front, which is a scary combination, as they both are strong cyclist. In my angered state, I was able to gain around 2 mins by the time I jumped into the penalty box (…with a gorgeous view might I add).
When I saw the boys go past, I might have uttered a few choice words, and I apologize to the Technical Officials which were staffing the Penalty Box. My emotions may have gotten the best of me in that situation, but I had already worked so hard after a poor swim, to have to claw myself back again. After my penalty was served, I was out of the box on a mission. I caught the boys back at around the 130km mark.
On the ride back into T2 us boys were having a little friendly banter when Matty White decides to pull a turn… Coming past me, he says “I’m a #@%ing cheat”. LOL. Makes the ride a lot more enjoyable when you have good guys out there, keeping you motivated, and talking a bit of smack.
Back into the transition I was told a few splits and McKenzie was 21:58 up the road. Geeeeezzzz, I thought to myself – I’ve got a bit of work, and it was going to have to happen quick smart. So Macca and I ran together for a bit, before he took off. I let him go, but soon caught back up to him. Macca didn’t seem his usual self, which was understandable due to him being in hospital at the start of the week with a Kidney infection.
We ran together for around 4km and Macca was feeling worse, telling me he was pissing blood (…maybe that’s too much information), poor guy. I then dropped Macca and whilst running I saw McKenzie on the way back from the Yorky’s Nob loop, and it was pretty clear to me he had a massive lead. I thought to myself the only way I was going to make time up was to run hard into the head wind.
I overtook Clayto which put me in second place. I kept getting splits from the awesome spectators lining the course. It’s a long run into town, then multiple loops along the foreshore, so the end of the race is full of spectators. I was consistently reducing the 21:58 deficit that Luke built on his Swim/Bike combination.
I ended up crossing the line in second, and was only 4:38 back, taking over 17 minutes of Luke’s lead at T2. I ran a 2:44:24 marathon which was over 10 minutes faster than the second fastest Marathon of the day. I guess looking back now the results it could have been a little different if I didn’t get my drafting penalty. As I could take 4 minutes off my time, and possibly fresher legs at not having to play catch up twice during the bike leg. But all-in-all, I can’t complain and I have lived and learned from my mistakes …until next race!
Well done to Luke McKenzie on a champion effort. Also, I take my visor off to Macca – legend, and tough as nails!
So for me now the game plan is a few easy days then back into it as I head back to the states for a couple of races in a few weeks.
Thanks again to my wife-Bel, family and supporters, my Manager (Mike), the doggies. Sponsors; Scody, Giant, Newton Running, Daikin Air Conditioners, Endura, Shimano, Oakley, Garmin, Blue Seventy, Altitude Training Systems, Continental Tyres, Hypnotic Zoo, Scicon.
Special mention to my coach-Grant Giles. Thanks for always believing in me and pushing me to succeed when I thought I possibly couldn’t. He is a great mentor, friend, and supporter and the number one coach. Go Team Aeromax!!!
Just a quick recap as a lot has been going on in my life. Sorry for the slackness on my blogs.
The Japan 70.3 was a great, hot race, where Macca tested me and I ended up with a 2nd place.
Then I went off to the US where I picked up a virus which knocked me for a six. I did end up going to Munice 70.3 where I was still experiencing the effects of my virus, I got a 10th place there.
Once back to Boulder I was trying to get on the mend so I could get a full block of solid training in for Challenge Copenhagen. Two weeks later I was off to try and make it a three peat at one of my favourite races Challenge Copenhagen.
Race morning started off well having a typical swim of mine. Onto the bike course, I rode up to Jimmy and Fredrick by the 20km mark and moved into 2nd place whilst Aaron was up the rode in 1st place. I dropped the boys and tried to close the gap on Aaron, but he was riding like a demon and kept putting time into me. I got off the bike 9 minutes down and knew it was going to be a long day as I immediately felt sick. On the run I was unable to hold any nutrition down and it was coming out both ends! Thanks to the crowd who encouraged me the whole way and helped get me to the finish line. I was upset with not being able to three peat but glad to give it a shot.
I wanted to thank the boys from Challenge Copenhagen for putting on a great event as always and maybe I might have to give it another shot.
I am now back on the Gold Coast to look after my wife, who was diagnosed with Cervical cancer just three days before my big Copenhagen race. She has now had her operation and is on the mend and I’m having to be her slave and do all the house duties…..
So my Aussie season is going to be big. First race for me is Port Douglas long course race, with a few others in between. My next big Ironman race will be Western Australia in December.
I’m disappointed that I wont be at Vegas 70.3 worlds but family comes first and there’s always next year.
Onwards and upwards from here!
Here is the full version of the highlights from Ironman Australia 2012. Enjoy!
Hey guys, I just wanted to share a video that I had produced last week during Ironman Australia. With the help of a very talented Videographer, Michael Wilkie, he captured the vibe and energy of race week, and some of the race footage. Later this week, I hope to have a longer version online covering the race highlights. I’m currently in Bora Bora on my honeymoon, but wanted to get this out, while the memory of the event is still in everyones minds. Port Macquarie had incredible race weather, and the crowds were amazing as usual.
Race Report for Challenge Copenhagen 2011
Well I just wanted to give everyone a quick update on my race in Copenhagen this past weekend. The weather was better than the lead up last year, as the rains in 2010 were the worst they had experienced in years, and it caused havoc with their roads (which caused many punctures last year…).
My preparation wasn’t very good, and I had battled with a virus about 2 ½ weeks out that had been zapping my energy, so my training efforts were not as intense as I would have preferred. I saw a doctor in Boulder and was on antibiotics up until 4 days out from my departure to Denmark. Getting to Copenhagen was a little more relaxing than last year, as I had Bel with me, and that was a nice way to settle into the race weekend.
Well the swim start was the usual smash and thrash, until we settled into a rhythm. I fell off the leaders early in the swim, so was pretty much on my own for most of the swim, and I exited the water in 5th place. I had Stephen Bayliss, Fredrik Seistrup and Bjorn Anderson out three minutes ahead of me, but Jimmy Johnson was only about 40 seconds ahead, and then there was the main pack of seven over a minute behind me. I rode pretty well, and was on my own for the first 30kms, then I caught Jimmy, and soon after that, we got swallowed up by the pack I had dropped back in the swim.
The course in Copenhagen is a great mix of straight country roads, and some narrow technical sections with tight corners, and cobblestone surfaces. You get a definite feel of Europe when racing there. Last year I made my break off the bike through those technical corners to drop some Danish guys that were shadowing me, but this year the corners which assisted my solo breakaway one year earlier, became my downfall. Soon after the pack swallowed us up, I was sitting in third position and we were heading into a sharp corner. The guys ahead of me slowed down for the corner, and I came up to about 6 metres to the guy in front of me, while I was still braking. I heard a motorbike along the side of me, but was focused on slowing and taking the corner, when I heard him yell “Number 1″ (my race number…) “Penalty” and he held up a card to me. He then yelled to the guys behind me, and in front of me, that he was giving them a warning.
I was fuming, and it started to do my head in. I remembered from the race briefing that they said we could dispute a penalty if we thought they were unfair, so I tried to settle myself down and told myself to just finish the bike, then dispute the charge, and get on with the race. I was feeling pretty strong, so at about 155kms on the bike, I pushed the pace a little, and frenchman Christophe Bastie came with me, and Jimmy, Dejan Patrcevic (from Croatia) and last years second place getter Keegan Williams (from New Zealand) didn’t come with us. I was glad to see the group split up because I would prefer to set into my run pace without the others breathing down my neck.
By the time I was heading into T2, Bjorn Anderson was smashing the field and he had over a 16-minute lead on me, but the other early leaders of Bayliss, and Seistrup were only a minute ahead of me and I had opened up nearly a three minute lead over the boys I dropped at the 155km mark. I knew I had to settle this drafting penalty, so they told me to get in the “Penalty Box” and I told them that I was going to dispute it after the race. I knew I was not in a drafting position, and that anyone looking at the lead-in to the corner would use common sense and reverse the call. Note to self… never assume that common sense will prevail.
I ran about 1km, and a guy road up on a motorbike yelling at me to stop to serve my penalty. I tried to reason with him, that I was going to dispute the call, because we were told in the pre-race briefing that we could. He told me if I didn’t serve the penalty, he would disqualify me right there on the spot. I was nearly 2km into the run, so I was going off at him, and yelling back that we were told we could dispute a “bad” call. He wasn’t budging so I knew I would go mental if I finished the race and then found out it was all in vain as they were going to stand by their call. So I stood on the side of the road, while he served me the four minute penalty. I had already moved into a solid third place before I was forced to stop, but then I watched 4th, then 5th, then 6th and eventually 7th run by me. Each guy that ran by me, raised my level of frustration. I hope there weren’t any young children standing near me, and if so, I hope they didn’t have a good understanding of english. At least the english I was using…
By the time my penalty was served, I was in 8th place, and I hit the road, like a bat outta hell. I was angry and running out of frustration, and just possibly not running sensibly. My Garmin GPS watch has me running a 3:20 min/km pace, and I picked off 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, and by the 7km mark I was approaching Jimmy Johnson who was sitting in 3rd. I ran past him then thought that I still had 35 kilometres to go, and at the pace I was going at, it wasn’t going to be sustainable for the remainder of the race, so I eased back to my normal marathon pace (which is about a 4:00 min/km pace).
I overtook Christophe Bastie to move into second place at the 9km mark so I only had Bjorn Anderson up the road. I had Dejan tailing me on the run, and I couldn’t shake him. He was always 20-30 seconds behind me, but I kept my focus on Anderson, who had smashed us all with a spectacular ride. I kept getting splits from the crowd, and I knew I was closing in, but I didn’t take the lead until the 23km mark. I still had Dejan trailing me by 30 seconds, and Jimmy was only a minute back from me as well.
Dejan eventually caught me, and we ran together for a few kms, then I surged a little and dropped him. After a few minutes, I felt nature calling and needed to make a visit to the nearest port-a-loo. After finishing my business and exiting T3, I had Dejan right next to me again. So I dropped him again, and ran on my own until I was joined by Jimmy Johnson at the 35km mark. Jimmy’s a good runner, and it felt like my Jason Shortis dual from Ironman WA all over again. I used a similar tactic and settled into a pace with him side-by-side and took in a SiS Smart 1 Gel (which has a kick of caffeine…) for good measure. After I was feeling fresher, and knowing I only had about 5km to go, I surged to drop Jimmy. He held pace with me, and even then put a surge on me. We were flying and not letting the other one get an advantage. I knew Jimmy had put in a pretty good effort to catch up to me, but I also knew I had run the early portion of the race at a silly pace, and I knew I didn’t want to have a sprint finish with him.
I had 2km to go, and dug deeper than I’ve ever gone before. I wasn’t thinking about anything but the finish line and I did not turn around until I reached the entrance of the finish chute. I had no idea of where he was but when I turned around I couldn’t see him. So I cruised in the finish line and lapped up the applause. I knew the predominantly Danish crowd were hoping to Jimmy there first, but they were awesome at supporting my repeat performance from 2010. It was my narrowest win over an Ironman-distance race, with Jimmy coming in 35 seconds later, and third place Dejan Petrcevic only 1:03 behind me. They were great competitors and they pushed me hard to the very end. Penalty, and nature calls aside, it was a great race, and I was over the moon to be able to defend my 2010 win.
So now I’m back to Boulder to recover and prepare for Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas in four weeks time.