Six Long Days In The Month Of May

It’s been over a month since I’ve given my last update, and I sincerely apologise for that. Life has a way of getting ahead of you, but really there’s no excuse. I last left off with a bittersweet update. I got engaged to my sweetheart Belinda Coates, but I also faced a disappointing DNF at the Abu Dhabi Ironman. I simply wasn’t prepared for the extremely high temperatures we faced over there.

As an athlete, you never quite know how to approach a situation like that. I was as prepared for that race as ever, but no amount of preparation can get you ready for something so unexpected. After a DNF like that, you tell yourself to train harder, but that isn’t always the best solution. In triathlon, it often makes things worse.

So I just kept charging on, trying to put it behind me in the best way I can. I went up to Lennox Head to do some training with Team Aeromax and I spent a good four weeks with Clayton Fettel, Mitch Robbins, Joey Lampe, and Josh McHugh. My training for the Port Macquarie 70.3 started five weeks before the race, so I had plenty of time to prepare and get my mind off of things.

The Bussleton 70.3 was six days after the Port Macquarie 70.3, so I had to be a little more careful about not wearing myself out. I got back to Port Macquarie one week before the race to do a little light training, visit with the family, and get fully recovered before the race. Much thanks for Coastline Chiropractic for the adjustment, and of course to my mum for her amazing home cooking. Exactly what I needed to get race fit.

2011 Port Macquarie 70.3
The field was fairly well stacked for the Port Macquarie 70.3 this year. At the top, you had Joe Gambles, who has won several 70.3 events in the past few years, and 10 time New Zealand Ironman Champion Cam Brown. All of my favorite Aussies were there too. Matty White, Josh Rix, Leon Griffin, and Tim Reed all made an appearance.

Overall, I was happy with the way the race progressed. I came out of the swim with the main contenders, Gambles, Cam Brown, Tim Reed, and Matty White. I knew I had four people ahead of me, but that didn’t matter too much. The run is my strength, so as long as I was close enough by the time we got there, I knew I had a chance at victory.

Port Macquarie had a new bike course this year. It was a single lap 90Km course. The first 45Km put us right into a strong headwind, and I lost my pace with Gambles and Brown somewhere around the 13Km mark. My legs were exhausted, but I managed to pull off a strong ride back into town. I gained on a few of the other guys, except for Gambles who looked like he was on a mission from God.

Right around the transition from bike to running, I was in fifth place with Gambles a good 5 1/2 minutes ahead of me. There were four other guys in the transition area with me, and as we exited, I made a wrong turn. It took me some time to correct it, and by the time I did, I was back to ninth place.

That’s when I got frustrated and really started to push it. At the end of the first 2 and 1/2 Km, I was back in fifth. It wasn’t too long before I pushed past Joey Lampe and Leon Griffin, putting me in third place.

I kept pushing. Somewhere around the first part of the second lap, I overtook Christian Kemp for second place. By then, I knew Gambles had won the race, but I still managed to get a good three minutes into his lead. Aside from the mishap at the beginning of the run, I’m still very happy with the results. I had the fastest run of the day and ended the race in second place.

Everyone wanted to party after the Port Macquarie race, but I knew I had to stay within reason. The Busselton 70.3 was just six days after that. I also knew I had to fly out to Perth on Wednesday to meet with a group of 20-24 year olds who show promise in the sport. They invited me to visit a nearby high school to, talk to some students, and do a few drills with them. Time flew by, and before I knew it, I was racing the Busselton 70.3

2011 Busselton 70.3
I’ll admit that I still felt a little fatigued at the start of this year’s Busselton race. I kept telling myself, “you’re a little tired. Don’t do anything stupid!” The swim felt good, and just like Port Macquarie, I came out with the main pack. Guy Crawford had a phenomenal swim and appeared to be on his own program for the entire bike leg.

A part of me suspected that Guy would eventually “pay the price” for his lead, so I didn’t pay much attention to it during the bike. The transition went well for me this time (no wrong turns!), and I had all of the top runners in my sights. I put in a big surge to give myself a gap on them, and I managed to hold onto it!

At this point, there was no looking back. I could hear them. They weren’t too far behind me. I overtook Jamie about 500 meters into the run, and then I caught up with Josh Rix somewhere around 3Km. That only left one person. The mysterious Guy Crawford who hadn’t yet paid his price. I caught him at 6Km.

By the end of the first lap, I had Dellow, Reed, and Matty White about 50 meters behind me. Just for good measure, I surged ahead some more to put a little extra space between us. The run felt really good as I slowly pulled away from the other guys. When I made the final turn towards the finish line, I saw that nobody had gained on me, so I eased up and enjoyed the win.

Now the Port Macquarie and Busselton are done, I’ve got my eyes on Challenge Cairns. It’s less than four weeks away, and there’s plenty of work to do. Before I go, I want to thank WTC for putting on two fantastic events. I also want to thank the organising committees and Triathlon Western Australia. You always do a great job of looking after the athletes!

See you in few weeks.

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