THE T:ZERO BLOG
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KNOCKING ON THE DOOR
SWIM 55:49 – BIKE 5:08:13 – RUN 3:24:05 – TOTAL 9:32:31
T1 – 3:14 T2 – 1:10
30th Overall (including pros) – 19th Age Grouper – 6th in 35-39 Category.
After a great year in 2017, substantially ticking my sub 10hr goal in both Port Mac (9:41:00) and Cairns (9:40:20), I sat down with my Coach Richard and looked to what the plan would be for 2018….. his words…. “I’m going to turn you into a machine on the bike”….. Okkkkkayyy.
Many hill reps of Mt Mee proceeded, on the TT bars, along with a lot of low cadence / high power strength work, and it paid dividends come race day. Whilst maintaining a strong swim program, the bike became even more of a focus as I battled through a calf tear post Cairns last year, and also a hip flexor issue that troubled my running for months. It could however have been a blessing in disguise, as it definitely slowed me down from peaking too early. Rich is amazing at working through these situations, making adjustments to the program to build the strength back up, and reintroduce me to where I need to be.
This build was different to the last, different sessions on the bike, and a lot of run / walking sessions to manage the above said injuries. This continued right through the build, and we introduced the run walk into my racing at the Tweed Coast Enduro. I did a walk run there…. And albeit that I wasn’t overly fit at that point…. I proceeded to record my fastest half marathon off the bike. There’s definitely merit to it, and if it’s good enough for Jan Frodeno, I’m all in.
Training continued to build, as did my confidence and strength that I can go faster than last year. A thought never crossed my mind that this wasn’t possible. 90% of my training was solo again this season, with my training buddies training for other crazy adventures. But this didn’t bother me as I’m still very motivated to chase goals, and I genuinely think this is where my physical and mental strength comes from. There’s no one to hide behind on race day!
My body came good in the lead up to taper, with the niggles subsiding. My pre-race cold came the week before race week this year, which was better than last year when it hit me on the drive down to Port… so I was in a real good place health wise which had me excited!
It’s a busy time in the lead up to race day once you are down there, and it’s a battle to stay off your feet. After completing 7 IM’s now though, the process almost becomes a bit easy, which keeps any potential nerves at ease. I’m never nervous for the race, or if I have done enough work, I’m only ever nervous about what the day will bring me, and how hard I can push myself to get the best result possible. Just get me in the water!
I was super excited that my coach was going to be sideline for this race to give me a razzle when I needed it, but due to unforeseen circumstances he had to make what is a pretty easy decision to not make the trip to Port. There was no question to this decision, and it didn’t weigh my confidence in getting the job done, as I knew that he would be pumping info through Mandi to me.
There was a lot of talk of Kona spots in the lead up, and that I deserve it etc…etc, but this was 100% not my focus leading into this race. My time will come. I genuinely just wanted to hit my race plan perfectly, and get to the finish line as fast as possible. If the result was good enough, and I deserved to head to the big island, I would grab it with open arms (probably cry like a little girl) and chase that finish line down!
This is how my day unfolded……..
I got into the stalls early and was about the sixth row from the front. I like being there… I feel I can belong with these fast feet even if some of them disappear very quickly from my sights. I felt I had a better swim than previous years, but the result was all but the same as last year (a whole seven seconds quicker J) I held some good feet, navigated the course really well to hit the 3800m perfectly on my gps, and entered T1 really comfortable. The swim plan played over in my head while I was in the water, and I stuck to the prescribed effort levels. No idea of the time as I left the water, but was confident it was in the ball park.
I got through here very smoothly, pretty much spot on to last year time wise, but I put my cycling shoes on prior to heading to the bike this time round as I was using cycling shoes rather than my tri shoes. My transitions are very simple really. Quick wipe of the feet, socks on, shoes on and put the helmet on as I head to the bike.
I hit the bike full of confidence and ready to fire. The plan. 230W for the first 60k, 240W for the next 60, and 250 – 260 for the last 60. The hills heading out of town punch the power up pretty quickly, but that wasn’t a surprise, and I felt really good. I rode solo out to the other end of the course, not passing, or being passed, and ended up with 250W for the first 60k, but was feeling very comfortable about that. That was where I ran into Scotty Farrell, one of our gun TZero Head coaches. This was a very big surprise to me, but I settled in with what would be my first real pace line all the way back to town. I pulled turns up front, and got passed when I needed to, dropping off the pace on occasion. But I seem to pull them back real quick when we hit the hills. We had one of the women’s pros tagging along as well, and everyone was holding their gaps which was great to see. We ended back in town together, I punched up Matthew Flinders no problems with my brother running alongside me like a mad man at the tour, he was just missing the pitch fork and devil ears! Haha.
I really didn’t want to lose these guys knowing that I had to stop at special needs for my other two bottles of nutrition…. So I put the pedal down a little and went off the front heading back out of town. My mate at the special needs was a gun and had my bottles out of the bag ready for me, so I barely paused. This was a bit detrimental, as I took off solo and the others were nowhere to be seen behind me. Oh well…. Back to the power plan.
I continued to feel very strong, and I really had no black spots on the bike all day, definitely my best day on the bike to date. The weather was the best it’s ever been in Port, top of 22 with a slight tail wind on the way home, which wasn’t really noticeable on the way out. I kept telling myself on the bike, that “Today was the day, let’s go for it”. I punched out to the other end of the course solo, and was picking up some of the heroes that had gone out too hard on the first lap. One stayed with me, and the third place pro female had reconnected. These two sat on me the whole way back to town… I wasn’t concerned however, we had a tail wind on the way home, and they were holding their gaps on me. So I was happy to ride to my numbers.
I ended up with a 260W avg for the first 60k and 250 for the last 120k. A little over the plan, but at no time did I feel out of my depth.
T2: A very smooth T2, shoes on, running belt on, and took hat, sunnies, nutrition with me to get sorted as I ran. Feeling good.
Like always, I have to continually pull myself back as I head out onto the run, as the legs just want to go. I know it’s a long day, that can be made a whole lot longer if you go too hard too early! I hit Mandi up for my swim and bike splits as I came out of transition so I knew where I was at… I actually thought I was faster on the bike than what she told me, but was still really happy knowing that I was 8 minutes ahead of last year. Time to focus on nailing this marathon.
As we had trained in the lead up to the race, Rich informed me the week prior that we would do a run / walk today, and I was totally cool with it! This was the plan:
Lap 1 – 4:45 pace – walking 30 seconds at every second aid station.
Lap 2 – 4:40 pace – walking 15 – 20 seconds at every second aid station.
Lap 3 – 4:35 pace – walking 10 – 15 seconds at every aid station.
Lap 4 – Open the gate and take it under 4:30 pace…… and only walk if I need to for 5 – 10 seconds.
Well I hit lap one comfortably, running 4:40 - 4:44 pace between stations, and the pace stayed here for lap 2 also, so well on track in hitting the plan at this point, and feeling good. Lap three is always where the battle starts, and the cramp monster was introduced to the game, and I was battling a bit to push the faster pace. My quads were locking up, and where my Achilles meets my calf would grab if I extended too hard. I’ve been here before. This came into play at about 25k, but was manageable. I was now into the short walks at each aid station, and was still able to make deals with the devil to continue to run at 4:40 – 4:45 pace to get to the next aid station, but not 4:35 unfortunately.
Last lap had finally arrived, and it was time to hit it, but I couldn’t find the next gear unfortunately. I was getting messages from Mandi, my brother, and Andrew Perry at different points of the course that the others ahead of me were slowing significantly, and that it was time to go! Believe me, my mind wanted to….. but my legs had other ideas, I was even cramping in my forearms for christ’s sake! The cramps pulled me up on the spot two or three times, having to massage and stretch them out. I threw in a couple of the hideous tasting cramp fix sachets in the final 10 – 15 ks which seemed to help. The fourth time up the hill was the first time I’ve ever walked up that hill…. Both my quads locked up as I turned left at the bottom of the hill and I had to stop. I walked to half way, and got running again.
I seemed to be able to pick the pace up again, collected my fourth band, and had about 8k to go. I ended up catching up with a young fella named “Scotty” on the brake wall who was getting a massive amount of support from guys on bikes, particularly out the back end of the course, so I worked hard to sit on his shoulder and feed off the enthusiasm he was receiving from his team mates, I’m sure one of them was Tommy Raudonikus. I also had Jason and Mandi running all over the place to give me messages, mainly that 5th place was only 40 seconds ahead of me. I did everything I could to go quicker, but I was just holding pace.
Things become so much easier as you get to start counting down from about 8k, and you start thinking about what you are about to achieve in running down that finish chute. It’s a surreal feeling that you can’t really put into words. I was chatting with my new mate Scotty as we both battled to get to the finish line as quick as possible, offering each other encouragement, to push him to the finish line, so he could drag me along! I ran strong to the finish, with my last 8k splits between 4:40 – 4:50.
I ended with a 4:51 average… exactly the same as last year when I ran the complete marathon straight (I will say that it was a 15 second marathon PB though… haha). Very interesting. If I hit the plan 100%, today would have seen me sub 3:20, but not to be unfortunately. I still look at this as an awesome result, especially working through the injuries I had in the build.
I’m 100% confident I did everything I could to get to the line as fast as possible on the day, and have no regrets. The tank was below empty at the finish line. I took my first trip ever to the medical tent, as I instantly started to throw up as I walked away from the finish arch, and was dizzy. All good though, they took all my vitals and gave me some magic little nausea pill, and I was like brand new. I was still cramping like a mofo, so I got a massage and made my way back into the recovery tent.
It’s six days post-race now, and I’ve gently trained every day except Friday, and I feel really good. I’m in a real good place, and will now shift my focus to Cairns IM in just a little over four weeks.
It would be remiss of me to not mention roll down on the Monday. For those that don’t know, this is where they award the places for the World Championships in Kona. Finishing 6th was my best age group result to date, and I knew that there would only be four spots in my age group. I barely slept on Sunday night, but that was probably more to do with the copious amounts of caffeine that I had taken in throughout the day. Long story short, it seemed that every age group in the lead up to mine was rolling down. (rolling down means that if someone doesn’t take the spot, it rolls down to the next person). However, the four spots in the 35-39 age group were graciously taken by the guys that beat me on the day. Good on them.
I’m in a good place, and am training well already. Four more weeks of focus through to Cairns, and I’ll throw it all on the line there again!
Can I go faster?
Sure I can!
Thanks must go to my amazing Coach Richard Thompson, you are a seriously amazing coach, and a good mate! Love ya like a brother!
Mandi, WOW! Your support continues to amaze me, and everyone around us, you are a truly amazing lady and I love you with every bit of my heart! My little support crew, CJ, Ryno & Natty… It always brings so much calm and joy to me every lap, knowing that I’m going to see your smiling faces! I only hope that you see this as me being a good role model as we continue this journey together, and all the sacrifices that are made are a benefit in the future.
Thanks to all the support on Course, Jase in particular who was chasing me all over the place on the bike, he was everywhere. And all the RTC and T:Zero support crew, thanks for making the trip down, Especially you Danno. It was great to have you there. And all the athletes on course, so good! Apologies if I didn’t respond on occasion.
That’s a wrap! Hope you enjoyed my report!
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