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A personal blog entry by Coach Rich days prior to his attempt at the 2017 Ultraman Australia.
For those who aren’t familiar, Ultraman is a 3 day stage race comprising of swim bike and run. It started in Hawaii over 30 years ago and this year will be the 3rd annual running of Australia’s edition held at Noosa Heads, Queensland. The distances are fairly heavy. The stages are comprised of as follows:
Day 1 – 10km swim + 140km Bike
Day 2 – 280km Bike
Day 3 – 84.3km Run
It is an enormous task, especially when we are going in trying to race not just survive. But not dissimilar to any task that seems too great, you break it down into smaller more manageable parts, tick them off and the overall outcome sorts itself out.
I should add, that Ultraman is invitation by application- so I feel very privileged to have been accepted to race this year. When I summited my application the only thing that genuinely concerned me was 10km of swimming. I had run over 85k a couple of times before, I felt my bike strength could handle the 420km of riding but goodness – I thought a 5km swim set was a long way – let alone 10km in the open water.
I chose this race for two reasons. 1) Personal retribution – I really wasn’t happy with how I performed in Kona last year. Not focusing on the result or time that I did, I just knew what I was capable of in training and the race did not reflect that. I made critical errors during the first half of the race which caused this, and is something that makes me grind my teeth a little whenever I think about it. So I wanted any opportunity in 2017, whatever that looked like, to have a race that appropriately reflects what I have been doing in training. 2) Timing – My wife, Lisa, is doing a 120km ultra marathon around Mt Blanc in Italy and France in late August this year so any sort of race needed to be in the first half of the year. This discounted a Kona return and anything past June due to her impending training load. So when the idea of Ultraman came to be, I thought it was a perfect fit for me and it satisfied the two reasons above.
The preparation has been amazing. It has brought be back to how I felt training for my first Ironman. Training hard, consistent and enjoying every minute of the process all while not really knowing whether you are fit enough or fast enough or what to actually expect during the event.
The swimming is what has surprised me the most. While I was in good form going into Hawaii, I still thought any set above 5km was far too long. Not only did my perception change over the last few months but my ability to hold form and maintain speed in the back half of 7/8/10km sets has been super encouraging. I found I almost go into a meditative state when swimming long – it will certainly be something I will miss after the race.
So my expectations… I am driven to have three consistent days whereby the performances do reflect my training. Throughout the weekend I also want to continue to represent to the T:Zero Collective that by living your potential, anything is possible. Set a goal, a massive goal, work hard, real hard and achieve that goal.
I am fit, healthy and ready to see how fast I can go over these 3 crazy days.
I have swapped between ‘us’ and ‘I’ a bit in this blog. It is because unlike anything else I have ever done, this has been the biggest team effort I have ever been apart of.
So, bear with me, the following people I would love to thank:
My crew - I never would have dreamed that we would have at team so selfless in supporting this singular goal for me. That team, my crew for the weekend, includes Scotty Farrell, Nick Quinn, Nick Rinaudo, Steve Wehlow, Brett Kerwick , Andrew Perry & Cam Cole. I feel so very fortunate to have so many great friends as crew to be there every step of the journey. They have been invaluable over the past number of months – not only giving up their own time for the race, but prior to the race, pacing me on course, meetings to go over race strategies, contingency plans, fueling etc. It has been ridiculous and I cant begin to explain how grateful I am to these 7 guys.
Nicki, Em, Tahlia, Nat and Kim – thank you for supporting me by allowing your husbands to crew this weekend. You are all mothers/expecting mothers – and to give up breakfast in bed this Mother’s Day so that they can sit in a car for 8 hours and help me – is remarkable. I truly appreciate it.
Jude, Scott, Karen, Wendy & Carol- Thank you to all of you for helping out with Ted and our little family generally so that this preparation could be done. It is a gross understatement that it couldn’t have been done without your help.
Lisa Spink – Swim coach extraordinaire – you didn’t need to take such an invested interest in this journey but seeing that you are a crazy ultra marathoner yourself, I can kind of see why you did. Thank you for everything you have done to get me this ready – it has been really enjoyable experience and my ability in the water has far exceeded my expectations.
My body maintenance team – Andrew Duff from Sports and Spinal Physio, Kirra and Michele from Queensland Diagnostic Imaging at Caloundra, Di Feldman, Ash Hunter (for the use of her Normies) and Vanessa Ng from Innovation Podiatry have all gone out of their way to get me on the start line. I wish that list wasn’t as long as it was, but I am so stoked that these guys are in my corner.
The previous champions – When you have no idea what you really are getting yourself into, you seek out the ones that do! I am very grateful for the time that Dave Kalinowski (1st Male in 2015 and current course record holder), Pip Holland (1st Female in 2015), Robbie Andrews (3rd Male in 2015) and Tony Bryan (9th Male in 2015) had all given me over the past few months to pass on every little detail they knew about their preparations and performance for Ultraman. These guys are all amazing people and so generous with their time.
The businesses – The following businesses have been with me throughout the training and I will absolutely be representing them with pride this weekend – Clif Bar, Rudy Project, Champion System Apparel, Xterra Wetsuits, Velo Service Course – Mooloolaba, Pioneer Cycling, Sunshine Mitre 10, Ausmar Homes, Hebel and Hebel CSR.
The T:Zero Family – To the T:Zero Coaches, the athletes who I coach, and the T:Zero collective – thank you for your inspiration each week – knowing we have a family of athletes and coaches around Australia all getting up early and embracing the grind to achieve great things is awesome and motivates me every day.
The Kerwick Family – you are both ridiculously incredible people who I am so fortunate to call close friends. Your outlook on life and how you deal with its ups and downs is simply inspiring.
My lovely wife, Lisa – 2017 was (and still is) meant to be ‘your’ year. Thank you so so much for letting me hijack some of the year to do this. You have been so supportive the entire way. Thanks for letting me share some of the trails with you (even though you crushed me on all occasions), thanks for taking the breakfast shift with young Theodore for the majority of the mornings each week and really, thanks for being you. You are brilliant and cool and goodness this is getting wordy – so ill wrap up here. Ox
So yeah – a MASSIVE team. The biggest feeling I have is an overwhelming sense of gratitude and it will be something I feel not only over the weekend but for a long time after.
No stone has gone unturned for this preparation. Logistics are sorted, the race plans (A,B and C) are ready…now its time to sit back enjoy the final day of rest before getting into it on Saturday.
Live Your Potential