Friday, April 20, 2018

Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

Been a while since my last update and i promise to try and keep this exactly that, an update! Last year was certainly a bit of a doozy and one i certainly didn't see coming. The wash up was I was i needed a good rest and regroup, and it was time for me to take my sport seriously for the first time in my life. I remember my last sentence following my 2015 kona experience as an age grouper being "one day ill come back as a pro and race this thing". At the time i had no idea what I'd go through to get to that point but i was a year of self discovery and evolution that my wildest dreams couldn't have imagined. Anyways that's in the books now and off course my performance in Kona will be what I'm measured against in every race going forward and it wont be until i get back there and jump in the ring with the big boys that ill be able to alter my Ironman narrative. I'm really bloody excited about everything in front of me and i cant wait to kick things of in South Africans on Sunday just as i did last year.

Following a couple of months of "active recovery" as i just love exercising too much!! I kick started my 2018 prep on Christmas Eve. The local lads down in tassie led by our fearless leaders Kimbo Gillard and Mickey The Fox Dalton decided a 215km leg sapping southern tassie loop was the perfect way to bring the festive season in. Might i just point out these two men and 2:14 and 2:15 Marathoners, tassie certainly is a sleeper when it comes to sporting talent. But i have too acknowledge my Running edge bunch of gangsters in Matt G, Wellsy, Aaron, Tennick, Budgie, Tiz, Slonga, Hayden Armstrong (probably the strongest cyclist I've ever ridden with) seriously he's incredible!! Ando, waxy, smarty, tobo, and the occasional cameo from Pete Barret. I apologise if i missed anyone lads!! But honestly i owe these guys a hug thank you for getting my lazy ass moving again and refocused on working on my weaknesses for the new year. They would not only be there every ride but we'd often have 6 dudes to keep me honest on my run sessions, having these guys support was a big game changer in that early season foundation stage, really reminded how valuable a great training squad can be, cant wait for the summer in aus for more massive days with these animals. Anyways back to Christmas Eve and as we'd ridden for 7hrs 15min i figured i May as well add on a 45min run and kick start the season with an 8hr brick session. Yep everything after that hasn't seemed so bad at all!

After a great few weeks at home and training with the lads in tassie was time to pack the bags and head of for the first training camp in LA on January 9. Well this was a pretty low key camp, Geraint Thomas, our coach Tim Kerrison and myself. This was an opportunity to add the structure back into the program and off course get a bit of a yard stick where the early season was at for the pair off us. As always the training in LA was absolutely perfect, the roads where dry, sun was out, and it wasn't to hot, was absolutely perfect. Not surprisingly our early season fitness benefited from that and we both posted PR's in training and while i wont comment on G mine best day was a 2hr TT effort along the PCH at 360 watts followed by 25km at 3:50km pace, by far my best bike run combo I've ever posted, had been a great early season for me. G would head back to europe with instant success in Algarve winning the tt and finishing on the podium in Tirreno-Adriatico so was good to know where things where at.

With G and Tim heading back across the pond to start the rd season Fallon, Olive (the dog and I headed to Big Bear Lake for a altitude running block. Again things kept progressing nicely with me logging a couple of 90+km running weeks (big for me) and i even went and ran a marathon around the lake one day simply because i was enjoying my running so much. We had some nice big snow storms so i enjoyed some long days on the home trainer watching Winter Olympics ironically while Fallon went and shredded the slopes on her little snow board. The dog got to chance to chase an endless number of ducks and squirrels so the whole family had a great time at this training camp.

After 6 weeks in the thin air and another important foundation block in the legs and lungs, was time to head across the pond to Europe. We headed to the spanish island of Tenerife to link up with Tim and a bunch of the sky boys to all important final prep for the first race off the season. I love Tenerife and have been doing training camps there since the liquigas days in 2011. Brief explanation as to why its a hotspot for training is the island is a valcano, not the dissimilar to kona. From the sea the mountains start and stop at a plateau around 2100m later which is where we all sleep. From there we can drop to sea level easily to do our training and climb back up when we are done. There is an endless amount of incredible climbs of every which variation you cloud possibly imagine and every trip we discover a new one. Tim is a hug fan of finding "short cuts" which start and finish in the same spot as the longer version, yep the steepest he can find!! Oh and he finds some doozy's to keep us on our toes. It's pretty rare you'll find the winner off the 3 grand tours annually don't stay at the hotel parador and do there preparations in Tenerife.

Having said all that however this trip we decided to stay beside the beach and T3 (Tenerife Top Training) centre for a bit of a chance. During this period before the race its also pretty crucial to not skimp out on the swimming km's as you really pay for it in the race! The pool at T3 is regarded as one of the best in the world and was littered with national teams from Belgium, Russia, France and Spain, oh and Holland. Basically i was by far the worst swimmer in the pool! Was pretty funny actually my first morning there. Just like in the lead up to international rowing regattas coaches have there stop watches on all there rivals seeing where they are at. Swimming it turns out are exactly the same and when i dived in day 1 i must have looked like i knew what i was doing as the stop watches and eyes where definitely on my lane. When I looked up a couple of laps later the eyes where certainly nowhere near my lane as they had realised i was a complete hack and probably offended they let me in the pool at all!

Anyways i had a great couple of weeks in the pool at T3 and even broke 30 seconds for 50m in the 50m pool for the first time, that was pretty exciting!! The centre isn't only a pool but also has a running track and complete world class gym with woodway treadmills. To be brutally honest for a sports addict like me it was absolute heaven with tennis courts, soccer fields, CrossFit courses, massage and much much much more, it even had 2 golf courses either side off centre, just thinking about it makes me want to jump on the plane and go back! I could definitely live there, in fact I've considered it as T3 also has a bar serving spot on espresso and ice cold tap beer, oh and you can get a protein shake as well off course. Did i mention already its sporting heaven?? You can even surf right down in front. Ive got to stop I'm missing the place too much the more i talk about it, luckily ill be back there in a few weeks, yay!!!

My daily routine was really a sporting dream for me and just as I'd envisaged my Ironman career to look like. I'd get up and jump in the pool around 8, the Spanish like to sleep in! Shoot back to the apartment across the road and grab my bike. I'd cruise along the coast a bit and meet the sky boys at the bottom of there long decent down from the volcano and I'd do 4-6hrs with them. Once home i could through the shoes on and go for a jog on the foreshore, running track or treadmill. It was just so easy to get great volume and quality training in i simply had a smile on my face every single second! Oh that's not true. One day we did a team workout on the Churchie Climb and that hurt a significant amount. It's funny i race for 8+ hours yet 11 minutes that day trying to hold my own had lactate acid literally coming out of my eyeballs! Not content with my 50m swim PB i also ran my first ever sub 3minute km during my track session, Yep a lightning fast 2:58. Only need to back that up with 9 more and i reckon I'd be competitive in Tokyo, hahaha absolutely no chance!! Yep it was an absolutely fantastic couple of weeks and certainly capped off what had been an extremely productive start to the season as far as training went, couldn't wait to see what that translated into on race day.

Anyways with all that being said I'm about to touch down in South Africa and finally get the 2019 season underway. It's one thing to do it all in training but as i like to say these days, Train for show Race for doe $

CJW


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Thursday, April 19, 2018

IM African Championships

IM African Championships

Wowsers, what a day. It'd been almost 6 months since the last time i put my body through the riggers off an IM in kona last year. I was absolutely chomping at the bit for that gun to go off on Sunday. This was my second trip to Port Elizabeth for the iconic event on the IM calendar so i had extremely fond memories of the town, the people, the race that I couldn't wait to experience all over again. This time around Fallon accompanied me for the trip and as always is the case she makes every experience that little more special & sure enough here we are 7 days on now from our arrival we are leaving with an amazing week behind us. Suffice to say i cant say enough about Port Elizabeth and Ironman for what they put together. If your considering visiting and even racing you won't be disappointed, its an incredible experience. Now into race day!

Race Morning for me begun in its usual fashion with alarms and wake up calls lighting up our room at the Boardwalk hotel around 3:30am. I think this was by far the least amount of sleep I'd ever had the night before a race, i was just so excited for the day to arrive as i truly believed I'd have a great day. I was so organised and keen that I was first, and i mean first to transition on race morning. Yep from the guy who slept through his alarm in my attempted professional debut in Chattanooga to being at transition before every single one of the 3000 athletes in the race. I was ready! Will ent through my usual formalities and finally it was time for Fallon to zip me up and send me on my way, it was definitely going to be a great day. It was strange having so much confidence when you consider the number of things that can go wrong in IM but i knew i was the best I'd ever prepared with training I'd done since Christmas and couldn't wait to show it. I'd basically been able to rationalise in my brain that even the worst case scenario wouldn't be that bad. I could swim all alone and I'd not get too far behind. I could have a flat tire and still have a great bike ride. And finally i could blow up on the run but as long as i kept moving I wouldn't go that slow. And as far as race goals went that seemed pretty simple as well. I wanted to beat Lucy Charles out of the water as in kona she caught me for 5 minutes which was a little embarrassing!!! And secondly run a 2:50 marathon. Don't know what on earth made me think i could do that but all i knew was i was going to give it a go! The result was really an after thought. Simply put i wasn't afraid off anything. The Anthem finally roared over Nelson Mandela Bay and the party was about to get started. I elbowed my way to the best possible starting spot, i wasn't giving up an inch, sorry eneko! Ive never been so fired up to start a race in my life.

The cannon boomed and i felt like I'd been shot out of it and led the charge as i usually do into the water. Aussie's seem to do pretty well at beach starts, not many off us that haven't done our fair share of Nippers seasons (junior surf life saving). I bounded through the Shaw break started swimming first. I could see Josh Amberger to my right dragging the pack out and slowly eased my way over and into his, I couldn't believe how confident i was swimming! As alway josh quickly got a gap and the race settled down behind and i nestled myself intro the front chase pack. The first half of the swim went perfectly as i rocked and rolled along behind Kyle, Eneko, Maurice and Reece, i just felt sensational. Fortunately the swim back I was prepared for! As we turned the top can and i did some sort of weird time save swim can roll I'd watched on TV i felt my zipper slip and i took on a bunch of water. No stress i thought and pulled the the side of the pack to let a few more guys fill the gap while i repositioned it and got on with the swim back. Unfortunately the guys at the front accelerated and those whom filled in dropped the feet or me pulling out caused them to drop the feet and I'd lost the front pack. No worries i thought with all the confidence in the world ill just swim them down and off I went. Unfortunately I hadn't fixed my zip properly and the harder i tried and stretched out the more my suit moved and took on water. I decide back to worst case scenario and just swim a controlled swim as I wouldn't loose to much time and my wetsuit wont take on as much water. The plan worked perfectly and i reached the beach with 1 minute of the front pack and few minutes behind josh but most importantly Lucy Charles hadn't caught up to me YES!!!!!!!! Was a great start and i was fresh as a daisy, was time to go to work.

Once on the bike it really feels like I'm in a safe zone. I feel like I've got so much control over what's going on when I'm on that bolide which also allows me to think clearly. I eased my way into the ride exuding confidence that i could turn the screws whenever I wanted to. With 25km only josh was left up the road alone so i thought i might just hang out in the pack for a while, have a chat with the boys and enjoy the scenery together. Well that plan lasted about 30 seconds as no sooner had i settled in behind Kyle and his local knowledge pace (he actually lives on the race course!!! How hometown is that) he decided to seemingly slam on his breaks as he didn't want to be the one setting the pace. This annoyed me as I'm so paranoid about getting a drafting penalty and almost ran up his ass so I decided if it game playing time then ill play my favourite one and start to make the day as difficult as possible for everyone and launched a grenade. I quickly had a gap and looked back to see bikes and bodies going every which way deciding whether to chase or relax so while they figured that all out i decided to ride across to josh as quickly as possible and see if he wanted to company for some of the ride.

Around 30km later i rolled up along side Josh and let him know there would no crazy attacks and that I'd ride steady as i want to run fast. Yes ladies and gentleman they where my exact words, "I'm just going to ride steady because i want to run really fast so just stay with me". Haha i was so dam relaxed and excited to get onto the run, i simply wanted the bike to be over and done with as quickly as possible. By halfway however i was all alone. Josh decided to ride his own pace, proved to be a smart move!! And i had a pretty big lead of between 2-4 minutes over all the main favourites. I was wrapped with this as i figured I'd only need 2 minutes lead due to the 2:48 marathon i was going to run so was able to just cruise the 2nd lap of the bike and maintain my lead. And cruise i did. I dropped the power from 310-320 down to around 280ish for the 2nd lap, a luxury I've never had in a race. For some context, during the last 60 minutes of my ride in Sweden last year i averaged 340 watts to increase my lead from 2-8minutes. I'd go onto run a 3:00 marathon and qualify for kona so was pretty happy with the situation. To add to that on the 2nd lap my lead trebled to 8 minutes!! Crikey i caught myself day dreaming at the view and almost run up the backside of age groupers, i was perhaps showing a little to much confidence and regard for the race but hey it was what it was. It all seemed to good to be true and i couldn't wait to hit the ground running.

I was so relieved when i hit T2 and my feet where firmly planted on the ground. Now the only thing that could ruin my race was myself as i was just me and my two legs from here. I charged out onto the run course with a big grin on my face, I couldn't wait to run a massive PB for the marathon. I settled into my tapping it along tempo of 180 strides per minute that had got me through Sweden fresh as a daisy, splits hovering around 4:00km/pace and my 2:48 target everything was going absolutely perfectly. Through 10km and lap 1 the gap was holding steady at 8min, i was absolutely floating along and once again you couldn't get the smile off my face. Fallon found her little perch and there was even massive confidence on her face, she wasn't even worried about the gap, i was making it look easy. I even was supporting the other guys, just a little "good stuff" as they went past in the other direction for no other reason than i know how much i love it when my rivals give me "good job cheer", i felt great and wanted to return the favour, we where all suffering together. I certainly didn't get anything back from them, not atleast until they ran past me and knew they would be me across the line. Guess that's a good indicator that i was hardly hungry to beat anyone, i was more preoccupied with prancing through my 2:48 marathon than having any racing killer instinct about me, that's gotta change!

At the beginning of 3rd lap which was exactly halfway into the marathon, a handy 6+ minute lead, my day got tipped upside down in a blink of an eye. I was closing in on my nemesis Lucy Charles, about to lap her and get some revenge for kona swim destruction she inflicted on me and my legs just stoped floating and began to tighten up. I could literally almost touch her and had played through in my mind how far behind me to horrors of kona where behind, how far I'd come and how seemingly simple this sport had become and then i stopped closing in and she started inching away. Fortunately i was prepared for this remember and I'd gone through 21km in 2:49 pace so had plenty off room to fall off that pace and still run ok. The biggest issue was figuring out what it was that was causing my hip flexors to all of a sudden feel like a couple of knives where stuck in them and my head was getting extremely dizzy indicating i was out of fuel. I just knew my special needs was a mere 5km away and the electrolyte mix waiting for me could be the key to bringing me back. I hammered the cokes in the meantime and stopped for a wonderful nature break. The guy following said "is that wise when your leading mate?" Probably not but in that 5km to the special needs i forgot it was even leading the race let alone worrying whether or not i should stop for a piss. When i passed Fallon on the 3rd lap i could here in her voice the confidence was gone, she could read my face better than anyone, it wasn't going to be the fairytale. I remember seeing Kyle at the top turn around and telling him "this is your day mate". I guess consciously i knew it wasn't going to be mine so may as well be a hometown boy. Josh Amberger can win cairns again and remain the Australian hero, felt Kyle deserved his day in the sun. Back to my crisis!! I hammered the fluids and fuel as much i could and when i finally got my electrolyte bottle i skulled it down so fast you'd think I hadn't had a drink in days!! Perfect i instantly thought it would slowly bring me back and i can get back to running fast and still run a 2:48.

Little did I know in the 5km I'd lost 5minutes of my lead to a rampaging home town hero Kyle Buckingham whom in his tenth start had never won his home race. Spurred on by a crowd witnessing my unravelling and a famous hometown victory on the cards he latterly had the wind at his back in every direction! Anyways back to me and the good new was i had drank my special bottle in my belly, i still had a 1 minute lead, and i only had 13km to go, everything would be just fine. Well you know what, the next second it wasn't. I was keeled over on the side of the road absolutely emptying everything my body contained including my life saving electrolyte drink and a crowd around standing in silence wondering what on earth i was going to do whilst ensuring they where out of the firing line. Once empty i straightened myself and looked at my lead bicycle dude whom ask me if i wanted to continue which I didn't bother acknowledging. I re positioned myself as i was facing the wrong way and looked down the race course and slowly shuffled off. I'll never forget the cheer when i waddled off from the crowd, it was like getting flattened by a school yard bully dragging yourself to your feet for one final flogging for everyone's entertainment.

Sure enough it wasn't more than 200m down the road the Kyle came charging past and yet another deafening roar from the crowd. Knowing my day was done every i joined in the ruckus and gave Kyle a big cheer, i was as happy as everyone else i think to see him leading. Having said that i tried to rally and go with him which lasted all of 10 steps and i was back to survival mode. My other worst case scenario just as had occurred in the swim was coming to fruition in the run. I'd literally emptied the tank 500m back down the road in pursuit of my 2:48 and my strategy had well and truly failed, all that was left to do was get across the finish line. Now into the last lap the cramps got so bad i had to stop and stretch for the first time in my Ironman career. Ive never been one for suffering from cramps, specially my hip flexors, guess there is a first time for everything. Sure enough Josh and Maurice rolled over the top of me like steamrollers running perfectly executed run legs. When i passed the crowd who'd witnessed me at my most vulnerable moment i got Mc Monsterous roar. I noticed the Garden hose had been deployed to clean up the mess and there was now a bit off a gap in the crowd lined Marine Drive but they didn't seem to mind, was all part of the spectacle as i love putting on a show. I knew i simply had to get to the finish in the top 10 to secure my Kona qualification and when i turned onto the red carpet i was still in 4th place, I couldn't believe it. I mean the day had basically gone exactly as i had predicted it worst case scenario. My swim went pair shaped with my first ever wardrobe malfunction and i swam bang on 50min. I gone for broke on the run chasing a 2:48 marathon split, blew to bits, and shuffled home with a 3:05, my 3rd best ever time! And to top it all off finished 4th and with those ranking points I'm now 7th on the world rankings and secured my slot for Kona, pretty unbelievable to be honest, I'm really over the moon with how it all worked out.

As for the wash up!!!! Well I certainly need to learn not to be so confident. An Ironman can be pretty unforgiving and bite you on the ass real quick and i learnt that the real hard way. I'm obviously trying to force too much fuel in as that's about the 5th time I've power chucked somewhere on course so need to look at that. Cramping, yeah that's an issue we've never dealt with before, perhaps i have to run faster for longer more often, not sure. Also i gave up way to easily, i simply didn't want it badly enough. I guess i figured it should have been so easy for me and 7/8 of the day it was but still i need to drink a few gallons of concrete and harden up a hell of a lot between now and kona.

The good news is i felt great all day and despite those dramas and spectacular explosion i still managed to finish closer to the front that the back. I'm spending more and more time leading the run and benefit of that is you'll feel the pace and see the faces of the guys that are winning, you actually get an idea of what it takes to be one day crossing the line first, that's invaluable experience. I ran my fastest ever half marathon in a race also. Yes faster than any 70.3 I've ever race with a 1:24 so if that doesn't show improvement then i guess I'm looking at it all the wrong way. That to be honest is something I'm so dam stinking excited about as i know how that pace actually feels for atleast half the marathon. No doubt the other half will take a huge amount of work to attain but hey I've made a pretty massive step in the right direction. Who knows maby i am already capable of running that quick and it was nutrition hydration that i ballsed up, who's know, i know I certainly don't but i do know I'm going to keep working my ass off the way i have been as I'm getting closer to that perfect performance I've painted in my thick head.

The last few days since the race have been wonderful. Fallon and I just chilled out at the beautiful 5 star hotel Ironman put us up in for the week. We've found my recovery post race is way faster if i do very little for a couple of days, no flying, training ect, and on the 3 rd i wake up feeling like I did the morning of the race, ready to rock and roll. With that we put the tourist hats on and went and saw some lions and spent the night in the Addo Elephant park. Elephants are Fallon's favourite animal in the world, with the exception of Olive off course, so was nice to see her get to do something extremely memorable and that she loved whilst on yet another one of my selfish sporting adventures! Was a great trip for everyone in our little team! Back to Europe now and plan a preparation for Kona. Have no idea how it will look precisely but will certainly include more racing than last season as I've still got a lot to learn and some pretty knarly training camps with all my favoured training buddies. Onwards and upwards and bring on Kona!!!!

CJW


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Monday, December 4, 2017

Season Wrap

Season Wrap


On Sunday i wrapped up my season for 2017. I had a couple of simple goals for the Busselton IM, to go after the 7:40 IM world record and in the process completely empty what was left in my racing tank for the year. In the end it was a complete non event. A shark sighting meant a cancelled swim so therefore no crack at the record, and then my body finally gave me everything it had a few hrs into the ride. When it was announced that the race was modified i tried to rally for the revised ride run format but from the gun I simply wasn't in it. Still i maintained the 45kmph average i needed for the sub 4hr bike split for the first 130km but then like a light switch the body said no more and i was stopped on the side of the road spewing my guts up.

No idea what brought it on and there was certainly no warning. The only thing i knew was after a few minutes of uncontrollable vomiting i was flat out throwing my leg black over the bike let alone contemplating running a marathon. The body was simply done. I'd caught a little bug after arriving in Australia last week and perhaps the 4 Time Zones and 30hrs of travel over the past few weeks finally caught up with me. That and the fact that i was asking the body to operate as if i was in the form of my life and that simply wasn't the case. Since Kona my schedule has been an absolute dogs breakfast travelling here there and everywhere while cramming in a few key sessions where possible. Busso was simply one trip to many but like I've done all year I've turned the screw until it breaks so we know going forward how far we can turn it!

The truth is after Kona i was so confident in my ability as an athlete i forgot about the sacrifices and how hard I'd worked in every aspect in the months leading into the biggest race of my life. Ive never been an athlete that can turn it on at will i need to work my ass off to be the best i can be. Busselton was a much needed reality check to never ever take this sport or the effort of which i expect of my body these days. I'm not racing anymore to make it to the finish, event time i go out there i want to find out how fast i can go. I was outspoken of my goals for busselton and that in many ways leaves a fair amount of egg on my face but ill deal with that. This year my closest friend Ethan Penner told me to never stop being Peter Pan. He said ultimately you'll fly and reach your goals as Ive proven but your going to crash and burn a lot along the way, comes with the territory of always aiming so high. Well Ethan, this was certainly one of those falls but it was no more than a split second after it happened that i was already planning how ill learn and bounce back from this ASAP.

All in all its been the best year of my sporting life. There have been some incredible highs coupled with some spectacular failures built none of which ever made me contemplate giving up. At the start of the year our goals where simple, qualify for kona and learn as much as possible from that experience in making it to the start line and the race itself. This information was going to be crucial in implementing the next stage of the plan in 2018 and beyond. The highlights for me where running a 3:00 marathon, something at the start of the year i never thought was within me so to do it in cairns and Sweden was just the biggest thrill I've ever felt athletically. The other was a swimming in the front group along side Harry Wiltshire in Wales, i never ever thought in my first full year I'd be exiting the water in the front group, and off course that set me up to lead from go to wo in wales and my first IM win.

The thing that topped everything however was crossing the finish line in 2nd in Sweden knowing I'd got myself I tot the top 50 in the world rankings, 49th in fact, and would be on that start line in kona. That for me was the most incredible feeling I've ever had in all my years off sport and while so many people helped me and gave me the tools to achieve this objective it was me and me alone who had to stand up on the day. That was a huge step forward in the sporting life of Cameron James Wurf. To my "team wurf" of Kerro, Denis, Shaun Stephens, and James Morton, I'm just blown away every single day that your all in my corner. 4 of the absolute smartest minds in the world of sport and certainly none of this would have happened without your guidance. Another man who was always by my side was my childhood hero Greg welsh. I grew up watching this guy take it to Mark and Dave in kona and his inspiring performances certainly planted the seed for me to one day be there open lava guilds doing the same. To all this brands that let me try all your stuff without strings attached was crucial in building the best package. Will make some announcements soon regarding all going forward. For now it's time for me to have a rest, I'm finally home in Hobart Tasmania and looking forward to finally unpacking my suitcase for the first time since March. Yep its been absolute doozy of a year and all indications are that 2018 will be full of a few more surprises.

CJW


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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Moving On

Moving On

Since Kona I've been racing around like chicken with its head cut off. I took a bit off time following the race to regroup and reflect on what has happened in the past 7 Months and decided I had another race left in me for 2017. There where a few options with Arizona, Cozumel and Busselton and ultimately the lure of competing in front of a home crowd won out and next Sunday ill line up and attempt to finish my 7th Ironman for the season. I made the decision to race again as I was simply bitterly disappointed with how Kona worked out. For whatever reason I wasn't able to put together a complete race with a solid ride bookended by the worst Swim and Run Ive had all season. As time has progressed the reason for my lacklustre performance has become very clear, I'm simply vulnerable and inconsistent in my two weaker disciplines. With that in mind I wanted one more crack of the whip to put together a complete race I've been chasing all season with the Run being my key focus.


There have been many question marks thrown at me with our approach to this season with the most common topic brought up how much I've raced. I realise its a rather unorthodox approach to a season but we are hardly treading a path that's been treaded before. Ive come into the sport from a completely different background to anyone else having Rowed and Cycled at the highest level. In both sports that have preceded my triathlon foray the intensity of the effort is far greater than that of the output I do in an Ironman. All the top guys can Swim 3.8km and ride 180km everyday off the week, its the marathon part that knocks you about. Lance told me once that he would do 4-5hr trail runs just like going for a long ride. Not meant to be hard but just teaches your body to be running for a long time. In every race I've done this year I've certainly never ever dug deep in the run. To the contrary in fact, I've been so paranoid about blowing up that I've treated my run like nice 4-5hr trail run and on every occasion that's been a different pace. In Busselton my goal is to finally leave everything out on that run course and earn myself a holiday!!


My training leading into this event has been the best quality all season. Ive dropped back a bit on the duration of sessions but significantly increased the intensity. Ive also been able to increase my run mileage to 70km per week, the most I've been able to sustain all season. Ive been enjoying the running so much that I even logged my longest training run of 30km last week which was a significant milestone for me. Holly Lawrence has been awesome and introduced me to social Sunday's runs where we've been strutting our stuff over 21km up and down San Vicente and along the Santa Monica Beach bike path, sound pretty enjoyable hey!! It's really the session that has finally taught me to enjoy running so I really have to say a big thank you to Holly for that. As my runs improved I've been chomping at the bit to race. This past week is my annual pilgrimage to Miami for the best buddies challenge, a foundation I've been involved with and supported since 2013. It's at this event that I met Mary Jane Mack, the Sargent and chief of Mack Cycles and Fitness, perhaps my most loyal and passionate supporters. MJ hosts a race annually called Miamiman and it conveniently falls the same week as the best buddies challenge so presented a great opportunity for a half IM distance hit out.


Just like it will be in Busselton, the run was where I was most anxious to see where i was at. Not being an IM event there where no points or prize money on the line, merely a great opportunity for a solid training session, boy did that mentality kick me in the butt!! I had a good swim and a solid bike. I actually rode 1hr 58min for the half distance which was a PB for me and good sign my forms risen on the bike since Kona. Finally now it was time to run and de ja vu!! It was hot and humid just like Kona and I was instantly struggling with cramps and over heating. In Kona I dropped my food on the bike and knew why I didn't have enough fuel to survive the race, in Miami I simply didn't respect the conditions. I figured it was only 4hrs and I could cruise through on a couple of drink bottles which in Tasmania in the middle of winter might work ok but not in Miami on a steamy hot autumn's day. While the feeling I had of inescapable discomfort from overheating and cramping was the same as Kona, this time I was ready for it. Thanks to my knew found leg speed I was able to gallop along at 3:45-3:55 pace, a massive improvement for me. Then at every aid station I'd walk and drink 2 cups off water before taking off again, a strategy I now know I should have employed in Kona early in the run. The end result was a 1:26 run split, 4:05 ave km pace. By the end I was back on top of my hydration and nutrition and felt normal again. It was a massive lesson to learn, when your struggling take a few seconds extra to get the fuel in!! It will pay massive dividends later in the run. I was really happy with this result as only 2 days earlier I'd done that 30km Run so to back up and ride and run that quick showed that the work is finally paying off. I cant wait to get on that start line in Busselton.


The week in Miami is something I look forward to for 12months! Each year the events surrounding the challenge raise over 5 million $ for kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The marque event is a 100km police escorted ride through the city and surrounding suburbs of Miami which for anyone who's been to Miami and understands the traffic chaos there, the ride is quite a treat!! This year things where spiced up a bit as I invited my training buddy from this season Chris Froome along to enjoy it all with me. I basically mapped out my usual routine of charity and sponsor commitments and wide range of sporting activities. Having Froomie along for the ride simply escalated the craziness of the week to a whole new level. Chris also added a night at the basketball for us and once the Miami Heat got wind he was in the house he was no longer anonymous. A personalised jersey was presented on national TV to him and crazy HEAT fans where now wanting selfies with the TDF champ. I organised for us to go the NASCAR and support my mate Jimmie Johnson. This time Ford, whom are a sponsor of Team Sky, found out Froomie headed to the race and he was promptly made Grand Marshall for the event. With that came the honour of uttering those famous words in motor sport "Drivers start your engines" and like his performance this year on the bike even that was flawless. At the best buddies charity Gala Chris's donations of VIP experiences at Le Tour brought in an additional $250,000 while his presence at the ride an additional $300,000. He really did put on quite the show in miami and was basically the mayor of the city by the time we flew out on Monday. All in all was a fantastic week as it always is on so many fronts and was a really nice to do some "normal" stuff and have some fun away from the bike with Chris for once, specially after talking up my Miami week to him all season long.


So that's what I've been up lately. Certainly the events in Kona have changed things a little bit for me. I'm way way way way more determined than ever to be the best I possibly can be in sport. My focus in training is much sharper and desire to push myself to new limits has intensified, sensations that I'm truly relishing. I'm about to touch down in Australia for the final preparations for the December 3 Ironman in Western Australia. Im really excited to be back. I'll be training on the Gold Coast for the next week and will be reunited with my coach Tim Kerrison and swimming coach Denis Cottrell. Sun Yang is also in town so couldn't possibly ask for a better training partner in the pool as I sharpen up for Busselton. Riding with Chris last week and swimming with Sun this week I don't have any excuse to not have a good swim bike next Sunday. Hopefully Courtney Atkinson will also be about to whip the running legs into shape. You may have picked up I love training with the best. I simply never for a second have the opportunity to think I'm good enough at any discipline, there is always work to be done!! If you've read this blog thanks for following me, It's been one hell of a journey in 2017 but its not over yet, every single day presents a new opportunity.


CJW


Sent from my iPad

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Kona

Kona Well what can I say, what a day the 14th of October  2017 turned put to be. The Ironman World Championchips is now in the rear view mirror and while ultimately I'll see the day as a success there was also some hard lessons learned and plenty of what ifs to take away. From what I've heard from anyone who's ever competed in the big dance in Kona nobody ever gets it right, it's just who gets it most right is most successful. I can now very proudly say I've competed at the highest world championship level in 3 different sports however at days end Rowing remains the only one that I've stood atop the podium and heard the Australian anthem bellowed out, i have 12months to work on that. An ironman is a long day for everyone involved and I'll try and keep this story to minimum but please bear with me as I promise to only write what truly feel is really relevant to my experience.  We arrived in Kona on the Monday prior to the event. I'd had a fantastic training camp in big bear lake california, nailing all my key sessions, and full of optimism to execute on race day. I did a recon final 120km of the bike course on Tuesday and liked what I saw, I knew it was a course where the race could really be setup on the bike leg. The heat didn't seem to be bothering me that much and I went into my final few days taper confident I'd done everything possible to challenge for the biggest prize in our sport. Those final couple of days dragged on, again another sign of my good form, and come Friday night I was in bed early sound asleep and relaxed, I couldn't wait to wake up at 3:30am and get race day started. Finally the phone beamed to life and my feet hit the ground and felt great, I was ready to go. Race morning is always a bit of a rat race. People everywhere in varying moods and I always seem to forget something or have something to do that takes longer than expected heightening that anxiety. Through in the fact that it's Kona and that urgency about the transition is significantly amplified. Today my issue was my brake rubbing, no idea how that all of sudden happened but it took me some fiddling to centre my wheel correctly again. With the wheel true'd up the gears where no longer in tune so I had a nice click click sound I had no idea how to get rid off but figured it would miraculously disappear once in the lava fields. With that I headed off to find Fallon to go though the final routine of putting on my swim skin having those lasts bits of nutrition in a normal way. I have to admit i was pretty cool calm and collected before the start without nerves which is far from a good sign as it generally means i'm approaching the race far to complacently. Anyway Fallon zipped me up, slapped on vasoline to avoid chafing, a second layer of sunscreen, a quick kiss and she sent me on my to the start of the Ironman World Championships. I don't do much of a warmup so jumped in about 5 minutes before the start. I felt calm and relaxed in the water so didn't have any reason to think I'd be anywhere other than the front pack. I lined up incidentally next to fellow Tasmanian Joe Gambles whom was my biggest rival for the tassie cup, well my only rival actually as there where only two of us Tasmanians in the race. I said hello, he kinda acknowledged me but looked far more nervous than I was in that 30 seconds before the gun went off, soon I was about to realize why. Before I knew it we where in the starters hands 10 seconds they said followed by deafly silence and "BOOM" we where off. The Swim I quickly realized why it wasn't a great thing being so relaxed as I was instantly jettisoned out the back of the race. I did my best to find some fast feet but there just seemed to always be someone in the spot I wanted to be and I get shuffled back. Well what that really means is others where prepared to fight tooth and nail for the same position and I wasn't so I lost that position. Once the dust settled after a few hundred m's I knew that I was going the speed of the front pack and a quick look up revealed over half the field disappearing ahead of me. Bugger, there goes plan A which is having a great swim, time to resort to plan be and just float around with the 2nd pack. Obviously the swim seemed to take an eternity which it did, around 6minutes longer than the rest off the guys, I'd never ever been that far behind in all my races all season.  The only bright side was I didn't have to swim very hard which I guess is quite normal when you swim the slowest you've ever swum, your not really putting much effort in. I noticed Lionel sanders and Sebastian kienle with me so I thought it's all good as these guys will be keen to rise there way back into the race, I'll just try and spend as much off the day as possible as close to them as possible. Around 53 minutes I emerged from the water with the leading females. Yes that's right the lead women had bridged a 5 minute gap to our slow mans group and actually tore through transition ahead of me. Now I was faced with a challenge I hadn't accounted for in getting the front off the women's race before I could think about participating in the men's race!!!!! Yes that first 53 minutes was a rather humbling experience. Anyways I got on my bike, got past the women, and before I knew I was at the front of the group containing Lionel, sebi, and Boris stein, plenty of fire power and motivation to get back into the race. It was finally game on. The Bike Finally surrounded bicycles and sitting on one myself I felt much more apart of the race. Thanks to my unintentional relaxed swim I quite literally felt like my race was just beginning all be it with a close to 7minute gap the ramant leader Josh amburger. I figured all my misfortunes where long behind me and it would be plain sailing from here on in. Just as I thought that and allowed a cheeky grin to slide across my face I thought it was a good time to have a mouthful of Gu I had strapped Between my elbow pads in a squeegee bottle, holds my 8 gels for the bike. As I reached down to grab it I hit a bump and just at the second I loosened it from it's cradle it catapulted through my hands  bumped into my right leg, bounced throughout the frame like a ball in a pinball machine and careered down the road ahead of me narrowly missing my front wheel as I whized by. "Shit" I said to myself, that was 3/4 of my sodium and electrolyte consumption for the bike leg what do I do?? I considered stopping and going back to get it but didn't want to be further behind the game than I already am, I'd already worked hard enough to get ahead of the lead women I didn't want to give up my advantage on them!!! So I decided that I'd just have to figure it out as I went along and get as much flake and Gatorade as possible along the route to compensate for the fuel I lost. Game on again!! Once we hit the queen K sebi came to front and took charge. He'd closed this gap to the front every year he raced Kona including when he won off course in 2014, he was the captain of this makeshift team we had assembled or the 3 musketeers as I referred to us in my head during the ride. We each took turns at the front and sebi kept us calm with words of encouragement and info about the gap. When I pushed a little to hard he'd tell me to save the energy, we are going to catch them, stay calm. It really turned out to be a massive blessing in disguise having the swim I did and ending up with these guys as I learnt more from sebi in that bike leg about how to execute a bike leg than any of the ironman bike legs I've done so far in my career. He's out and out a champion athlete and someone I've admired watching the sport in the past years, I really had to pinch myself from time to time to remind myself that I really was riding with sebi on the biggest stage in our sport, was pretty cool! Sure enough sebi knew exactly what he was doing and we pulled the leaders back within 60km which even I thought was pretty impressive to wipe out a 7minute gap in such a short space of time. Once we caught the group I expected them to be fresh as daisies after waiting for us to catch up so the race could begin. I was wrong. As we rolled past them all to the head of the race there faces where showing way more strain than ours where, they hadn't been waiting for us at all. To the contrary they had been trying to stay away. Lionel and sebi I'm sure noticed the same and immediately went to the front of the group and pushed the pace. Sure enough one by one the lead group started to dwindle in numbers and by the time we reached the midway turn around point at the famous town of hawi it had shrunk to now more than 12 guys. Another thing I noticed on the way up to hawi was the wind and how much it was blowing all my rivals particularly Jan around. They had all opted for deep 80ml front wheels and they where struggling to control there bikes. I'd chosen a 40ml front wheel as it's simply easier to control and I'm not into wasting energy just trying to stay on my bike. I also knew the wind would be stronger on the way back down the hill so handling would be even more difficult for these guys. As we made the turn I was in 4th right behind Tim o'donell, sebi and Lionel in that order. While the 4 off us relaxed for a second to take a bottle of water I studied there faces and particularly Jans and by my observation he didn't look comfortable. at that second i decided to push the pace and make him really work out of the turn and put him on the back foot for the ride back to T2.  I instantly had a gap and while sebi and Lionel also reacted to create separation from the group, Jan was now isolated and forced to chase being the big favorite and the man everyone had come to beat. I slotted into a nice rhythm, nothing to knarly, just one should I decide to go solo I was confident I could hold for 90km and bombed down the decent as quickly as possible using all the decending skills I had in my arsenal. At the bottom we make a left as we climb back up toward the queen k and at this point I looked back to see sebi alone chasing me a few hundred meters back. I decided to wait for him as he was chasing me down for a reason which I'm sure was to go as fast as possible back to town so I figured stick with the captain and while climbing the hill provided the perfect time for me back off a little and let him catch me while also saving my legs. As we made the turn back onto the queen K sebi finally drew alongside me and simply said "we have a minute on Jan, let's go". He knew exactly what I was trying to do and was intent on doing the same and when Lionel soon bridged back up to us  as well and the 3 musketeers where back together again, this time intent on putting as much lava field between us and Jan the German Giant as possible before T2. With around 30km to ride Lionel decided it was time to really boogy and took over the pace making from sebi. Instantly a gap opened up so I rolled past sebi and told him great job and to hang tuff we are almost to T2. He didn't have the same swagger as earlier in the ride and sure enough when I looked over my shoulder 1 mike later he was gone, it was just now down to two off us. Lionel continued to pile on the pressure and at this point I looked at my average speed for the first time. I had no timer set up, simply speed, heart rate, distance, and average speed. I noticed the average was 42.7 km/h and I thought "G whiz" we are going pretty quick here, 42.5 is 4:15 pace, I wasn't aware of what the course record was but I had some recollection of someone telling me it was around 4:15, we where going quick, no wonder the guys looked like they where hurting. Around this point Lionel's pace began to drop. Now the only reference I had for this was heart rate. When he pushed I was around 150-155 bpm, pretty standard for me so he's certain,y just as strong as me on the bike. With around 15km to go however my heart rate dropped to 130. I decided to roll up to lionel and give him some encouragement to keep the pace hot, this was our chance to try and win the race and we had to push on. I gave home some encouraging words as I passed but his head dropped and I thought perhaps he's suffering, I might push the pace back to the solid 150 pulse mark and see what happens.  Sure enough a gap opened quickly and i was all off a sudden alone again at the head of the Ironman world championship. I mean I watched this race a million times on tv and YouTube since I was 7 years old, I couldn't believe the situation I'd found myself in after not even being at the head of the women's field 4 hrs earlier!!! I was now leading the men. As I rolled toward town I felt really strong and I was convinced I had a great chance at winning the race. My goal that morning was to finish by 2:40pm and I calculated I only needed a 3:00 marathon to do that. I'd already done that twice before having averaged 10 beats higher heart rate on the bike, surely this was going to be my day. Those final km went by so slowly as the world seemed to stop, it was like a dream. Physically I'd never felt better on a big keg m whole triathlon career, I'd had zero flat spots and got stronger and stronger as the ride went on. I rounded those final few curves, reached the dismount line and launched the bike into the volunteer, those first few steps felt absolutely amazing, my confidence grew even more. Before I go onto the run a little bit about the equipment I used and why I used it. At the beginning of the year I decided to go it alone and not continue my long standing relationship with cannondale. There where a range of reasons but the main was I wanted to be free to pick and choose what I believed to be the fastest possible pieces of equipment for each and every course. The bike was a no brainer, the pinarello has won 5 of the last 6 tour de France's and also hold the world hour record, besides you only have to look at it to realize it's the fastest frame set available. The new Dura Ace is just rock solid and extremely sleek and of course fits perfect with the pinarello as far as integration goes. My choice of wheels where prototype wheels from Aaron at Find Faster in scottsdale Arizona. I sent many hours in the wind tunnel with aaron testing every possible thing we could and we came up with an 85 40ml clincher combo. The suit is designed and sold by roka, was tested in the wind tunnel and also fitted me the best off all the suits which made a big difference to the data. Mary Jane Mack from Mack cycles was in charge of painting the kask bambino helmet which I don't think you can go by due to its aero advantages, limited disadvantages from head movement, and simplicity. Sunglasses by Oakley instead off a visor because it tested faster in the tunnel and also provides better cooling for the face. There are certainly some special bearings throughout the bike and a race day chain prepared by a very special NASCAR mechanic and that's how we put together the race car. I really do believe that I had the fastest bike out there and it was amazing how much that made me brim with absolute excitement simply believing in that. Moral to the story whatever combo yo choose make sure you believe init as come race day nobody stops and waits fir you because of slow equipment! The Run I raced through transition with a big grin on my face, I couldn't believe it, I was leading the race!!! It was so eary and deafly quiet in there and it's a long way around transition!!! I couldn't wait to get my shoes on my feet and start the run. I just had the best bike leg I could have ever dreamed off effort wise to set me up for a fast run and I was leading the biggest race, I jus wanted to get on with it! I reckon I had the quickest transition off my life and I was off on the run, the quicker I get the started the quicker i get finished. As I was leaving I could see the others trickling in and couldn't believe the gap I'd opened up in such a short space of time. I'd gone from dreaming of challenging for the podium on the morning of the race, to being conservative and going for a top 15 at the start of the bike, to now believing I had a chance of not only finishing on the podium but winning the race. The may sound stupid to everyone but I was leading so at that point someone had to take that off me, I had every right to dream big, and I was!!! The first couple of km's went perfect, I was gliding along with the improved stride length we'd worked so had on since wales. I was trying in vein to slow myself down but I was just running so much better and moving better than I'd ever moved before. Then as I past the 2 mile marker I started to feel tightness in my calfs and I thought oh oh!! I was cramping. I immediately thought of that 3000mg of sodium I'd planned to consume to prevent exactly this lying on the side of palani rd somewhere and knew then I was doomed. I neglected the one thing you can't neglect in the early stages of the race in Kona and it was coming back to bite me in a massive massive way. My stride started to shorten and my pace started to fall, Lionel caught me at around the 6km mark which was much later than I expected and I sensed then it wasn't to be his day, he usually moves like a freight train. Sebi rolled past and he to didn't look poverty spritely which I was really upset to see as If I wasn't going to be fighting for the win then I would have loved to have seen him take another title, he just races with so much heart.  I soldiered on and continued to slow and continued to drop places and by the time I exited town and onto the queen k I'd drooped to 5th. By this point I'd resigned myself to the fact that I'd be simply achieving a lot by making it to the finish as no matter how much salt I threw down my mouth I wasn't getting any better. Once on the queen k I ran into Norman Stadler who told me I'd broken his record on the bike and I had to at least finish the race. It took a few seconds to process anything as firstly I didn't know what Norman looked like but I did know he had the record, and I had to remember the last average speed I saw to see if it was below his 42.5 and I distinctly remember seeing 42.8 as I rolled through to transition. I pieced it all together and said mate, I don't have the record, when you set that record and you won the race, i didn't come here to break a bike course record, I came here to win and right now I'm going to be flat out getting to the finish line. Seeing him left a real empty feeling in my head and heart of the opportunity id let squander. I've competed at the top level for many years across many platforms and I know when the days not going to turn around and today was certainly one of those days. Going from 1st to as low as 18th you have the luxury of seeing everything unfold. I knew from seeing all the guys on Ali and then as they passed me on the queen k, Patrick would win if Lionel and sebi faulted. Both only had to run within 5minutes of there bp's to win and they'd be well under  8hrs but if they wilted Patrick was floating like a butterfly and would zoom right by. Sure enough when I saw them in the energy lab the later was happening. Lionel and sebi where faltering and Patrick was flying. Now I felt terrible for them as we raced the ride so perfectly to give ourselves a chance of winning and none of the 3 musketeers where going to win, that really sucked as we worked so hard to make that race. On the flip side Patrick was extraordinary and on the biggest day his back was to the wall and he had to deliver one of the fastest ever runs in the history of the race to run down lionel and take the tape. Not only that but as I'd expected that morning close to 8hrs would be required to win and he smashed the overall course record. It took a special performance to take the win and that's what I think we all wanted to see at the start of the day, the race really by the record books came a long way last Saturday. 28 minutes after Patrick I would ultimately roll accords the line in 17th. Initially off course I was extremely disappointed as my goal for the race was to swim fast and run like a gazelle and Id done completely the opposite. I've heard suggestions that I was massively incentivized to break the bike course record, that's simply so far from the reality it's not funny. I didn't have a single penny riding in me breaking the bike course record hence I didn't even bother to find out what it actually was. I simply went out there like the other 57 pros and tried to win the world championship and for about an hour there around midday saturday I truly believed it was on the cards. I've leant an extremely large amount from this Kona experience and we will use all that information as we prepare for next year. After taking a couple of days to look at what I did I'm proud of my performance. I mean I set myself up to challenge for the podium and melted to 17th. Last year Lionel finished 29th and ran just as slow as me when he was considered a contender at the start of the day, why shouldn't I genuinely believe I could have been up there aswell. No I'm proud of my performance, I at least gave myself a chance. After all all bar 5 -6 athletes came within 5 minutes of the lead after the swim and I was one of them, that to me in my first Kona as a pro was a Great experience. I saw the faces and felt the pace out on the queen k on Saturday afternoon, and I cannot wait to go back again one day and see what gets thrown at me, I'll be training my backside off so I'm as ready as I can possibly be. Cjw 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Finally a Winner

Sunday was a day I've dreamed & dreamed about happening since I started this professional triathlon journey  14 months ago. To be the first guy that runs down the finishing chute, brake the tape, and find Fallon waiting there for me was an emotion even I could never have prepared myself for. It just felt so incredibly surreal and in many ways an outpouring of relief for both of us. It had been  pretty crazy for the both of us this past 8 weeks but finally we got to experience that moment that seemingly makes all the effort and sacrifice wurfit! Like always before I get to the details of what went down through my eyes in Tenby on Sunday I'll just run you through our last few weeks since I qualified for Kona in Sweden. Most would have thought common sense would have been to have a rest after Sweden and start to focus on Kona. Well I kind of thought the same but I'd also planned to race wales more as I had prepared myself to not qualify for Kona and wanted to get a head start on ranking points for 2018. Following a postmortem of sweden we decided I'd recovered so well after Zurich and bounced back so strong in Sweden that we may aswell go to wales as apart of my preparation for Kona. To be realistic I'm not a contender for Kona.the top guys have been preparing for Kona for the entire year to be at there very best on October 14. I've been going race to race, week to week and we haven't had the luxury of much forward planning until Sweden was out of the way.  The facts are simple, I didn't have time to work on my run without sacrificing my bike and my swim needed some attention as I'd been a little off the pace in the swim in Nice, Zurich and Sweden and was an obvious area to rectify. My cycling legs have been getting better and better the whole time and that of course is now the centerpiece of my racing strategy. So simply put we decided to work hard on my swim, keep smashing the bike, keep ticking over with the run, and go to wales to test the swim and get another good long run day in the legs ahead of Kona. The bike and run courses being so brutal is was a great opportunity for a solid training day. Also I was headed to LA for my final block of training so wales was basically on the way from Nice so the race just fitted in perfectly. With what we had to work with it was the best strategy we could come up with. Following Sweden Fallon and I returned to Nice for the 3 week block between the races. We chose Nice as there where plenty of pools to chose from so easier to get lane space and do some constructive swim sessions. I really had done an uninterrupted swim session since arriving in Europe and my performance in the water had been highlighting this! Also my fellow Tasmanian and perhaps the man I've ridden most km's with over the years Richie Porte was back on his bike following crashing out of le tour to train with. Richie and I rode together every day while over the course of the few weeks we'd have a gang between 2 and 10 with the likes of Calvin Watson, Geraint Thomas, Michael Valgren, Jacob Fugslang, Ian Boswell, and Michael Mathews joining us off and on, for those not super familiar all in there own right some of the best cyclists in the world, real cream of the crop. I'd obviously raced with all these guys in the good old days and was so nice of them to not mind me tagging along. Richie still liked to remind me on a daily basis that I must be the luckiest amature cyclist in the world getting to ride with him and all those guys in europe, I simply replied by saying I'm not a cyclist, I don't really know how to define myself yet, I seem to do lots of different things haha. Was a really great group of guys and ruchie is right, I did feel privileged being able to ride with the guys.  Richie off course deserves a special mention as him being there to meet me at La Turbie at 9:30am everyday gave me the structure I needed to keep working hard and not slip into a post ironman slump, really played a massive part in keeping me progressing toward wales and off course looking ahead to Kona. So with the cycling remaining the centre piece of my day I also hunkered into my swimming and strung together a couple of good weeks of work in the pool. My swimming coach Denis being the legend he is knew exactly where I was going wrong and had me feeling stronger and stronger with every stroke in the pool, he's such a magician that guy. It was a very constructive few weeks and I trained pretty hard right up until the Thursday before wales. With Kona on the horizon I didn't have the luxury of any type of taper. Friday, Fallon and I packed up European base for the final time this year and moved our little road show to wales for one last race, the 4th I'd started since arriving in Europe 8 weeks earlier. I have to admit I've never been so calm and relaxed before a race in my life. On race morning I woke at my usual time of 4am for a 6:55 start and tucked into my porridge. I was super hungry which is a great sign as when I'm nervous I don't feel like eating and that's not overly ideal before an ironman! It was particularly advantageous for this race as I would take around 9hrs to win the race due to the very demanding course. We stayed at a little bed & breakfast called the Albany hotel which was literally 50m from the swim start and with transition not far from there was also very comforting to be right in the middle of everything. I strolled to transition to set up my bike with my shoes and hydration. While I was doing that I ran into Harry Wiltshire whom was also racing Kona and using wales as a big training day. Was really comforting to speak with him as he put it best, "I can do 8 hours alone or come here and do it with 2500 people" couldn't have put it any better really so this added to my relaxed nature before that start. I strolled back to the hotel to get myself ready for the start. I put my wetsuit on 30minutes before the start like i always do but for the first time in my motel room. This was fallon's idea as A) we where right on the start line, and B) it was jolly freezing and raining outside!! 12 degrees in fact which didn't bother me, being from tasmania I knew it would effect my opposition way more than it would effect me. With the suit on and nice and toasty and warm we strolled down to the start. I did a little warmup, felt great in the water and lined up nice and early on the line, I couldn't wait for the race to start. Before the start they played the welsh national anthem which reverberated through your veins. It's really quite powerful and for a brief moment I pictured myself at Cardiff stadium wearing the Number 10 about to take on the Lions! Strange the things you think about in the moments before an ironman. I muscled myself in next to Harry on the startline who is also one of the fastest swimmers in ironman. My biggest priority for this race was to test my swim and get myself back toward the front and as I'd never been able to exit the water with Harry so my goal was to be as close to him as possible, hence starting right beside him! The gun went of and I took of like usain bolt as we charged into the water. I hit the water first and for a few hundred meters I actually led the field!!! I couldn't believe it!! I felt great in the water and finally had my swimming arms back. Finally Harry came around me and gave me a smooth set of feet to follow, I have to say he's the smoothest swimmer I've followed since Sun Yang back on the gold coast in Denis's squad. Following feet for those who don't know is swimmings form of slipstreaming. If you've ridden a bike behind someone you know what I'm talking  about. Obviously just like with a  bike the smother the person in in front of you the easier to follow, no crazy accelerations or zig zagging, just a nice smooth pace, Harry is a very smooth swimmer and is very enjoyable to follow. I couldn't believe how perfectly my swim was going and I kept looking up to make sure I really was at the front, every time all I saw was Harry and a clear ocean ahead, just oarsome!!  The honeymoon didn't last to long though as at the first turning boy someone else decided they wanted harry's feet and bashed me out of the way. I didn't need to waste energy fighting so I just settled back into the lead pack and was more than happy for them to tow me around the course. A little over 48minutes later, my PB for the swim!! Harry lead out a leading group of about 8 of us, again I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Harry just ahead of me running up the beach, the race couldn't have got off to a better start. With the cold temperature and rain fort cast I knew staying warm would be key to having energy in the later stages of the run. I took some extra time in transition for put on a couple of extra layers and I think this was the decision that won me the race. Now at the back of the lead pack I started picking them off one by one and after 30km I was all alone in the lead. What I noticed passing all the guys was they where only wearing tri suits, no extra layers, either I was terribly mis informed about the volatility of welsh weather or for the first time ever in my triathlete career I'd made an intelligent racing decision putting on extra layers! The course was everything I expected and more! Absolutely relentless whether going up or down hill, wind that could come from nowhere and blow you off the rd, never flat, and of course some of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen riding my bike.  Speaking of my bike I had a special new toy for Wales. Wednesday last week Fallon and I travelled to the pinarello factory in treviso Italy to collect my new TT bike. Tim Kerrison (the mastermind of my triathlon foray) had organized with fausto pinarello for me to use the brand new Bolide that the Team Sky boys use. If you know bikes you know these things are pretty special and I just couldn't wait to throw a leg over her on Sunday as they say. It certainly was living up to all my expectations, firstly it's about 2kg lighter than any TT bike I'd ridden previously and was just floating over the hills, was a cycling experience I'd never had before, this thing just want to go and although I was riding in perhaps the worst conditions I've ever ridden a tt bike it stuck to the road like glue, yeah thanks Fausto without this bike I would never have been able to manage the race the way I did, the bike was just spot on!! The welsh country side and castles we rode past where and extremely pleasant distraction from an otherwise rather unpleasant activity of racing your bike 180km! Sure enough about half way through the ride the rain started to fall. I'd continued to build my lead steadily and was already around 5 minutes ahead. With the wind also picking up and now beginning my second lap which meant having age groupers also on the course I needed to really have my whits about me. What I also knew was all the guys behind me without extra layers would soon be getting cold and rather miserable, not an ideal position to be when also trying to deal with such demanding conditions, takes lots of energy to stay warm and they where certainly going to notice it on the run.  It was at this point I started thinking about winning race. I decided firstly not to take any risks as I couldn't afford to crash and hurt myself pre Kona so was very careful where it was dangerous. When the road opened up I push nice and hard to keep extending my advantage and then when I traffic and in technical dangerous spots take the opportunity to recover, fuel up (I ate two mars bars on the bike this race, little treat ummmmmm) and save energy for the run. I finally reached transition in a little under 5hrs and to be honest at the didn't care about my lead, I knew I was big, I was just happy to have got of the course safely. Sure enough once in the transition tend I learnt I had a 9minute lead and knowing the state my rivals would be in I knew a good steady run should be more than enough to take my first IM win. I slipped on the trampoline Nike Vapor flys and off I went, it felt so good to have my feet on the ground. The other great part about our little bed & breakfast, the Albany, was that I ran past it 8 times! We had 4 laps of a 10.6km circuit and that's where Fallon was perched. She actually was on a corner across the rd as we did a little sub loop so she saw me 12 times in total! Obviously, as she always does she became my point of reference for the run. With the big lead I had a simple plan, run a solid 3hr pace for the first 2 laps and then see where I'm at. Due to it being such a hard run course I knew for them to close the gap running sub 3hr pace would take it's toll in the final laps so I just want to hold them at a comfortable distance and respond if need be. My first two laps where really enjoyable and I felt great, I went through halfway in around 1hr 32min, I wasn't micro managing my pace, and waited to see Fallon for the all important halfway time check, "6 minutes" she yelled with a big grin and I knew I had it. The next lap I really took it easy as i needed to look ahead to Kona and not waste anymore energy than absolutely necessary. I knew I could afford to lose another 3 minutes that lap and then just run a solid final lap. Although now in cruise control I got reminded you can never relax in an ironman, specially when trying to win! My stomach was all of a suddenly in knots, I felt light headed and dizzy, and I felt urge to go to the bathroom for a number two, "oh shit" I said to myself! I was afraid to stop as what if I sat down and cramped or passed out! Perhaps I could just manage it and hobbled to the finish so I decided to squeeze my cheeks together. I did a quick time check hallway through the lap and realized I'd only lost 1 minute so I decided bugger it, I'll stop for a nature brake and hopefully come out a new man. 2 minutes after entering the porter loo I emerged a new man with a big giant grin on my face, oh the relief and I felt so so so so good and only 15km to go. Onto the last lap Fallon said I still had 3 minutes which was music to m ears as with the toilet break I'd only lost a minute, only I knew that but that's all that mattered  as I was the one running!  The last lap was a blur, now I just wanted to get to the finish and get this over and done with. The emotion of what was happening hit me a few times and was a little difficult to control that at times cling to terms with it all. I knew Fallon would be waiting for me when I crossed the line and I just wanted to get to her, shed been through so much this year with this circus which is my triathlon career, I couldn't wait to be with her. The crowd that last lap was just unbelievable, like listening to the welsh anthem 9hrs earlier it really sent shivers through my veins, was just an atmosphere which I only seen a few time in all my sporting adventures so a big big massive thank you to the people of Tenby for letting us take over your town and make me feel so special. When I finally hit the ironman finish carpet with merely 50m to run I tried to think of the victory salute I'd rehearsed all those times in training. For the life of me I couldn't remember what earth I'd decided on so whatever happened when I crossed the line was pure emotion. I'd worn my Mack Cycles tri suit for the race to show support for Mary Jane Mack and her family whom support me to the moon and back always and also my friends in Miami battling the hurricane. Wanted to give them all something to smile about during an otherwise harrowing time and being able to win wearing that suit, with her helmet and her hat was the best thing I could do for them to show them support that day. Obviously the emotion of realizing I'd finally won was the other contributing factor to my reaction as I hit the tape, again the relief, the effort of all those people around me, to finally show that I was wurfit was just the greatest felling I could ever imagine. Once Across the line it took me all of 1 second to spot Fallon waiting for me with open arms, was so special to finally have this moment with her, one I'm pretty sure she craved as much as I did. She quickly whipped out my phone and my coach tim was fittingly first with the congrats  message, was obviously a special day for him with his star pupil Chris Froome doing the grand tour double of Le Tour De France & Vuelta Espana & me winning my first IM on the same day, pretty versatile coaching hey! No more than a couple of minutes later a video message from my training partner froomie came through whilst in the middle of the final stage of the vuelta! He dropped back to the car and Tim filmed him saluting me with a beer in his hand! You certainly don't see something like that everyday but as I've said before he's a class act and his belief in me has certainly been the biggest influence on the belief I now have in myself during the races. Have to admit racing ironman Sweden, doing the training I did leading into wales and racing wales, felt like I'd done a grand tour myself! No doubt about it, our little squad has had a pretty successful summer.  My European adventure brought me success and opportunities I never could have dreamed would come my way. And while it's certainly in my eyes my best ever sporting performances I still have one more big appointment on October 14 in Kona so I need to maintain my focus. I've now returned to California where I'll do my final training block at Big Bear Lake. I love big bear thanks to my affinity with the boxing and MMA world with big bear being a training hot bed for the sports biggest stars, I like doing things a little outside the norm! So that's that, couldn't have scripted my summer any better cannot wait for what lies ahead. Cjw 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Long road to Kona

The Long Road to Kona I'll get to Saturday's race in a bit but first I need to explain a little the reason things worked put the way they did in IM Sweden. 3 weeks ago I announced to the world (that being the few followers I have on the social media sphere) that I was going off the grid for a while. I'd just dragged my pathetic self around the Zurich Ironman course for no other reason than the fact pulling out of Nice the week before stung so bad I hated the feeling of being a quitter. The sickness I suffered pre nice had certainly subsided but I was certainly far more weak and out of shape on the start line in Zurich than I had been the week earlier in Nice but I had demons to face and deal with and finishing the ironman that day was the only way I could see myself getting back on track. 8hrs 43minutes later I'd as expected done a very lackluster swim, an embarrassing bike leg, and something that would barely resemble a long slow trot in the woods to finish off. At no point did I feel like I was apart of the race, I was simply going through the motions and getting myself across so I could remind myself no matter how average or weak I feel I'm not a quitter. Added to that this Ironman was serving as the beginning of the most important training block I'd face to date as I'd already started plotting my path to IM Sweden 3 weeks later in a bid to earn that Kona slot as a professional I so desperately dreamed off. This 3 week plan was plotted a a week before I even pinned the number on in Zurich. On the Monday after Nice or the day after LeTour De France had wrapped up to be more descriptive, my phone buzzed & the name "Froomie" flashed up on the screen. I stared at my phone and thought this guy has just won le tour and had a billion people I'm sure he needs to be taking to, he must have butt dialed me!! I let the phone ring out and thought fuck it, I'll call him back and see if he answers, will know then if he really wanted to talk with me or not. Sure enough he answered and I must be clear we are very good friends and communicate regularly so we had a good catchup. Anyways he wanted to know what I was doing the following week as he had a training camp planned and had nobody to train with so needed a sparing partner, would i be available to meet him in the alps post Zurich. His coach Tim Kerrison and the man who's set up what he calls "team wurf" being a bunch of advisors to help me with this journey into ironman, followed up and made sure I was keen to do it and the plan was set. I was simply using Zurich as a good long days training and I'd be in chatel Monday morning following the race to get to work, coincidently chris started the vuelta the same day I would be racing sweden so we where on the same training cycle in Tim's eyes, all was shaping up perfectly. Arriving in Chatel was a bit surreal. Here's the guy who's just won le tour so at the absolute peak of endurance sports condition and me, an out of shape wanna be ironman triathlete with a wild idea that suffering like a dog for the next couple of weeks was the best way to prepare for the race of my life! Anyways I hadn't seen chris since our last training camp together in Tenerife back in April so we caught up then it was straight into business as usual, massage, eat, get to bed, it was straight into it the next morning. And straight into it indeed, we where on ourTT and Tim basically stopped us 90km from home and told us to ride as hard as possible back to the house. If I got tired I was told to sit on chris's wheel for this one as I could be a bit rusty considering the ironman and all. Well I was on his wheel pretty quickly and hanging on for dear life, I don't think I've ever suffered so much for 2 straight hours in my life. It was exactly what I needed, I was outa shape big time and body needed to be woken back up. The rest off the camp followed a similar trend however on the climbs tim was nice enough to give me a little head start so chris would fly past me usually 2/3's of the way through the interval giving me some more time to realize just how far off the pace I was but also to remind me how to dig deep again.  Camps with Tim are never as simple as riding a bike and eating and sleeping and massage and eating. No no no, Tim loves to spice things up so one day we stopped at a random lake mid ride so I could through the arms over for a little bit and Tim could get a look at froomie's freestyle technique and see how much work it will take to get him ready for Kona a few years down the line. At the monument i've still got his measure in the water. I celebrated my 34th birthday and as with everything else Team Sky does they make sure you feel really special that day. It started out perfectly as i woke up beside my gorgeous girlfriend Fallon, she'd obviously never been on a cycling camp before so guess if your going to come one this is a good one learn the ropes. The 3rd of august fell on our recovery day so Tim Chris and I started out with a little spin up some goat track Tim was curious about. Whenever Tim says he has a new road he wants to check out it's generally uphill and very steep, this was no different but it was my birthday so we where all in good spirits. When we got back Froomie cleaned my bike for me, not many people can say the TDF champ has cleaned there bike for them but this guys a class act across the board so I wasn't overly shocked. That afternoon Nik the "team helper" and Anne Marie who ran the lodge took us zip lining which was pretty amazing literally flying over the alps around chatel. Then dinner that evening was actually Fallon and my turn to cook so my favorite Mexican was served up and Chris's wife Michelle made me a cake! We finished the night off by decorating Chinese lanterns and sending them into orbit so certainly won't forget that birthday anytime soon! With the birthday out of the way it was time for the final block of training. Chris was due to meet the rest of his Vuelta soldiers at Isola 2000 on the other end of the alps a couple of days later. Tim decided it would be a great idea for chris and I to ride there over a couple of days so that's exactly what we did. Day one we spent 8hrs 30minutes in the saddle until we reached the hotel at the top of the Galibiar. Tim had spotted the hotel on the recon rides up the climb and wanted to check it out, so that's where we rode to. It was pretty crazy at the top of the climbs as everybody recognized chris as they drove past so where waiting at the top with cameras in hand, the telegraph particularly was crazy! The next day was far more civilized around 6hrs to isola 2000. The trip certainly gave me a good opportunity to re familiarize myself with the French alps, who knows I might need to race on them again sometime in the future. With our arrival in Isola that was time for me to tap out and let Wout and Diego into the ring to spar with him for a few days. Tim felt I'd taken enough punishment on the bike and it was time for me to head back to monaco to work on my swim and run a little ahead of Sweden. We were not quite done just yet however as to complete the journey Tim felt I may aswell ride the 120km downhill back to Monaco for my recovery day! Also chris had a special guest fly in on helicopter to ride with him in Kevin Systrom and his mate Pete. Chris said he'd ride halfway back with them and then I'd take them the rest of the way, didn't they get short changed!!! No they really had a great day firstly riding with the boys and talking biking and then I had a million questions about my startup that's set to take the world by storm, very interesting and watch this space!! Fitting way to wrap up a camp that at no time felt like reality, oh apart from the lactate acid if course, but really was just an incredible 10days.  Back in Monaco and I was straight the pool. My swims in both Nice and Zurich where incredibly lackluster, probably due to the fact I hadn't actually been in a swimming pool since leaving the USA 4 weeks earlier. Yep it's official, I'm not Michael Phelps, I can't not swim for a month and come out and break a world record, I'm just a hack after all! I got into a great routine in Monaco very quickly with my swimming and running. Its absolutely stunning in that area and I really enjoyed a few more long days in the saddle, I even ran into a guy I knew Chris Spence who comes from jersey, I had no idea that jersey was it's own country. Anyways spence in an animal so was nice have him belt me up for a few hours. With the race now just 7 days out I did my final big brick session I do for race day confidence. I swim 4km in the pool, then ride for 6hrs then finish with a 1hr run. I actually rode 6hrs 10min and ran 59minutes, add the 1hr swim and you basically get the race time I did in sweden, amazing how things work out but it seems to be accurate anytime I'm prepared for a race. Have to make sure the pre Kona one is around 8:00 hahaha. The work wasn't entirely done as now the boys where back in town and on Tuesday we had one final key workout to do prior to the vuelta for them and Sweden for me. All I'll say is it was a really hard session, really hard session and then I went home and did a hard 4km session in the pool while the other guys had a massage!!!! Bit unfair hey. No jokes aside being able to follow the same training buildup as chris was and absolute gift from god, well in this case chris and Kerro but you get what I mean. Wednesday we finally went our separate ways to that sites of our respective races. Now to the race! Honestly the race was rather boring as it was so meticulously planned in the previous few weeks. We had a simple plan, finish no worse than 2nd and secure that Kona slot, nothing more and nothing less. Being so well prepared on all fronts meant I lined up on the start line brimming with confidence. At some point on one of our death marches through the alps chris had told me to simply race my race as if I execute my race I'm going to do very very well. He was so right, I knew I could swim,  knew I could ride and in cairns I'd run 3:02 so I can also do that ok, was important to just put it all together. The final couple of days leading in went perfectly and Fallon ensured my tank was full with the right rocket fuel come race morning. I had a great warmup and was as calm as a kitten on the start-line, I couldn't wait to get the show on the road. The gun went off and I had a fast start as usual, I was at the head of the race as the faster swimmers emerged and converged onto each other.I quickly sort the feet of the pre race favorite Clemente Alonzo Mckernan and along with a couple of other we started to open up a gap. I was certainly feeling more like myself in the water but still not quite as sharp as I was earlier in the year. Sure enough as I feared Alonzo had another gear and when he kicked away I had to slip into my comfort pace and stick to the plan, race my race!! A couple more where dropped with me so we formed a small trio chase pack, this turned out to be perfect for me as I instantly started thinking about a strong bike and run as I was now able to swim well within myself and save plenty of energy. The swim wasn't a complete disaster and I exited the water 2min 45sec behind Alonzo, certainly a gap I felt I could wipe out early on the bike. Once on the bike my first goal was to get into 2nd place as quickly as possible. Another athlete had held alonzos feet and within the first 30km I was into my Kona qualifying position, now I simply had to stay here. It took me another 20km to roll up to Alonzo and once I was there instead of doing some vicious acceleration to hit the lead I just relaxed for 10km or so behind him to eat and drink a little as I knew he wanted me to pass him so he could pace off me. It was also a strong tail breeze so my experience from my road racing days told me it's dumb to attack in a tail breeze as everybody can ride fast with the wind up your bum! So I waited patiently for an opportunity to attack. As we rolled up to the aid station at 60km I noticed Alonzo fiddling around with his bottles so once had one hand fully occupied and sitting up so in no position to ride quickly for at least a few seconds I hit the hammer and was gone, I was now in the lead!! My plan on the bike was simply to start out stead and get settled then slowly build my power throughout the ride. Once in lead I set about doing just that. I pushed pretty hard where it was hard and was conservative where it was easy. The gap went out to 3minutes at 120km, 5minutes at 150km and was 8minutes by the time I reached transition after 180km. I felt amazing all day and with the previous two races haunting me I was afraid to push the numbers I was seeing and kept holding back, save it for the run, save it for the run I kept saying to myself. When it was all said and done I averaged 308 watts for the 4hr 14min bike leg, a record on that course by 10min. To put it in perspective I managed a measly 270 watts in Zurich, hence my reference before to an embarrassing bike effort, it was 15% off my best. Anyways most importantly the power was back, guess chasing froomie around the alps had worked out after all, it was now time to go for a run and I was dahn excited about that! The reason I rolled into transition with a huge smile on my face wasn't because of the handy lead I had or that the Kona dream was merely 42km of running away, oh no, the smile was because of the new shoes I had waiting for me!! I'd managed to get my hands on a pair of Nike's special "breaking2" shoes, the kicks developed for the attempt of Kipchoge who came up a mere 25seconds short of the elusive mark! These shoes are scarce as hens teeth so I was super lucky to get a hold of them but they didn't arrive till wednesday which meant my first run in them would be race day. Again the experienced minds would say that is suicide to run a marathon in shoes you've never run in before but I just had a feeling these things would be sensational and not let me down. From the very first step I had a grin on my face. Holly smokes, it felt like a couple of trampolines where strapped to my feet!! It was amazing. I don't look at my pace when I'm running simply my cadence. From all my training I know that 180 cadence with a comfortable stride length is around 3hr marathon pace. From there I simply try and keep it feeling as easy as possible for as long as possible. Well with these shoes I bounded out of transition like a rd runner and my cadence was 190!!! It was a nice feeling having to slow myself down as I honestly didn't feel like I was putting in any extra effort, it was amazing. I must make one other thing clear here. I paid $350 for these shoes so I ain't no Nike ambassador but these things are awesome!! Anyways onto the run and I quickly settled down and passed Fallon for the first time in the feed zone. Fallon was pretty excited about this race as she actually had something to do! Hand me my personalized hydration and nutrition at the start of each of the 3 laps of the run course. Lap one was a bottle of electrolytes, a couple of gells and an energy bar. She updated on my lead on reminded me to stay strong! Hey it's amazing how the simplest things mean a lot more when racing an ironman! The running course was an absolute doozy. When explaining it to Tim post race I always use cycling terms obviously so I said it was a combination of Strada Bianchi, tour of flanders, Paris roubaix, and Paris tour. These four one da races was the best way I could describe the changes in surface, direction, wind, road furniture, you name it, it was a perfect mix of these bike races all be it a marathon course! Anyways the other amazing thing was the crowd, there was literally 10's of thousands of people out there and offense you couldn't hear yourself think. And educated to, they all knew I was Aussie and all knew my name, I've never ever heard so many Aussie Aussie aussie chants in a 3hr period! By the 2nd lap when they knew I was approaching aussie music would even be playing as I ran buy with men at works land down under the most common song I heard. Yeah the crowd where amazing absolutely amazing, they are certainly a big reason why I'd come back to this race. Back to the race and lap 1 was all about doing it as easy as possible and getting a feel for how fast the guys behind me where running. Not surprising Alonzo was closing fast and KJ in 3rd was running around the same pace as me. Perfect, I simply had to hold that for one more lap to keep 3rd far enough back incase I have a meltdown in the last lap. When I passed Fallon for the start of lap 2 she handed me my electrolytes, a couple of gels and a nice mushy mars bar!! Oh that went down so well!! Lap 2 went smoothly, my pace seemed to stay consistent and while I knew Alonzo was coming hard I was confident KJ would now be slipping back. Sure enough as I started lap 3 Fallon hand me the usual drink and gels but also a pink piece of paper, oh how sweet she'd written me a little love letter!! I shoved it in my pocket for motivation later in the race but then throughout perhaps it's not a love letter perhaps I should read it? After a few km's deliberating this I pulled it out and it simple said, 2nd on your ass, 3rd 10minutes, the rest 20+!! it certainly made me giggle and no sooner did I put the paper in my pocket and Alonzo finally blasted by me with 10km to go. Although disappointed to not be leading I was also excited to be in 2nd, just where I aimed to be and merely a controlled 40 odd minutes away from that spot in Kona. When thoughts of going after him crept in so did common sense, I'd come so far, from 3 weeks ago I'd work my ass off to be in this position, don't mess it up, your here for one thing! From there I really enjoyed the final 10km. It turns out I closed on Alonzo in the final 5km but I didn't realize that, I didn't care, I wanted to get my Kona slot using the least amount of energy as possible and then see what I can do in october, besides to run 3:00 for the first time, I'm absolutely wrapped. Even if I'd tried to I wouldn't have layer a glove on Alonzo, he's a class act with many wins to his name, he had me covered in reality from go to wow and hats off to him, he was a fantastic rival to compete against. Crossing the line was probably the most relieved I ever felt in my life. I'd built myself up so much for this that failure doesn't even bare thinking about. Yeah I've been in do or die situations many time before, you don't have my sporting background without such moments but this was different. This year I've trained along side chris froome, richie Porte on the bike, sun yang in the pool, had tim Kerrison, Denis cottrell and Shaun Stevens there to guide me and more recently Greg welch has been there to offer the ironman specific knowledge none of us had. I couldn't have dreamed up a better team to back me, it's all I've ever dreamed of having and all we set out to do was qualify for Kona and up until this point I was making it look extremely unlikely!! Added to that there is Fallon who follows me around the world and supports me every step of the way. Cares about me in ways I certainly show little regard for but so desperately need to make all this happen. And off course my parents who have had to endure a roller coaster ride across 3 different sports now, I promised them the 4th I choose will go much smoother!! Just kidding. So the relief I felt when I crossed that line was for me, it was for me to finally be able to look all these people in the eye knowing that it was wurfwhile backing me, we hit our mark that validated what we all put into it. At the start of the season qualifying for Kona was the primary goal, the rest as they say from here on in is simply a bonus. So that's that, I've qualified for Kona as a professional. Yep it's going to be the 3rd sport I'll represent my country in at the highest level, thats something that I'm pretty proud off. As a kid I dreamed of representing Australia in just about every sport, I didn't really care which one, I thought I was good at everything, I guess nothing has changed! The last 4 weeks has taught me a huge amount about myself and what I'm capable off. From the moment the phone rang and "froomie" pooped up on the screen until them moment I stuck my toe over that finish line in Kalmar on saturday I knew there was only one option for me, qualify for Kona and achieve what you set out to do. With my back to the wall I was able to figure it out, well with the help of the best team in the world that is!!! Hope you enjoyed the read, sorry its been so long but they always are. Cjw