Monday, June 12, 2017

I can now kinda run!

Big day for me yesterday at ironman cairns, first time I'd cracked the top 10 as a professional! Yay! As with every IM (ironman) I've started I went in with lofty expectations. As always i had a reality check very early in proceedings reminding me this sport is no joke period! And at the professional level what it takes to be competitive is simply mind blowing! My preparation had gone perfectly to plan and I arrived in Australia Tuesday morning bright eyed and bushy tailed! Dad scooped me up from the Brisbane airport and I headed to Burleigh Heads for a couple of swimming sessions with the master Denis Cotrell at the Miami pool to put the finishing touches on what had been a great 8 week block since South Africa. On the wednesday evening session I was treated to meeting Doug Frost, Ian thorpes coach non the less aswell! I couldn't script better having two blokes watch over me for my final session before the big day and the fact I had the best swim ever yesterday is a direct result of there final pointers Wednesday evening, I pinch myself constantly the situations I find myself in and assure you I never take it for granted. With my swimming arms ready for battle it was off to cairns to put the feet up and wait for Sunday's race start. Dad and I linked up with mum in cairns and I had a very restful and stress free build up to the race which is highly uncharacteristic for me, usually I'm as chaotic as New York at peak hour! Instead I was in bed early Saturday and sound asleep, for the first time I felt ready to rock and roll.

Thanks to being on LA time I naturally woke at 4:30am Sunday morning. As expected felt sensational. I got down some breakfast and It was finally time to head to the start, I just wanted to start my pre race routine to settle the nerves, it's when I stop thinking about all the what iffs. With the bike all prepped I relaxed with mum and dad on the beach till 30min before race start when I start to get dressed and do my warmup, I couldn't believe how organized I was!!! After a little swim and final good luck hug front the parents it was finally time to get on the start line. I lined up strategically next to Clayton Fettel on one side and tim Joe Gambles on the other. I knew Clayton would be a fast starter and I know Joe would be in the lead chase group or main pack which is where I also wanted to be. Being beside Clayton however meant that if he went slow or I happened to get in the right spot on his feet I was there, highly unlikely but better to have both bases covered! I was ready!

The gun went off and as always I was one of the first into the water. I got a great start and but as expected Clayton and Josh (the megastar of the day) quickly took off. I was close to them but not close enough so waited for the next group of the big favorites and slotted onto there feet. I spotted tim van berkle and as the defending champ he was going to be in the wrong spot and followed him. Brayden Currie was to my left so I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. Once the race settled down a little I finally had a chance to think of the final pointers Doug and Denis had given me on Wednesday night. I couldn't believe the effect it had on my efficiency feeling the water better and breathing later in the stroke and I was all of a sudden doing what felt like half the stroke count that I normally would to go the same speed, everything was going perfectly. Barring a few stray arms and wacks to the back of the head from Brayden, I did give as good as I got I have to confess, the swim went by really smoothly. It was long before we where turning for the final few hundred meters to the beach and where previously I'd been hanging onto the front group for dear life I was now swimming to the front of the pack to get out of the water as high up as possible, completely unchartered waters for me pardon the pun!! We hit the beach and I was one of the first to stand, 4th to be precise as my mum took note of that!! I ran into transition with a big smile on my face, I was off to the perfect start.

My transition from swim to bike was a bit of a dogs breakfast. That work I did to get out up front quickly evaporated as I dicked around getting a drink and making sure my snazzy new oakley sunglasses where on straight!! Once i finally got on my bike I hit a small bump with 100m and my refillable hydration bottle flew from the cage sending it and my Garmin all over the rd. Fortunately I was so relaxed and in the perfect position in the field that I had the presence of mind to stop, lay my bike in the middle of the rd, run back, collect everything and put my system back together before setting off again. Must have been quite a sight to see what's meant to be a professional picking up his bits and pieces from all over the race course. With my diabolical transition process now behind me I was finally on my bike and in what I like to call my happy place.

I quickly regained contact with the main group containing the favorites and decided to stretch them out immediately. Josh and Clayton where 2minutes up the rd so my plan was to quickly leave the man field behind and get out of sight and then casually ride my way up to the lead duo. As I passed the group they had a bit off a go at following me so I squeezed out a few little 500+ watt bursts just to open a quick gap and I was gone. I knew they would ultimately let me go as I'm not a renowned runner. Once alone I settled into a nice comfortable rhythm around 300 watts and enjoyed the scenery while I rode across to the front pair. It took me around 60km to meander on up to them and I used this time to eat and drink as much as possible. My legs felt great, heart rate was through the roof but that's as for the first time ever I actually tapered my training off I think perfectly. Once with josh and Clayton I kept the same rhythm for another 20km or so where I grabbed my special needs bag and restocked for the second half of the ride. Once I sorted myself out there it was time to boogie and I began to push a little harder, the last 90km is where the race is really on.

Our lead at halfway was around 3minutes and by 120km it was out to 7. Clayton had dropped off and now. I only had Josh for company which really impressed me as I'd be lying if said I didn't try to drop him, on more than one occasion I twisted the throttle a little to see if I could rattle him but he stayed right there, really impressive. We continued to build our lead and at 150km we had almost 10min and just as I felt all couldn't be better that light headed feeling hit me again. The power quickly went from my legs and into my mind stressing as to what was going wrong, was it nutrition, hydration but It didn't matter. Josh smelt blood and like a real racer quickly attacked me hard and vanished down the captain cook HWY ahead of me while I scratched my head wondering how to get the power back to my pins. It's happened every race so I know the only option is to back off, drink and eat and prey the power comes back. This time it took about 20min to feel like I could perhaps attempt to run a marathon and Josh was now 2minutes ahead of me! I applied the peer again and started to real him in over the last 15km. If there's one thing I've learnt in ironman is never to give up as everyone goes through bad patches, i may have been lucky that mine was only 20minutes on the bike, at least at the very least I was still rolling! Better than on the run! I rallied in those final km's and closed to within 30seconds of Josh as we hit T2. When my feet hit the pavement I felt like a new man and as I'd raced Josh on south Africa where I was able to out ran him, I honestly felt like I was still in the drivers seat. It quickly became apparent I was wrong!

After my career best bike to run transition I took a few more seconds out of josh's lead as I hit the run course. Was nice to put the diabolical swim bike transition behind me! I settled into my rhythm really quickly which as my coach Tim Kerrison puts it to be uncomfortably comfortable. While it would be nice to feel like your cruising on a sunday stroll the reality is your racing professionally so I doubt it's possible to compete at that level without feeling like your having a bit of a dig. For me this pace is very straight forward, 4:15-4:20 per/km pace and 180-185 cadence or strides per minute. At the first turn around after just 3km I noticed Josh had opened his lead up to 2minutes! He was running 30 seconds quicker per km!! At that point I knew I had to stick to my strategy as the only way I'd catch him is if he blew to pieces. After about 4km I got my first look at all the runners, tim van berkle, Braden currie, Joe gambles and Dave dellow. Once again they where flying and once again I knew I couldn't worry about them and run my own race.

My goal for the run was 3hrs 5min, a modest 6minute improvement on south africa and where I felt I was at in my running development. The plan was to get into my comfortable uncomfortable rhythm for the first 2 laps or 28km and then see where I was at. Sure enough one by one the big guns galloped past me. First Braden, the tim, the Dave. Joe seemed to drop off but instead he was sticking to his race plan. When he finally passed me around half way he told me to hang in there, those guys where flying and would pay for it at some point. I was blown away with how calm and relaxed he was and that he took the time to give me a little pep up, good old Tasmanian spirit right there! As I entered the last lap I felt great. My pacing hadn't wavered and I was still within touching distance of tim and Dave. I wanted to lift it but common sneer told me that 14km is still a long way to go so figured i'd hold fire for the final 9km when I passed the start finish for the final time if I had anything left. Josh was still flying and holding his lead, I was honestly in awe how he had raced the race, he just looked like he was going for it every stoke, pedal, and stride of the event, such a gutsy display. With 9km to go dad gave me the nod to lift the pace so was time to commit. I lifted up my arms and dropped my splits by 5-10seconds in pursuit of Dave dellow. Around 2km the finish I'd closed the 1 minute gap to him and 5th place but just as I got to him and looked like I fly by he just took off like a gazelle and was gone, he's a class act Dave and I saw first hand why people speak so highly of him and his ability to run. All off a sudden I was in difficulty and for the first time my stride rate slowed and everything felt heavy. Michael fox was now hot on my heels and in the process of running a 2:50 marathon himself. When he past me with 1km to go as much as my mind wanted to fight I just don't have the running legs to match the speed of these guys, they just have gears I can only dream off at the moment. I started the final lap aiming at 5th and by the time I crossed the line I was 7th, as I knew, a lot can happen in the final 14km, good and bad!! Once again a huge part of the day was the crowds on the run course. By the time you've past everyone 3 times the voices are familiar and sincere and you'd swear you'd all been best of friends since primary school. It's just another unique wonderful aspect of the ironman family and to all those who supported me and the 100's of others put there huge huge than you, the sport wouldn't be what it is without you.

Yesterday was far and away the best ironman I've ever put together. My run split of 3:01 was absolutely unbelievable for me, I never thought I'd be close to 3hrs this early in my time in ironman. Once again my swim and run performances where the highlights for me. For whatever reason my bike simply isn't firing at the moment but I guess the time and commitment it's taken to improve on those two weaker disciplines of mine has to have a cost somewhere else. For the last couple of events my power has been 5-10% off where it was the past couple of years so that's something I need rectify if I want to be competitive. I know I have a good bike leg in me so that will come back at some point, for now I need to ensure I'm a complete triathlete and that means focusing on the swim and run. Patients is going to be my best friend in this sport!!

So a huge shout out to my competitors. Josh was simply a class above. 1st out of the water, 1st off the bike, and first across the finish line speaks for itself. I just loved how he took the bull by the horns all day, just awesome to witness. Tim, Braydon, Dave, I've seen suffering like I saw on the faces of you 3 in that final 14km and to still post 2:50 marathons is just incomprehensible to me. I realized my uncomfortably comfortable feeling will need to be adjusted a little if I want to race you lot in the final stages, a good lesson indeed. Joe raced the smartest race of everyone in the field and had it not been for a rampant Josh hambugoler hahaha he would have been Asia pacific champ. 9/10 times his performance would win the title but I have a feeling this is just the beginning of big things from Joe in the full diatance ironman races and just awesome to see another tassie export kicking ass on the world stage.

From hear I'll head to Nice IM as I'm told it's a race track I'll really enjoy. I lived in the area for a couple of years so will be nice to race somewhere familiar. I'll take a lot of positive from cairns and as with every triathlon I do learn some valuable lessons. With all the variables that can be grown at you in such an event I think everyone no matter who they are learns something new from each race, that's one of the beauties of this ever evolving sport. I have to mention Tim Reed as he is just a wonderful ambassador for our sport. Hes always there for me and just genuinely wants everyone he comes across to do well, so refreshing in the world of professional sport. He learnt me his ultra fast front race wheel and when I forgot my goggles he came to the rescue with a bright pink Holly Lawance special addition pair of Roka's for me to race in. Whatever the color they made me swim faster than ever before so won't be the last time I'll be asking for something from tim! Having mum and dad there was obviously fantastic. They have dragged themselves from sport to sport and around the globe watching me strut my stuff. They must scratch there heads from time to time to wonder what they ever did to produce a son so obsessed with sports that involve wearing Lycra!! Still 33years later they are still there on the barriers with the most Distinctive voices I hear throughout the day. It was the first race for mum but dad had been there 12months prior for my greatest ever sporting meltdown. He cut a wry smile when I crossed the line yesterday as while on one hand was proud of my improvement in the sport i still haven't been able to top his 3:00 marathon PB he did at age 55! Think I've got some decent endurance genes from big tone! I could write and write all day but I'm tired and need to catch up on some sleep. Didn't sleep a lot last night with the caffeine equivalent of 20 espressos pumping through my veins and the adrenaline of my best ever ironman made it difficult to switch off!! I'll certainly catch up on those zzzz's tonight but in closing thanks again to everyone that came along yesterday, competitors and supporters alike, your all part of the show and I can't wait for the next Asia pacific champs!!

Stats from the day

Swim (6th out of the water)
49min 49seconds

Bike
4hrs 15min
Ave power 298 watts
Ave heart rate 160bpm
Max heart rate 181bpm
Ave speed 42kmph
Work 4570Kj's

Run
3hrs 1min
4:19min/km ave
Ave heart rate 158bpm
Max heart rate 173bpm
Work 2722Kj's

Add in a few min for my rounding Down haha and transition and you get 8hrs 11min.



Sent from my iPad

Thursday, April 6, 2017

IM Africa

Catch me if you Cam, Ironman South Africa edition 

Wowsers, what a start to 2017 I've had!! While my Ironman South Africa on the weekend is the main purpose of this blog, I just need to fill you in on a little bit of the background behind how I even lined up on the start line in Port Elizabeth. I'll try and keep it as brief as possible but if you've read my blog before you know that that's something a find difficult so this may be a long one! Also as I'm currently on a flight from Zurich to Tenerife I've got 3hrs to kill and the blog is how I'm going to do it! So here we go!

As 2016 drew to a close i was staring down the barrel of failing to do anything befitting of the athlete I feel I am. In September I gave myself one final chance for salvation. A torn calf muscle meant I was unable to run for a couple of months but I could swim and bike so I decided to go to ironman arizona and at least put 2 1/3's of a race together to see if there really was any point in me continuing on this ironman journey. I worked my ass off in those two disciplines and focused extremely hard on the rehab for my calf. I'd also worked alot on my nutrition so couldn't wait to see where I was at with 3 of the 4 disciplines that make up an ironman. When my backs to the wall and I need to do something I tend to be able to deliver. Fortunately on that November day in Tempe Arizona I showed myself and a few others I was hoping to impress that perhaps I do have a future in this sport after all.

My swim went fantastic and for the first time in a pro race I excited the water in the front pack. There where a couple of super swimmers off the front but once one the bike I had them behind me within 10km and in another first, I was leading the pro field in an ironman! Once in the lead I worked on executing an ironman bike split. I didn't want to kid myself and just go flat out as one day I needed to learn to run! So instead I just rolled along at 140-150 heart rate focusing on my drinking and eating and 4hrs and 5minutes later I was into T2 feeling sensational!! I honestly hadn't planned to be leading and at this point figured my race was over as I hadn't run a stride for almost 3months but leading a race and with all eyes on you in an empty transition area I realized I had to at least try and run, at least till I was out of sight. So I pulled on the Mizuno's, lucky I packed them, and Fallon informed me I had a 3 minute lead which was a relief to here as I knew I'd be run down pretty quickly! I settled into a rhythm that I felt like I could just roll along at for hours on end and preyed my calf didn't give way. It wasn't long before the pros started flying past me be I was actually enjoying the feeling if being able to jog lightly. 3hrs and 27minutes later I crossed the line in 14th place in a total time of 8hrs 27. I couldn't believe it, I was feeling great as my run was honestly nothing more than a social stroll yet I'd don't my best ever ironman. Sure a lightning fast bike course is what made it that way but still I got enough out of that race to know that if I really apply myself to this sport and learn to run perhaps I could be competitive. I was later informed that my swim bike time was a handful of minutes under 5hrs, something I'm told hasn't been done by too many guys. While I'm in no way comparing myself to the likes of Jan Frodeno who smashed the world record earlier in the year, the basic fact of the matter was if I can learn to run I may be competitive in this sport after all. The big question however still lingers today, can I learn to run and if so how quickly can I ultimately gallop along at.

I mentioned in there than there where a couple of people who's attention kwashiorkor trying to get with such a performance. Well there was only one persons attention to be honest, Tim Kerrison. Tim is the mastermind mind behind Team Sky's dominance at le tour de France and before that had a similar roll in rowing world championship success and Olympic gold medals in the pool. I figured as I've come from two of those back grounds and need help with the other, he was perhaps the perfect man to guide me as I make the commitment to the sport of ironman. We exchanged a few emails toward the end of 2016 and while nothing was certain I hung onto a faint hope that he maby just maby will decide add me to his stable and give it a go.

As fallon and I lay in bed reading at around 10pm on a Mid January evening the phone call I'd been dreaming of receiving finally arrived! It was Tim!! We exchanged pleasantries and he quickly cut to the chase, "chris has lost his training partner here on the gold coast and Richie tells us your a good man train with out on the bike, would you like to come and keep him company for 10 days?" my response was obviously quick and decisive "absolutely" I replied. We chatted a bit more about what we would be doing then at the end of the call I heard the words I really wanted to here "oh and while your here we can have a chat about the iron mans, I've got some ideas on that aswell". Wow, I couldn't believe my ears and promptly woke my dad up to let him know and James tomkins who's for so long been immensely supportive of what I'm doing. I somehow someway managed to get whacked in the face with the lucky stick yet again and was now off to train with the current TDF champ!!

The training camp was as you would expect quite challenging. While I won't go into any specifics I will say it's the first time since my time at the AIS as a rower that's I've truly appreciated the concept of sleep, eat, train, eat, recover,eat, sleep and repeat. Days off I was in charge of entertainment as I had some buddies who live on the coast so took froomie wake surfing with Will davidson and wake boarding world champ Harkey Clifford. Like everything else he does chris quickly figured it out and seemed like a natural. He even got a taste of my medicine on a training front when tim took us on a 21km trail run after a 5hr ride. We stopped along the way but we literally ran a half marathon, not surprising was the first time froomie had run since the Mont Vontout in le tour this past July! As the camp drew to a close and chris headed off to Melbourne for the Suntour to kick start his season, tim started to put in place my training for the ironman. He introduced me to Denis Cottrell whom is obviously the man when it comes to endurance freestyle and from there built up a program to prepare for our first season objective, IM South Africa.

Fallon and I relocated to the gold coast off and on through out february and March so as I could swim with Denis's squad. While the run was still far and away my Achilles heel the swim is equally as crucial as while you can't win the race in the swim you most certainly can lose it so ensuring I can be toward the front there was the first port of call. Post Arizona I'd continued my rehab on my calf with some short runs so now I was also able to start running again. Again this wasn't a huge focus from an intensity or volume point of view we simply worked on efficiency. The bike for now also had to take a back seat as it was just fine and something we can re visit later on when the other two disciplines improve. For now really it was all about swimming and I couldn't have been in a better environment. Denis also had Sun Yang, the 1500m world record holder from china training with his group and along with the rest of the lads who'd lap me on average every 300m's made me feel right at home and not at all like the slug that I was clogging up a lane! The training went perfectly and after a half ironman test event in Coles bay in early march where I went 3hrs 52minutes which was a personal best by 13minutes over that distance, I was on track for IM south africa. Another significant change was moving away from the cannondale family. This was simply my decision as I wanted Tim and I to be free to use whatever we felt was best for me to do well at any particular race. Its the first time in 15years I haven't been in some way associated with any sponsors. Roka and ceramic speed are kind of the exception in that they give me they awesome equipment to use but in all honesty i was prepared to buy it but they insisted on giving it me. It really gives me piece of mind to know that I've got best possible equipment I believe is available and eliminates the possibility of blaming my tools, it's all down to me! With that I have to make a special mention to stuy saunders and sherriden and terri moore who allowed me to treat storm cycles on the gold coast like my garage and built everything up absolutely flawlessly! Anyways With the amount of training going on time flys by and before I knew it I was on the plane finally for south Africa chomping at the bit to get the race underway. I arrived a couple of days early to scope out the course and get the lay of the land and woke up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4am race morning thanks to the favorable jet lag coming from australia!

At 6:25am on Sunday I elbowed my way onto the start line beside Frederick Van lierd. I'd identified Freddy as the man I wanted to follow and a previous Kona winner, IM south Africa winner and consistent front pack swimmer. My tactic for the swim was pretty simple, if possible get the lead in that first 100m and make the fast guys swim over the top of me that way making it easier for me to get on there feet. I got a perfect start and was first off the beach into the water, I had a good body length on Freddy and after 200m I eased a little to let him past. From there for the next 3600m he guided me perfectly around the swim course and I exited the water right where I wanted to be in the front pack. I had a smooth transition and as I'd done for the swim I followed freddy all the way to our bikes and out of transition. Once my feet hit those pedals I felt awesome. The taper we had planned worked perfectly and it felt effortless pedaling along on my super bike. A couple of quick swimmers had exited the water a minute ahead of us but by 15km I was in the the lead, everything was going perfectly.

Once on the lead I really relaxed and settled into the days work ahead. I got my heart rate nicely under control which had been up a little with all the adrenaline involved in a hectic professional ironman start. I've never felt better on the bike kept holding myself back which is what you need to do in such an event in those early stages. I simply couldn't believe how effortlessly I was riding away from the field, seemed to good to be true!! At the halfway turn around I was right where I wanted to be, heart rate was in the mid 140's and I'd eaten my prescribed nutrition thus far. I had 4minutes to Ben, and nils and as the big group id seen them with 40kms earlier had completely exploded I know everyone was working hard, perfect! I grabbed my special needs bag and that's when things started to unravel. My hydration system hold 1.4L and I wasn't even able to empty one 700mill drink bottle into it before it was full again!! Uh oh, feeling so good I'd made the same mistake as cairns and forgotten to drink again and as I'd been loading up on sugars I knew what was coming, a massive sugar crash as my stomach struggles to deal with all that sugar. My heart rate began to rise and dropping the power did little to change it. I spent the next 60km in damage control getting down as much fluid as possible in an attempt to get myself back together for the run. My power dropped from 320-250 during that period as I bled time to ben and nils determined to hunt me down. Fortunately for me about 20km from transition my body resumed to normal, power came back, heart rate settled and all was good again. I entered T2 in the lead all be it very slight, I'd lost 2minutes to the charging Hoffman and Fromhold on that disastrous second lap but that was of little relevance now, I simply had to run my marathon and what would be would be.

Once on the run I felt pretty good. One positive of going through that difficult moment on the bike is you feel better and better as you come out of that. Ben and nils blew past me like I was a standing still after only a few km's so I knew i wouldn't see them again. We had a simple plan for the run as I'd never gone quicker than 3hrs 27min, take the first 30km as easy as possible and then suffer in the last 12km! My target for the marathon was 4:30km pace, slow I know but you have to learn to walk before you can run! I settled into that and as I slipped back down the leader board I became more and more relaxed at that pace. Once out of the top 10 I decided to walk a few aid stations on that 3rd lap just to ensure I don't put myself in a whole and don't finish the race on my knees, I was only racing myself at this point. Into the last lap and I felt fantastic, my pace dropped to 4:15's and I felt so comfortable. I was having an absolute ball out there and didn't want the run to end, just how you want to finish a day like I'd had! I hadn't taken notice of my rivals assuming the pace they past me at they where long gone and with everyone on course it was hard to pick people out. It turns out I was running down the few guys ahead of me which I'm really excited about to know for the future, you can do a lot of damage in those final 10km if you have the legs. I crossed the line in 11th place in a time of 8hrs 25min, another PB for the full distance and a 3:11 run split, 4:31 per km average, basically bang on target. 

So all in all it was a great day for me. I had the best swim and run I could have hoped for and a disastrous bike leg. I know I'm capable of riding a bike pretty well so take a lot of confidence into my future races knowing when that clicks aswell I can be even more competitive. I'll need to be harder on myself with hydration but although that really wrecked any hopes of a good result I was pleased I was able to identify the problem and rectify it during the race and still do my best ever run, I have to be content with that for this time around. For the past couple of days I've been playing Terry tourist and getting to know the locals in Port Elizabeth, humans and animals alike. Having elephants basically step over your Toyota corolla is an experience I won't forget anytime soon. The locals also are just the most hospitable people and I really encourage anyone and everyone to check out the area, I'll certainly be in the future.

So time to move on and I've now landed in Tenerife where I'll meet up with Tim and a few of the guys for some rides including froomie for a little training camp. IM south Africa was just the beginning of this journey I've been searching for my entire sporting life. I'm so motivated by what lies ahead and will do a much better job and keeping all you my blog readers up to date!

Cjw

Race data 
Swim: 49:13
T1: 2min 17sec
Bike: 4:20.11
Power: 305watts
Heart rate ave: 153bpm
T2: 2min 6sec
Run: 3:11.44
Heart rate ave: 152bpm

Total: 8:25.31

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Catch me if you Cam, Ironman South Africa edition

Wowsers, what a start to 2017 I've had!! While my Ironman South Africa on the weekend is the main purpose of this blog, I just need to fill you in on a little bit of the background behind how I even lined up on the start line in Port Elizabeth. I'll try and keep it as brief as possible but if you've read my blog before you know that that's something a find difficult so this may be a long one! Also as I'm currently on a flight from Zurich to Tenerife I've got 3hrs to kill and the blog is how I'm going to do it! So here we go!

As 2016 drew to a close i was staring down the barrel of failing to do anything befitting of the athlete I feel I am. In September I gave myself one final chance for salvation. A torn calf muscle meant I was unable to run for a couple of months but I could swim and bike so I decided to go to ironman arizona and at least put 2 1/3's of a race together to see if there really was any point in me continuing on this ironman journey. I worked my ass off in those two disciplines and focused extremely hard on the rehab for my calf. I'd also worked alot on my nutrition so couldn't wait to see where I was at with 3 of the 4 disciplines that make up an ironman. When my backs to the wall and I need to do something I tend to be able to deliver. Fortunately on that November day in Tempe Arizona I showed myself and a few others I was hoping to impress that perhaps I do have a future in this sport after all.

My swim went fantastic and for the first time in a pro race I excited the water in the front pack. There where a couple of super swimmers off the front but once one the bike I had them behind me within 10km and in another first, I was leading the pro field in an ironman! Once in the lead I worked on executing an ironman bike split. I didn't want to kid myself and just go flat out as one day I needed to learn to run! So instead I just rolled along at 140-150 heart rate focusing on my drinking and eating and 4hrs and 5minutes later I was into T2 feeling sensational!! I honestly hadn't planned to be leading and at this point figured my race was over as I hadn't run a stride for almost 3months but leading a race and with all eyes on you in an empty transition area I realized I had to at least try and run, at least till I was out of sight. So I pulled on the Mizuno's, lucky I packed them, and Fallon informed me I had a 3 minute lead which was a relief to here as I knew I'd be run down pretty quickly! I settled into a rhythm that I felt like I could just roll along at for hours on end and preyed my calf didn't give way. It wasn't long before the pros started flying past me be I was actually enjoying the feeling if being able to jog lightly. 3hrs and 27minutes later I crossed the line in 14th place in a total time of 8hrs 27. I couldn't believe it, I was feeling great as my run was honestly nothing more than a social stroll yet I'd don't my best ever ironman. Sure a lightning fast bike course is what made it that way but still I got enough out of that race to know that if I really apply myself to this sport and learn to run perhaps I could be competitive. I was later informed that my swim bike time was a handful of minutes under 5hrs, something I'm told hasn't been done by too many guys. While I'm in no way comparing myself to the likes of Jan Frodeno who smashed the world record earlier in the year, the basic fact of the matter was if I can learn to run I may be competitive in this sport after all. The big question however still lingers today, can I learn to run and if so how quickly can I ultimately gallop along at.

I mentioned in there than there where a couple of people who's attention kwashiorkor trying to get with such a performance. Well there was only one persons attention to be honest, Tim Kerrison. Tim is the mastermind mind behind Team Sky's dominance at le tour de France and before that had a similar roll in rowing world championship success and Olympic gold medals in the pool. I figured as I've come from two of those back grounds and need help with the other, he was perhaps the perfect man to guide me as I make the commitment to the sport of ironman. We exchanged a few emails toward the end of 2016 and while nothing was certain I hung onto a faint hope that he maby just maby will decide add me to his stable and give it a go.

As fallon and I lay in bed reading at around 10pm on a Mid January evening the phone call I'd been dreaming of receiving finally arrived! It was Tim!! We exchanged pleasantries and he quickly cut to the chase, "chris has lost his training partner here on the gold coast and Richie tells us your a good man train with out on the bike, would you like to come and keep him company for 10 days?" my response was obviously quick and decisive "absolutely" I replied. We chatted a bit more about what we would be doing then at the end of the call I heard the words I really wanted to here "oh and while your here we can have a chat about the iron mans, I've got some ideas on that aswell". Wow, I couldn't believe my ears and promptly woke my dad up to let him know and James tomkins who's for so long been immensely supportive of what I'm doing. I somehow someway managed to get whacked in the face with the lucky stick yet again and was now off to train with the current TDF champ!!

The training camp was as you would expect quite challenging. While I won't go into any specifics I will say it's the first time since my time at the AIS as a rower that's I've truly appreciated the concept of sleep, eat, train, eat, recover,eat, sleep and repeat. Days off I was in charge of entertainment as I had some buddies who live on the coast so took froomie wake surfing with Will davidson and wake boarding world champ Harkey Clifford. Like everything else he does chris quickly figured it out and seemed like a natural. He even got a taste of my medicine on a training front when tim took us on a 21km trail run after a 5hr ride. We stopped along the way but we literally ran a half marathon, not surprising was the first time froomie had run since the Mont Vontout in le tour this past July! As the camp drew to a close and chris headed off to Melbourne for the Suntour to kick start his season, tim started to put in place my training for the ironman. He introduced me to Denis Cottrell whom is obviously the man when it comes to endurance freestyle and from there built up a program to prepare for our first season objective, IM South Africa.

Fallon and I relocated to the gold coast off and on through out february and March so as I could swim with Denis's squad. While the run was still far and away my Achilles heel the swim is equally as crucial as while you can't win the race in the swim you most certainly can lose it so ensuring I can be toward the front there was the first port of call. Post Arizona I'd continued my rehab on my calf with some short runs so now I was also able to start running again. Again this wasn't a huge focus from an intensity or volume point of view we simply worked on efficiency. The bike for now also had to take a back seat as it was just fine and something we can re visit later on when the other two disciplines improve. For now really it was all about swimming and I couldn't have been in a better environment. Denis also had Sun Yang, the 1500m world record holder from china training with his group and along with the rest of the lads who'd lap me on average every 300m's made me feel right at home and not at all like the slug that I was clogging up a lane! The training went perfectly and after a half ironman test event in Coles bay in early march where I went 3hrs 52minutes which was a personal best by 13minutes over that distance, I was on track for IM south africa. Another significant change was moving away from the cannondale family. This was simply my decision as I wanted Tim and I to be free to use whatever we felt was best for me to do well at any particular race. Its the first time in 15years I haven't been in some way associated with any sponsors. Roka and ceramic speed are kind of the exception in that they give me they awesome equipment to use but in all honesty i was prepared to buy it but they insisted on giving it me. It really gives me piece of mind to know that I've got best possible equipment I believe is available and eliminates the possibility of blaming my tools, it's all down to me! With that I have to make a special mention to stuy saunders and sherriden and terri moore who allowed me to treat storm cycles on the gold coast like my garage and built everything up absolutely flawlessly! Anyways With the amount of training going on time flys by and before I knew it I was on the plane finally for south Africa chomping at the bit to get the race underway. I arrived a couple of days early to scope out the course and get the lay of the land and woke up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4am race morning thanks to the favorable jet lag coming from australia!

At 6:25am on Sunday I elbowed my way onto the start line beside Frederick Van lierd. I'd identified Freddy as the man I wanted to follow and a previous Kona winner, IM south Africa winner and consistent front pack swimmer. My tactic for the swim was pretty simple, if possible get the lead in that first 100m and make the fast guys swim over the top of me that way making it easier for me to get on there feet. I got a perfect start and was first off the beach into the water, I had a good body length on Freddy and after 200m I eased a little to let him past. From there for the next 3600m he guided me perfectly around the swim course and I exited the water right where I wanted to be in the front pack. I had a smooth transition and as I'd done for the swim I followed freddy all the way to our bikes and out of transition. Once my feet hit those pedals I felt awesome. The taper we had planned worked perfectly and it felt effortless pedaling along on my super bike. A couple of quick swimmers had exited the water a minute ahead of us but by 15km I was in the the lead, everything was going perfectly.

Once on the lead I really relaxed and settled into the days work ahead. I got my heart rate nicely under control which had been up a little with all the adrenaline involved in a hectic professional ironman start. I've never felt better on the bike kept holding myself back which is what you need to do in such an event in those early stages. I simply couldn't believe how effortlessly I was riding away from the field, seemed to good to be true!! At the halfway turn around I was right where I wanted to be, heart rate was in the mid 140's and I'd eaten my prescribed nutrition thus far. I had 4minutes to Ben, and nils and as the big group id seen them with 40kms earlier had completely exploded I know everyone was working hard, perfect! I grabbed my special needs bag and that's when things started to unravel. My hydration system hold 1.4L and I wasn't even able to empty one 700mill drink bottle into it before it was full again!! Uh oh, feeling so good I'd made the same mistake as cairns and forgotten to drink again and as I'd been loading up on sugars I knew what was coming, a massive sugar crash as my stomach struggles to deal with all that sugar. My heart rate began to rise and dropping the power did little to change it. I spent the next 60km in damage control getting down as much fluid as possible in an attempt to get myself back together for the run. My power dropped from 320-250 during that period as I bled time to ben and nils determined to hunt me down. Fortunately for me about 20km from transition my body resumed to normal, power came back, heart rate settled and all was good again. I entered T2 in the lead all be it very slight, I'd lost 2minutes to the charging Hoffman and Fromhold on that disastrous second lap but that was of little relevance now, I simply had to run my marathon and what would be would be.

Once on the run I felt pretty good. One positive of going through that difficult moment on the bike is you feel better and better as you come out of that. Ben and nils blew past me like I was a standing still after only a few km's so I knew i wouldn't see them again. We had a simple plan for the run as I'd never gone quicker than 3hrs 27min, take the first 30km as easy as possible and then suffer in the last 12km! My target for the marathon was 4:30km pace, slow I know but you have to learn to walk before you can run! I settled into that and as I slipped back down the leader board I became more and more relaxed at that pace. Once out of the top 10 I decided to walk a few aid stations on that 3rd lap just to ensure I don't put myself in a whole and don't finish the race on my knees, I was only racing myself at this point. Into the last lap and I felt fantastic, my pace dropped to 4:15's and I felt so comfortable. I was having an absolute ball out there and didn't want the run to end, just how you want to finish a day like I'd had! I hadn't taken notice of my rivals assuming the pace they past me at they where long gone and with everyone on course it was hard to pick people out. It turns out I was running down the few guys ahead of me which I'm really excited about to know for the future, you can do a lot of damage in those final 10km if you have the legs. I crossed the line in 11th place in a time of 8hrs 25min, another PB for the full distance and a 3:11 run split, 4:31 per km average, basically bang on target.

So all in all it was a great day for me. I had the best swim and run I could have hoped for and a disastrous bike leg. I know I'm capable of riding a bike pretty well so take a lot of confidence into my future races knowing when that clicks aswell I can be even more competitive. I'll need to be harder on myself with hydration but although that really wrecked any hopes of a good result I was pleased I was able to identify the problem and rectify it during the race and still do my best ever run, I have to be content with that for this time around. For the past couple of days I've been playing Terry tourist and getting to know the locals in Port Elizabeth, humans and animals alike. Having elephants basically step over your Toyota corolla is an experience I won't forget anytime soon. The locals also are just the most hospitable people and I really encourage anyone and everyone to check out the area, I'll certainly be in the future.

So time to move on and I've now landed in Tenerife where I'll meet up with Tim and a few of the guys for some rides including froomie for a little training camp. IM south Africa was just the beginning of this journey I've been searching for my entire sporting life. I'm so motivated by what lies ahead and will do a much better job and keeping all you my blog readers up to date!

Cjw

Race data
Swim: 49:13
T1: 2min 17sec
Bike: 4:20.11
Power: 305watts
Heart rate ave: 153bpm
T2: 2min 6sec
Run: 3:11.44
Heart rate ave: 152bpm

Total: 8:25.31


Sent from my iPad

Catch me if you Cam, Ironman South Africa edition

Catch me if you Cam, Ironman South Africa edition

Wowsers, what a start to 2017 I've had!! While my Ironman South Africa on the weekend is the main purpose of this blog, I just need to fill you in on a little bit of the background behind how I even lined up on the start line in Port Elizabeth. I'll try and keep it as brief as possible but if you've read my blog before you know that that's something a find difficult so this may be a long one! Also as I'm currently on a flight from Zurich to Tenerife I've got 3hrs to kill and the blog is how I'm going to do it! So here we go!

As 2016 drew to a close i was staring down the barrel of failing to do anything befitting of the athlete I feel I am. In September I gave myself one final chance for salvation. A torn calf muscle meant I was unable to run for a couple of months but I could swim and bike so I decided to go to ironman arizona and at least put 2 1/3's of a race together to see if there really was any point in me continuing on this ironman journey. I worked my ass off in those two disciplines and focused extremely hard on the rehab for my calf. I'd also worked alot on my nutrition so couldn't wait to see where I was at with 3 of the 4 disciplines that make up an ironman. When my backs to the wall and I need to do something I tend to be able to deliver. Fortunately on that November day in Tempe Arizona I showed myself and a few others I was hoping to impress that perhaps I do have a future in this sport after all.

My swim went fantastic and for the first time in a pro race I excited the water in the front pack. There where a couple of super swimmers off the front but once one the bike I had them behind me within 10km and in another first, I was leading the pro field in an ironman! Once in the lead I worked on executing an ironman bike split. I didn't want to kid myself and just go flat out as one day I needed to learn to run! So instead I just rolled along at 140-150 heart rate focusing on my drinking and eating and 4hrs and 5minutes later I was into T2 feeling sensational!! I honestly hadn't planned to be leading and at this point figured my race was over as I hadn't run a stride for almost 3months but leading a race and with all eyes on you in an empty transition area I realized I had to at least try and run, at least till I was out of sight. So I pulled on the Mizuno's, lucky I packed them, and Fallon informed me I had a 3 minute lead which was a relief to here as I knew I'd be run down pretty quickly! I settled into a rhythm that I felt like I could just roll along at for hours on end and preyed my calf didn't give way. It wasn't long before the pros started flying past me be I was actually enjoying the feeling if being able to jog lightly. 3hrs and 27minutes later I crossed the line in 14th place in a total time of 8hrs 27. I couldn't believe it, I was feeling great as my run was honestly nothing more than a social stroll yet I'd don't my best ever ironman. Sure a lightning fast bike course is what made it that way but still I got enough out of that race to know that if I really apply myself to this sport and learn to run perhaps I could be competitive. I was later informed that my swim bike time was a handful of minutes under 5hrs, something I'm told hasn't been done by too many guys. While I'm in no way comparing myself to the likes of Jan Frodeno who smashed the world record earlier in the year, the basic fact of the matter was if I can learn to run I may be competitive in this sport after all. The big question however still lingers today, can I learn to run and if so how quickly can I ultimately gallop along at.

I mentioned in there than there where a couple of people who's attention kwashiorkor trying to get with such a performance. Well there was only one persons attention to be honest, Tim Kerrison. Tim is the mastermind mind behind Team Sky's dominance at le tour de France and before that had a similar roll in rowing world championship success and Olympic gold medals in the pool. I figured as I've come from two of those back grounds and need help with the other, he was perhaps the perfect man to guide me as I make the commitment to the sport of ironman. We exchanged a few emails toward the end of 2016 and while nothing was certain I hung onto a faint hope that he maby just maby will decide add me to his stable and give it a go.

As fallon and I lay in bed reading at around 10pm on a Mid January evening the phone call I'd been dreaming of receiving finally arrived! It was Tim!! We exchanged pleasantries and he quickly cut to the chase, "chris has lost his training partner here on the gold coast and Richie tells us your a good man train with out on the bike, would you like to come and keep him company for 10 days?" my response was obviously quick and decisive "absolutely" I replied. We chatted a bit more about what we would be doing then at the end of the call I heard the words I really wanted to here "oh and while your here we can have a chat about the iron mans, I've got some ideas on that aswell". Wow, I couldn't believe my ears and promptly woke my dad up to let him know and James tomkins who's for so long been immensely supportive of what I'm doing. I somehow someway managed to get whacked in the face with the lucky stick yet again and was now off to train with the current TDF champ!!

The training camp was as you would expect quite challenging. While I won't go into any specifics I will say it's the first time since my time at the AIS as a rower that's I've truly appreciated the concept of sleep, eat, train, eat, recover,eat, sleep and repeat. Days off I was in charge of entertainment as I had some buddies who live on the coast so took froomie wake surfing with Will davidson and wake boarding world champ Harkey Clifford. Like everything else he does chris quickly figured it out and seemed like a natural. He even got a taste of my medicine on a training front when tim took us on a 21km trail run after a 5hr ride. We stopped along the way but we literally ran a half marathon, not surprising was the first time froomie had run since the Mont Vontout in le tour this past July! As the camp drew to a close and chris headed off to Melbourne for the Suntour to kick start his season, tim started to put in place my training for the ironman. He introduced me to Denis Cottrell whom is obviously the man when it comes to endurance freestyle and from there built up a program to prepare for our first season objective, IM South Africa.

Fallon and I relocated to the gold coast off and on through out february and March so as I could swim with Denis's squad. While the run was still far and away my Achilles heel the swim is equally as crucial as while you can't win the race in the swim you most certainly can lose it so ensuring I can be toward the front there was the first port of call. Post Arizona I'd continued my rehab on my calf with some short runs so now I was also able to start running again. Again this wasn't a huge focus from an intensity or volume point of view we simply worked on efficiency. The bike for now also had to take a back seat as it was just fine and something we can re visit later on when the other two disciplines improve. For now really it was all about swimming and I couldn't have been in a better environment. Denis also had Sun Yang, the 1500m world record holder from china training with his group and along with the rest of the lads who'd lap me on average every 300m's made me feel right at home and not at all like the slug that I was clogging up a lane! The training went perfectly and after a half ironman test event in Coles bay in early march where I went 3hrs 52minutes which was a personal best by 13minutes over that distance, I was on track for IM south africa. Another significant change was moving away from the cannondale family. This was simply my decision as I wanted Tim and I to be free to use whatever we felt was best for me to do well at any particular race. Its the first time in 15years I haven't been in some way associated with any sponsors. Roka and ceramic speed are kind of the exception in that they give me they awesome equipment to use but in all honesty i was prepared to buy it but they insisted on giving it me. It really gives me piece of mind to know that I've got best possible equipment I believe is available and eliminates the possibility of blaming my tools, it's all down to me! With that I have to make a special mention to stuy saunders and sherriden and terri moore who allowed me to treat storm cycles on the gold coast like my garage and built everything up absolutely flawlessly! Anyways With the amount of training going on time flys by and before I knew it I was on the plane finally for south Africa chomping at the bit to get the race underway. I arrived a couple of days early to scope out the course and get the lay of the land and woke up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4am race morning thanks to the favorable jet lag coming from australia!

At 6:25am on Sunday I elbowed my way onto the start line beside Frederick Van lierd. I'd identified Freddy as the man I wanted to follow and a previous Kona winner, IM south Africa winner and consistent front pack swimmer. My tactic for the swim was pretty simple, if possible get the lead in that first 100m and make the fast guys swim over the top of me that way making it easier for me to get on there feet. I got a perfect start and was first off the beach into the water, I had a good body length on Freddy and after 200m I eased a little to let him past. From there for the next 3600m he guided me perfectly around the swim course and I exited the water right where I wanted to be in the front pack. I had a smooth transition and as I'd done for the swim I followed freddy all the way to our bikes and out of transition. Once my feet hit those pedals I felt awesome. The taper we had planned worked perfectly and it felt effortless pedaling along on my super bike. A couple of quick swimmers had exited the water a minute ahead of us but by 15km I was in the the lead, everything was going perfectly.

Once on the lead I really relaxed and settled into the days work ahead. I got my heart rate nicely under control which had been up a little with all the adrenaline involved in a hectic professional ironman start. I've never felt better on the bike kept holding myself back which is what you need to do in such an event in those early stages. I simply couldn't believe how effortlessly I was riding away from the field, seemed to good to be true!! At the halfway turn around I was right where I wanted to be, heart rate was in the mid 140's and I'd eaten my prescribed nutrition thus far. I had 4minutes to Ben, and nils and as the big group id seen them with 40kms earlier had completely exploded I know everyone was working hard, perfect! I grabbed my special needs bag and that's when things started to unravel. My hydration system hold 1.4L and I wasn't even able to empty one 700mill drink bottle into it before it was full again!! Uh oh, feeling so good I'd made the same mistake as cairns and forgotten to drink again and as I'd been loading up on sugars I knew what was coming, a massive sugar crash as my stomach struggles to deal with all that sugar. My heart rate began to rise and dropping the power did little to change it. I spent the next 60km in damage control getting down as much fluid as possible in an attempt to get myself back together for the run. My power dropped from 320-250 during that period as I bled time to ben and nils determined to hunt me down. Fortunately for me about 20km from transition my body resumed to normal, power came back, heart rate settled and all was good again. I entered T2 in the lead all be it very slight, I'd lost 2minutes to the charging Hoffman and Fromhold on that disastrous second lap but that was of little relevance now, I simply had to run my marathon and what would be would be.

Once on the run I felt pretty good. One positive of going through that difficult moment on the bike is you feel better and better as you come out of that. Ben and nils blew past me like I was a standing still after only a few km's so I knew i wouldn't see them again. We had a simple plan for the run as I'd never gone quicker than 3hrs 27min, take the first 30km as easy as possible and then suffer in the last 12km! My target for the marathon was 4:30km pace, slow I know but you have to learn to walk before you can run! I settled into that and as I slipped back down the leader board I became more and more relaxed at that pace. Once out of the top 10 I decided to walk a few aid stations on that 3rd lap just to ensure I don't put myself in a whole and don't finish the race on my knees, I was only racing myself at this point. Into the last lap and I felt fantastic, my pace dropped to 4:15's and I felt so comfortable. I was having an absolute ball out there and didn't want the run to end, just how you want to finish a day like I'd had! I hadn't taken notice of my rivals assuming the pace they past me at they where long gone and with everyone on course it was hard to pick people out. It turns out I was running down the few guys ahead of me which I'm really excited about to know for the future, you can do a lot of damage in those final 10km if you have the legs. I crossed the line in 11th place in a time of 8hrs 25min, another PB for the full distance and a 3:11 run split, 4:31 per km average, basically bang on target.

So all in all it was a great day for me. I had the best swim and run I could have hoped for and a disastrous bike leg. I know I'm capable of riding a bike pretty well so take a lot of confidence into my future races knowing when that clicks aswell I can be even more competitive. I'll need to be harder on myself with hydration but although that really wrecked any hopes of a good result I was pleased I was able to identify the problem and rectify it during the race and still do my best ever run, I have to be content with that for this time around. For the past couple of days I've been playing Terry tourist and getting to know the locals in Port Elizabeth, humans and animals alike. Having elephants basically step over your Toyota corolla is an experience I won't forget anytime soon. The locals also are just the most hospitable people and I really encourage anyone and everyone to check out the area, I'll certainly be in the future.

So time to move on and I've now landed in Tenerife where I'll meet up with Tim and a few of the guys for some rides including froomie for a little training camp. IM south Africa was just the beginning of this journey I've been searching for my entire sporting life. I'm so motivated by what lies ahead and will do a much better job and keeping all you my blog readers up to date!

Cjw

Race data
Swim: 49:13
T1: 2min 17sec
Bike: 4:20.11
Power: 305watts
Heart rate ave: 153bpm
T2: 2min 6sec
Run: 3:11.44
Heart rate ave: 152bpm

Total: 8:25.31




Sent from my iPad