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

Monday, July 24, 2017

My 1st Ironman DNF

My First Ironman DNF Had a 1st yesterday, First time I haven't finished an ironman I started or triathlon of any length for that matter. I'm certainly proud of adding this to my list of sporting experiences but under the circumstances in my mind at least it was the right decision to make. The reason was pretty simple, I felt terrible!  Since arriving in europe a couple of weeks ago I've just been stuck in a bit of a rut. Following my Ron Burgandy exploits at Le Tour de France last week I was reminded what a cess pool of germs a bike race is and ended up with the stomach bug that seemed to wipe out a good portion of the Peleton this past week. After spending the weekend driving the porcilen bus I hoped I'd regain my strength for the race yesterday. ever the optimist I lined up at 6:25 am believing the extra rest days would only be a benefit to me and I'd be as sharp as a tack for the race of my life in nice. I say the race of my life as that's the result I need. I'm here in Europe to try and score enough points for automatic Kona qualification and a top 3 is what I need. Having never finished on the podium before as a pro it certainly makes it the biggest challenge I've set myself thus in this sport.  My original plan was to race The Zurich IM next weekend however that changed to Nice when many convinced me this was the perfect course for me, hard bike and a flat "easy" run. Yeah writing that down now make me realize how stupid I was, hard bike followed by a flat "easy" run!! When is running a marathon ever easy let alone after a harder than normal bike ride!! Yeah I was a little bit of a silly Billy on this one. Anyways I listened to advice and planned on nice. When I got sick I immediately decided to skip nice and just focus on Zurich. As I felt better day by day during the week and the excitement around Nice grew for the event it was like a red rag to a bull. I was staying here in the thick of it anyways so thought "bugger it" I'll line up and see what happens, worse case scenario I do some good swim bike training which I did feel like a needed and pull out after a few km's on the run. So sure enough race day rolled around and I was on the start line! Despite my apprehension to race and knowing it would be a miracle if I had a great day i still stood on that starting line expecting to be up front. The gun went off and I had a great start and for the first 100m I was in the lead which is becoming normal for me. Once I backed off to find fast freddy van leirde's feet who was playing along beside me I copped my first real good fist to the goggles!! Man that hurts and instantly shook me and was swamped by a couple more bodies. I then tried to accelerate to catch back to the front guys and that's when I knew it wasn't going to be a miracle today. I simply didn't have the spark and spent the next 53minutes floundering around in the ocean telling myself "I told you so, you shouldn't be out here"! Anyways I swallowed my loosen and thought bugger it, stick to the plan and at least do the bike leg.  When I exited the water I was 4 minutes down which was a good thing as in my mind I was already out of the race so meant I could ride a nice steady bike leg and focus on my nutrition and hydration and getting to know the new position on the bike I've been working on. Slowly but surely I still managed to start plucking off the front runners and soon it was only Freddy a few minutes ahead as we started the climb. I decided then that I'll aim to catch him by the finish as he's very strong and I didn't want to finish the bike on my  hands and knees, this was still in my mind a solid training session. Sure enough over the next 100km I slowly pegged him back and by the transition we where separated by a handful of seconds. I had an excellent transition and came out hot on Freddy's heals, I couldn't believe I was in this position. I decided I'd do a lap and run at a pace I one day dream of running the entire way at and try and get a feel for how fast Freddy was running. For the first 6km I kept him pegged so was good to know the pace these guys can still go at after a "hard" bike, its pretty remarkable. Obviously this wasn't easy for me and still seeing this as a training day I quickly reverted to common sense and backed the pace off to my more pedestrian pace as I like to call it. At the end off the first 12km where I planned to stop I realized 3rd was still 8minutes behind and hadn't closed at all and Freddy wasn't far ahead. This was where the mind games started, should I keep going? Well I had to keep going as it's bloody disrespectful to pull out of a race when 2nd in front off everyone when you have no obvious signs of suffering. I figured I'd just do a few 2km efforts till 2nd and 3rd catch me so I jogged to each aid station, stopped and walked and enjoyed the free buffet then jogged to the next. I did this for another 6km or so but still they where 7 & 10 minutes back respectively so I picked a quiet spot which wasn't easy to find and waited with fallon for the boys to come past. By this stage I'd plodded 18km and that was more than enough of a training day for me. I walked through the halfway mark in 4th place and then retired from the race and we walked home, it was certainly a solid hit out! Do I feel good about what happened, not at all. I honestly at the start of the 2nd lap tried to convince myself to rally and commit to racing the whole thing regardless of the outcome but that to me was pointless. I was there to try and be on the podium and with how I felt I could very well have been walking the last lap if things went the way I expected them to go and I could have finished god only knows where. I've never quit a race before. I've pushed myself to the point of peeing blood in the past simply to get to the finish line and that destroyed my entire year. Perhaps a race isn't the place to go through the motions and open yourself up but I honestly didn't know what would happen on that start line yesterday morning and the outcome was the outcome.  Anyways onwards we go and Zurich is just a week away. After all that I'll be doing the race I originally planned to do anyways, funny how things worked, fingers crossed it was meant be!! What have a learnt form this?? Well if I'm at all dubious about my health an ironman isn't the place to be expecting peak performance. A marathon at the best of times will highlight the weaknesses in anybody but after swimming and riding they will highlight them even earlier!! A few weeks out from a big event perhaps it wasn't the time to be off playing TV host with Mike Tomolaris with the TDF coverage but that was a commitment i made and at the time I felt like I could de everything. So here we are, I got my wish, I'm racing Zurich and I promise that whatever the outcome on Sunday I won't be leaving anything in the tank. Cjw

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