3rd place at Challenge Penticton!

Leading into this race, everything just seemed to be clicking.. Consistently ticking off all my sessions and a great 2 week trip in Australia for a training camp – the body was feeling great. Not only the body but more importantly also the mind! After my disappointing DNS at Port Mac with food poisoning, I was super determined to kick off this new season with a bang.

Arriving in Penticton after a long travel day, my amazing homestay Kelly picked me up from the airport and helped me to settle in to the awesome little town, showing me the sights and setting me up with a great place to stay. The week before any race is such an important time and having this relaxed atmosphere was really helping me prepare the best I could. It was nice to be able to prepare all my own meals and to do exactly what I needed to be ready come race day! Another Pro athlete Elmar and his partner Jen were also staying with us, they were great to hang out with, had alot of experience racing here and were also super helpful leading into the race.

Simon - Jen - Elmar
penticton-landscape1

Arriving 8 days before the race allowed me to get over my jet lag and gave me enough time to have a good look over the course.. The 3.8km swim was in the crystal clear warm waters of Okanagan lake, the iconic one-loop 180km bike took you out through the scenic terrain including the vineyards, lakes and mountain passes before you ran the 42.2km one-loop marathon out and back along Skaha lake finishing straight down Main street packed with supporters.

My coach Allan Pitman had wanted me to have a really easy taper week and go in feeling ‘fresh’! Usually when you back the training right off,  the body can start to feel lethargic – although this time was different. I think because my mindset was very positive going into this race I didn’t allow any negative thoughts in and just went with the flow. Allan had wanted me to be confident and focused, all his last email had said was ‘time to lay it on the line’ .  

 

 

penticton - swim course

Race morning dawned and the glassy lake looked inviting.. 1hr prior to the starters gun an announcement was made that the Pro’s wouldn’t be allowed to wear wetsuits as the lake was over the 23deg cut-off. Alot of the field were freaking out as a non-wetsuit lake swim makes it alot tougher and exposes some of the weaker swimmers who gain the added buoyancy that a wetsuit provides. I wasn’t phased , but didn’t have a swimskin with me.. (in the 31 previous races here it had always been a wetsuit swim) so decided that I would tape up the rear pockets on my trisuit and that would be fine. 10 mins before the start an age-group lady overhead me talking to Elmar about the swim skin issue and offered me hers. Tried it on and felt great, and rushed down to the start for a quick warm up. The water felt surprisingly cold but that soon changed as the gun went off, and I was hanging onto the front pack of 4 guys, I had a great start and was tucked in behind a couple of ex-itu guys leading the way. At around the 1km mark I slightly lost touch with the group and couldn’t quite close the gap back down – so ended up swimming entirely solo back in to the beach – 2.5mins down on the top 4 but still 3mins ahead of the whole 2nd pack. Was a nice swim but could feel the extra energy used without the assistance of the wetsuit, I came out in 5th place in 56min. Happy with that as the swim was around 200m long, and I was well ahead of some guys who would usually be up with me.

Swim - T1

For the first 40kms of the bike my legs just wouldn’t seem to fire, a few guys rode up and went past – I had to let them go and concentrate on my race. The course is fairly flat and fast for the first 65km and I was joined by my home-stay mate Elmar  and he was riding well – we pushed on before we got into the first of many hills – Richter Pass. It was here that the group of 4 behind us bridged up , and the 6 of us would stay together until the special needs station at the 120km mark.  Myself and another athlete Matt Lawrence had a small 15sec gap at this stage and this was the decisive point in the race.. I could ride with theses guys back to transition or I can ‘lay it on the line’ and aim to break away and limit the time that the top group of 6 were gaining before the run starts. Matt was keen and  we paced it out for the next 10km and got out of sight. I was feeling much better and heading up Yellow lake climb Matt was dropping off. I was committed now and kept the power on for the charge back to T2. Such a fun, fast descent topping out at just over 90km/h and getting back to transition on the quest to improve on my 7th place position.

Challenge - bike profile

The first section of the run course is a 2km out and back along the lake side, the top 6 guys had already completed that section before I ran out of transition so I knew that I was at least 8mins down off the bike. This was confirmed as i ran by some spectators who said there was a group of 3 guys 9mins ahead and then the others were further up. Time to ‘lay it on the line’ and start chasing. The 18km of road out to the turn around had an awesome scenic view but today also had a nice strong head wind to contend with. It was a quiet empty road out there but I was getting heaps of encouragement from the spectators and a few time splits which were coming down consistently..  This kept the motivation high especially when I got to see the guys ahead and how they were looking – Jeff Symonds ran past looking strong way out in front then the other 5 guys were evenly spread, and each one behind was looking a little worse for wear, the heat and wind was taking its toll. I passed 2 guys at the turn around and moved into 5th place. More time splits came and 4th place was 6 minutes ahead, I was still feeling great and just kept the steady pace on and was easily closing the gap through the hilly section. At this stage I was already happy as a ‘top 5 ‘ finish would be my best result so far, and was content to just be careful and made sure I got to the finish.. That thought lasted for all of 20 seconds and my effort increased as I hunted down the man in 4th place.

Challenge run

 

The wind had shifted round and some how was a headwind again, in a strange way I was happy as I knew I was running stronger than the guys ahead and they would be hurting more than I was..  I moved up into 4th place at around 30kms and got another time check at 34km – still 4mins up to Andrew Russell – 8 kms and 4mins.. not very likely but still pressed on. The last long uphill section before you get back into town drags on a bit, although catching a glimpse of Andrew up in the distance helped the intense leg pain ease and I once again upped the pace. A podium finish was becoming more of a reality as I edged closer and closer and finally made the pass with under 1.5km to go. I didn’t look back and pushed hard right to the line just as it was ticking over 8hrs 50mins. A personal best and also 2nd quickest marathon of the day with a 2:57:00.

 MomentsUnderFrame-12

I was blown away by all the support from family and friends back home –  during, and after the race. Larisa’s updates were much appreciated as the time difference in NZ wasn’t ideal ! It makes a huge difference and you can really draw on that when you approach tough times throughout the race.

The perfect trip away for me, great weather, awesome race course, got to meet so many cool people, my first podium result over the Iron-distance and received my biggest pay check so far!  What a way to kick off the 2014 / 2015 Season. Exciting times ahead!

MomentsUnderFrame-88

 

Thanks to my sponsors for all their support :

Orchard Gold Berries, Endura Sports Nutrition, Orca, Saucony, Forge Personal Training, Rocktape, Smith Optics, Timex, Compressport,  Schwalbe and Ministry of Swimming

 

Keep up to date with my training and racing plans  :

 Follow on Twitter –   @CochraneSimon

 Athlete page on Facebook –  SimonCochraneIronman

Ironman Wisconsin 2013

 

With only 2 weekends between my last Ironman race and this one, I was really interested (and a bit scared) to see how my body would handle another Ironman! Being one of the first races of the 2014 season, there was a fairly large field of over 30 males Pros on the start line.

My legs had recovered well, and with a smart training plan between races I was confident of pulling off another solid one. My coach had me on a fairly light work load, with some good interval sessions at race pace just to remind the body that it wasn’t time for the usual ‘post ironman’ wind down time!

The race plan was to go into it with ‘nothing to lose’ and not to follow ‘power’ ‘HR’ or ‘pace’. Racing by ‘feel’ can sometimes bring a better result as you haven’t set any pre-determined limits before the event has even started. (Racing by ‘feel’ can also bring on the most spectacular explosions too! haha)

 

The Course

The swim is one-lap in Lake Monona right out the front of the Monona terrace in down-town Madison, It is an awesome place for spectators and they are lined all the way up the 3-level spiral entrance to the transition-carpark.

The bike starts on a rolling course out to the 2 x 65km hilly loops through the rural Dane County, then back to the lake front and up to the top of the 3 level carpark to T2

The challenging run heads out over various terrain including concrete, tarseal, gravel and dirt paths, and you even get to run a loop inside Camp Randall – Badger stadium on the spongy astroturf – twice!

The transitions here are the most interesting and awesome I have come across, after running up the ‘Helix’ you enter the Terrace building and run along the carpet hallway into a big conference room which is transformed into T1, and same for T2, just run in reverse, you get to ride right up to the door and dump your bike off like Valet parking.

Helix

 

Quick run-down of how my day played out:

swim exitSwim: Choppiest and warmest lake I have ever swum in, fairly chaotic start but managed to settle into the 2nd group along the first turn. The long back stretch was really lumpy and the guys I were swimming with were heading all over the show, I just stuck to my line and concentrated on sighting every 10 or so strokes to stay in a straight line, This worked well and I caught a couple of front pack stragglers by the last buoy before shore.

56mins – one of my slower swims but happy in those conditions and only 3 mins from the first out of the water.

 

 

Last push back into town
Last push back into town

 

 

Bike: A large group formed quite early on and the pace felt fairly comfortable so I decided to stick with them for the first section and then re-assess. I had a decision made for me by one of the Marshalls tho.. First yellow card I have ever got. This means I had to stop at the next penalty tent, write down my name and some details, sign a form and then go again.. About 45seconds worth but this is an age while you are watching the group ride away through the hills.  (my ‘penalty’ was for riding on the wrong side of a cone on a 2-lane corner, a volunteer directed me that way, but there is no use arguing!) Back on the course and I had some new motivation.. Catch that group! I rode hard and powered the up hills and around 15kms later I had clawed my way back on, we were still only 100km into the ride but I was feeling strong and I could tell that the pace of the group had dropped a bit. So it was head-down and battle the headwinds back to T2 solo – a good move as I put around 5mins into the group and never saw any of them again..

4hrs 58mins – Best power output I have ridden on a very honest course.. Hills..Wind..Rough roads.. All good fun

ironman-bike-elevation         bike map

 

Massive empty stadium makes for a lonely loop!
Massive empty stadium is quite airy to run through, usually seats over 80,000 fans!

Run : Straight out of T2 (I had the quickest transition of the day) there is an awesome wall of spectators lining the Capitol square screaming  and cheering, the first section is mostly downhill and with the incredible support the pace was on! I passed a group of 3 guys early on and was up into 6th place at km 14. I got some time splits at 21km.. 1hr 26mins but still over 7mins seperating me and 5th place. Decision time again! Run steady and controlled and be happy with 6th or have a crack at Top-5.. Easy choice! Hammer down!! I managed to get to within 2mins but that would be as close as I would get. Struggled home over the last 5k, ended up getting passed by 2 guys on the last hill section and took 8th place.

2hrs 59mins – Really happy with my effort and still ran a P.B on a super tough run course on the back of a solid ride!

IM Run Course

 

 

IMWI finish time
45 odd seconds for that penalty stop…hmm.. haha!

Should definitely be race to add into your schedule if you like a challenging event on a spectacular course with a great community of supporters!

Quite happy to have a seat
Quite happy to have a seat

 

It was a great day out for me, a big confidence boost knowing that I can back up some big races and that all the hard work is paying off.. A few easy weeks now before a renewed focus and plan is put in place for the NZ summer season!

 

photo 4
First one to the massage room!
photo 3
Food in the VIP tent.. Real food! Unlimited big steaks

 

 

Awards ceremony with Mike Reilly
Awards ceremony with Mike Reilly

 

Thanks again to my sponsors for all their support :

Orchard Gold berries, Endura sports nutrition, Saucony, Tri’n’Run, G2 Personal training, Rocktape, Smith Optics, Timex, Compressport,  Schwalbe and Sugoi.

 

Keep up to date with our travels and racing on :

 Twitter – @CochraneSimon

 Facebook – SimonCochraneIronman

Cairns Ironman 2013

After a night of non-stop wind and rain, the sun rose to a nice clear morning in the Cairns harbour. The 70.3 started first and we set off quite late for an Ironman at 7:45am. One bonus from this was that the cafes were open and we had time to grab a quick coffee with the support crew before the race start.

Support Crew

Swim

We had about 5mins to get in and warm up, which didn’t take long as the water temp was up at 23degrees! I had a fairly clean start swimming the first 2k loop near the front of the main pack with Clayton Fettell a couple of minutes ahead of everyone. Coming around the turn buoy I slotted in on Tim Berkel’s feet as the pace had picked up, 20sec later I looked up and realised the main pack had surged forward and now had opened a small gap… I swam steady through the rest of the 2nd loop as we had to weave through the age group field, and make our way up the stairs and onto the pier for the 500m run to T2.

I was glad to get my wetsuit off! The final 15mins of the swim was getting really warm, the water temp combined with the sun heating up was intense.

Exited in 52mins and flew through transition.

Bike

The main pack of guys including Cam Brown, Macca and Matty White had a couple of mins on me heading out onto the highway. Luke McKenzie and Clayton had increased their swim lead and were pushing hard. Everyone kept the pressure on and powered up the coast taking advantage of the solid tail wind right into Port Douglas, I wanted to ride my own race and set the pace that I knew I could hold, knowing that the return trip into the increasing breeze would be challenging. The last 15k back into town was super tough but I knew everyone would be feeling it. Entered T2 after 4hrs 56mins on my bike.

Exiting T2

Run

Run form straight off the bike was great, I passed a couple of guys by kilometre 2, who had pulled the pin early into the run after the tough bike. Out into the cane fields the headwind was still blowing hard and I was getting some positive time splits to the guys up the road. I was pleased with my steady controlled run and trusted that my strong finish would pick off some guys late into the marathon. I passed 3 guys in the final 10k to finish 8th Professional and first Kiwi home!
3:11 marathon and a 9:05 finish

Thanks to my great sponsors: Orchard Gold, Saucony, Endura, TRI N RUN, PRV, Smith Optics, RockTape, Ministry of Swimming and Timex.

The season is going great, and we are on track for the World Champs in Kona!

IMCairns-support-crew-run

IMCairns-run-finish-shoot

IMCairns-run-finish-Sml