Click the link for the Fitter podcast interview :
These two Iconic races are the longest running Ironman events down this end of the world, with each of them having had their 30th anniversaries within the last couple of years – there is a lot of history and that is why they have such a great turnout of competitors and spectators come race day! They both have very passionate communities with locals who embrace the event and show massive support on the day!
The swim courses couldn’t be more different – Taupo with the crisp crystal clear lake and straight forward course, to Port Macquarie’s warm murky salt water zigzagging its way through the yachts and with an interesting mid swim exit climb up over some stairs and a weir – but the bike and run have a lot of similarities – a rough rolling bike course and a multi-lap flat run with a few short hills. This year both of the Professional fields were stacked full of very quick guys and multiple Ironman Champions, as the Asia Pacific Champs at Melbourne had been cancelled – these were the 2 races that were the next closest in the schedule and location wise.
Below is a brief rundown of how both of these races went and the progression in my training and racing over the last season!
I have made great gains in my swim over the last year and was looking forward to positioning myself right in the mix, rather than chasing from the word go! – this showed through with a personal best swim of 48:30 and I was comfortable leading out the chase pack.
You always know you are in good company and setting up a solid race when you are no further than 50m away from the legend himself Cam Brown for the first 4.5hrs of the race! We worked bloody hard in the first 45 kms and managed to bridge right up to the guys at the front of the race who had exited the water a few minutes ahead of us. The ride was another personal best for me – clocking 4hr 32mins. Just shy of a 40km/hr average on those Taupo roads is quick going by any ones standards – Unless your name is Dougal Allen who posted an impressive new bike course record of 4hr 22mins!
Getting off the bike after the big effort for 180kms, I was pleased to still be able to execute a well paced marathon of 3hr 3mins and run my way in to 9th place with a time of 8hrs 28mins.
The recovery after a big race is now getting better and quicker after each one – I think the body is now used to backing up the big training blocks and the Ironman race day isn’t too much of a shock to the system. The week after Ironman New Zealand was spent in Rarotonga for our honeymoon and was such good timing to enjoy some downtime in the sun and nice food!
Ironman Port Macquarie was next on the cards and training ramped right back up to get ready for this one.
I knew the swim pace at the front of this race was going to be furious as the level and depth of top notch swimmers even out did the one’s at Taupo. Once again – after the initial 500m max sprint, I had found myself at the front of the first chase pack and was quite comfortable and happy to lead the way through the inlet and canal swim. Sighting was very important and I stuck to my line and this helped pick up a couple of others who had drifted off the back of the fish up the front. Exiting in 46:50, this was a new PB although was still 2:30 back from the front of the race – showing how important the swim in an Ironman race is.
I had made the decision to ride slightly less aggressive than at Taupo, as the 2nd lap of the bike is where guys really feel the pinch as the wind picks up and the rough roads start to take their toll. I managed to negative split the 2nd lap of the bike by 20seconds although in hindsight I probably should have attacked the first lap a bit harder. Off the bike in 4hr 45mins but this was a bit too far back to make decent inroads to the guys heading on to the run.
Posting one of the quickest marathons of the day – 3rs flat – was enough to bridge up and pass a few guys, but I didn’t execute the run I know I am capable of. I crossed the line in 6th place in a time of 8hrs 36mins
This season has given me a lot more confidence. Each and every race has stepped up and the consistent improvement is still heading in the right direction. Each discipline is even across the board and now I am only a small percentage off the front of some big races and am looking forward to challenging the podium in the upcoming events as I continue to build and lay down the blocks in the long term plan. I am still learning at each and every race and now feel like I can RACE the full 8.5hrs right at threshold, and will keep pushing the boundaries – its exciting to see how far the body, and MIND can go!
A massive thanks must go out to my team of sponsors and supporters! Every one of you make a huge difference and keep me striving to perform week in and week out – and to my athletes that I coach, I am still learning something each race to give back the knowledge and experience that I have absorbed through out the last 22 Ironman races.
Embrace the winter of training – Consistency is key!
P.S – fire me a message if you want to talk about some coaching options – now is the perfect time to get committed for the summer season…. not 2 weeks before it starts 🙂
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 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.
Quick run-down of how my day played out:
Swim: 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.
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
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!
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!
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!
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.
On July 8th Larisa and I flew out of Auckland headed towards the USA for 3 months of training and racing. We are lucky enough to have a base in Madison, Wisconsin staying with Larisa’s cousin Julia who has been kind enough to have us to stay – thanks Julia! We arrived into Madison after 30hours of flying via Rarotonga and Los Angeles. There were a few dramas along the way with delays and baggage not fitting in the car but it’s funny how everything always just works out nicely when you stay calm and trust that things happen for a reason 🙂 Larisa’s cousin picked us up at 1am local time with a rental van (big enough to fit all our bags/bikes!) and drove us to her apartment where we are basing ourselves for the next few months. The apartment is a perfect little setup for us; great kitchen, big fridge and a coffee machine! It’s so close to everything we need, walking distance to the Wholefoods food market and Target, 500m to the local outdoor pool, 10min ride away from wide open rolling country side and 1km away from the lake with endless running trails and dirt tracks! The apartment complex also has its own Bbq area and outdoor pool – great for recovery days!
The first week here was a heat wave in Madison, upwards of 35 degrees and 80%+ humidity most days – a bit of a shock to the system but great for training and mental toughness! It made my 29km birthday run a good challenge! We had a couple of solid weeks training in Madison before our first race at Racine 70.3. There was no tapering for this one – we were both using the race as part of the build-up for our bigger Ironman races later in the season. We were lucky enough to stay with a great home stay family who were an awesome support to us on race week – including a tour of the bike course and some fantastic meals. They also came out to cheer us on during the race and made for a really enjoyable day. Thanks Kruse family! We were happy with how the day went, it is always good to test out a few things and find out where you are at. The race gave us an extra dose of confidence for what is to come and also a few things to focus on in the next block of training.
We are back in Madison after Racine and have been lucky to meet heaps of great people. We have been going along to a Friday morning swim in a private quarry lake with one of the local tri-clubs – it’s a beautiful lake to swim in – so clean and fresh and great to get in some open water swimming training! At one of the swim sessions we were introduced to Will Smith – a kiwi triathlete who has been living here for a few years. We spent last weekend out at his place and joined him and a few other local pros for some awesome riding and trail running. It’s a fantastic place to train in the summer and it looks like a fun place to train in the winter too – they turn the trails into snow-shoeing runs through the forest!
Next up for me is Ironman Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada on August 18th. This is my main race for the season over here and it is a good opportunity to earn more points towards a starting spot in the Mens Pro Field at the World Champs in Hawaii. It is the North-American Championship race so has a 4000 point value – that makes it a high scoring points race attracting a solid field of Male Pros. The course looks stunning and suits my strengths – I can’t wait!! It has a nice fresh water lake swim – hilly 2-loop bike course and an awesome run with a large portion of it on off-road trails.. Larisa has already qualified for Hawaii and wont be racing here. She will be using the trip to Canada to make the most of some riding and run training in the mountains! (and to give me extra support – and a hurry-up – on race day!)
The climate and terrain in Madison has been perfect for our training, and having a bit more time for recovery and all the little extra things is really benefiting us. The town is full of like-minded active people with training facilities all over the place, the University of Wisconsin has a large amount of rowing, running and swimming competitors so there are always people out early every morning which is good to see!
A big couple of weeks training is ahead of us now before we fly up to Canada. We have been lucky enough to be partnered with another homestay for race week and it sounds like they have a private lake to swim in. We look forward to meeting another great family and it will be one more cool experience to add to the trip so far. I hope everyone back home in NZ is having a great time as winter embarks and that all your trainig is going to plan! We will touch base again before the race in Quebec!
Finally Taupo delivers the perfect conditions for race day, clear blue sky, a light breeze and nice and sunny for the run! I had a great build up and was excited to hit the start line.
The morning was perfect and the warm glassy conditions of Lake Taupo invited some fast swim times, the pace was insane from the start, the lead group exploded away and I just missed the feet of Cam Brown and Courtney Ogden. I had some company for the outward leg, Gina Crawford and Keegan Williams staying on my feet till the turn buoys, the pace at this stage felt a bit too comfortable. I picked it up a bit on the way back and was happy to set my own pace and swim alone, exiting in 6th place and about 30sec up on the 3rd group with a personal best swim split by nearly 2 mins!
Out onto the bike and the first 90km flew by, pacing with Keegan and Scott Defilipis, we pushed the tempo pretty hard and were making some inroad into the guys ahead. I think it flew by a little too quick tho, as my nutrition plan wasn’t keeping up! At around 120km my energy levels took a dive and my power output was feeling non-existent. I had gone way too far into calorie deficit to come right but managed to spin my way back to T2. I had lost over 10mins in the last 30kms to the guys I was comfortably riding with earlier.
What can I say about the run, starting a marathon in the heat of the day after 180km on the bike is hard enough… let alone after not eating enough and being severely dehydrated! I went out at my goal pace for the first few kms but it didn’t take long to realise that this was not going to last. My legs felt fine but the energy levels wouldn’t allow the pace to rise over 4:40/km.. So in the end that’s all I could hold and did just that. Was really happy with my run for the way I was feeling though and even managed to pick off a couple of the other Pro men and climb back up into the top 10.
Overall I was pleased with my day, a personal best swim, solid for most of the bike and could have quite easily just pulled the pin on the run. But I stuck it out and chugged on to the finish. It’s my 10th Ironman finish in my 4 years of racing. The body is feeling pretty good, now its a couple of easy weeks before the build up for Ironman Cairns starts!
Check out some cool footage from out on the bike : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WppfpOBlxn8
Incorporating the iconic Busselton Jetty, the Ironman Western Australia triathlon is renowned worldwide for being the place to go for a fast time on a hot and flat course, but as Sunday morning dawned the heat was definitely going to be there, as was the intense wind and sea swell which had been building all week. Making race day this year challenging from the starters cannon!
Unsure why but moments before the deep water start, the decision was to change the professionals to a beach start. I like a running start so didn’t mind as we went flying into the warm choppy waters of the Indian Ocean. A lead pack of 7 guys took off as I settled into a nice pace near the front of the chase pack. Some of the group were having sighting issues in the rough waves so I moved to the front of the pack to ensure I stayed on course. As we rounded the 2km long pier I was feeling good so decided to push on a bit faster, broke away and aimed for the swim exit, I picked off one lone swimmer on the way in and exited in 7th with a PB time – Really happy with my swim in the surging swell and with the extra 100m added on for the beach start.
Swim – 53:39
Heading out on to the flat 3 lap bike course, I settled into my rhythm for the first few kms, then a group of 6 guys including super strong cyclists Mitch Anderson, Jason Shortis and Josh Rix came past, I decided to let them go as it was too early to risk pushing outside my threshold knowing the wind had picked up and we were in for a tough bike! The completely solo 180km TT was hard on the body as you were in the aero position the entire time, I felt prepared for this as I had done a few key long TT sessions in my build up and the smooth surface of the Busselton highway is a little more forgiving than the ‘nice’ ¾ chip roads back home. I held my placing for the rest of the bike although the group in front had put in a sizable gap by the time I returned to T2. The heat and wind was very draining and it’s the most nutrition I’ve taken in on an Ironman ride, even though it was nearly 10mins quicker than my previous best. Another PB split.
Bike – 4:51
The temp had now reached 35 degrees, and it was time to run a marathon! 4 loops along the coastal path, I got my running legs quickly and settled into my goal pace. It didn’t take long to realise that the goal pace would have to be slightly adjusted as the conditions weren’t ideal for a super quick run. An added test to the run was the aid stations..They were a bit too far apart and by the 3rd and 4th lap were getting pretty crowded. I made sure I got fluids in but had to start walking through to guarantee I wouldn’t miss out. My strength is being able to hold good run form in the late stages, and this showed as I passed 3 guys in the last 6kms to come in 11th place overall. It shows how tough the conditions were as only 2 pro’s ran under 3hrs and the winning time was around 25mins slower than previous years! Not a PB run time for me, but I think it’s a PB run performance as I was pleased with how I overcame the demands of a super-hot day.
Run – 3:08
First big race of the season ticked off, pleased with my performance considering I was sick with a chest infection / cold for the week before this race, I learnt a lot about how much your body can take even if you arent feeling 100%. I went through some of toughest moments of my racing in that run, but still managed to smile and finish under 9hours. Good signs for the upcoming NZ season.. Can’t wait!
Finish Time – 8:58
Thanks to my sponsors for their support this season :
Orchard Gold – TRI N RUN – Saucony – Endura
Smith Optics – Rock Tape – Ministry of Swimming
I chose Challenge Wanaka to be my first Professional race, It was going to be a tough ask to be super competitive with the experienced international field that turned up, Out of 12 Professional males, there were 2 past winners of this event and 8 other winners of Ironman races! It was going to be a challenging day in the office.
The Weather in Wanaka can decide how hard the day is going to be, from what I have heard – last year the wind and road conditions made this one of the toughest bike courses around and this year was to be no different. The 2-loop run course is 80% off-road trails which makes it a solid marathon on tired legs, Also, if the snow-capped mountains in mid-January were anything to go by , there was a good chance it was going to be a cold start!
Swim – 57mins 46sec
As I awoke on race morning, the sky was clear, and it was nice and crisp.. in other words it was Cold! The lake was 16 degrees and air temp was up to around 12 as we exited the swim, I was happy with my swim in the choppy conditions, sitting comfortably in the 3rd chase group. Coming out of the water in around 14th place and making the most out of the long transition to pass around 5 people as we ran up over the foot bridge from the lakeside to T1.
Bike – 5hrs 16mins
Arms warmers were on for the start of the bike – a fast out and back section that was still in the morning shade. As I made my way back through Wanaka town, the sun was rising and so was the wind speed. This made the trip down to Cromwell slightly easier but I knew the return leg was where it was going to get tough! I was passed early by a couple of fast cyclists and managed to pace of them for the first few hours as we picked off a few of the quicker swimmers. My pace makers were starting to ride away as we turned back for Wanaka, still having 80kms of headwind to contend with! I rode 75kms of the last section solo, my legs had nothing left and had to keep focused for the final hour of the ride , 2 competitors came flying past 5kms before T2. I was a bit worried at how my legs would feel as I about to start an off-road marathon!
Run – 3hrs 5mins
I was pleasantly surprised as I found my running legs rather quickly, I picked off a couple of runners in the first 5 kms and set my sights further up as I was feeling strong, The up and down track had a terrible headwind for the section and 2 short and sharp climbs late in each loop. The hot afternoon temperature was getting to a few of the top runners as I heard that some were fading and a couple had pulled the pin. I came through the 21km mark in 1:28 and was in 9th position overall. I had a few bad patches in the 2nd lap but managed to keep the nutrition in check and finish strong over the last few kms within 1 min of 8th place. Ended up with the 4th quickest run split and was the fastest of the Kiwis!
I’m stoked with my first Professional event and am still improving and learning heaps from every race I do. Thanks to the awesome organisation team down in Wanaka and all the local volunteers and supporters, The whole town gets behind this race.
The weekend before Christmas was the Rotorua Half Ironman.. This is one of my favourite races because of the awesome team who organise it, and also the challenging and enjoyable course – The perfect clean lake, rolling bike course and a varied terrain run! I was interested to see how the body would perform after a hard season overseas and competing in the Hawaii Ironman just 6 weeks prior.
The weather on race morning was nice and calm after a very wet and windy night… It stayed this way for the swim, then we realised that this was the calm before the storm! I had a solid swim in the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lake exiting in 3rd position in a time of 26:39.
There wasnt the usual strong winds around but it was probably one of the wettest bike legs Ive ever done. (At one stage the water level was half way up my 90mm front wheel!) The pace wasnt super fast but kept steady throughout and you had to keep the concentration up, I was happy that I rode strong and came into t2 just behind a group of about 8 guys around 5 mins down on race leader Keiran Doe.. Exiting transition with a bike split just over 2hr 30mins.
The run track around the lake was incredibly muddy, this made for a technical first section and I was happy when we made it out onto the road , I ran strong through the out-and-back gravel section, and when I saw how close the front few guys were, I knew I had to keep the pressure on.. I passed 3rd and 2nd place at the 11km mark just after the totem pole turnaround. Keiran was 5min 30sec ahead and I knew I wouldn’t make this time up on him with only 10kms to go! I kept pushing and managed to pull back about another 40secs on the last lap in the mud and finished 4:50 behind 1st place with a run of 1hr 21mins.
Thanks to Shane Hooks for the great race, it was a good turnout and gets busier and busier every year! A nice cheap entry fee with all proceeds going to the Rotorua Hospice! I will definitely be back next year.
-next race is my first Pro entry @ Challenge Wanaka on the 21st Jan.