Friday, 23 November 2012

Shepp 70.3

It's safe to say I wasn't expecting anything special from my race at Shepparton over the weekend.  I actually didn't know I was racing it until recently; it sold out fairly quickly and I must have put myself on a waiting list and then forgot about it.  When offered a start I took it with the intention of trialling a 'more composed and disciplined' pacing strategy.  I race to go hammershit- composed and disciplined has no place for me in a race.  But here's how it unfolded...

My aim was to head out on an easy swim, easy ride and hard, fast run.  As is the trend for me in Kialla Lakes, my swim was an embarrassment   I can only assume that when swimming blindfolded (as the lake is so dirty you may as well be) I am unable to properly asses my speed.  Well, that's the excuse I'm using.  I expected a slower swim of 33 minutes, not 35 something.  My 1st transition felt like it took forever because I felt like I was in juniors again- head spinning, ensuring I don't lean over too far and black out!  Although the race in my head didn't start until the run, so I took my time.

Doing the maths when I got on the bike I knew my swim was terrible- I actually thought it was closer to the 38 minutes so I did my best to ignore that and get on with the task at hand: riding very slowly.  Well, sort of.  I wanted to keep the bike moving as fast as possible while keeping my heart rate below 140bpm.  Luckily the Shepp bike course is very flat and straight.  It's perfect for a time trial with no need to spike in power or heart rate.  I was able to hold a touch over 30km/hr while keeping HR low so I was on track for a 3 hour ride but that was the only easy part.

(Really should get a bike fit...)

Mentally, this was tough.  The bike is my weapon.  Always has been.  Hopefully always will be.  I love riding fast and it was really difficult watching so many people pass me on the bike.  It actually became boring.  This should have been a 2:40-2:50 ride but I got off in just under 2:58.

On the upside, all the frustration from the bike left me ready to roar on the run.  My nutrition had been immaculate- I had nothing else to do on the bike...  My heart rate was low, my legs were relatively fresh, I wanted to hammer it.  I decided to let the first few kms play out however they will.  I just ran with no thought, no data and certainly no analysis.  2kms in I realised I was running around 4:14/km- a touch too fast for this early.  So I backed off to just below 4:30/km sat on another guy's heels and made sure I kept eating.  If things kept going this well I could up the pace again around the 17km mark.  The guy who was pacing me had a great technique and was slowly increasing the pace as he was 1 lap ahead of me.  I was feeling good and loving it.  Even though I'd have to do the last lap without him, this guy was helping me immensely.  I had the flow I'm always looking for.  But the strap from my timing chip was rubbing on my ankle.  I went all zen and willed the pain away.  I wasn't going let this stop me.  I had the whole Buddhist Vihara behind me as I ignored the pain but when the strap stopped bouncing because it was stuck under my skin I had to stop to loosen it.  I was desperately hoping my pace maker would stop at an aid station for a second so I could fix the strap but he was on a mission and as I removed the velcro from my raw Achilles I watched my 1:35 run off into the distance.  I had to run my own pace.

There were a few people I know racing and after my pedestrian bike pace they were all in front of me so thanks to the out and back section of the run I could put a pace on them and start to pick them off.  The frustration of holding back in the swim and ride allowed me to really focus on the run and not back off/ pussy out on the run like I might have otherwise done.  In the end I managed to keep a relatively consistent pace throughout the run and clocked 1:39 something.

(Funny how technique goes out the window when tired...)

I'm happy with having a consistent pace across all three legs; it was a well paced race.  But it wasn't a race.  If that was an ironman it might be a different story but I've tried racing ironman and I can't do it.  That's a day of survival for me, not a race.  70.3 is a race and I want to be going hard throughout.  I probably lost 4 mins in the lake, at least 10 mins on the bike, and made up maybe 4 - 10 mins on the run.  Timing wise, that's not worth it.  Mentally, for me, the lack of speed on the bike is certainly not worth it.  So I'm glad I tested that pacing strategy at Shepp but it's not for me.  I can recover fairly quickly so I want to leave it all out on the bike, then try to regroup in transition and hang on for dear life in the run.  That is a race.

Thanks very much to Shepparton Tri club for one of the best organised races I've ever done and, despite the poor standards at present, a fairly good Goodies Bag, including free race photos from SuperSport Images.   

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Storm Surfers 3D

On Friday I saw the premiere of the new Ross Clarke Jones movie.  I might be a bit biased because I've always loved RCJ but that was incredible.

I guess it was as expected.  Red Bull Media House do their usual 'throw a heap of money at it and make an awesome vid' but I was surprised about two things.  Firstly, it was all in Australia.  I guess that leaves it open for a sequel and then a Home Alone style repeat but Australia is not renowned for having many big wave spots.

Secondly, I found the story to focus more on Tommy Carroll losing his confidence.  He has always talked a big game but in this movie he talked up why he wasn't charging as hard as he could.  Turning 50 and having kids was his story but this discussion went on for too long.  It seemed as though the majority of the movie was spent justifying why Tommy wasn't surfing.  Boring.  You could pick anyone but about 30 guys off the street anywhere around the world and they could tell you why they are not going to surf that 60ft wave.  I bought my ticket to see the guys who DID surf the wave.  Bring back Tony Ray, I say.

Regardless, the movie was incredible and made even better in 3D.  I actually think that even those who are not into surfing would enjoy it, too.  The idea of chasing something that ridiculous will draw people in but the character of Ross Clarke Jones makes the film.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Molokai to Oahu

Two guys I have heaps of respect for doing a race I will do one day:

It'd be alright having Makuakai Rothman on your support team too!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Don't Steal From Me

My early celebration of Notting Hill Carnival, given it's only Friday 8.30am in London, has been abruptly halted with the news that Lance Armstrong will not challenge USADAs ruling that, ummm... What is their ruling?  I've not heard any formal charges they are laying down, and once again I question who they are.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency is not a Government Authority but is predominantly tax-payer funded and seems to have some sort of oversight of Olympic, Paralympic and Pan-American sport.  What we do without knee-jerk reactions from U.S. Congress?

Something I must highlight is that I will never speculate on whether Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs.  I wasn't there so I don't know.  Neither were you so don't make it up.  And if you were there I want to know what you have to gain from spilling your guts.  Professional cycling was rife with drugs during the 90's and early 2000's; maybe it still is.  If Lance Armstrong won 7 Tours while on drugs: cool- level playing field, maybe?  If Lance Armstrong won 7 tours clean, against incredible riders who later admitted doping: there's hope to kids that it can be done clean.

Jonathan Vaughters rode professionally from 1994 until 2003 and later admitted to doping.  Last week he wrote a brilliant opinion piece in the New York Times suggesting that all drug cheats were looking for was a level playing field.  It was not necessarily to get ahead but to get along side.  Riccado Ricco aside, maybe...

Whether the amount of drug cheats uncovered in cycling are a result of a drug riddled sport or a governing body serious about testing, I personally find Lance Armstrong an inspiration.  His sharp wit, unnerving charm, and imposing presence are the traits that give me something to aspire to.  I'm not afraid of anyone.  My daily job requires dealing with the angriest, most short tempered, small dick/massive wallet traders in the world.  But if I had to challenge Lance Armstrong I'd wanna have my story straight before I stepped up.  And I like that.  Whether you view it as redemption, glory seeking or anything else, the things he has done for Cancer research and exposure are admirable.

Now I don't know much about charity (despite my girlfriend being the national manager for brand and communications for a great charity in Make-A-Wish!) so I'm not sure if corporate sponsors would go cold on Armstrong after this ruling or what sort of flow on effects that 'kid that nobody likes' in USADA will have but I'm gonna tell you what shits me to no end...

Lance Armstrong retired from professional cycling years ago and was in the process of making overly-comfortable triathletes shiver in their onesies.  Armstrong had not hidden the fact that he wanted to race the Hawaii Ironman either as an age grouper or a pro.  As time went on it turned out that his times were too good for age group.  So he started racing half ironman races as a pro.  And he brought it.  It wasn't as though he was dominating in the ride enough to make up for a poor swim and poor run.  He was busting out credible times for all 3 disciplines- to the degree that he won 1, maybe 2 for memory, 70.3 races in the pro category.  If I were a pro triathlete I would ensure I was not beaten by a new comer, especially someone who brought so much media coverage to the sport.  But at the end of the day these were half ironman races.  Hawaii is a different sport.  Armstrong's first Ironman was supposed to be Nice, France in July this year but when your mates at USADA announced their witch-hunt WTC was obliged to ban him from racing so we'll never know.

WTC's reasons for banning him stem from rules put in place previously and actually enacted last year so this is another argument all together.  Also, I don't think he would have been a feature at Kona but I don't necessarily take inspiration from winners.  Lance Armstrong is a man who works hard at doing things other people say he can't do.  He has the added attraction of pulling them off so Kona was always going to be an incredible spectacle.  Instead, the incredible feats of human endeavour have been quashed by an 'authorative' body acting outside its poorly defined boundaries.

I titled this blog 'Don't Steal From Me' because it was the song I was listening to when I read that Lance Armstrong had given up fighting.  Ironically relentlessness is a quality I attribute to him so I don't think this is the end of great things.  In the meantime, listen to more Barrington Levy and celebrate Notting Hill Carnival this weekend!

If you want to see great things, watch my favourite Lance Armstrong moment of recent years:

If you want to see more great things, get into some Notting Hill Carnival!!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

La La Land

As I sit here with a mild touch of post-event blues and a major case of mega sore feet I realise that I was completely in my own world on the run in Sunday's race because I had no idea there were photographers out there.  I could describe the course because I was looking at where to put my feet in the soft sand and how to take corners without upsetting my already fragile momentum!  But for the first time in nearly 50 triathlons I've done the photos came out fairly well.

I'm not entirely sure that justifies the $30 per shot price tag though...

Monday, 20 August 2012

The 'poon 70.3

As evidenced by the lack of posts on this blog I have to be in the right mood to write something.  But if I wait for that I'll never put a race report up.  So I'll just bash out a pile of words in the hope it's mildly entertaining.

I had been looking forward to Yeppoon for the whole winter.  I say it as though it's finished because I'm sitting in 27 degrees and melbourne is a world away, but I had entered Yeppoon as soon as it went on sale and with no other races booked this was going to be an A race by default.  The fact that it's in a nice climate in August was also an attraction because it would break up winter and give me a kick in the bum before summer got here.  I was also excited by a current assisted swim!

So you can imagine my frustration/ denial when my left pedal fell off 25kms into the ride because the thread within the crank had stripped out and I couldn't get it back on.  I tried for 5 minutes to screw it, jam it, bash it, wish it, and spectators gave it a shot too but it wasn't happening.  I walked along the side of the road for another 3 minutes looking for the bike support car and wondering whether chucking it all in now would leave my weekend/ bank balance/ general happiness ruined.  The answer to all was yes but the super heroes that were Tuckers Cycle Inn Rockhampton weren't going to let that happen.  With an industrial sized spanner, the brute strength of two solid guys, and the magic power of a Broncos jersey adorning the more solid member, they got the pedal back on and pushed me on my way.

I was feeling good and decided to make back those 8 minutes by picking off all the people who had passed me.  The bike course was 5 x 18km laps and the road surface on 3/4 of the course is so bumpy this may as well have been an Xterra race.  I heard it was rough so I tightened everything twice and then tightened again.  I even put loc-tite on the drink bottle holder off the back of my seat cos that always bounces the most.  By the end of the ride I think you could have built a whole bike out of the parts that had fallen off onto the road.  It was seriously like a mine field, dodging components.  To my surprise, apart from a pedal, my bike was awesome.  I was only 3 minutes off my target ride time so I think I made up about 5 minutes.

As an added bonus I was feeling good off the bike.  The main goals of this race were to practise good technique and to feel like I was playing.  And the run was where all of this would either come together or fall apart.  I tried to hold 87-90 steps per minute for as long as I could and on the road section of the run I was doing that and loving it!  This is the definition of feeling good!  How could it not be like play time.  I was holding around 4 minute kms too.  I was enjoying this more than any race I'd ever done.  More than holding off my best friend in the closing stages of the St George Olympic distance in Adelaide in 1997, keeping 3rd place!  This was fun- why don't I do this more often?  But then we turned right and into the bushes, off the road, and on to soft sand.  My technique went to shit.  Within a few hundred metres I was struggling to hold 85 steps per minute and I didn't even want to look at my pace.  From there I struggled and on the 2nd lap I decided that I'd walk through the aid station in the bushes.  I had a drink, ate some snakes and jelly babies as it started to rain and cooled myself down.  After 100m of walking I reminded myself that in 12kms I'd be sitting in that cool pool at the resort either happy with my race or annoyed that I didn't push harder so I get back on it.  Within 2kms I was feeling great.  Jelly Babies are king!!  I was back on the road and although I couldn't get back up to 90 steps I kept a constant turnover around 87 and getting stronger.
(Not Me)
I finished well, 4 mins off the 5 hours I was hoping for but extremely happy considering my blatant laziness over the last 4 weeks.  A Vegas slot went out the window about 4 weeks ago when my discipline went walkabout but I was surprised to see the roll down go to 15th place for my age group with a time of 4:39.  I know what I need to do now and I learned some very valuable things:
1) Jelly Babies/ snakes rule.  I'm using them next race.
2) I need work on my trail running.
3) Queenslanders drive reeeaaalllyyy slowly.

Racing Excites Me

It's as simple as that.  I think I've always known that but it's only since my return to triathlon in 2010 after 12 years away that I took note of it because I am now only doing 2 or 3 races a year.  I need the pressure of racing in order to remind myself why I'm training.  I usually get to a particular level of fitness then only want to play (MTB, paddle, short sharp rides, etc) because it's more fun when you're really fit, but when you're playing and not training your fitness declines rather rapidly; as has been the case over the last 4 weeks for me!

So I plan to use tomorrow three ways:
-as an assessment of where my fitness currently lies;
-to utilise the improvements I've made in technique this year; and
-to play with each sport: to feel good in each discipline and race the way I did when I was 16: for the fun of it.

After this there are about 12 weeks until Shep 70.3 so I'll know what I have to improve on and I'll make sure I throw some races in there, no matter how small, to keep me excited.

Friday, 17 August 2012

4 weeks?

No, 8 weeks.  Time really does fly...

Time Flies

Oh yeah, that update...  I realise that what felt like yesterday was actually 4 weeks ago.

For memory I was planning to post some photos from the Melburn Roobaix ride put on by Fyxomatosis.  It was an entertaining ride from Hawthorn Velodrome to Brunswick Velodrome through some of Melbourne's least used cobblestone laneways and with 2012 people riding the event it was good fun.

I rode with Lucan, Jarrad, Simon, and a crew of friends of friends which eventually saw eleven of us rolling together.  I think everyone who rode this year agreed they would do it again next year so I look forward to seeing how many people come along for that.  I think we will add a few extra pub stops along the route though...

There are heaps of good photos here:

2 weeks ago Carla and I stayed with Ash and Em in Mt Hotham for a weekend of skiing.  While Saturday afternoon offered some blue sky the rest of the weekend was pretty much a whiteout.  Neither bad weather nor the $106 1 day lift pass (a half day was $95!!) was going to keep me from my first ski in 18 months and despite being disappointed by the long lifts and short runs, I loved it.
Things were made better on Sunday when Ash and I went trekking and tracked out a bowl behind the lodges for free.  The only way to do it in Australia but I hope to be fitter next time!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Still alive...

If anyone still comes to this blog they're probably bored of seeing that same old post on there.  So after 7 months or so (I don't even know how long ago it was that I last posted) I'm going to try to update this.

First, I need to think of something to write about...  Hmm.  That would probably require me to do something...  Hmmm, I see why I didn't post for so long.

Tomorrow is the Melburn Roobaix bike ride.  I'm sure I'll be able to get some photos and a story together after that.

Stay tuned.