I always love travelling down to Huskisson in February for the Huskisson Triathlon Festival. For years, the Husky Long Course event has drawn my attention as I race I want to win. The prestige of this event speaks for itself when you look at the names on the trophy, including Craig Alexander, Pete Jacobs and Tim Reed, just to name a few.
I went into this race knowing my form was good, until the weekend before the race, a niggle in my Achilles ended the smooth sailing. I was unable to run all week and had no idea if I would be able to run a single kilometre in the race, let alone 20 of them! I wasn’t going to aggravate the Achilles any further before the race, so I didn’t attempt running all week and was seriously going in to the race blind.
The race started with a 2 Kilometre swim in Jervis Bay. In the swim, Michael Fox set the pace and I stuck on his feet. He was swimming great and we were able to open up a bit of a lead by the time we got to our bikes. This was probably the fastest swim leg I have done over 2km and set us both up great for the bike and run.
On the bike, Foxy and I rode very honest together, keeping very respectable drafting distances while not knowing any time gaps to the chasing athletes. We both knew that if we kept the pace up on the bike, the chasers would have to ride a pretty red-hot time just to catch us, likely causing some damage in their legs before setting off on the run.
Side note - On the Thursday before the race, I picked up a set of Caden Tubular 81mm wheels to race on. A huge thanks to Ben for getting this sorted for me - these wheels were unbelievable. They rolled great and handled the wind superbly. What's more, the weight of both these wheels were less than the weight of my previous rear disc wheel! On a bike course like Husky, where the roads are rough and hilly, acceleration is key, especially powering up over the crest of the hills. I am stoked to be riding what I believe are the best wheels on the market. Here's my race set up:
Once we got off the bike, we found out we had about a 1-minute gap to Nuru Somi, and a couple more minutes to the main chase group.
This was the part of the race I feared – finding out weather I could actually run or not with my Achilles niggle. As it turned out, the Achilles was just bearable, and I set into a good pace running side by side with Foxy for the first 5km. Once we hit the 5km turn around point, I surged and was able to open a gap. I ran controlled for the remaining 15km and the gap actually extended, allowing me to really enjoy my first professional win! What’s more, my friends and family were all there to share the experience with, and my partner Moya was able to score a 3rd overall in the Women’s race! What a day!
Personally, this was the first race I have executed where I felt as strong in the final 2kms of the run as I did in the first 2km. I was able to finally throw down an exciting run split and I got to break the tape in a professional long course race!
Looking forward, I need to get this Achilles injury sorted before I lock into my next race. The big goal for me in 2018 is the Half Ironman World Championships, held 2nd September in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In order to get a result I am capable of there, I need to get this temperamental Achilles sorted properly now. I will release my 2018 race schedule as soon as possible.
Augusta 70.3 was my last race in my 2017 US campaign! I spent the 2 weeks leading up to Augusta training in Chattanooga courtesy of the O'Brien family who took me in as family. I can't thank them enough for their hospitality, I had such a good time living there!
Everyone who I spoke to before the race told me horror stories about the heat and humidity that Augusta turns on during the 70.3. I have never had any major problems training and racing in the heat so I was excited to get stuck into it. Plus it was going to be a good opportunity to continue testing new nutrition/hydration strategies, something which I believe I am still yet to perfect.
The swim was a down current (not ideal) swim in the Savannah River. I had a great start and led the first km or so. Andy Potts them came around and took over the pace setting. I exited the swim with Andy, Cam Good and Eric Limkemann, feeling quite controlled.
I hit the first 20mins of the bike quite firmly but was unable to make any breaks. I then settled into a controlled effort on the bike and quite a few guys started to catch and bunch up. Matt Russel, Jesse Thomas and a few others had caught up and we had about 10 of us riding together.
After about 60kms, Matt and Jesse put in a red hot attack which broke the group right up. I was caught off guard and lost contact with them, so I found myself riding with Pottsy and Linkerman in the second group. Matt and Jesse had opened up a minute gap on us by the time we got off the bike. It was a good honest ride, one of my better power averages for a 70.3.
I got off the bike feeling quite good and got rather excited hitting the run. At the 5km mark I had closed the minute to Matt and was running in second, 20 seconds behind Jesse. I was feeling on the money!
In reality, I potentially shouldn't have taken out my first 5km in 16:40, especially in the heat of Augusta. I believe it won't be long until I can sustain that, but there is a little bit of progression to make before then..
I started to feel it and Pottsy ran past me a little while later. I was able to hang tough and hold on to 3rd, but I was really feeling it in the final few miles.
I was able to split a 75:51 for the run, even running it as inconsistently (pronounced: 'stupidly') as I did, which was a big step forward for me.
It was pretty cool to share the podium with Jesse and Pottsy. I still a lot of training to do with popping champagne bottles - I got smashed!
I'm now back home in Sydney and enjoying a short break before building for Western Sydney 70.3 to close out 2017.
It really has taken me quite a while to ‘learn how to train’ here in Boulder (Colorado), which has an elevation of 1655m above sea level. I am glad I have given myself quite a long period of time, and quite a few races, to learn what my formula for success is. One thing that I overlooked in my first couple of weeks here was, the importance of recovery time in between tough training sessions. I knew the equation…higher altitude = less oxygen in the air = less oxygen to muscles when recovering = slower recovery time. But, I did not quite realise just how much this would affect me.
I did the ‘Boulder Peak’ Triathlon as a little hit out on July 9th. It was an Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5km/40km/10km), two weeks before my targeted race – Calgary Half Ironman. I had been training well leading into the Boulder Peak race, but unfortunately I did not consider the extended taper time required when living at altitude. Lets just say Boulder Peak was an ugly two hours, but a massive lesson learnt.
Fast forward two weeks and I was in Calgary, feeling relaxed and eager to race! It was great to have Moya come on the trip with me, it means so much having her around.
The 1.9km swim was wetsuit legal in a freshwater, man-made lake. It was a stunning location to swim, one of my favourite swim courses to date. I swum with Chris Kemp, we emerged from the water together in second place, 75 seconds down on Josh Amberger.
On the bike, I was feeling quite relaxed, certainly a lot better than I felt two weeks ago at the Boulder Peak Triathlon. Kempy got a flat tire almost as soon as he got on his bike, so I was solo with 75 seconds to Josh and a minute gap back to third. I am still learning my limits on a 2hr bike leg, but I was pushing some modest power numbers while still feeling quite in control. I had Jonathon Shearon of USA catch me on the bike with about 10km to go. I rode with him until the end of the bike leg, with Tim Rea only 30 seconds back in fourth place.
Once I got onto the run, Josh had built up a lead of a couple of minutes. I was in a battle for second with Shearon. I took out the 21km run quite hard and was able to open a nice little gap. Looking back, I certainly took it out too hard and paid for it in the back end of the run. But again, another nice little lesson to learn, and this will help me execute a more even run leg in future races.
I was over the moon to finish in 2nd place – my first International Professional podium! Even with so much to get right for future races, and knowing I really did not race to my full potential, this was very encouraging!
A huge thank you to my amazing homestay hosts, and now good friends, Morten and Dana. They truly went above and beyond in making our experience of Calgary one to remember.
Next up for me is Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan on 13th August.
So Chattanooga was a race I just wanted to tick off. With such a disrupted lead up with a cracked bike frame 4 weeks before the race, a stomach virus 2 weeks before the race, and a cracked handlebar once I arrived in Tennessee, I was just relieved and excited to toe the start line! Basically the gameplan leading into the race was to limit the damage from the gun. Not the way I wanted to race in my first US race, but it the only way I was going to finish with a sound result.
This was the first race I was able to do aboard my new Giant Trinity. That was super exciting for me and I can't thank the crew at Giant Sydney enough for all their help in getting the bike ready for me in time to take on my US trip!
I swam quite comfortably in the front group, and rode quite comfy with the front guys also. There was one athlete who broke away but I just wanted to save my legs as best I could!
I hit the run quite comfy but after 5mins I started cramping. I went from equal 2nd to 7th when I had to stop for 1-2mins and settle the cramps down. I can only put this down due to a lack of time on the bike recently.
The cramp eventually subsided and I was able to get running again where I caught up to third, but with a couple of Km to go I got passed and finished in 4th.
To be completely honest, I was very disappointed as I think this could have been so much more than what it was with the form I was in 4 weeks before the race, but with the way things worked out, I am proud to have hung tough and finished in fourth.
I would just like to extend a huge thanks to my homestay hosts, Anne and Charlie, for putting me up during my time in Chattanooga. Anne was absolutely amazing, showing me around town and driving me anywhere I needed to go!
I am now in Boulder, Colorado and doing it tough in the lack of oxygen up here! Already starting to feel a lot better in training and I am hoping this will give me a bit of an edge for my next race, Calgary 70.3 on 23rd July.
In January 2017, I finally got my achilles problem solved - an issue that prevented me from running for over a year. Turns out it was the plantaris muscle rather than the achilles. After a massive (read: very passive) 3 week build of my run with no sign of pain, I decided it would be great to race Husky Long Course!
The field for the race was strong, including Craig Alexander - 3x winner of the Hawaiian Ironman. I was confident in my swim and bike legs for the race, but knowing the run wasn't quite there, my goal for the race was simple - swim in the front pack, ride hard 'off the front' to try get a buffer on the noted runners in the field, and then hold on for the run.
The race actually played out quite similar to to the way I had planned it. I swam comfortable in the 2km swim and exited the water in the lead group of 6. I then rode hard and opened up a gap on the main group with Lachlan Kerin. Kerin was riding very strongly and I wanted to save my legs a bit for the run so I let him go after 30kms of the 83km bike leg. By the end of the bike leg Kerin had a 1min 40 sec lead on me, and I had a 2min 40sec gap to the main group.
I hit the run controlled and slowly brought back the gap to Kerin. At 13kms, I caught Kerin just as Crowie caught me. I didn't have the legs to go with Crowie so I ran my own race in second place and feeling good ... Up until about 16kms. This is where the lack of run training hit me and I really started suffering. At 18.5kms of the 20km run Michael Fox caught and surged past to take second. I kept it together in the last 1500m to hold on for third.
Upon reflection, I am extremely proud of the way I raced. It was my first race in quite a long time due to injury, and I raced off the front, giving myself every opportunity to hit a podium in my first race back. It was very good to tick the first race off and I can now start planning out my season of racing.
Next up for me will be Chattanooga 70.3 on 21st May. I'll be sure to pack some running legs for that one!