Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2012 - Las Vegas

My race at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship a few weeks ago did not go to plan. I finished 50th in the 18-24 age group in a time of 5.50.44. To say I am disappointed with the result is an understatement (especially after traveling 15,000km to Las Vegas). 

Let me begin by telling you Las Vegas is HOT is September and race day was no exception at 42 degrees at the hottest point of the day!

The swim is in Lake Las Vegas which is a fresh water lake and a balmy 28 degrees - no wetsuits here. The PRO race started at 6.30am, followed by 18 other waves to 5 minute intervals. The Male 18-29 age group drew the short straw and were last off at 8.00am. When the start gun for my race finally went, our wave was already about 50m up the course... a natural outcome in a World Championship (especially when you are in the last wave). The swim start was rough and I got smashed. On a positive note the course is really well marked making sighting easy ( a welcome change compared to my last two races). The highlight of my swim was noticing Mark on my left shoulder. As we went under the bridge with approximately 200 meters to swim, I politely said "hey man" and we continued on our merry way. My race started off perfectly and I was exactly where I needed to be exiting the water.

A quick transition and a run up hill to the mount line and the long 90km of my life (in a race) was about to begin. From the get go my legs did not want to cooperate. The climb out of T1 is a nice way to say 'Hello to the Worlds'. Nick past me heading out on his shiny new P5 (Nick+P5=World Champion) and this trend (being passed) continued throughout the ride. After about 30km I passed Lisa who informed me I was in 8th at this point... I made sure my nutrition was on track, however it was difficult to get fluid down in the hot weather. Scotty passed my at around 40km and I rode with him as we exited the National Park. The last 20km's was pain. I caught up with Sean during this section and I was a yo yo off him until we reached T2.

The course is tough, the scenery is beautiful and the conditions are brutal... put these three elements together and you have a course well and truly suitable for a World Championship.

Into T2 Sean and I sat together and put our shoes on, another highlight of my race! I tried to run out of T2 and share a special race with Sean like Mark did a Busselton 70.3 this year (read here), however I soon realised that was not to be... my legs did not make the trip to Las Vegas. I walked/shuffled with half marathon with the simple goal of getting to the finish line and getting my finishers medal... I was not leaving without it. Early in the run Mark came past me running well and gave me a few words of encouragement. I caught up to Scotty who was in a similar place as me. We walked for a while together before I saw Lisa who was in tears with her on going leg problems. I double backed (whats another few km in a race that's already over?) and ran with her for a while... until her legs wanted to run again and she ran away from me hahaha. 

The run was lonely... it was hot... the aid stations ran out of ice... then coke... and at some points water... Once I had completed 2 laps (being bypassed from the finish line for my last lap) there were some tears in my eyes... Tears of disappointment in my race and tears for the fact I have to get through my last lonely 7km lap. 

I soldiered on... I made it to the finish line, disappointed, a few more tears and a choc milk in hand. I went out and consoled with my Family. I don't think any of them knew what to say!

That's a quick run down of my long day at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. My race didn't go to plan, but that's life... 

Lisa, to her credit finished 15th in the 18-24 age group and was the first Australian in her category despite being burdened with leg issues during the run and she beat me...

Lisa and I spent a few weeks in the States post race for a holiday and a much needed break. During this time we discussed my race, preparation and what went wrong. 
  • Physically my preparation was solid and I swimming and running better than ever. I was nailing my specific half ironman run sessions and I was consistently hitting PB times in the pool.
  • 2012 has seen a few major life changes; moving out of home and the responsibility of home ownership and being 'house proud' and increased workload which meant long hours and increased stress.
  • Lisa was ill for a few weeks leading into the race and although I was not sick, it had a negative effect on me.
  • My 2012 season was focused around Hawaii 70.3 and the goal of gaining a spot to the Ironman World Championship. The fact I lead that race until 1 mile from the finish has been a burden (and has only been realised on reflection of this race)...
Please note that these factors are not an excuse to my poor race and I know a lot of people deal with issues that are a lot worse than I have. The issues I have outlined above put my mindset/mental preparation into a place it has not been before and the result was not pretty!

The race was been run and won (by a worthy champion in Nick Baldwin) and it is time for me to take a small break from triathlon to regain the motivation and desire I had during 2011. 

I will be back...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Pre Race

We have arrived safely into Las Vegas after a long 36 hour travel day (Perth > Auckland > Los Angeles > Las Vegas). Lisa and I left the rain and hail storms of Perth on Tuesday afternoon and began our journey to the USA. As we descended into ‘Sin City’ the light glow of the famous Las Vegas Strip was mind boggling... We are going to have some fun there after the race!! In true Las Vegas style we were greeted by pokies as we walked off the aeroplane.

On Thursday (our first full day) the day was spent registering, driving on the wrong side of the road, checking out the expo, getting pulled over by police and a quick bike drive of the bike course. The bike course on offer is worthy of a World Championship course and will be a true test tomorrow. The course is spectacular and the landscape we will be riding through is stunning.

Yes, you read correctly in the previous paragraph... I drove on the wrong side of the road and was pulled over by police (these were two separate incidents!). The first is self explanatory. After driving at home for so many years, it is easy to forget you are driving on the opposite side of the road. Thankfully there were no cars coming in the other direction (remember, if your turning right, keep it tight). Shortly after this, I was pulled over by a stereotypical American cop (think of Chief Wiggam). The reason for this is I did not let pedestrians get off the pedestrian walk before driving through, an offence that we later read in the paper that local police are now targeting... my bad!

Friday was a relaxing day with a quick bike/run and swim followed by some relaxing down by the pool. It was nice to chill out, with no work on my mind and the race far enough away that I was not in ‘race mode’. After lunch Lisa and I went and met up with my Mum and Dad who have come over to support us at the race. I am also lucky enough to have some family from Texas make the trip over to Vegas to support us. A big thank you to Charles, Amalee, Bronwyn and Gillian for making the effort to come over!  

This morning (Saturday) started with a quick swim/bike/run to keep things ticking over before it was time to pick up Lisa’s parents, Teresa and Dave who also made the trip over to support us.
The race has two separate transition areas making the logistics of the race a little difficult. We gathered our support crew and went to T2 to drop off our run bags and show them where the finish line is. The rest of the morning/afternoon was spent relaxing and putting the final touches on the race bike.

A late bike check in and an early dinner was on the cards this evening and I am now in bed, itching to get going!

The journey to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship has been an interesting one for be over the last three months. There have been some highs and lows in all aspects of my preparation but I happy to be here, fit and healthy and ready to race as hard as I can. The course will be tough and the competition even tougher.

Thanks to those who have supported me throughout my short triathlon career and a big thanks to my family (including the Luckins) who made the journey to Vegas to support Lisa and I.

Race start is in 12 hours!
Final pre race ride sporting the new BYL Cycling Kit

Not a bad bike rack

Lisa locked and loaded

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vegas 70.3 Bike

With the Ironman 70.3 World Championship only a few days away, I thought I would show off the bike I will be riding on the weekend!

Frame: Ceepo Katana
Groupset: Sram Red (39/53, 11/26)
Aerobars: Pro Missile with Cee Gee pads
Saddle: Prologo Nago Evo Tri 40 (complete with an Aussie Flag!)
Wheels: Schnell KONA 60/88 
Pedals: Speedplay