Friday, October 14, 2011

Your first triathlon: a recipe for success

A quick check of bom tells me that the sun is going to rise on a 'fine' day on Sunday; rising up over the horizon to shine of the shoulders of those who beat the sun out of bed and are filled with the nervous energy humming in their stomach that can only mean one thing... It's go time! For many, this will be their first taste of a triathlon. Believe me, the flavour is addictive and will have you coming back for more. One person who will be 'popping his triathlon cherry' on Sunday is Adam Bowen - Adam finished in the top 14 of Australian MasterChef - Season 3. I caught up with him in his final week to ask him about his preparations, life on MasterChef and recipe for success... 

Scott W (SW): Hi Adam. Before we start, do you mind if I call you Ad?

Adam B (AB): Ad is all good, my mates call be Bowza. It comes from my last name being Bowen and I always have a go at things. So it's 'Bowza havin' a Gowza' since I was 17. 

SW: Alright, Bowza it is. First things first, lets get the important stuff out of the way. What's the best recipe for impressing the ladies?

AB: Blokes that's easy. Girls are impressed whenever a guy cooks anything for them. Even if you get a nice takeaway (tell her you cooked it) put it on a clean white place and tell the girls you spent all day cooking it. They will not know the difference; make sure to plate it up like a pro. Laughs. But if you really want to impress the girl of your dreams, then cook the following: start with an entree Pan Fry Sea Scallops on a bed of Risotto of Corn Puree; main would be Medium Rare Lamb Racks on a White Bean puree with red wine vinegar Jus with garden vegies, and for dessert to seal the deal and to really impress the special girl in your life a Chocolate Ganache tart with salted Caramel served with double cream. Remember to keep the Champagne flowing and victory will be your and all her friends will think you're worth paying attention to.

SW: I was with you up until the takeaway part. I'm lucky there isn't a fourth leg of the triathlon where you need to cook anything otherwise I'd be in a bit of strife. So, from MasterChef to triathlons. What got you thinking about giving triathlons a go?

AB: Mate I got back from MasterChef and I had put on 13kg. I was invited to compete in a 10km fun run, crossed the line in 49 minutes and really enjoyed it. Then decided to do the Brisbane Marathon with no training, crossed the line in 4.17, and I loved the pain my body went through and I survived ... just ... The last 4km took me 40 minutes! Thought to myself I could do that faster, so I need to train. Down at the Valley one night I was teaching a Dry Suit course [ed note: Bowza's day job is a Scuba-diving instructor at GoDive Australia in Brisbane] and I saw a friend, Bill Farry, and told him that I did a marathon. He said "great but real men do Ironman" so the training started, and 2 months later love it. 

SW: That Billy is a straight-shooter alright. Man a 4.17 for a marathon with no training is pretty scorching. You just need to tag a 3.8km swim and 180km bike ride in front of it. So how does Raby Bay fit into the scheme of things?

AB: I'm training for Raby Bay and then Port Macquarie 70.3 in November. Training for 2 months and I have dropped my weight to 95kg. Came back from MasterChef in May at 113kg. 

SW: That's awesome. Trent (Reddog Triathlon Training) tells me you approach training like a blue-heeler at a food bowl - you dig in at 100 miles per hour. What's your secret to staying motivated for every session?

AB: Trent's a great coach, a great bloke. I love getting involved in different things and when I do something I want to be the best I can be. What's the point of going to the effort to do training and not putting in 110%, if you don't go hard, go home and sit in front of TV. To stay motivated I just say to myself "get started" then your body takes over. I get better and feel stronger as the session goes longer, I always think at the start of the session it's not how I feel at the moment but how good I will feel when I finish. My motto in life is "Weakness has no place here". Every time I hurt that's what I say to myself. It doesn't take the pain away it just helps me work on forgetting about the pain. 

SW: Love it. It sounds like you've got the mental game down pat, it's just about putting it all together on race day. What's the most common bit of advice people are giving you going into your first race?

AB: Stay out of trouble in the swim, it can get crowded. And don't blow your legs on the bike. 

SW: Good advice. And remember to breath; that always helps. I also find that if I am starting to stress a bit at the start I think of all the hard work I've done up to that point. What hard work can you look back on, say when considering a typical week?

AB: My training week seems to be getting busier as I get fitter. Monday I run 8-12km before work, swim squad that night. Tuesday is my day off, Wednesday I bike in the morning and swim that night, Thursday is a run session in the morning, Friday I bike in the morning, Saturday I run in the afternoon, Sunday is a long bike and run. After Port Mac 70.3 I will reduce to 3-4 days a week only. 

SW: I'm a bit worn out just hearing about your week. Yeah, I found the challenge preparing for a half and full Ironman event is the time it takes each week to train. Especially to get the bike hours up. First things first though, how are you feeling about the race on Sunday?

AB: Feeling really good, I just want to see how well my training has been working for me. Looking forward to competing against other people, training is all about competing against yourself. 

SW: Yeah, it's a different kettle of fish putting it together in a race. It does help you to judge how your training is going in comparison to others. Speaking of judges, what do you think is tougher: having Matt Preston tasting your food or running off the bike?

AB: Running off the bike for sure. Getting fit and doing triathlons is one of only a few sports and activities in life where your performance is a true reflection of your effort. The clock and timer don't lie or cheat and your triathlon results aren't left up to judgement or opinion. The results are real and it's all up to you.

SW: I couldn't have said it better myself. You tend to find yourself out there, even though there are others around you, you tend to spend a bit of time in your own head. I see a lot of people who seem to be looking at their feet trying to find themselves on the run. As if their soul may be in one of the cracks on the sidewalk... Glazed over eyes, vacant stares... Probably not that motivating to mention that now before your first race. Sorry. So, your favourite session?

AB: Long runs, gives you time to think and some quiet time to yourself. 

SW: Cool. Least favourite?

AB: Getting started for a swim session. It takes a good 500m for Big Bad Bowza to get warmed up and feeling good into the stroke.

SW: What are you most worried about on Sunday?

AB: The swim. I'm 6'5" and 95 kg so I'm worried about swimming over someone smaller or accidentally punching someone with my round arm swim technique. You never know, it might help my result by taking out the competition. Laughs.

SW: I'm sure those 'smaller people' would much rather have your problems in the water. You're right, while it's not always pretty there is something to be said about wild arm swinging in the swim of a triathlon. It's one way to find your own square-meter, that's for sure. So, as someone who has had some great gains, and losses in the form of kilos gone, what advice do you have for someone thinking about getting into triathlons?

AB: Get involved, it's the new golf. It makes you feel great, you meet great people, and everyone is very supportive of newbies. 

SW: Maybe that's because they are hoping they'll get one up on you. Just kidding. Maybe the next thing will be Burberry triathlon suits.

AB: Burberry?

SW: Yeah, golf, triathlons, merged together... Anyway. Moving right along... If you could ask Alistair Brownlee one question, what would it be?

AB: How do you guys go so fast over the distances?

SW: Imagine if you could bottle whatever makes them go fast? It'd be worth a mint. It would probably smell funny though. Anyway, what are your goals for the season?

AB: To build my base fitness and have fun competing against other triathletes. 

SW: You'll get a chance to do just that at Raby Bay. Thanks for your time Bowza. I'm looking forward to hearing all the war-stories after the race. Hot tip: pay attention to where your bike is in transition and find a landmark, a tree, something. My first (and third) race was about 500m long because I was running up and down the rack looking for my bike. 

AB: Good idea. 

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