Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Race 6 - Raby Bay Derby Day

Race 6 of the QLD Gatorade Series had triathletes and supporters heading out to Raby Bay. With a fair amount of rain over the two days prior I wasn't sure what to expect from the weather gods - turns out we had sunshine and comfortable racing conditions for the most part which added to the upbeat atmosphere of the day. 

While my late wave start meant I had 2 hours to get through before jumping in the water it did give me an opportunity to watch the open guys and gals rip up the run course. Emma Jackson was there and she looked the goods; perfect timing for her with the Olympic selections coming up. On the male side guys like Jesse Featonby and Mitch Kealey were running the 4k's in around 12:20, which is about 3:05 min/k pace! 

 After a light jog warm up, some stretching to loosen up the shoulders and a gas-bag on the pontoon with some Reddoggies, it was time to jump in. 91 people in my wave made for a tight squeeze in the deep water start between the two buoys. I positioned myself at the front and saw the usual players bobbing around. When the horn went off the calm water around me turned into a white-wash filled with arms and legs and the first 50m or so was chaos. With Josh Santacaterina (Superfish), Christopher Mason and Shannon Johanson (Yo-Yo) blitzing us all I was left trying to minimize the impending time-deficit. The dreaded 'panic gremlin' crept in before the turnaround, which was frustrating because I was in a good rhythm. You'd think the time spent in the pool breathing out under water and in above water would have the whole process sorted! It left me taking some exaggerated strokes so I could turn my head further around to get some oxygen in. As I did it I could sense I was losing places as sky-blue caps cruised past me. 

I realised I was spending too much time 'in my head' worrying about all of this so refocused on thinking about one thing - long stroke and catch feeling the pressure on my hand and forearm. This seemed to work and coming around the turnaround back towards transition I started moving back up through the pack. 13th out of the water. Playing catch up again. Not an uncommon place to be this season, and at least I've had less time to regain than previous years. 

The bike course at Raby Bay keeps you pretty honest - heading out the the turnaround means making your way up a steady incline that is cheeky enough to burn into your legs (especially since you do it 3 times). Not feeling confident about my swim I set out to bridge the gap as quickly as possible. I know at Caloundra I set up my day with a strong bike leg so was hoping to do the same here. Easier said than done though, this time not picking up the top guys until the back half of lap 2. I had 'burnt a few matches' in the process and my legs were preparing their mutiny if I kept it up. 

With 1 lap to go I decided the cost of trying to drop the guys was too high for the few seconds I was likely to gain. If we were going to get off the bike together I wanted my legs to be as fresh as possible. So I kept the pace consistent without trying to melt my wheels off on the asphalt. In the end I had about 9 seconds on Brad Dalrymple (BD) and Ricardo Barbosa (the Portuguese Maestro) heading out of T2 onto the run (fastest bike split for our category).

It's was a new feeling knowing that the boys were hot on my heels. In the other races in the series whoever has gotten off the bike first has had a good 30 or so seconds on the chase pack. This time we were all together. Fitting really considering how close it has been all season. Time for some 'on the fly race strategy'! A glance over my shoulder confirmed my dread - BD and Ricardo were about 20m back and working a good chase. I locked in a steady pace that I was what I thought solid but not at my limit. If this was going to turn into a running race then make them work to catch me while conserving my energy (as best you can while running a hard 4k!). 

BD had sensed that my legs were about to fall off and had caught me by the first turnaround. He was looking strong so I just did my best caravan impersonation and locked on behind him. I remember thinking "This is awesome! Shoulder to shoulder with BD!" Don't get me wrong - it was hurting! But it felt like a real race and test of willpower. We stayed stride for stride for most of the run, swapping the lead but never really getting too far away from each other. 

Heading out onto the second lap and BD took the lead and seemed to put the pedal down. I was getting further and further into the 'hurt locker' and wasn't even game to grab a cup of water from the aid station to throw over my head for fear of being dropped. Almost at the last turnaround and I was starting to get that horrible lactic acid feeling in my stomach from the pace, and I was thinking "Nnnnooooooo!!!! If I feel like this now how am I going to handle a sprint finish? I already want to throw up!". I tried to block out all of these thoughts and just focus on sticking with BD. If I could just not think about it for another 3 minutes then it would all be over. 

I think at some point I envisaged a sprint finish over the last 20m and was so nervous about how that was going to feel that some strange logic in my head said "Get it over and done with - go now!". So with a few hundred meters to go I just went for it. I wasn't game to turnaround as BD had been running so strongly that I thought for sure he was ready to kick as well. I kept thinking that I had done 400m hard efforts at the track on Tuesday so surely I could do it here. As I turned the last corner with the finish in sight I snuck a peek around my shoulder and BD wasn't there - man what a great feeling! Over the finish line in first place, in what I think would be one of the most exciting races and battles I have been involved in (second fastest run split for our category).

Full credit to BD; he is a great competitor and without a doubt makes me push harder in these races than I think I would without him putting the pressure on. He is so consistent that I think he deserves the series leader jersey that he will most likely get after Race 7. Today's battle left us as the fastest two Age Group competitors on the day.

Top marks to USM Events again. The event was seamless from a competitors point of view. Also, thanks to Trent @ Reddog for getting the balance between Mooloolaba prep and 'taper' spot on; to ChainGang for a race-ready speed machine in the Argon E-114; to Nick from Endura for nutrition advice and Active Stride / Mizuno for their support this season. 

Special thanks to Scott Brockman (and Pete Ledwidge) for taking the time to snap some photos of the day - a boring blog without some happy snaps ;-)

Also, shout-out to my mum and Craig for making the time to come and check it all out - you guys brought me home over the last 2k!

Next stop, maybe Bribie in a few weeks and then Mooloolaba. 

Enjoy your training guys and gals and best of luck in your next race. 

'Muddy' Waters

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The pointy end - tastes a bit like banana bread.

Three quarters of the way through the triathlon-hogging month of February (a race every weekend) and you'd think that motivation levels would start to dwindle, the body would start to rebel and the bank balance would start to fade. Okay, so the last one is probably true as traveling to Falls Creek wasn't paid for with smiles (although Adam Young did try his luck a few times with the cyclist staying the floor above us, using his smile as his commodity). In terms of motivation though, three weeks into the month and I think the opposite is true: I can't get enough of it.

Apparently I'm not the only one if this morning's ride with some of the big-guns from Reddog Triathlon Training is anything to go by - a Samford to Sandgate loop from the Valley pool reminded me that some guys legs speak louder than words. Rolling hills were the order of the day and we got plenty of them to keep us all honest. Everyone seemed to keep smiling though; maybe they thought they could use their delirious grin to purchase big chunks of oxygen? 

It's funny when you stop and think about it all. Today we met at the pool at 0445, which meant I was up at 4am. No daylight outside. Eyes falling out of our heads until the caffeine kicks in. Then apparently trying to make our legs fall off by pushing them up over hills and along the flats at a pace that leaves your tongue lolling out of your mouth and the sense that not just your muscles but your bones are on fire. From the outside looking in some might think we had refused to disclose the whereabouts of the hidden gold and were thus being tortured in an attempt to make us talk. Yet a triathlete will grin from ear to ear and think that 100k before 8am is paradise. How can you not get caught up in this addictive lifestyle?

So 4 days out from Race 6 of the Gatorade Series at Raby Bay (another supersprint format over 400/15/4) and I'm getting ready to rumble. With Mooloolaba in a little less than 5 weeks I have logged some long aerobic kilometers since Falls Creek so right now I'm tired. Not out-all-night-dancing-on-tables tired but that 'I'm gonna sleep like a log and wake-up-in-the-same-position-I-laid-down-in' tired. I've got one more big session in the morning (a run off the bike that will give me enough time to listen to a couple of Hamish & Andy podcasts) then ease it off a bit leading into the weekend. A run with a few efforts on Friday morning, the same but on the bike on Saturday and BOOM. Showtime. 

It is the pointy end of the Gatorade series, with only 2 races to go. Time to put into practice all of the hard work you have logged over the past 6+ months (or 6 days if you've entered on a whim). Being so close to the end of the season I thought it's time to share my secret to racing. My 'Samson's hair' so to speak. Banana bread (best hairless though so don't let the analogy confuse you). 

Okay so maybe it's not the secret to racing, but who can resist good banana bread? After enjoying a homemade loaf at Falls Creek I thought I'd give it a go. Actually I've given it three goes because it is really easy and I can't get enough of it. I even took some in a zip-lock bag on a ride the other day. Now all I need is a thermos instead of a water bottle and I'll be set - coffee and cake on the go. 

Good luck to everyone on Sunday. Even though it's a shorter race Brisvegas has turned on the sauna this week so be sure to get some Endura hydration into you on Saturday. Also, after my escapades at Falls I suggest practicing hot tip #323: check your bike for any mechanical issues (ideally get a store like Chain Gang to do a pre-race tune-up). Ensure everything is tight that should be tight (still talking about the bike) and that you're breaks are not rubbing. 

See you there - if I have a big smile and you are working at the coffee van then it's possible I am trying to purchase a cup using my grin. If it doesn't work and I realize that it's turned into an awkward moment I will fish out some money from my wallet. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Falls Creek - Supersprint video

What a great touch to a well-run event - a free video of the day! Check out the classy mount and dismount... not! I had no faith that my numb feet would go where I wanted them to so slowed it right down. Better than falling off... right?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Falls Creek takes no prisoners!

The National Long Course Championships (2k/80k/20k) were held at Falls Creek on Saturday just passed. The journey itself began at 3:30am two days before that as I headed to the airport with Adz - never before has an airport coffee tasted so good! Onto a 2 hour flight to Melbourne, then we picked up the hire car (which was upgraded to an Audi A6 - BOOM!) and 6 hours later we rolled into Falls Creek. Granted Adz took me on the scenic route over Mt Hotham to show me one of the climbs he had done at a training week earlier in the year. 

Absolute madness is all I can say! As I stepped out of the car it was quickly apparent that this is a special part of the world. 360 degree views all around with mountainous ranges that reminded me of the canyons and wrinkles of a brain. A very big brain. 

We motivated ourselves to head out for a brief trot on the aquaduct trail to stretch out our legs. We quickly noticed a panting sound coming from both of us - odd, since we were moving at a very easy pace. Altitude anyone? Ha! Where's the oxygen? This was going to be fun. 

On Friday we took the bikes out over the course (a 3-lap course) to suss it all out and to make sure the bikes were alright after the flight. I'm glad we did as it gave me an opportunity to think about what gearing would be best for the various climbs - the toughest of which was just after the turnaround point coming back in. About 1500m of 'up'. Not a killer gradient but enough to hurt. Again, it was absolutely stunning scenery all around, like being on top of the world. 

The elevation profile from my Garmin post-race

Staying with 3 other guys who were all racing, the conversations almost always came back to this - geez it's going to be cold! The temp was sitting around 8-9 degrees with the same predicted for race day. 14C water. I ended up convincing myself that it was EXCITING to be racing in such conditions and that it would be my advantage to embrace it while others shuddered at the thought. It reminded me of something that Jonathan Brownlee had said...
"Thought I was cold cycling this evening...I then took a drink and realised my drink wasn't frozen...told myself to man up!"
Hats off to the Supersprint team that ran the event. With such quickly changing weather conditions they gave competitors regular updates and juggled the start time to fit the forecast (the race was pulled forward by 75 minutes to make the most of sunny conditions in the morning and to avoid the predicted afternoon storm). 

Surprisingly I had a great sleep the night before and was up at 5am to get some food into my belly. Then (for the first time ever) as we were so close to transition I went back to bed for another 40 minutes shut-eye! I must have been relaxed because I dosed off quickly and was able to jump out of bed feeling fresh at 6am. On the bikes and we rode the 2k's to transition. A good warm-up on a cold morning (6C) and smiles on our faces to see clear skies and the dull orange glow of the sun about to rise. 

Photo courtesy of Joe Gambles
A bit more care in transition than usual, given the plan to wear gloves, arm warmers and a vest on the bike. Then before I knew it the wetsuit was on and we were walking down to the lake. With no shoes on it didn't take long for our feet to go numb on the cold grass. Good thing I think as it meant the cold water had less impact! Having raced at Wivenhoe last year with water temps below 19C I had a bit of an idea of what to expect - a sudden shock to the system as my face met the water, gasps for air and panic. I decided to get this out of the way when the pros started (which gave me 3 minutes until my wave). After a forced few surges and an inconspicuous number one in the wetsuit, I figured there wasn't much more I could do to warm up. 

The swim felt like a balancing act for 30-odd minutes - I tried to relax into my stroke and think about technique, which worked for the most part. BUT it didn't take much to throw me off and have the cold-water panic try to sneak back in. Water kicked into my mouth, even someone brushing up against me, seemed to be enough to break the rhythm. It was like my brain was looking for reasons to get out of the cold! You can't blame it really, it is its job to keep me alive. In the end I think my brain gave up and conceded that I am just mad, as I started to relax and successfully sighted my way around the course. Up onto the shore and the focus was then on getting some blood into the ol' legs as I pounded my way up the rise and into transition. (34:49 - 11th). 

T1 was tough. I toweled myself off and spent what felt like 10 minutes getting my left arm warmer on - stupid numb fingers! "I want to get on the course - come on come on LETS GO!" 2:55 later and I was out the door and on the bike. It took me 500m to realise I had forgotten to put on my gloves. Duh! Lucky Di2 doesn't take much dexterity. The shoe toe covers from Chain Gang worked a treat and overall I'd have to say I was comfortable and not too cold on the bike (even when the clouds came over and blocked the sun after the first lap!).

The bike turnaround point at transition

I was ready to eat up the road (after I had stopped to put my right foot into my shoe - I couldn't feel my feet or fingers so had to really focus on the task!) and knocked out the first lap right on 46:30 (which would put me at 2hrs 20 mins for the bike - my goal). I was feeling good - the legs were burning but experience told me that I could sustain it for a while. On the second lap there was a nasty accident on the climb just after the turnaround coming back in. A cruel reminder to take it easy in parts as (most of us) aren't racing for sheep stations. I heard later on that Mitch Anderson (a pro) had stopped mid-race to offer his help (Mitch is a doctor). Such a kind-hearted gesture and he still managed 3rd (although the world is funny sometimes as that afternoon we saw he slam face-first into a glass window thinking it was a door - where is the good karma?). 

Just past halfway and heading up a rise I started to think 'something doesn't feel right'. Hmmmm... I pulled up with a bit more force on my handlebars and realised that they were SUPER loose. I could move them up-and-down and side-to-side without moving the front wheel. A nervous 40khr decent later and I made it to the on-course bike mechanic. He told me to thank my lucky stars that I hadn't come off (understatement of the year after having seen the accident not 10 minutes prior) and he began trying to fix the problem.  While the ZOOM's and WHIR's of the bike flying past was disheartening, there wasn't much I could do so I took the opportunity to use the portaloo, have a stretch and get an Endura gel into me. 12.5 minutes later (that's right) and I was thankful to be back out on the course. 

Lesson # 897 - when traveling and having to unpack your bike, ensure you double check everything after you have ridden the bike. Tighten the parts you have had to take apart, such as the seat post and handlebars.

I put everything I could into the last lap, trying to balance the effort to regain some time with keeping something in the tank for the run. I never considered stopping and thought at the very least I was knocking out some serious training at altitude! Also, who knows what has happened for everyone else - maybe they have had a flat tyre or nutrition problems. In the end I finished with a 2:34:48 ride (13th) and headed onto the run course feeling pretty flogged!

I set off at a crazy pace and was obviously delirious because when I thought "this is 20k not 5k mate" it was as if I was having the realization for the first time! Up the 500m grassy hill for the first time (2 lap course) and I got the pre-cramp cramp feeling in my quads. You know, the one that says keep going like this and my big brother is coming to beat you up. I eased back slightly and kept my head down rather than look up to see how long until I could stop running up hill. 

For almost 11k's I felt like I was trapped in the hurt locker and eventually through persistent efforts to break out of it (focus on technique, passing that next person, suck on a gel) I started to come good. Maybe it was the caffeine in the gel. Maybe it was knowing that I was over halfway. Maybe I was high on oxygen deprivation. Whatever happened, I found my form and managed to negative split the run. (1:26:51 4th fastest in my AG).

The sadistic team at Supersprint, however, decided to include an unexpected grassy climb that wound towards the finish line, and then away about 500m in the opposite direction! Talk about moving the goal posts! I almost squeezed out a little tear... Crossing the finish line was a great accomplishment on what was for me the toughest triathlon venue I have raced so far. 4:40:42 in the end, for 8th place. Without the bike issue I would have been 5th. Not that I'm dwelling on that ; )

"What? Where did this hill come from?"
Top honours go to Tim Reed who won the day - in orange budgy-smugglers!  

I recommend Falls Creek to anyone up for a challenge and for something different. Be warned though, in our house alone (4 people) we had 2 people not finish for various reasons. There were also quite a few people I spoke to afterwards who pulled out. It's a difficult event that takes no prisoners!

A few days on from the race and I have recovered really well. Two swims, a ride and a run in the bank already. Four weeks now of some aerobic work before we reattach the jets for Mooloolaba. 

Thanks to ChainGang Performance Bikes for their last minute help before I flew down there, to Reddog Triathlon Training for getting me to the start line ready to rumble and to Mizuno for giving me some good advice for the best shoes for that course.

A special thanks to Nick from Endura for helping me dial in the right nutrition plan. On a race where you need to keep the engine going for 4 - 6 hours, food is very important. I think we planned the build up perfectly and the day to a tee. Also thanks to Adz, Ken, Clint and Tonya for a fantastic weekend away. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Caloundra race report

Yesterday saw 1800+ competitors wake up early and head to Caloundra on the sunny coast for Race 5 of the Gatorade Series. Having spent the night with family on the coast I was able to get a bit of a sleep in (5am). A sleep in compared to what it would have been if I headed up from Brisvegas anyway. I think it made a difference as I woke up feeling much fresher than a few weeks ago for the race at Robina. I need to reflect on whatever I did / ate / etc this time around because my legs felt springy and energetic. I did have a beer with dinner the night before, something I don't normally do the night before a race... maybe that's the secret ;)

A relaxed drive down to the race with my wife keeping me company and a bit of Kanye West setting the scene ("n-n-now that that don't kill me ... can only make me stronger ... I need you to hurry up now ... cause I can't wait much longer" that's not dorky, right?) and before I knew it I was walking my bike to transition. The whole morning felt smooth - no cues for the check-in, straight into transition and a bit of space near the bike exit to rack my bike. Something that did bug me though was seeing 3 bikes taking up an entire section of the racking. Really guys? You know that it's going to be packed. Put your bikes closer together and give everyone a break. 

With an earlier wave start than last time it was only an hour or so of waiting around. I did get to see the Enticer wave starts and couldn't help but smile. All of the different ages, shapes, sizes; people who have had their own path of training and getting prepared for this particular moment. I think it's fantastic to see. 

Nutritionally it's always pretty basic for a shorter race. This time around I had an Endura Opti (chocolate) which pumps some carbs and protein into the machine. I tried this because my plan before Falls Creek next weekend (with nutrition playing a much more significant role) is to have an Opti in the morning before the race. So why not practice the plan in a smaller race. I then just sipped on an Endura sports drink until the race start. 

Something else I tried that was a little different today was a brief jog to warm up before the race. I remember reading once that a run before a triathlon doesn't make sense because you don't run until the end! So I have always limbered up my arms and swam some efforts to warm up. However, I read an article by Sam Hume (a killer Australian Age group triathlete) a few days ago and he indicated that one of the top 5 mistakes AG athletes make is not warming up properly. His suggestion was to do a short run, arm swings, gentle stretching and a swim with some efforts. So tick, tick, tick and tick for me pre-race : )

In the water I was starting to feel a bit nervous. I put in some limited breathing efforts (breathing every 4 or 5 strokes) as I have found in the past that this tends to force a bit of that anxiety out of the system. Better to push through the urge for shallow breathes here than in the first 100m of the race! I found my way to some 'friendly feet' at the start line and was actually mid-chat when the horn went off to start! Ooops! Those friendly feet I mentioned lasted about 5 seconds and then they were off. Damn these guys can swim! I tried to focus on keeping a long stroke, firm catch, relax into a rhythm. That seemed to last about 200m as we swam under the bridge. After that my arms felt like they wanted to fall off like a lizard's tail when they are scared by something trying to eat them. 

After being extremely disappointed with myself after the swim at Robina, however, I refused to give in mentally and kept pushing. To the first buoy. Then the second. Then around it and heading to the beach for the relief of land under my feet. I knew that if I could keep the gap as small as possible to the first few guys then I was in with a shot. As I looked up to sight the shore for the last time I could see a group of about 6 'yellow caps' scrambling up the shore. It looked like I was going to be within snapping distance, a thought that put a smile to my face (which was a bit dangerous considering I was still swimming!). I ended up getting out of the water in 12th place, 15 seconds back from the top 5 guys. It was on!

Me getting out of the water... ok so maybe not! Well done Courtney on your win in the Enduro event. Thanks USM Events for the picture.
A venue like Caloundra suits me - with quite a bit of running from the swim exit, to your bike, and then out onto the course I was able to eat up a lot of the difference before the bike even started. As I ran to my bike I could see Brad Dalrymple (BD) and Yo-Yo running to their bikes further ahead. I managed a nice quick transition this time around. After having to make 2 attempts at getting my helmet on at Robina, I had actually taken the time to practice my 'method' the day before the race - putting my helmet on and off a dozen times or so. It paid off, as I was able to get it on first go and head out towards the bike exit. As far as I could tell, there were maybe 5 or so people ahead of me. 

Across the mount line and onto the course and I was ready to hammer it. Feet in my shoes first go today (again, I had some user error problems at Robina that had encouraged me to return to the basics and practice during the week) and I was head-down bum-up. I caught a glimpse of my Garmin Edge 500 and was around 46-47khr heading away from transition. Woot woot! I have had two great sessions on the windtrainer this week that involved 5 minute efforts ABOVE race pace - this gave me huge amounts of confidence in the race to grind it out. I saw BD and his red helmet as I reached the turn around, maybe 50m ahead. I kept the effort up on the return back to transition and managed to breach the gap as we rounded the corner to head back out onto the second lap. 

Always a tough call to be 'the rabbit' rather than chasing the rabbit, as you are suddenly the one setting the pace. Brimming with confidence in my riding lately (consistent training works wonders both physically and mentally!), I decided to push past and go for it. I focused on not wasting a second on the course - picking my lines and trying to get through the roundabouts without having to hit the brakes. While there were a lot of bikes on the course, I found that most people were happy to move over a bit when I gave the 'rider on the right' call. The rest of the ride was spent staying mindful of the moment - focus on cadence, keeping the speed up, good lines, rather than drifting off in concentration by starting to think about the run or worse yet what I am going to have for breakfast afterwards!

I left it to the last minute to get my feet out of my shoes, still trying to soak up as many seconds by keeping the pace up for as long as I could. I literally hit the ground running when my feet touched the ground and used my hand on my bike to steady myself. While I was moving fast I was aware enough to settle my mind and focus on picking the right lane to get to my bike rack! I knew I hadn't walked it through from this side before the race so the last thing I wanted to do was head up the wrong space. Lucky I picked the right one and had a smooth transition again. Bodyglide in the heels of the shoes works a treat.

Caloundra provided a great venue to get a close-up view of how the pro's do it. Needless to say my transitions are nothing like these!
Out onto the run course with nothing between me and first place other than 4km of flat-out running. Easy, right? Haha! Who am I kidding. My legs were shot and I had a stack of stellar runners chasing! I think the battle was on as much with my mind and myself as it was with my body and the physical course. I was hurting. A lot. My mind wasn't falling for my strategies as easily or for as long as it usually does. Focus on technique - high hips ... slow down! Run tall ... you can go a bit easier! Quick leg turnover ... I can't keep going! Trying to convince myself that if I am hurting this much the others must be hurting as well - so what?!? I've got nothing left! Haha yeah the minds games were in full swing at Caloundra. 

I wasn't game to look over my shoulder and thought I'd wait until the 2k turnaround. As I spun back around I was relieved that BD wasn't on my heels. I started the count and got to about 15 seconds before we passed. That makes about 30 seconds lead. So for the next 2k I locked in about 3:25 pace and thought 'if you want to catch me mate you are going to have to run 3:10 pace - enjoy that!' (although that did mean I had to stick at 3:25 pace - a slight hurdle to get through). While I had done a few 2k repeats the weekend prior, NONE of them felt like they were anywhere near as long as this last 2k effort! Along the boardwalk and eventually I could see the crowd and finish area in the distance. I crossed the finish line, absolutely smashed and happy to flop into one of the plastic seats. The effort was worth it though, with 1st place in my hot little hands! 

I have the utmost respect for the guys I race against and was glad to get the win at Caloundra. After 5th at Robina it was nice to have a solid hit out. Also, with Falls Creek in less than a week it makes me think that training is going to plan. I can't show my appreciation enough for my family and friends and their support - my wife for giving up her Sunday (and sleep!), putting up with my triathlon-rabble, being there with a smile and letting me indulge in my hobby; my mum and her husband Craig for treating us to dinner (and post-race breaky!), putting us up for the night and cheering me on; my sister, her partner Jordan, and my niece and nephew for being the backbone of 'team whippet'; my other sister Holly and Tom for going to a daggy triathlon when they could be doing something cool; and to Darren, Jane and Kelly for making it a spectacular day! I never feel like there is enough time after the race to catch up. 

The two winners of the Enduro event - well done USM Events for making this a part of the day. Very spectator friendly and adds a bit of 'razzle dazzle' to the day (other than watching Yo-Yo race).
Thanks also to Reddog Triathlon Training, Chain Gang Performance Bikes, Active Stride, Mizuno and Endura for helping me out along the way with spectacular products, support and advice. Ok, so maybe not such a big thank-you to Trent @ Reddog for making me do a 12k run on Sunday afternoon after the race as a last bit of prep for Falls Creek. It sucked and I was knackered! 

Pre-afternoon run. You could say I was not really into it ;)
Well done to everyone who took part in the day, either racing, spectating, volunteering or marshalling. Without a doubt the Caloundra race is one of my favourites in the series (when it is not pouring cats-and-dogs like it has the past two years). See you at Raby Bay : )

For those who are curious, here is my pre-race tune for Caloundra... 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February - the goldmine for tri addicts.

With February officially kicking off a few days ago it is time to take stock of the next few weeks. Remember back in Winter '11 (ok, maybe Spring - Winter is for hibernating!) when you wished there was a race or two to get stuck into? Well, now is the time to drag out that enthusiasm and roll-up your sleeves to get ready for action. There is a race every weekend this month if you're keen. Starting with Caloundra tomorrow, then next week there is a Bribie event, the weekend after you've got Kingscliffe, and to finish it all off Race 6 of the Gatorade Series at Raby Bay. Sheesh!

So I'm staring down the barrel of 3 races in the next 4 weeks (Caloundra, Falls Creek and Raby Bay). Falls Creek is the wild card. Plotting out my season a few months ago I realised that I hadn't included any long course races (which are the ones I get the biggest kick out of). A bit of research later (and some back-and-forth conversations with a friend - "I'll do it if you do", "well I'll do it if YOU do" etc etc) and we entered Falls Creek. This year it doubles as both the Victorian and National Long Course Championships so here's hoping to a podium finish, if only so I can drop statements like "hey stranger, did you know I finished third at the National Long Course Championships?". Ha! 

With training being geared towards Falls (2k/80k/20k) it hasn't provided me with too much taper time for Caloundra. I remember at Robina a few weeks ago I was feeling the extra k's in the legs and missed that extra gear in the race. So this week while I have still logged in a few hours training I have made the extra effort to stretch daily and do all things recovery (yesterday after a brick session I got 3 bags of ice from the servo and made myself an ice-bath). I remember reading somewhere that Lance Armstrong said "he who recovers fastest wins" (referring to the Tour de France) and I can see merit in this. The quicker you can recover from a session, the more prepared and capable you are to make the next session count. Good sleep, good food, massage and stretching are all key. Funny how the knowledge of this doesn't always transfer into action! Here's some good advice in the mean time...

I'm ready to rock n roll tomorrow. My family live on the Sunny Coast so it is always nice to have a good race with them watching. A feed with them at the Tavern tonight (my only request was to have dinner early - something I try to do the night before every race) and then off to Caloundra in the morning. Reflecting back it has been a great solid week of training with each session being a quality one. I've hit my swim sessions, amongst my rides have had 2 days on the windtrainer with efforts over race pace (short but oh so painful!) and managed my 80% k's off the bike yesterday at 3:40/45 pace (only 4 of them). I'm feeling great, resting the legs now so I can floor myself for 40 - 45 minutes tomorrow morning ; )

Wake up, knock down an Up & Go a few hours before the race, sip on an Endura drink and then BOOM! We're off. The start of tri-month February. I'm beginning to think we all might look a bit like this at the end of the month.

Have a great race wherever you're going, good luck to the guys and gals at Gundi tomorrow. I'll be thinking of you when I'm done and dusted in under an hour, enjoying a coffee and banana pancakes.