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Lachies Q and A on his first Ironman

The journey

Why are you going long so early and at a young age? I thought you were
trying to get your run times down?

I suppose the decision to race Ironman now was one that was made around 4 months ago. If you had asked me if there was potential for me to be doing Ironman Melbourne whilst I was overseas racing last year, I most probably would have given you a flat ‘no.’ However, with the impeding return to university whereby I will be starting a new degree (minimum 5 years length), I felt that this summer was the perfect opportunity to do the training I believe required to race Ironman properly and get one under the belt before returning to study. I have always been an individual that thrives on volume based training so in terms of my running, I have found the simple increase in weekly mileage has already lead to some improvement and will provide a fantastic base for building my speed over the full 21km in the half-ironman distance run.

Can you give us a rough outline of your training plan? Structure, Distances etc, whatever you're happy to share?

As aforementioned, I tend to thrive on reasonably high volume training as compared to others of my age. Weekly mileage is, however, only one part of the picture. For myself, I have found that doing the key long/over-distance sessions has been the most imperative part of my training. In terms of weekly volume, it has been;
Swim: 18-22km
Ride: 550—670km
Run: 70-100km
This has been since approx. Mid December. I did, however, have a very easy week leading into Challenge Melbourne as well as 4 days off for Falls Festival over New Year’s (totally worth it I might add.)

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Why race Ironman Melbourne? Was it because you live there making it cheaper, or was it because you have the ability to train over parts of the course therefore getting a slight mental advantage, or was there other incentives such as family and friends being able to watch and help you through the day mentally ?

Melbourne, put simply, was the easy choice. Knowing the course like the back of my hand coupled with the amount of support I’m expecting to have from friends and family out on course made it a very easy decision. Also, being a local ‘Melbournite’ meant no shortage of training partners leading into the big day which has made the whole journey far easier.

What is your expected time and have you scoped out your competition? Who would you put money on?

It’s hard for me to put forward an expected time as I truly don’t know what to expect of myself over the distance. As many would be aware, Melbourne weather can be a cruel mistress as well so that will always be an unknown factor. I suppose 8.xx would have a nice ring to it though!

I’m not really sure which internationals are coming over yet but I’m assuming it will be less with a P4000 race in South Africa the following weekend. However, training with Luke Bell most days and doing plenty of training with Bella Luxford, I’d be pretty happy to have a sneaky few dollars on both if things go their way. I’ve heard that Robbo is flying too. Could be dangerous after seeing how fast he ran past me at Challenge Melbourne!

What's your number one concern pre-race?

I’ve had to stop for the toilet in 11 of my 15 half-ironman races. Out of the four I didn’t, I completely blew up and was walking in three and had a DNF in the other. Not a fantastic track record. I’ve recently sat down with one of my great friends, Steph Lowe (The Natural Nutritionist) to try and sort things out so hopefully I can implement her advice and avoid any lost time for what should be a preventable issue.
I suppose the other major concern is simply making it from Frankston to St Kilda…. It’s a bloody long way to run!

Is this a 'suck-it-and-see', or a conscious step into iron distance racing?

I’m 100% there to race. I’ve hit the targets I thought I needed to in order to do this thing properly. I would be naïve to think that I’m going to think I’m going to be super competitive in my first one, but I plan to go out and be involved in the race all the same. I can say, however, that I know my capabilities and that exceeding those early on could really effect my ability to make it to the finish line in one piece, hence I will be trying to avoid doing so.

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Reminds me a little of Luke Bell going long. I know you train with a few pro's in Melb, have you had words with anyone else that has done it as such a young age and what advice did they give, that you've taken on board?

I’ve been lucky to be helped out a lot by Luke Bell. He is not only one of my great mates but also a huge role model and mentor for myself. I’m still not sure that he is 100% behind the idea of me doing Melbourne but he has been so helpful over not only my build up to this race but just in the last 1-2 years in general. I hope that he can continue to play a part in showing me the ropes throughout my career. I also have the opportunity to train a fair bit with Bella Luxford (Luke, Bella and I often do our long rides and runs together. It always provides for an awesome time!). Although she joins me as an Ironman newbie at Melbourne, I have still been able to learn a lot from her through her experience in the sport. She also doesn’t hesitate to tell me to pull my head in when I’m pushing a few too many watts on the way to the Sorrento bakery during our Wednesday long rides!

I suppose the general consensus has been to ensure that I try and maintain/gain speed at this early stage of my career and also be diligent in avoiding injury/fatigue as they can very quickly derail one’s hopes and dreams. Hopefully I can continue to do that throughout the rest of this year.

Race fundamentals

Are you batshit scared like the rest of us were at our first? Or do you have a clear mind thinking whatever happens happens?

Yep, I am ‘batshit’ scared, I am batshit scared indeed. The thought of putting your body and mind through such a taxing event is one that is pretty hard to muster into a positive. In saying that, I’m ready to hurt and I know that there is not a whole lot more I could be doing or could have done. That in itself provides some solace.

What are your plans for pacing, do you have heart rate targets, wattages to hit, etc or does it all depend on race dynamic?

It’s nigh on impossible to say race dynamic won’t play a big role but I most certainly have some power targets on the bike and will be aiming to avoid surges too far above that pace. The smoother I can ride over the course, the better. I’ve never used heart rate and won’t be for the race. I also usually try to avoid looking at my pace on the run but rather run to feel. I suppose it will depend on how my race is progressing as to how much I look at the Garmin, the less the better in my opinion.

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If the swim gets shortened will you adjust your race plan for the swim?

Get out with the bunch? Try and make a break? Sit on feet and wait for the bike and attack at the 150km mark after holding the wheel legally of stronger riders?


My aim in the swim is always to get out with the bunch. I’m lucky to swim under the guidance of Buddy Portier at Melbourne Grammar School and I know that when I’m swimming well in his tough sets that I’m capable of being in that bunch without killing myself. Melbourne does seem to put forward a more select front bunch though, so as long as I’m in the mix somewhere I will be happy.

My race tactics will ultimately be made in the heat of battle as you can never cater for every possible situation, I will simply do what I think I’m capable of without destroying my chances of an overall successful race.

Nutrition can be a big issue for athletes when they step up to iron distance racing. What have you done to dial in your nutrition for race day? What will you be eating/drinking during the race?

Breakfast will be a bagel and something sweet with high calorie/carbs such as a brownie or whatnot.
I will be looking to get circa 90g of carbs an hour on board during the bike. I’ve been able to put together a new homemade gel mixture thanks to Steph Lowe which I will use for the back 2.5hr. The first 2hr will be on solids and Gatorade/water in order to try and settle the stomach after the swim and provide some substance on a day ultimately filled with a disgusting amount of sugar laden gels and liquids!
Post-race will most likely be a diabolical array of salty, artery clogging, goodness from the greasiest food vendors we can source in Melbourne..

Have you run a marathon and what was your time? What is your prediction for the day?

I haven’t done a marathon in a race sense per se. In saying that, I did decide to run the IM Melb course one Sunday morning, just because. Just jogged it to know I could run that far. Ended up getting through it in 2.56 or so..


Are you comfortable with your feed plan or a bit spooked?

I’m reasonably comfortable now. I would probably be more comfortable if there was a bakery selling banana bread and sausage rolls at the 100km mark of the bike and a 20min stop was compulsory…. Oh well, maybe that’s an idea to put forward to WTC next time they’re looking at changing some rules??

If given a penalty will you stop and take the punishment?

Yes. I plan to race fair and clean though, so hopefully I don’t participate in any activity that could warrant a penalty.

Do you change your bike and setup for IM distance?

On my old Slice, I was running 70mm setback and was very low at the front end. On my new 2015 Cannondale Slice we have brought my seat forward 40mm to be further placed over the cranks and moved the front end forward (via a 130mm -20deg Fizik stem) and up (thanks to a taller head tube and through the spacers on the ENVE SES aerobar).
All this essentially means is that I’ve hopefully flattened out a bit whilst concurrently opening up the hips which should aid in a better run off the bike. I’m very comfortable in this position for 180km and thus am very confident in maintaining my position for the full 180km.

Racing Pro

Can you change a flat or will you wait for a mechanic and a spare wheel?

I can change a flat on both tubulars and clinchers. It remains to be seen which setup I will race on as I’m still in the process of getting some advice from my sponsors as to what will be fastest.
If a mechanic happened to be there at the time though, I would definitely take the spare wheel!

What are the advantages of racing as a Pro, as opposed to racing as an Age Grouper?

In my circumstance, it provides me a fantastic opportunity to race against, and learn from, a multitude of athletes that I have looked up to (and still do). In terms of long course racing, I have been the youngest pro athlete in every race I’ve done so far which also means that in every race I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, it certainly pushes me to bring the best out in myself. There are also the other obvious advantages such as free/late entries, help with accommodation, meeting amazing people/families through homestays, and of course, prize money.

What's your thoughts on the new WTC Drafting Rules & Penalties? eg. No slipstreaming for Pro's?

I think having a universal rule set for all WTC races makes life a lot easier for everyone. Hopefully it reduces the amount of rule questioning that there seems to be at every pro briefing….
In essence, the rules seem like they will provide for a fair race and I think that ultimately that’s all we, as pros, could ask for.

Any regrets about not getting to experience the whirling dervish antics of a true iron distance mass start?

To be honest, no. Once you’ve raced in a Junior Elite (U19) mass start there’s nothing that could be much worse. Far too much testosterone.

Is this going to be the day our pro makes a name for himself?

Hopefully. More so, hopefully for all the right reasons!!

If your race doesn't go to plan and you're going to get a very slow time, will you still finish the race?

I’m going there to finish. I would never go into a race with the mindset that a DNF is on the cards. If things were to really hit the fan I have full faith and trust that my coach, Andy Sleeman from TriBal, would make the tough call and tell me to stop. He knows me as well as anyone and always has my health and wellbeing at the forefront of his mind. In any case, I can’t see this scenario arising and I am truly not even factoring it in right now.

After the race.

What criteria will you use to assess whether it has been a successful day / race (or not)? Also where does this event fit into your 5 year plan (I am guessing you have one)?

Throughout my time in triathlon I have come to learn that time is merely a number and there are so many uncontrollable factors that can influence it. Thus, my assessment criteria will revolve more around process goals such as swimming to my potential, nailing my wattage and nutrition on the bike, and running strong throughout the entire 42km.
After this Ironman, I plan to really focus on my half-ironman and Olympic distance racing. In terms of a 5 year plan, this is just a taste of what will hopefully be my ideal distance of racing in the future. I want to be racing in Kona in 2020. I think I can improve enough to do that and do that competitively.

Will you pass free beers from the VIP area at the after party to Tranny members?

As long as you scull them!

Is the beer mile the only reason you have gone long?

I haven’t thought too much about it to be honest! Can people actually make it a full mile after Ironman? Can I just substitute each 400 with an extra beer?

What will you be wearing to the beer mile?

Nothing? Or is that a little too euro?

What training have you done for the beer mile?

Few trips to the pub, probably not enough. Might have to start cramming some extra training in now..

 

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