Whilst last year myself, and many others in the field, had been training all through December in order to be ready for Ironman Melbourne this year had involved very little over the Christmas month in terms of training and much more in the eating and celebrating department! It was certainly a rude awakening jumping back into training on January 4th but the plan was to build into the year and hopefully be ready for the Sunshine Coast 70.3 World Championships, so a structured rest period will hopefully pay dividends as the year progresses. In saying all this, however, I think I was able to hit four fantastic weeks of training through January which consisted of quite high volume (35+hr a week) and a lot less intensity but again, the plan was not to be going fast by the end of January but rather to have built a good strong base to work off for the rest of the season, something which I can look back on and say I think I have done reasonably well.
(Photo Credit: Pat Legge from NRG Lab)
As race day dawned on Challenge Melbourne I thought there may be a slight chance we could get a repeat of last years ‘wet n wild’ conditions which would have played well into my favour but as it turned out we were greeted with a slight Northerly wind (meaning a flat bay) and a relatively nice temperature. After a quick warm up, a chat with some of the boys I haven’t seen in a while, and a 15 minute wait on the start line pretending to do some kind of ‘swing the arms’ warm up, it was finally time to get the first of many races in 2016 underway. Having seen Todd Skipworth swim away at a few races over the last couple of years I knew he would be the one to go and as per my fortune-teller like prediction, go he did. When I say he was gone, I mean he was gone, there was no chance of any of us getting on his feet. From there it was just a game of getting around the first buoy with the group and locking it into cruise control on the back of the big wake that the 6 people in front of me were so kindly creating.
(Photo Credit: Pat Legge from NRG Lab)
The run up from the beach at Brighton has never been one of my finest moments so it would suffice to say I was glad to get through T1 smoothly and out onto my home turf of the infamous Beach Road. Although I had done a lot of bike kilometres through January I knew they may still be lingering in the legs and also that I hadn’t done the top end work to push for extended periods of time up around threshold like I sometimes would. With Berkel, Griffin, Bittner and Rix in the bunch I knew that I would just have to follow the pace early and see where the legs were at. The first 45km was very topsy turvy with some easy sections and some surges before Tim Berkel got a flat and Per Bittner decided it was time to go. This was a decisive moment in the race and one where I knew that trying to bridge the 50m gap to Per and stay with him would potentially ruin my day off a limited prep. With that said, I was content to let it go and just focus on staying at a legal distance in the front three of the group whilst also getting to the front for a couple of turns to keep the pace up a bit and hopefully make the short course guys at the back at least have to work a little. Off the bike with two strong guys up the road and it was time to get down to business with a little trot.
The plan for the run was to just stay steady all day and get it done in an even split fashion. After watching some of the others run out of T2 at a far faster pace then I knew I could hold for the entirety of the run, I was left for a nice 21km long run along the Brighton foreshore and through some of the beach trails. Whilst on paper my run time seemed quite disappointing, I was running 3.50’s and less on the paved sections for the first ¾ of the run but seemed to lose a lot of time through the trail sections, something I should have been prepared for. In all honesty though it was a rather uneventful run and I was more than happy to cross the finish line in 6th place with a nice starting point for the year and with a big month under my belt. From here it is time to get far more specificity into the training with the aim of undertaking a good racing block from March-April and then repeating a similar process to be as fit as possible come September. The next race will be the Active Health Phillipines Tri United 1 race in Subic Bay before racing the Subic Bay 70.3 the following week.
Thank you to all those who continually support me on my journey in this sport, family, friends, Cam and of course my sponsors Jaggad, Hammer Nutrition, Cannondale Aus, ENVE Aus and the Monza Imports crew. I look forward to building on my 6th place and getting far more top 5’s, and hopefully even better, as the year moves on!