Training for me started on the 1st December and consisted of a solid base build. Coach Matt Koorey had instilled in me the importance of a strong Aerobic engine as a platform for a good performance. Coming from a sprint background I learnt some valuable lessons in Cairns last year regarding this type of training and took it way too lightly resulting in constant injuries. My main focus this time round was consistency and with a different training approach, a major change of diet and a loss of 12kg(HFLC but I won’t bang on about it )this resulted in only 4 missed sessions in 5 months, something that I’m quite proud of.
My 12wk program started in the second week of February and I was feeling quite strong leading into it with no niggles to date. My program was quite simple in the fact it was solely based around building on the platform I’d set then fine tuning late, I did however increase the volume up from Cairns to 18hrs/pw. The big difference was that every session had a purpose and I had a better understanding of it. I’m a bit of a numbers man and that can sometimes be my downfall but I do believe it helped me keep on track and stay focussed on the end result. This time round I trained a lot indoors on both the Kickr and treadmill for a couple of reasons, to reduce the risk of injury and the feeling of being close to family if needed. These tools for me are great as they make you hit those targets without the interference or distraction of the elements or others.
I put this training to test at Tweed Enduro as almost an indicator of improvement and to see where my flaws were. For me Tweed was a success in that I was able to run under 1:40 for the first time finishing strong and relatively fresh. But I believed my bike could still do with some work, one thing that came out of it was that my FTP was obviously too low so that was adjusted and would go a long way in assisting my bike strength.
Port the lead up:
Taper this time round was more about reducing volume and intensity slightly but I still was averaging around 12+ hrs a week for the final 2 weeks. Arriving at port on the Friday this was to be a quick trip leaving on the Monday, family in tow and as those with young ones can attest trying to find some quiet time is difficult so I just made do with what time I had.
Setup for Port is a crap load easier than Cairns and a lot less stressful especially as we were staying at the Sundowner Caravan park so everything was within walking distance.
Race morning and fuelling prior was one thing I wasn’t sure about as all my training I had done fasted so basically only had an ‘up n go’ then as usual I was one of the first in transition all done and dusted in 30min and back at the park to relax as best as.
I made sure this time round that I was within the first 50 in the under 60’ group as I got caught out in Cairns having to fight my way through slower swimmers. I was super nervous this time round maybe because of the expectations I set on myself but once they started filing us through it settled. I had made a plan to hold feet until the weir then go about finding my own water, over the weir and returning I found myself in the lead of the pack I was following and managed to stay in front until transition looking down at my watch to see a sub 53 so I was happy with that.
I suck at these things…. Trying to get the wettie off my feet I required assistance then calf cramps putting socks on made for a relatively slow 3min time.
This was going to be interesting as I had changed my training up significantly since Cairns opting for a more race specific approach. Training had me looking at averaging around 200 watts or just under. I made a conscientious effort not to attack the hills and to really reserve myself on them. Weather conditions on the first lap seemed fine with only light variable winds and I found myself coming back into port on around a 2.36 and 208w but I assumed this was due to the amount of hills so didn’t get too concerned. It wasn’t until I hit the flat out towards Lake Cathie that the southerly and rain came up and I almost instantly went from holding around 200 to 140ish. I knew something wasn’t right but my nutrition was bang on.
This was me in my dark place all the way to the turn around, all I could do was try and stay as aero as possible and grind through it whilst watching everyone sail on past. I got what I would call a second wind at around Lake Cathie and just went about managing what effort I had to get me home. The weather was horrendous probably worse than Cairns and with the amount of water on the road it was difficult to see any potholes so the body copped a bashing. Coming into transition I was quite devastated to see I was well off my target time and any thoughts of a sub 10 were gone. My family watching can attest to that ;-)
Same again, cramping putting socks on and another 3min effort. Off on the run and my demeanour almost instantly changed as I was excited to see what I could achieve with a different approach to training. My HR was relatively low due to the lack of power on bike I guess so it meant I could go about my plan rather than being in survival mode. Running past the family up the hill they asked how I was going and I happily said thank Christ I’m now running. The plan was to try and av 5’s for the first 2 laps and reassess. At this point it was pissing down and made for some difficulty running through the many grass areas which were now quite slippery under foot. For 3 laps I had Matt reassuring me that my form was looking good and to just continue tapping it out and not pull the trigger too early.
Lap 3 on the way out to Settlement was the first time I decided that I should increase the pace and did so bringing it just under 5’s. I had another couple of athletes running similar pace so that helped. Knowing my day hadn’t quite gone to plan I decided to just enjoy the run and on the way out to Settlement turn for the last time I finally looked at my watch to see where I was as. 9.42 with a little over 4k’s to go. I thought f*#k it I’ll have a crack, dropping the pace from around 4.45 to 4.30’s then 4.20’s mowing down loads but also getting caught up in the traffic due to the wet conditions.
Into the finish chute trying to find my family to no avail so I just went about taking it all in, that and the fact Mike calling me across the line. Yet again I didn’t look up to see my time until after I crossed and checked my watch. Run time 3.30 and overall 10.03!
I always wondered whether I’d get the same satisfaction after finishing another IM and the answer is yes just from a different angle.
The usual difficulties with juggling family/work/training was still there but I had a better understanding on how to approach it this time round. I made a promise to my wife that I would give it a break after this one and at this point I’m sticking to it lol. My time now is to be dedicated to these two munckins.