Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spokes they have their purpose!

That was an interesting morning. 
I joined the long course girls and boys for a ride over the 4 mountains...Mt Cootha, Mt Nebo, Mt Glorious and finally Mt Mee. I didn't get to Mt Mee but decided to have a go at Clear Mountain.

It was an enjoyable but personally a tough one, it is so frustrating having been so fit a number of months ago....

On the way back I decided that I would investigate the ride up to Clear Mountain. At the time is was a great idea but then I found this..... 

Then 500m down the road I found this one......

Then I got to the top and had this view....

Then on my way back down the first descent, it turned out that the stress on the wheel going up the 2 inclines was too much.....then I discovered this....broken spoke....hmmm

It was an eventful ride but it was good to get back into the saddle.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Race Report - Ironman Western Australia 2012

December 9, 2012, Busselton, Western Australia it's the SunSmart Ironman. This is the 6th IM I have competed in over the past 4 and a half years. Ironman triathlon is a character building sport and one that is to be treated with respect, in terms of both the training and the race. It is something that needs to be deeply considered before jumping in 'boots' and all. It requires a level of commitment in terms of time, money, and of course, possibly some experience in long course triathlon.

Someone once said, 'experience is everything' well yes, in Ironman triathlon I believe it is and as the experience grows and toolbox of IM knowledge becomes greater and more diverse it is such a valuable resource. Every race ,every course and the conditions on the day are always different and as you become more experienced you learn to draw on these experiences to get through the race and to be able to survive whatever this type of triathlon racing throws at you.

In the case of IM Western Australia, the preparation had been ideal, the course was one that should suit my type of racing, the only thing that was out of my hands, were the weather conditions on the day.........looks can be deceiving....

The Race - Sunday December 9, 2012
There was some movement of the trees from outside the house we were staying, it wasn't a sound I was particularly happy to hear, but what could I do? I had trained my butt off for this race and I had never given a bigger commitment to any other race before, a little breeze wasn't going to put me on the back foot so early on in the day (2.30am). It was strange, I usually can sleep quite well the night before a big race, this time round the sleep was not as sound. The 9 hours I had the night before was vitally important, a good nights sleep the night before the night of the big race is a must. There was no need for the 3.00am alarm, I was awake! 

One of the things that I have learnt over the years of Ironman training and racing is that planning (and attention to detail) is an important aspect of the race. In saying this, being flexible and to be able to work through things when they go wrong is another skill that needs to be developed as a part of Ironman triathlon. It doesn't always go to plan, in fact, you can just about be guaranteed that! Paying particular attention to the finer details helps in getting ready for the race and keeping the stress levels down on race day. I subscribe to the idea of The 6 P's...Precise, Planning and Preparation Provides Powerful Performances.....

There is always a guide for each IM I have raced and this race was no different. Not a 'plan' this year, it was all about visualising the race and the preparation leading up to it. I have more and more become a big advocate of the idea of visualisation. Putting down timetables/list etc. is a good start to visualising what is going to happen when, particularly in the time leading up to the race, for example race morning.

The nerves had begun to kick in, not normally this nervous leading into a race, but I guess I have put myself under a certain level of pressure to achieve certain goals at this race. In the back of the mind I knew I just need to do the best I could given the conditions on the day, all the hard work was done and it was time to get out there and race, not participate, but RACE......

Breakfast was consumed and the final little bit of prep was complete. There was a nervous sort of energy in the house this morning, it was a good feeling, plenty of encouragement and positive vibes. We all came with different stories, from DG and BH doing their first Ironman to KP doing her second to MG and myself with quite a number under our belts. 

Time to make our  way to the race precinct to put the final touches on the bike in transitions. 

The Swim
The slight 'breeze' roughed up the water a bit for the swim but nothing that was not manageable. What was more unexpected was the appearance of buoys placed along the course, but it was quickly ascertained that these would just be a 'guide'. The 2 important buoys being the blue ones about 1.9km out to sea, which were at the end of the jetty.

The pre-race routine was in full swing. The race face and focus had come over me. There were a few run through's in the local car park with a few motivation tunes coming along for further motivation and to get those competitive juices flowing.

The wet suit was applied onto the body with the assistance of a concoction of sunscreen, body glide and lanolin all vitally important in surviving the race. There was the occasional light hearted comment among a few of us but it was the calm before the storm.
5.30am race start 15min away, time to make a focused but realistic walk to the swim start to join the other 1500 athletes for the mass swim start.

There were a few good lucks, and, 'I'll see you out there' comments otherwise it was time to race. I positioned myself about the centre of the mass of red swim caps. I have found now that I don't mind the crash and bash of the swim start, nothing fires me up more than a kick in the goggle or slap in the side of the head. It brings the 'race agro' out in me for the rest of the race. Ultimately it's about finding feet to pull you along, working with similar ability swimmers to make the 3.8km swim a little easier and conserve as much energy as possible.

The swim is a fine balance, many athletes races have suffered by not getting the swim right. It needs to be considered that the swim is about a 10th of your day, there is still a lot of work to be done after getting out of the swim.  My goal for the swim was sub 1hr (58min if possible). The strategy for the swim was to not get too carried away in the start in burning up too much energy but still keeping a solid pace. Secondly it was choppy, not too bad in close to the shore but it need to be considered that once we got out further, the swell and chop will pick up and there would need to be some further energy reserves to maintain the same pace throughout this chop.

My navigation strategy was to head to the first white buoy (which was roughly the bend in the jetty) then to swim parallel to the jetty not getting too close as the sweep was pushing toward the jetty. Feet to feet, feet to feet, was important for the first half of the swim, however, as predicted the swell did get larger as we got towards the end of the jetty and it was harder to one; stay on peoples feet, two; navigate, and three; breath to the right. 
This is where bilateral breathing comes in handy. At times, when I did try and breath to the right I ended up with a gob full of sea water, much of the breathing was to the left going out and to the right coming back in.

After fighting some reasonable chop up to the end of the jetty (1.9km out to sea) it was time to turn and continue the fight back to shore. It was a fight that I had plenty of energy for. I was feeling good at the turn and now it was time to grit the teeth and push hard home, it was only a 1.9km swim, easy, I do this all the time. 
The navigation was easy, follow the jetty until the bend then navigate to the big tree behind the swim exit. I remember thinking at one stage, 'geeze this is a long jetty' having a chuckle to myself, then thinking again, well you've got this far time, harden up and push for home. The bend of the jetty came and went, the focus was on that great big bloody tree, there was some fatigue coming into the body, I pushed through, the bottom of the sea becoming a lot clearer, now being able to make out the sand ripples, the swim exit arch was now in sight, I could sniff the dry land. I really had no idea how the time was going, not important really, it was about racing my race and not being focused on the time/gadgets (hard to believe but yes). I took a stroke and the fingers trailed through the sand, it was time to stand up, I was feeling great and even better I didn't cramp at all in the swim (recollections of IM Melbourne, where it was a cramp fest)
Straight out of the water, through the showers pulling the wet suit down as far as possible without becoming a trip hazard. I looked at the time, I was wrapped, by my watch it was 58min! Right on target!


I don't usually find a need to add a T1 heading in my race blogs but this race does require it. 

I new things were going too well.....

Ran into T1, picked up my race bag....1227.....ran to the seats, the wet suit peeled right off, the transition was going so well until I grabbed the bike shoes out of the bag and realized they were far too small....#%@$#!! 
I had grabbed the wrong gear bag, somewhere in the swim, I had washed away the part of my brain where I was to remember my number was 1027. With the content of this 'other' bag half unpacked over the ground and no volunteers in sight I had to stuff every thing back into the bag then run back, find its place, put it back on the hook and then try and find 'MY' bag this time, the valuable seconds then minutes passing by. Finding my 1027 bag, got back to my seat where the wet suit was left and quickly transitioned to the bike, I was out again, a little frustrated, but you can't dwell on it. T1 time - 5m05s

The Bike
I was feeling fast......the swim had definitely lit that fire in the belly. I was here to race, there was a strategy for the bike. Time to give it a nudge.
I had 180 flat kilometers to conquer, however there was a touch of a breeze around the course, nothing of concern at this stage. 

A slightly new nutrition and hydration strategy for bike leg. Running all gels and a water/Gatorade hydration plan.

There were 3 x 60km laps to be completed, the legs were ready and raring to go!
Mounting the bike there were people everywhere, the crowds just adding to the adrenaline rush as I set out on the first lap of the bike. This crowd support was going to be an important part of the 2nd and 3rd laps. Psychologically, it is quite amazing, what effect the crowd support has on your performance throughout the race and for the majority of them, they wouldn't know you from a bar of soap.
Initially it was about just getting setup and comfortable on the bike, get a bit of fluid into me and wash some of that salt water taste out of the mouth. Then begin the nutrition (gel and no-doz). The first 10km were about turning over the legs in the small chain ring but this didn't last the 10km. It was no use mucking around with this small stuff, I had a race to ride. (in the back of mind thinking, this could come back to bite me in the butt!)
Going through the first lap, 60km (in about 1h38m) the legs were still cruising. Having completed the first lap, I now had a good idea of the conditions and potentially what they would be for the rest of the bike leg. There was a reasonable head wind on the parts of the course where we were riding away from the township but obviously getting a nice tailwind in the opposite direction. The road surface was beautiful! One of the best!

Going through 90km I remember looking down at my time and seeing 2hr 32m and thinking, had I gone out too hard, were the legs going to blow up over the next lap and a half. This was only a momentary thought, then deciding well if I had, it was too late now, I might as well keep pushing the legs to the limit. In saying this, the heart rate was fluctuating between 70-75% of my max heart rate, this was good, this was a part of the strategy, a good sign, a reassuring one!

Went through 120km (onto the last lap), the crowd was on my side. There was a little fatigue creeping in, but it just meant, mentally and physically I just had to harden up and get on with it. No one was going to listen! 

By this stage I had put away 10 Powerbar gels, the stomach was still coping, and with a further 5 to go before the end of the bike leg. That could be a whole different story. 
The temperature was rising out there on the bike course, the saving grace was that there was a fair bit of the bike course under tree cover, but still enough exposure to one, get burnt and two start to heat the body up. On this last lap, there was a little more focus on keeping cool, splashing a bit of water over the head and body to help keep everything manageable.

Heading back into town, it happened. The wind changed direction, bugger, oh well, just have to get on with it. It was hard work along the exposed road back into town, it was a matter of just tucking in and pushing home. The crowds were increasing as the end neared. This helped in finishing the ride off and to prepare for the 42.2km run ahead of me. Jumping off the bike, the legs were not written off but I new they had just helped me to a 5h13m bike leg, a PB for the bike leg.

Not much to say here, other than I remembered my race number!

The Run
The run; it was flat, the confidence way high, the legs were willing, the head was positive!
It was now pushing 35 degrees. There was nowhere to hide from the sun.
It was only 42.2 km, I new I could do this! I had been in some of the best run form of my life, but it is Ironman!

The IM WA Run Course
Out of transitions I was feeling good, through 1, 2, 3 km it was hot and travelling well.

It was all to go down hill very quickly, at 4km (the first circle in the pace chart below) the stomach was not good, there was some serious cramping. I was frustrated, I thought I'd got the nutrition thing right. Up to this point, there was little to no signs of this rearing its ugly head. There was a number of attempts to get going over the next 2km but things were just not happening, the stomach was not cooperating with the legs. Thanks has to LG who was running for me through this stage and was a constant source of encouragement. Even with the encouragement from LG and the crowd, the frustration was growing, there were some harsh words to myself, both in my head and aloud, maybe this would help the cause, or not. 

Time to think about this a bit more, I have now been racing non stop for a little under 7 hours and taking on a fair amount of fluid, yes, it was hot and the body was absorbing most of that fluid but not all. I wasn't feeling it, but the bladder must have been very full and there must have been a need get rid of some of that fluid (on the run). Possibly this could be adding to the stomach issue. This did help considerably, and I found myself going back to basics, one foot after the other, slowly building up the pace, but there was not a hope in hell I was going near another gel. 
Not to worry, it was just going to have to be a cola/water strategy for the rest of the run leg, something that I had though about but never pursued and went back to planning to go with gels for the 1st 20 km then changing to cola after that. It was now going to be cola for the rest of the run. 

The other change in strategy, was now going to be a aid station walk (30 steps)/run strategy (running between aid stations). The reasoning behind this change was; one it meant that I was able to hydrate properly and two was very hot and it allowed an opportunity to get some ice and stuff in anywhere I could to keep the core body temperature down. (these are the dips in the pace chart)

Even though I had a plan I was not caught up with changing the race strategy. If I was going to get, and keep going then it meant I need to adjust my race strategy, it was going to be cola all the way!

I was going again, feeling okay but not brilliant (as you would expect) but I was moving forward again. I was beginning to think that all was not lost. I was sticking to 30 step aid station walk, things were looking up. The stomach began to feel better but not to a point where I was willing to insert a gel into my mouth. 

I spoke too soon.....
At about 15km, (the second circle on the pace chart above) I went into a dark, dark place, in fact, if there was a colour darker than black, I was there. 
For the next 3km there was some soul searching, everything seemed to fall apart, not one part of the body wanted to cooperate. There was many cries of anguish (silently and aloud) but I was not going to let this beat me. I needed to draw on that experience, bring back some positivity into my thinking, the encouragement from my fellow TAQ athletes helped in the cause. I gritted my teeth, said to myself harden up, you didn't invest all that time and commitment to let a run course beat me. A slap on the thighs, a yell of 'come on' (well along those lines) and around the 18km I was moving again, one foot in front of the other, building up the pace. Soon I again was back on top of things. There was renewed focus, it was all about breaking it up, aid station to aid station, worrying about one segment at a time for the remaining 24km and keeping a positive mind set. The other thing that, whilst it may only sound little, but was effective in keeping me going for the rest of the run, was to exaggerate my arm movement while I ran. If I kept my arms swinging then they would also help the legs moving. Along with this, was a focus on my running posture, keeping nice and tall. It worked a treat and found myself building some momentum and my confidence building.

On the last lap, I looked down and saw the 38 km marker, 4 km to go, over the past 20 km I had turned things around, just had to bring it home strong. There was still some hope of breaking the 4 hr mark for the marathon. This has been the holy grail of my Ironman racing, as yet, I haven't managed to go under 4 hrs. Was it still possible? I'll give it my best shot! 

Coming up to the lap station I passed MT and DD who gave me some further encouragement to bring it home strong, taking the last band it was about 200m to the finish, the course snaking through the crowd then veering off where I would make my way to the finishing chute, a welcome sight, and a fantastic feeling. 

It was going to be another PB, a big one this time, 21 minutes but still didn't manage to go under 4hr for the run missing this mark by a measly 2min (4h01m57s) but still it was a PB for the run leg. I managed to negatively split the run, which I was happy with.

0 - 21.1km = 2h 03m
21.2 - 42.2 = 1h 58m

Made it. 
Officially 10 hr 22 min 11 secA PB in each of the 3 legs.

The Overall Result:

The Race Reflection
It was a tough day out, a rewarding day. To battle the elements all day and come away with a 21 min PB I have to be happy. I had a good day, Ironman is all about riding the ups and down and I would say this race would be my most successful yet, in terms of time, results and overall personal fulfillment.

In reflecting on race day, I guess I would make the following comments:
  • I don't think I could have had a better swim or bike leg.
  • There is some merit in exploring other nutritional strategies other than just a straight gel strategy. In saying this, I think it worked quite well but given the issues on the run, I think all those gels may have contributed to them.
  • The caffeine strategy work well up to the run.
  • The run is where I had the most disappointment. The holy grail was still not achieved (sub 4 hr marathon in an IM), only missing the mark by 2 minutes. I guess it could be achieved only if I had 'got a it together' a little better during those times on the run where things didn't go so well.
  • The cola strategy work well and I didn't seem to have any issue with this during that part of the run.
  • There was a definite need to think about applying sunscreen throughout the race. The sunburn was the thing that took the longest to recover from. 
  • Possibly need to re-think the use of the visor in some hot and sunny conditions. The head does get burnt too with not much hair up on top.
  • Not going with any compression gear this time worked well, there were no issues. However, they may have helped with sun protection.
  • Apart from my 'rookie' mistake in T1, there is still a need to improve my transition times. One thought that I picked up from the King of T1 & T2, BV is to put most, if not all the things for the bike, on the bike and not in the transition bag.
  • The speed fill aero-bottle was a good idea at the time but I found it frustrating managing the tube that you sucked on throughout the bike leg. 
  • When I think about it now, 4 weeks after the race, I don't think I'll do too much different. I did all I could with my training. It was a successful outcome for me. It wasn't the exact result that I was looking for, but the one thing you can't control in an Ironman, are the conditions on the day and this certainly was an influencing factor. In saying this I wouldn't say it was an excuse. I was just one piece of the puzzle that didn't fall into place.
  • Whilst this a very satisfying result, there is still room to improve and a need to break that 10 hr barrier.

The Speed Fill Tube
Sunburnt Head -
the problem with a visor

Key aspects of my preparation that contributed to my race success:
  • Consistency; getting out there on the training paddock.
  • Working to exactly what has been stipulated in my training program.
  • Recovery; means exactly that! It is vital!
  • Going with and trusting the heart. In other words working with heart rate does work, just need to be patient.
  • The head and my frame of mind was in the right place throughout my training. 
  • Who was I kidding, CORE is key!
  • Weight (getting to an ideal weight at 20 weeks). This was such a factor in being in the right frame of mind this campaign. I was training for training not for weight loss.
  • Planning and visualizing my race.
The Last Word.....

Ironman is not an easy road. It requires a commitment of time, money and focus that takes some toll on varying aspects of our lives. There has to be a level of understanding along with some give and take with you and your family throughout this time, 20 weeks, is a long time, its 5 months, that's nearly half a year. I would like to thank my wonderful wife for her love and understanding throughout this campaign. She has been a rock and someone that brings a realistic outlook (and very honest opinion) on what I'm doing and what I am trying to achieve. Thank you!

Secondly, Coach. This is our 6th Ironman together and as an athlete I think I am going from strength to strength. I think there is some merit in sticking with the same coach for a period of time, during which it allows the coach and athlete to evolve. Thanks Mark, for your time and effort. It is much appreciated!

Lastly, I would have to say this has been one of the most enjoyable campaigns. The Tri-Alliance (QLD) group that has been on this journey with me has been one of best groups of people I have trained with over the years. Thank you. 

Thanks to Mike Zink for the fantastic photos!

On the Horizon....#7 (June 9, 2013)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday's Morning Long Distance Swim Session

Session Objectives:
  • To improve overall strength endurance whilst including some intensity.
Warm Up
200m Pull then 200m Free

Main Set
6 x 400m (all on 7m10s)
#1 – 400m Pull/Paddle
#2 – 300m Pull/Paddle then 100m Free
#3 – 200m Pull/Paddle then 200m Free
#4 – 200m Pull/Paddle then 200m Free
#5 – 100m Pull/Paddle then 300m Free
#6 – 400m Free

Warm Down
2 x 100m (25m Back/75m Swim)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday's Morning Long Distance Swim Session

Session Objectives:
  • To improve the athletes catch part of the stroke. (improve the 'feel' for the water)
  • To ensure the form of the stroke/drill in maintained over an extended distance. 
  • To condition the athlete and improve overall strength in the swim.
Warm Up
400m Pull (25 breathing every 3/25m every 5)
Main Set
15 x 150m (with pull) on 3m00s


#1 – 25m Scull/125m Swim
#2 – 50m Scull/100m Swim
#3 – 75m Scull/75m Swim
#4 – 100m Scull/50m Swim
#5 – 125m Scull/25m Scull
Repeat 3 times = Total 15 x 150m - Starting @ #1 each time

Warm Down
5 x 50m (25m Back/25m Swim)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday's Morning Long Distance Swim Session

Session Objectives

  • To increase the resistance (loading the stroke up) for an extended period of time (400m/500m)

Warm Up

8 x 50m (25m Free/25m Catchup)

Main Set
# 1 – 100m with Band (on 1m30s)
# 2 – 200m with Band & Paddle (on 3m10s)
# 3 – 300m Free (on 5m00s)
#4 – 400m with Band & Pull (on 6m30s)
#5 – 500m with Band, Pull & Paddle (on 8m30s)
#6 – 400m with Band & Pull (on 6m30s)
#7 – 300m Free (on 5m00s)
#8 – 200m with Band & Paddle (on 3m10s)
#9 – 100m with Band (on 1m30s)

Warm Down
100m (Form)

TOTAL: 2900m

Friday, August 31, 2012

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Yeppoon 2012

It is time to make a return to Yeppoon. The last visit was one to forget. It was a race where I had a 'personal worst' time (6h24m in 2009). I was determined not to have a repeat performance. Surely not, given my recent commitment and consistency to training. 

I reflected on this race the last time and there wasn't anything pleasant about it, if fact it was just so disheartening. I knew only a catastrophic bike mechanical would prevent me from at least achieving this goal. 

This is one of the most picturesque course but looks can be deceiving. It is describe as: 

The course will start with the unique, in-shore, open water swim in the Pacific Ocean, followed by a multi-lap cycle course that takes in stunning coast lines, resort roadways under palm trees and the roads of the host town, Yeppoon. The day concludes with 21 km of running through resort grounds and golf courses, ending at the one-of-a-kind finish Line at the Resort pools.
Currently I am on a journey towards my 2nd IM this year. IM Western Australia on December 9 later this year is where I am headed. This race is one that will give me a good indication where I am at 16 weeks out from IM Western Australia. Up to this point, I have been training consistently for 8 weeks and have been achieving some good results throughout this time. This race will provide some good feedback in all three disciplines to provide direction for the next 15 weeks. 

The Yeppoon course is what  I would label as a 'demanding', and it provides good, honest feedback on ones performance. Specifically a good guide on ones discipline specific strength, even though the course is relatively flat, it has enough other limiters (road surface, wind, running surface etc.) to give that guide for an athlete.

Coming into this weekend, I had raced over the previously 2 weekends and this was the final race of a 3 week race block. There again was a relaxed preparation coming into this race, like the previous 2 weekends of racing. Why change a successful formula....

I arrived in Yeppoon on the Friday evening and it was straight to the accommodation to drop the gear off and meet up with my fellow Tri-Alliance QLD athletes. It's always good to get settled and get the bike back together. This is always a stressful aspect of racing away from home. The bike was together and it was time to get a feed. Down to the local tavern for a steak and salad, and even a beer. Yes, this is something that is new to the training and race preparation regime. In previous campaigns alcohol had been banned, but this time round it is allowed, in moderation and from all evidence to date it hasn't been an issue.

Saturday was a busy day. There was a little bit of a sleep in, which one of my fellow house mates did struggle with, but it was good to have that extra bit of recovery time in bed.

We were up and then headed across the road for a 15min dip in the ocean. There wasn't much enthusiasm to do this, but we did after much procrastination get in...and it was VERY refreshing even with the wet-suits. The 15min swim/bike/run did not include quick transitions, T1 was back to the unit to get changed and head out on a easy 15min ride heading north back into Yeppoon. The good thing out of this was that the bike was working mechanically and the legs were turning over well. By this time, the stomach was very much looking forward to breakfast.
Out for an easy 15min run, by this time (9.00am ish), it was getting quite warm, no winter gear required and was a good guide as to what to expect for the race.
The last training session before the race was complete and the body was feeling ready and raring to go and VERY relaxed.

Breakfast was a along the foreshore in Yeppoon and it was very relaxed and we all had a great feed and even more laughs. Great company!

The rest of the day was registering and making some inquiries as to purchasing a new wet-suit. The current wet-suit has served it purpose for a good 6 years and is now ready to be retired. I have been struggling with the whole idea that one should not really use something new in a race. Normally this would be a big issue for me but given my relaxed nature of late I didn't have a big concern over racing with an untested piece of gear. There were some other thoughts that came into making a decision. The first was, that there was good deal on offer for the Rocket Science Sports wet-suits for TAQ athletes until the end of August and the second being that the nature of the wet-suit design gave me some comfort that I would not have issues with the suit throughout the race. (chaffing round the neck etc.) 

One of the other new ideas that I have embraced in preparing for a race is that the carbo-loading happens late afternoon rather than in the evening. Over my racing experienced I personally found if I have the carb meal too late in the evening I still find I am feeling bloated race morning. It was a 4pm dinner with a light meal at about 7-7:30pm, final gear prep and then off to bed at 9pm.

Race Day
The Race day 5.40am bikes packed into the back of the Hilux and off to the race precinct.

The atmosphere at the Resort where transition is and the finish is rather laid back and with the racks numbered there is no big rush to get into transitions.

Once settled into transition it was the now the 'warm up' walk to the swim start. A 1.7km walk down the beach to where we start the swim.

The Male 40-44 wave was off at 8.30am which compared to normal start was quite late. (for a 70.3 anyway) The seas were a bit on the choppy side and the was a sweep going with us so conditions kind of even themselves out, from the beach.

It wasn't until this point I decided on any timing expectation for the race. The plan was something along these lines:

30min swim
2hr 30min bike
1hr 40min run
+ transition times

So around the 4hr 45min total time.....give or take.

It was really just about going as hard as I could and to achieve another PB (which was previously 4h50min)

The other change in race routine, was changing the visible data on the Garmin watch and bike computer to only show Time and distance. There was no HR and no pace or speed. This race was all about racing on feel. Something that I am not comfortable with doing at all, but its time to give away the reliance on the gadgetry and get serious about racing.

Swim Leg:
The gun went off at 8.30am and all 100 odd male 40-44 were off into the choppy seas off the coast of Yeppoon. Initially it was tough going, between trying to get through the shore break and the other athletes arms and legs it was just about getting to the first buoy without expelling too much energy.
Turning parallel to the coast I soon realized it was going to be a bit of a challenge sighting the buoys for the next 1500m. The seas were choppier than first recognized from the beach and trying to go in a straight line was being hampered by the sweep, the chop and the difficulty in sighting the buoys easily. To add to this was the plague of jelly fish we encountered throughout the swim leg. 
Throughout the swim leg I was doing a lot of swimming on my own which wasn't apart of the plan but as we were so spread out it was hard to find someone toes to sit on and the chop wasn't especially helpful on allow to stay on the toes of another swimmer.
The wet suit didn't cause any havoc throughout the swim, however, it still needs a little more swimming in to get the body use to the style and design of the fit. More than 4 laps of a 10m pool in the apartment complex.
The final buoy was approaching and I found myself pushing a little harder to ensure I was going to get out of the water around that 30min mark.

The T1 was in a time of 2m34s. The challenge here in T1 is run through the soft sand of the dunes to get from the beach to transitions and I guess the other thing here was my inexperience with the new wet-suit....just getting the thing off. In say this the goal all along in T1 was to set myself up for the ride and run in T1 (in terms of putting socks on etc.).

Bike Leg:
5 laps of a 18km course of mainly granular bitumen.
The goal for the bike was to be around 2h30min.

The conditions were relatively good with a touch of a head wind heading towards the Caravan Park turnaround.

The strategy for the bike leg was to work on feel. To put out a consistent, solid effort throughout the 90km. There was nothing to loose but there could be in the 21km run to follow. There was need to temper the effort a little throughout the bike but I was determined to hit that 2h30m. The only other consideration in the back of my mind was the affect of rough road (if any) would have on the level of 'freshness' of the legs after the 90km on the bike. To counteract that thought I knew within my training I was feeling strong on the bike....only time will tell on this one.

The nutritional strategy was simple. It was about using a tested and tried formula. A gel on the 20 & 40 of the hour and then a banana on the top of the hour. The hydration strategy aligns with this, drinking at each of these nutritional points. The bike setup (with bottles) was one that there was no need to rely on the bike aid stations, I was totally self sufficient.
The first couple of laps were comfortable and it wasn't until about 70km when I began to feel some fatigue in the legs. In fact the arms were feeling more fatigue from the constant vibration through the bike from the road surface.
I was comfortable and maintained a consistent speed and effort throughout the 90km. It did drop off gradually over the 90km but nothing to be disappointed with. Over the 90km there was only 1km/hr (average) difference from the 1st official split to the last.

Finishing the last lap and going through to the transition area I was quite pleased, it was right on target, the 2h30m goal for the bike leg with the legs feeling in relatively good shape. The body was feeling good in terms of energy levels for the run.

It was in and with the helmet, on with the visor and race number belt with gels in the holders. T1 time = 0m57s No stuffing round here!

Run Leg:
I have completed 12 Half Ironman race before this race and I would have to say that until now I have not been completely happy with a run leg....was this going to be my break through race or will it all fall in a heap again.
My confidence was high coming off the bike and I knew over the past month or so I had been running well and strong. The Yeppoon 70.3 run course is not your run of the mill course. It is 3 x 7km loops but much of the loop you could describe as being of cross country type terrain which include a fair bit of that being made up of sand. In contrast to this, you had the bitumen and the picturesque run across the resort pool bridges. It's a course, whilst challenging, one I enjoy.
Out of transition it was about just getting the legs running! This would take me out to about the main road before the legs were working in harmony with each other, the rest of my body and I was feeling comfortable. This was run was to be all about feel, there was no pace or HR to reference it was about perceived effort and the way I feel over the next 20km. This initial 1km section of the course (to the main road) would become and important aspect of my run strategy over the next 2 laps. Once out onto the main road it was maintaining good form and a realistic pace. 
There was a different strategy around the nutrition for the run. The plan was to use only gels as a means of nutrition for the whole race and support this with water at the aid stations. For this race....the coke was only going to be used 'in case of emergency'. (and there was no need in the end) There was an aid station at about 3.5km, 11km & 18km this was when the nutrition and hydration 'magic' happened. Apart from using the water to cool the body there was no need to use any other aid station. 
I broke the loops up into parts, the 1st km was all about reflecting on the situation and regrouping/recovering, the next 2 km of running on the bitumen was about establishing a solid pace and form, then the run over the cross country part (about 4km - including the run through the resort pools) of the course was to maintain a consistent pace and push a little harder depending on how I was feeling. This part of the course is one which was a strength which I used to my advantage. I found a bit of a spring in my stride going through the bush/cross country part of the course, it was a type of running I enjoyed, it lifted my spirits and I found it easier to push a little harder and endure the increasing fatigue in my legs. To go with this it was a little cooler running under the cover of the trees, but then there was the added challenge of running on sand and uneven terrain.

In reflecting on the stats after the race I was so happy, the pacing throughout the race was consistent and I actually survived a race where I had no reference to gadgets.....(HR and/or pace) I have turned a new page.....
Throughout the run leg I felt good. There was not walking through aid stations, in fact there was not thought of walking at any time. I was wrapped with the run time this was a huge PB for the run, around 10min. Finally some joy with my running in a Half Ironman.

Overall Time:

This was a big PB, a 9min one! 
 I knew I had pushed hard, the legs had nothing more to offer coming across that finishing line and body was showing signs that it had been pushed. It was great to jump into that freezing cold pool!
I was happy,  it took 3 races for a performance to write home about. What made it even sweeter was that I finished with a 10th place in my age group....another first!