Every day, every hour, every minute..
One of the hardest yet most valuable traits has to be the ability to view every doubtful dispensation, as replete with latent good. It’s a technique that allows some to venture further than others when you stumble on one of the many certain obstacles you’ll face in trying to achieve anything. The bigger the goal, the more obstacles, and the more important it is to have this ability or quickly attain it. This is true for everyday of the year though, and not just when one year falls into another. A lot of us seem to need a new year to wipe the slate clean and forget about a year or event that prior December 31st, we’d allowed nothing but to consume our every effort. Easier said than done, but allow your every day, hour and minute the opportunity to be that new start, to re-focus, and continue the chase with that unequivocal gusto.
Whilst last year had its success in claiming a 70.3 title, it was a constant fight against luck and challenges that left me physically, spiritually and emotionally beaten. This is one of the few times my stubbornness has procured more than a fight about what colour the blue car was, or being sent to the dog house. The last two races of my year pretty much summed up 2011 after I was disqualified at 70.3 Shepparton for course violation whilst following the lead cyclist car and only made aware after crossing the line in 2nd. Then becoming a spectator at 70.3 Canberra after a mechanical failure early on into the bike. Even coming off my first 70.3 title at Yeppoon, it’s easy to let minor setbacks like these frustrate and determine your direction. It’s these times when it’s vital to have this ability to think rationally, see the big picture, and put a positive spin on things!
After a couple of weeks play over Christmas the body was ready to get back to business. However, I’d struggled mentally putting the disappointments of my season behind me and it’d left this white boy a bit lost. Motivation was sporadic, as too was my dedication, and I needed a good kick in the butt to get things back on track. This instigated a short phone call to Gilesy of Aeromax coaching and I remember thinking to myself after hanging up the phone, there’s no way this guy will want to coach me with the mess I had myself in. The only thing audible he could of taken from our conversation was that I’m in a quandary and needed his help. Gilesy really made me aware how simple things can, and should be, and the importance of having someone to analyse your progress objectively. The simple of it was that the potential and results were there, I just needed to simplify things and chop wood, carry water for a while.
Less than a weeks training and he had me lining up at Robina for my first race of 2012. Partly by choice, party due to injury and a run of bad luck, I didn’t race anywhere near enough in 2011. This is something I’ve certainly done differently this year and learnt the importance to leave the ego at home and race early in the year when your fitness levels are low. It helps gauge form and provide feedback for training whilst building confidence and race fitness, which is often hard to replicate in training. Never having been a sprint distance specialist, a 10th place wasn’t to be ashamed of and was a great way to kick start the year. Only a week on and I was warming up in the Shoalhaven River for a local race of mine, the Nowra Olympic distance triathlon. Slow off the get go, I missed the starting gun by about 50m and had my own work cut out to put enough road between renowned runner Dave Mainwaring and myself. However, with the added excitement and advantage of riding my new Specialized Shiv, I managed to regain the minute deficit lost in the swim and started the run with a three-minute buffer. By the time we crossed the finish line, it was yours truly who managed to just hold out for the win by some 15 seconds and a giant slobber. It wasn’t by any means my most flattering of finishing photos with some form of bodily slime pouring out of my mouth. I’ve sacrificed my dignity for your amusement only by reliving the moment with the attached picture in the gallery below.
From one high to the next, I went on to claim an elusive win at the iconic Hell Of The West triathlon in Goondiwindi. Raced in very similar style, it was on the bike that a handy two-minute lead was established over Tim Berkel and the rest of the field, which proved enough to hold off the fleet footed Berks. Coach Gilesy preaches about being/racing in the ‘moment’ and it’s a mindset he’s instilled in all his athletes. This was the first time I’ve managed to really connect with the present moment and totally understood the power of the mind when at peace with it. I’ve always been very focused on the outcome when racing and it becomes self-defeating when things aren’t going to plan. Being present when racing will allow you to perform every moment with clarity and at it’s potential best, and has the benefit that your day seems to go very quickly. Rather than thinking about how much you’re hurting and there’s 20km to run, think more of perfecting your form, tactics and nutrition at that given moment. Accept that everyone’s hurting equally out there and it’s who can become at peace with the hurt that has the power to break self imposed limitations we attach to ourselves, and rise above anything. I will always remember this feeling in the west and is something I’ll hold onto and use when racing in the future.
Coming off two solid wins, confidence was healthy and the next two races of my season at Huskisson Long Course and 70.3 Singapore were perfect examples how important it is to have this ability to take the good with the bad. Unfortunately, I was forced to withdraw in Huskisson due to a puncture whilst already having served a five-minute penalty for blocking. Despite having no impact on the overall outcome, I still get frustrated about this infringement for blocking whilst trying to be the aggressor on the bike, when all the while the majority of the front pack were blatantly drafting. It was just one of those days. Anyway, moving onto 70.3 Singapore and I’d successfully exercised this ability to manage disappointment and prepare both physically and mentally better than I’d done anytime before. Racing in the Asian heat (36 and 100% humidity) was a new experience for me, but I’d done most of my long brick sessions in the heat of the day on the Gold Coast and was confident of doing justice to my number one ranking.
It’s always provoked much thought that if I was to sit in the group on the bike, how much energy could it conserve, and in turn, how much more competitive could this make my run time. Having a group of renowned swim bikers in the field like Josh Amberger, Denis Vasiliev and Dylan MacNeice meant I’d need to ride well if I was to have any chance of seeing them again, but I approached the race with this aim to conserve until the run. All things considered, these tactics were executed almost to perfection and there was huge excitement about the run, but unfortunately I’d made an absolute meal of my nutrition and hydration. In fact, if I’d made a meal of it I may have been right. Instead, I got stuck into the caffeine and forgot the rest. Not my brightest moment and certainly won’t leave the non-caffeinated gels at home again or underestimate the amount of fluid lost in that kind of heat. My body ended up shutting down through severe dehydration only five kilometers into the run, and I shuffled my way home in a very disappointing 8th place. Whilst the result wasn’t anything to write home about, the weekend was an invaluable learning experience and great for my sponsors and profile. I received a lot of media interest as race favorite, which including press conferences, multiple newspaper articles, a TV production and live radio interview. I’ve placed links below for those who are interested.
The Highlights Program to the Aviva Ironman 70.3 2012, featuring Ollie Whistler;
Segment 1: http://youtu.be/RJvpadKrd0o
Segment 2: http://youtu.be/gBicCBfBLHc
Segment 3: http://youtu.be/otmNWqpG4Yw
Segment 4: http://youtu.be/2oSs0hNI5qM
Newspaper Articles can be found on my media page by following this link;
70.3 Singapore, Hell of the West and Nowra Olympic distance articles
With Coach Gilesy and myself both certain this performance had nothing to do with a lack of fitness on my part, and everything to do with caffeine and fluid, I decided to blow off my frustration at Elite Energy’s Batemans Bay Ultimate triathlon just two weeks later. I’ve often found the sooner you’re back out having another crack to be the most effective technique when moving on from any disappointment and remaining present with the task at hand. It means the less time spent dwelling on the past and the more time spent in positive preparation. Having raced almost every fortnight since the start of February, it’s meant most weeks between have either been a recovery focus or conscious of doing too much leading into the next. Batemans Bay showed obvious signs my base fitness from early in the year was drying up and another solid block of training was on the menu shortly after. Having nothing but a fourth gear all day, I was happy to finish a close second behind Sam Appleton and really enjoyed the race he provided up front.
From here it’s onto 70.3 Busselton in another couple of weeks, before heading to Noumea for the their international Olympic distance triathlon, and then onto the U.S. for the American season starting early June. The last couple of weeks have been spent laying down some solid training weeks in preparation, including a week of secret training at home on Lord Howe Island. With no distractions from mobile phone coverage or the internet, it was only fishing or bird watching to distract me, neither of which got much of my time. There have been a few inconsistencies in my training, but I’m pleased with how the years started and excited for what’s still to come. One things for sure though, and that is it won’t all be smooth sailing. You’re always going to encounter setbacks, and in times of mistakes or bad luck, remember that this is how you learn to do different and better when you make them again in the future. Mistakes are a vital part to your success!
Stay safe, happy and in the ‘moment’.