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All roads in Boulder lead to Kona

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Greetings from Boulder, Colorado – the Gateway to the Rocky…

June 29th, 2015

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A lot less rain and food in Cairns this year

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Let me begin this race report with a quick apology….

The Importance of Aero

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What do fish, F1 cars and fast triathletes all have…

Summer Open Triathlon Race Report

For the first time I can remember, maybe ever, I was both confident and relaxed going into a race.  They say the second night before a race is the most important night and to get a full night’s rest and while I might argue that it should start about a week out, more, quality, sleep is better than none.  Thursday night resulted in a quite crappy sleep with me waking up every few hours.  But Friday night, I went to bed a little early and slept soundly with none of the pre-race jitters that usually keep you awake starting at 2am.

I’d set my alarm early enough to ensure I got to the race right as transition opened, only was a tad late and as a result didn’t get the money transition spot.  I did, however, still get a really decent one and set up my stuff.  We were told four-to-a-rack, but that left lots of space and I knew from experience that late arrivals would move other, non-present athlete’s stuff over to make room for theirs.  Even knowing this, I took my bike out for a warmup ride since I’d never ridden the course before and couldn’t drive it beforehand.  It was only a 12.5-mile loop and I had plenty of time.

We had our own lane coming out of Union Reservoir and for the next several miles marked with cones.  But when the road turned right, the cones stopped and I realized I didn’t have directions or know the streets so I just winged it.  Turns out, I guessed right and did manage to ride the entire loop.  As I’d suspected earlier, coming back to my rack, someone else had racked there bike where mine would have gone.  Thankfully, he was still there and I had him move his stuff over.

I finished setting up and started putting on my wetsuit.  We still had ample time before starting, but I wanted to make sure I was acclimated to the water.  Or, at least as much as possible given the 54º temperature.  The water was cold and I got in as much of a warmup as I could manage – I didn’t want to start cramping.

We line up to start and I take a left of center position up front.  The horn sounds and we’re off.  I go out hard and strong and eventually someone catches me and passes but he’s going too fast for me to be able to hang on.  I did most of the swim on my own, without drafting, which stinks, but sometimes is the nature of the beast.  About 300-400m in my chest tightened up and I forced myself to relax and backed off.  One of my points of emphasis this year is swimming less in training, and not working so hard on the swim in racing.  Was it a good strategy, I don’t know, but I was 3rd in my AG on the swim.

T1 was a smooth transition with no issues.  Due to the run over the muddy and grassy berm from the parking lot to the dirt road I chose not leave my cycling shoes clipped in to my pedals but I did when dismounting after the bike so in retrospect, I should have just left them clipped.

The bike was uneventful.  Only two riders passed me during the entire loop and neither were in my age group.  I passed a ton of riders, but I stopped looking at age groups on people’s calves and just rode my race.

T2 was even smoother leaving my shoes clipped in to my pedals, but the problem was that due to the cold water and probably the airflow on the ride, my feet were completely numb – exactly like last year.  I ran on stumps to my rack, dumped my helmet, pulled on my shoes, grabbed my race number and was off.

I tried to keep a high turn over on the run and was initially successful, but eventually slowed down.  I don’t recall when I started feeling my feet again, but it was well after mile two.  The out-and-back course was flat, having just been grated, but sported some rough spots with decently sized rocks churned up by the blade.  There was also a massive puddle that had to be navigated.  Only two guys passed me on the run, but neither were in my age group and I believe had started in a wave ahead of me so I already had at least three minutes on them.  The second guy passed right before the finish and I should have held him off, but didn’t.

All in all, it felt like a really solid race for me at the time and was confirmed when I looked at the results later and saw that I’d made the podium, getting third.

Swim:     10:59 (3rd in AG, 31st overall)
T1:        1:14
Bike:     34:29 (3rd in AG, 31st overall)
T2:        0:40
Run:      23:22 (6th in AG, 56th overall)

Total:  1:10:46 (3rd/13 in AG, 29th overall)

Thanks to my wife, my coach Billy Edwards, my shop Foxtrot Wheel & Edge, my team Foxtrot Racing, sponsors GU Energy and Rudy Project, multisport shop Colorado Multisport, for all the support.

All roads in Boulder lead to Kona

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Greetings from Boulder, Colorado – the Gateway to the Rocky Mountains! I’m here for altitude training, to clear my head and sharpen my focus on Kona 2015… and it’s good to be back! I first came to Boulder for back in 2007 and I think I’ve only missed one year since then. Basically, I love it here. It’s a good place to train, it’s awesome getting up into the mountains and there are heaps of trails to run. It doesn’t get much better than this.

A bit about Boulder
I think one of the reasons that I love coming to Boulder is that it reminds me a bit of Byron Bay near home – just minus the beaches. I’m staying in North Boulder, so the mountains are only a 20-minute ride away. It’s great having the ocean in summer at home and then coming over here and having the mountains in the northern summer. It’s the best of both worlds.

Boulder’s had a pretty colourful history – from the Wild West stuff in the early days to the hippy days in the 60’s and 70’s. Boulder was a bit of a Mecca for the alternative culture… I almost called this blog post ‘High in the Rockies’ for exactly that reason. It’s still got that hippy flavour about it – definitely not your typical American town. One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s a lot busier than it was when I first came here. Heaps of people have moved here, but the town itself hasn’t expanded – it’s just got a little more hectic.

Boulder is a university town so there’s plenty of nightlife, lots of bars and restaurants and Denver (the closest city) is only 30-40 minutes away. Boulder is also full of triathletes at the moment – Callum, Tim Don, Tyler Butterfield, Crowie, Appo and Griffo are all here. We see each other around and although we’ve all got our own training schedules it’s good to have a bigger base of people to train with. Boulder gives me a new environment, something different and I find it’s always refreshing to mix things up a bit.
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Altitude and Attitude
As well as creating a fresh attitude, the real benefit of coming to Boulder each year is the altitude training aspect. I’ll talk a little more about the science behind it in a moment, but the simple reason why I keep coming back to Boulder is that it works for me. You certainly notice the difference that the increase in altitude makes. The City of Boulder sits at an elevation of 1655m at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, but it’s only a short ride to get up into the hills to train at a higher altitude.

People ask how much difference it makes being that far above sea level. The short answer is – a lot. I find my heart rate is always 10-20 beats higher for sessions and my body definitely has to work harder. It takes a couple of weeks to get acclimatised and everyone reacts differently. For example, I take iron supplements here, whereas I don’t at home. You seem to tire a little more too.

The bottom line when it comes to training up here is… it still hurts! After the adjustment period my training regime is pretty similar to what I’m doing at home. It’s interesting – although you’re pushing out the same power, it feels like you’re working a lot harder. And that’s one of the dangers – if you maintain the same intensity that you feel at sea level, you’re actually not working as hard as usual and won’t get the training benefits. While you think you’re pushing hard, the reality is you’re losing form. Definitely one of those times when you need to monitor the numbers, not rely on how you’re feeling.

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Altitude training became popular around the time of the Olympics in Mexico City back in 1968, so it’s been around a long time. Mexico City sits at an altitude of 2200m – a height that would have had a huge impact on the performances of the Olympic athletes. Interestingly, the coaches knew that altitude training delivered benefits for their athletes, but the research hadn’t yet been done to explain exactly why it worked. Just goes to show that good coaches are often way ahead of the science.

The basic theory of altitude training is that training in a low-oxygen environment will force the body to adapt and ultimately these adaptations will deliver improvements to performance. Having said all that, before you book your trip to Boulder, the mountains of Nepal or buy an ‘altitude training chamber’ for your home gym, it’s worth knowing that every person manages hypoxic stress – a lower oxygen environment – differently.

This is why there are a variety of different strategies which athletes and coaches use to maximise the benefits of altitude training: live high/train high, live low/train high, live high/train low. In the end, you need to discover what works best for you. At present I’m living high and training high, but it’s quite likely that I’ll be spending a couple of weeks right up in the mountains later in July. Oh, and if you’re wondering why live low/train low wasn’t one of the options listed… think about it – you need to have some altitude for it to be ‘altitude training’!

What I would say to anyone considering altitude training is this – don’t push yourself too hard, get used to the increased altitude for a couple of weeks, take iron supplements and be careful – you can get pretty sick if you don’t monitor things properly. Talk to a good coach and check in with a doctor who knows what he or she is talking about when it comes to altitude training. Apart from that – go for it! It certainly works for me.

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Towards Kona
Although I’m surrounded by mountains here in Boulder, the biggest thing on my horizon is Kona. As the World Champs get closer I’ll give you more of an insight into my preparations on the road to Kona. Until then, train hard, go hard, have fun and I’ll keep you posted.

Tim

June 29th, 2015

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A lot less rain and food in Cairns this year

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Let me begin this race report with a quick apology. Normally I would have given you a bit of a lead-up to a race like Cairns 70.3. I’d talk about the course, talk about the competition and maybe give you a run-down on how my preparation has been going. I deliberately didn’t do that this time around. Today, I decided to fly under the radar, go into Cairns 70.3 without any hype or expectation, play it low-key and just see how it panned out. Partly that’s because in my mind, my focus is already shifting to Kona.

Missed it by that much
So, how did Cairns 70.3 go? The short version is that – it was certainly better than Busselton, not quite what I wanted (a podium finish would have been nice) but definitely a solid effort. I came in 4th, trailing Appo (Sam Appleton), Crowie (Craig Alexander) and Reedy (Tim Reed). No shame in that – it’s not like I was beaten by three average blokes. Congratulations to all three fellas – nice work out there today, guys! I’m happy still finishing 4th.

Positive progress
As far as preparation for the race went, the mileage is not quite where I’d like it to be, but I’ve been riding fast, running fast and swimming better than I have before. I’ve been focusing on quality rather than quantity at this stage of the game.

If there’s one thing I can take out of today’s race it’s that the work I’ve been doing with Kriss Hendy, my strength and conditioning coach, is paying off. I felt good on the run and much better on the bike. Even after 4 weeks, it’s making a difference. So that’s a good thing. I guess, working on strength, flexibility and a powerful core is never wasted effort.

Hungry for learning
Each time I race I try and learn something from the experience. Today’s lesson? Don’t tape your gels to the top tube!

Normally in an IM I’d carry a Bento box. Today I taped my nutrition to the top tube and then watched it all fall off in the rain. Five gels gone! When you’re burning around 1000 calories an hour, you can’t afford to leave your fuel on the roadway. Lesson learned! Looks like it’s going to be the Bento box in the future.

That’s it from me. As always – thanks for your support and encouragement. Thanks especially to the Cairns 70.3 team for putting together a great event. One final thought – keep training, keep learning and enjoy the scenery along the way!

The Importance of Aero

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What do fish, F1 cars and fast triathletes all have in common? It’s all about the aero. (Technically, with fish it’s actually about the hydrodynamics, but bear with me) Athletes go to a lot of trouble to reduce drag and increase their aerodynamic efficiency. You may think that some go overboard in the quest to be aero, but as you’ll see, the little things add up. Not everyone can afford to spend a fortune on the latest gear, but there are definitely plenty of things you can do to get more aero and watch your times come down.

When it comes to talking aero for triathletes, there’s a lot of stuff out there, both written and on video. The science can get extremely complicated, with talk about rolling resistance, drag coefficients and air density. But I believe there’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple. Instead of getting bogged down in the details, I’m going to strip it back and give you five principles that anyone can apply to lift their performance. They can help you to make more efficient use of your power output and stop you from being such a drag, so to speak!

Principle 1 – Begin with the basics

Having a clear understanding of aero is a crucial first step. Aerodynamics is the study of the properties of moving air and the interaction between the air and solid bodies moving through it. The characteristics of a solid object (or person) regarding the way air flows around it are known as its aerodynamics.

When it comes to triathlon, races are won by the fastest competitor. Speed is a function of power (watts) over time. Push out the greatest amount of power for the longest time and you should be the winner, every time. And in a perfect (airless) world that would be true. But, you need to factor in air resistance, also known as drag. And drag is definitely a drag. Drag reduces your speed, reduces your effective power output and saps your strength.

To give you some idea of the effect of drag, consider the current world cycling records:

  • The record for distance covered in one hour on a standard road bike is 49.7km.
  • On a time trial bike in the extreme ‘Superman’ position it’s 56.4km
  • On a fully-faired recumbent bike it’s 90.6km.

By cutting down the drag they were able to achieve twice the speed of a standard road bike, with the same power output. And reducing drag is all about going aero.

The amount of air resistance you generate depends on a couple of major factors and a couple of minor ones. The major factors are the frontal area you present to the air and the speed at which you ride. The minor factors are the slipperiness of your clothing and the degree of turbulence you generate as you ride through the air. More turbulence equals more air resistance.

Principle 2 – Little things add up

Want to double your speed? In a perfect world, you’d just double your power output. But drag isn’t like that. It works on a factor of 2. Double your speed and you quadruple your air resistance. That means to double your speed takes 8 times the wattage! To increase your speed by 25% means you need to almost double your power output. If you’re interested in doing the maths for yourself, check out this cool interactive website.

You can see how little changes – both increases and decreases – in aerodynamic efficiency can add up fast. Obviously it’s important to maximise your power output, but at the same time the key is getting the most speed out of that power – the most bang for your buck. Small increases in drag are going to suck your power, whilst small decreases will help you go faster on less watts.

There’s no ‘magic bullet’ when it comes to going aero. It’s all about chasing the small gains in aerodynamic efficiency that quickly add up to serious improvements in performance. When it comes to testing what works and what doesn’t, you could pay the big bucks and use a wind tunnel, but using a power meter or even just rolling down a hill from the same point and clocking your speed will give you a pretty good idea. And obviously if your bike legs are faster than before, then you’re doing something right.

There are three basic areas you can tweak to become more aero – clothing, equipment (not just your bike) and your riding position.

Principle 3 – Slippery is good

When it comes to clothing, the key is to reduce turbulence. Quite simply, flappy, loose clothing is going to create more air resistance. I’m interested in this, because one of my sponsors, Scody, have done a lot of research on this and developed the Optimise A.I.R. Triathlon race suit. It’s a move away from the traditional two-piece option and it’s wind-tunnel tested and uses hi-tech fabrics and zoned construction.

The bottom-line on the Optimise A.I.R. Is a 6 watt saving at 50kmh over the old two-piece suit. Over a 90km cycle leg that can shave off about 4:30 if you’re averaging 230 watts, which is a massive time saving. Think about what you’re wearing and what it’s made of – slippery is good!

Principle 4 – Streamline your gear

About 75% of the air resistance is generated by you, but that still leaves another 25% that is caused by your bike and other gear. Analyse that 25% and it comes down to three aspects- surface character (slipperiness again), frontal surface area (the front profile that is pushing through the air) and shape (determines how smooth the flow of air is over your gear). The aim is to choose gear with a slippery surface character, minimal frontal surface area and an aerodynamic shape that creates the least disturbance to the air flow. When it comes to gear, we’re talking bikes, helmets and hydration and nutrition. Here are a few pointers about each one of these:

Bikes – I’m in the lucky position of being sponsored by Giant, so I’ve got access to the latest, state-of-the-art gear. I’ve watched the Giant bikes evolve and become more aero as new research is done and new materials are developed.

Not everyone can access the latest and greatest, so let me say a couple of things about choosing your bike. Firstly, keep things in perspective. You can spend a lot of money on a bike and many manufacturers make big claims about their products. Seek out a cost-effective option from a reputable brand that suits your budget. Do your homework, ask around and beware of just following the latest fad. At the end of the day, remember we’re only talking about 25% of the aero equation. It’s not all about the bike.

Secondly, don’t sacrifice comfort and rideability for the latest hi-tech machine – always pick a bike that suits your build and riding style. All the aerodynamics in the world won’t help you if it doesn’t feel good to ride.

Helmets – same goes for your helmet. Don’t sacrifice comfort for a small improvement in aero. The last thing I want to do is to cook my brain at Kona in the pursuit of a couple of extra minutes! But helmets are a cost-effective way of significantly reducing your drag. Obviously they don’t reduce your frontal area, but they improve the airflow over your head and body, reducing your drag coefficient and your time by up to 4 minutes over IM distance.

There has been a shift in the style of helmets recently from the classic pointed-tail designs to what’s known as the ‘bobtail’ or short tail aero design. I’ve found these comfortable, easy to put on and take off and most importantly the improved through-flow means they don’t overheat.

Hydration and nutrition – nobody is carrying their bottle on the downtube these days – it disturbs the airflow way too much. The other options are horizontally between your aerobars or horizontally behind your seat. Both increase the aero factor compared with the downtube option. There’s been a lot of wind tunnel testing on both these placements. In the final analysis, the best option will actually depend on your body shape and riding position. For some riders, between the aerobars can improve overall aerodynamic efficiency, helping to create better flow over the rider. For others, behind the seat is more streamlined.

The one thing I would say is that the position also has to be practical. There’s no point having your bottle stashed behind you if you can’t easily access it, or worse still if you forget to drink from it. Dehydration is a much more serious problem than a little drag!

When it comes to nutrition, there are new options all the time. Again, easy access is still important. If you’re carrying it on your back, just ensure your shape stays streamlined and the pouch is close-fitting. Increasingly, bike manufacturers are starting to build drink and food holders into the frames themselves to increase the aero.

Principle 5 – Balance your riding position

The basic idea here is to ride in a position that reduces frontal area and which creates a smooth shape that maximises laminar airflow and reduces turbulence. This is where the balance comes in – there’s no point being more aero if your hips are impinged so you can’t maintain the watts or your chest is constricted and you can’t get enough oxygen. It’s also important to consider this in the larger context of the race – you’ve got to be able to run when you get off the bike. It’s a matter of tweaking the variables to find the sweet spot which maximises aero and which is sustainable.

Start with aerobars – they’re designed to decrease your frontal area. To give you some idea – just adding aerobars can reduce the amount of power you need to generate by almost 17%. That’s a huge saving. Adjust them to find a comfortable and sustainable riding position. Call this your baseline position and then begin to experiment, doing some simple comparisons as you drop the bars. To some extent, the width between the bars will depend on your body shape and flexibility.

While you’re tweaking your position, don’t forget to work on your core strength and flexibility. Ease into your new riding position and when you get comfortable and can maintain the watts, experiment again. A couple of things that seem to work well for some athletes – flattening the back and ‘turtling’ the head downward can save you a few minutes. However, holding this position can be more demanding. Again, it’s about experimenting and finding the balance between aero, power and sustainability.

For me, I’ve had to compromise on reducing my frontal area, because if I go too low it compresses my hip angle down and reduces power. To balance that we’ve reduced the length of my cranks to keep my hips a little more open. That’s the right balance for me.

A final word – about fish

Think about fish. In Nature, creatures are designed to conserve energy and fish are a great example of this. Their streamlined shapes and economic use of power are something we can learn from. And it’s a reminder that going aero is not just about the bike. Given that water is more than 800 times denser than air, going ‘hydro’ is also pretty critical. A more hydrodynamic swimming style is going to save you time and energy so you come out of the water faster and fresher. But that’s a topic for another day.

Good luck in your quest for going aero. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for you. Drop the drag, cut your times and get the most out of your energy buck. Oh, and don’t forget to shave your legs before the big race. It will save you 23.3 seconds and your partner will appreciate it… seriously!

 

Summer Open Triathlon Race Report

For the first time I can remember, maybe ever, I was both confident and relaxed going into a race.  They say the second night before a race is the most important night and to get a full night's rest and while I might argue that it should start about a week out, more, quality, sleep is better than none.  Thursday night resulted in a quite crappy sleep with me waking up every few hours.  But Friday night, I went to bed a little early and slept soundly with none of the pre-race jitters that usually keep you awake starting at 2am.

I'd set my alarm early enough to ensure I got to the race right as transition opened, only was a tad late and as a result didn't get the money transition spot.  I did, however, still get a really decent one and set up my stuff.  We were told four-to-a-rack, but that left lots of space and I knew from experience that late arrivals would move other, non-present athlete's stuff over to make room for theirs.  Even knowing this, I took my bike out for a warmup ride since I'd never ridden the course before and couldn't drive it beforehand.  It was only a 12.5-mile loop and I had plenty of time.

We had our own lane coming out of Union Reservoir and for the next several miles marked with cones.  But when the road turned right, the cones stopped and I realized I didn't have directions or know the streets so I just winged it.  Turns out, I guessed right and did manage to ride the entire loop.  As I'd suspected earlier, coming back to my rack, someone else had racked there bike where mine would have gone.  Thankfully, he was still there and I had him move his stuff over.

I finished setting up and started putting on my wetsuit.  We still had ample time before starting, but I wanted to make sure I was acclimated to the water.  Or, at least as much as possible given the 54º temperature.  The water was cold and I got in as much of a warmup as I could manage - I didn’t want to start cramping.

We line up to start and I take a left of center position up front.  The horn sounds and we’re off.  I go out hard and strong and eventually someone catches me and passes but he’s going too fast for me to be able to hang on.  I did most of the swim on my own, without drafting, which stinks, but sometimes is the nature of the beast.  About 300-400m in my chest tightened up and I forced myself to relax and backed off.  One of my points of emphasis this year is swimming less in training, and not working so hard on the swim in racing.  Was it a good strategy, I don’t know, but I was 3rd in my AG on the swim.

T1 was a smooth transition with no issues.  Due to the run over the muddy and grassy berm from the parking lot to the dirt road I chose not leave my cycling shoes clipped in to my pedals but I did when dismounting after the bike so in retrospect, I should have just left them clipped.

The bike was uneventful.  Only two riders passed me during the entire loop and neither were in my age group.  I passed a ton of riders, but I stopped looking at age groups on people’s calves and just rode my race.

T2 was even smoother leaving my shoes clipped in to my pedals, but the problem was that due to the cold water and probably the airflow on the ride, my feet were completely numb - exactly like last year.  I ran on stumps to my rack, dumped my helmet, pulled on my shoes, grabbed my race number and was off.

I tried to keep a high turn over on the run and was initially successful, but eventually slowed down.  I don’t recall when I started feeling my feet again, but it was well after mile two.  The out-and-back course was flat, having just been grated, but sported some rough spots with decently sized rocks churned up by the blade.  There was also a massive puddle that had to be navigated.  Only two guys passed me on the run, but neither were in my age group and I believe had started in a wave ahead of me so I already had at least three minutes on them.  The second guy passed right before the finish and I should have held him off, but didn’t.

All in all, it felt like a really solid race for me at the time and was confirmed when I looked at the results later and saw that I’d made the podium, getting third.

Swim:     10:59 (3rd in AG, 31st overall)
T1:        1:14
Bike:     34:29 (3rd in AG, 31st overall)
T2:        0:40
Run:      23:22 (6th in AG, 56th overall)

Total:  1:10:46 (3rd/13 in AG, 29th overall)

Thanks to my wife, my coach Billy Edwards, my shop Foxtrot Wheel & Edge, my team Foxtrot Racing, sponsors GU Energy and Rudy Project, multisport shop Colorado Multisport, for all the support.

Under The Microscope

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One of the weird things about being a professional triathlete is having other people talking and writing about you in the media. Obviously, that can be both good and bad… depending on what they write about you! Phil Wrochna at firstoffthebike.com has just written a profile piece on me. It’s a bit of a retrospective on the last few years of my career – where I’ve come from and where I’m heading.

As strange as it is to read about myself, I reckon Phil captures some great insights – there’s definitely some value in being able to reflect back on these events, get a little perspective and be reminded of the lessons learned all over again.

For what it’s worth, here’s my response to the article, with a few extra reflections and insights of my own thrown in there.

Running hot in Cairns
Phil goes back to 2013 and Ironman Cairns. I reckon he’s right – IM Cairns was a pretty significant race for me. There’s nothing worse than sitting, stewing in the penalty box watching your rivals get further and further ahead. A lot of things go through your mind while you’re waiting for that time to tick away. Fortunately, I was able to control the frustration, keep it together and channel those feelings into a fast run leg.

I think it raises an interesting question for all triathletes – when you get into one of those tough situations, what makes the difference between just ‘losing your shit’ and letting the race go or keeping it together, rolling up your sleeves and getting on with the job?

Mind games
To a large extent I reckon it comes down to the mental game. In fact, my last two races have highlighted that for me. Both were tough. In Melbourne, I felt bad but kept going. It was a really rough day at the office (link to Melbourne article) but in the midst of difficult conditions and some back issues I was able to keep my focus and persist. The result was a second place and a deeper knowledge of myself. I came away from Melbourne knowing that when I need to dig deep I can do it, even when I’m not feeling so great.

Busselton 70.3 was a different situation. After a good start, my back started to tighten up, aggravated by the icy conditions. The question was- what do you do when your body isn’t coming to the party? When do you push through and when is the best option to pull the plug, walk away and save your body for another day? No one likes to post a DNF, especially when you’re going into the race as the defending champ. It’s a kick to the ego, if nothing else. But on that occasion I decided the best option was to look at the bigger picture, pull out, learn some hard lessons and use them to refocus my Kona preparation.

I know athletes wrestle with these questions in every sport, but it’s particularly relevant for endurance athletes. Let’s face it, IM racing is never easy. It’s always a fight against pain and exhaustion. One of the reasons why I waited so long to go to Kona was that a race like that needs a certain maturity and enough wisdom to be able to judge exactly where you’re up to. You’ve got to know when and how to push through, when it counts.

Staying in the moment is always my aim – being able to keep your head in the game, not over-thinking it, but at the same time, not just acting on your feelings. You’ve got to know when to keep running your own race and when you need to change up and go with the leaders, so you’re not left behind. I try to learn a little more, sharpen my skills and my judgement a little more, every time I race.

On the road to Kona 2015
Phil made a comment in the article that really rings true. He said,

One good day in Kona has some currency but that erodes over time.

Kona is definitely the big goal on my list this year – all roads lead there. 7th last year was a great result. It showed me what was possible and I guess it put me on the radar of other competitors.

This year, I’m heading back to Kona- older, more experienced and hopefully, wiser. But I’m not taking anything for granted. Kona is the real deal. When you’re heading through the Energy Lab it’s about as real as you can get. There’s no room for BS, hype or lame excuses… it’s not about your reputation, your brand or the crowds. All that external stuff is stripped away. It’s the ultimate test of who you really are – as an athlete and as a person.

Thanks to Phil Wrochna and firstoffthebike.com for putting me under the microscope and digging deep. Keep up the good work and keep the insights coming.

Chilled to the bone in Busselton

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For those of you who were concerned after reading my tweet following Busselton 70.3 on Saturday – it’s all good… tits are still attached. Ego is bruised, back is still sore when I bend down and I’m feeling very disappointed about my result. I’ll keep this race report short and sweet.

A Frosty Start
We lined up for the start of the swim at Geographe Bay and the temperature registered 3 degrees. Apparent temp was actually closer to zero. That’s bloody cold! Having said that, I had a great swim. Back felt okay, I stayed in the front group, sticking right on Sticksy’s heels, and came out of the water in 24:53.

I hit T1 and as soon as I took my wetsuit off, I got really cold. Jumped on the bike and as I headed out onto the course I felt like I was riding like an old man. Wasn’t actually doing too badly, but by the 67km mark I was off the pace by 7 mins. Mentally and physically though it was a real battle. All the time I was telling myself, “It will get warmer… it’s got to get warmer…” And as the bike ride went on my back was getting tighter and tighter.

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Chilled to the bone
By the time I got to T2, the temperature was registering 14 degrees, but apparent temp was still only about 10 degrees. I got off the bike and started running. My back was really tight, my feet were literally numb and I was struggling to put it together.

I ran 5km and in the end I felt it was better for the long-term plan to pull the pin- something I never like having to do. Maybe I could have pushed through to the finish, but I was going so slow – just didn’t have my usual spring.

Pulling out the positives
Every outing is a learning experience – it’s always good to reflect, whether it’s been a good race or an ordinary one – on what you did well and where you need to improve.

On the plus side – I had a great swim and stuck with the front group, which is always my plan. I’m determined to get this back issue sorted- going to hit the gym a little harder and work on building more strength in my core, back, glutes and hamstrings. And as always, nothing like getting a swift kick in the backside to motivate you to work harder and get sorted. Cairns 70.3 is coming up next on June 14th.

If I’m honest, Busselton 70.3 was a bit of a dark day. It definitely hurt having to pull the pin. Let’s face it, no one likes to post a DNF. But Busselton has been a good hunting ground in the past and you can’t win them all. And thank goodness – I’ve still got the course record!

Congratulations to the fellas – Sam Appleton, Terenzo Bozzone and James Cunnama – you guys ran a great race. And as I said in my post-race tweet – onwards and upwards!

Rivet TT – The New Helmet On The Block

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Scone. Nut. Noodle. Block. You’ve got to love Aussie slang. Where else would you find so many colourful terms to describe your head?

I’m racing the Busselton 70.3 today and if you look carefully you’ll notice that I’m rocking a different brain-bucket. A brand new, hi-tech helmet from Giant is going to be protecting my melon on the course today. It’s called the Rivet TT and it’s a pretty impressive piece of gear.

All jokes aside, Giant have spent a great deal of time and money to develop their most aerodynamic and comfortable helmet yet. They’ve tuned it using a process called Computational Fluid Dynamics and tested it extensively in the wind tunnel and in real-life, on the skulls of the Team-Giant-Alpecin pros.

From the strategically placed dimples on the top of the helmet, to improve laminar flow, to the ‘drag-neutral’ ports and internal-channels, which make up the cooling system, it’s designed for speed and comfort. And not just to benefit the pros. The design was created to work well for a whole bunch of different rider positions and conditions. It’s versatile.

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If you want to check out all the detailed specs, take a peek at the Giant website. They go in-depth and explain all the tech stuff that’s packed into this light-weight sconce-protector.
And stay tuned for my article on Going Aero coming up in 220 Tri (with an extended version and some video here on the website). I’ll be talking about how an aero helmet, like the Rivet TT, can be a crucial part of your overall plan to be more aero.

Thanks again to Giant – you guys are always on the cutting-edge, you help me stay competitive and I appreciate your support. Keep up the good work!

To all the triathletes out there – go hard and think about giving the Rivet TT a go. I wouldn’t want to have anything else on my noggin!

Tim

Wild Racing in the Wild West

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Originally, I thought I’d be writing this pre-race blog on the way back from racing in New Caledonia. My plan was to compete in the Noumea Triathlon last weekend, but in the end I pulled the plug because of a niggling back issue and yes, I listened to the professionals who advised in not racing. So that has given me time to focus on Busselton 70.3 and make sure I’m 100% race fit and ready to go. ‘C’est la vie!’ as they say in New Caledonia.

Back to Busselton
Rewind 12 months and I didn’t think I was even going to get to the start of Busselton 2014. Last year, in the lead up to the race I was sick and had the whole week off training. As it turned out, on the day I actually felt pretty rested, had a great race and ended up on the top of the podium. So I’m heading into this year’s Busselton 70.3 as the reigning champ.

As always though, there’s no room for over-confidence – the field for the event is really strong. In fact, the organisers are saying it’s the strongest field they’ve ever had for Busselton 70.3. There’s no doubt there some big hitters in the line up- my old mate Sticksy, Appo (Sam Appleton who came 3rd in 2014), Alex Reithmeier (2nd in 2014) and James Cunnama (all the way from South Africa) will all be there. Add into the mix veteran Kiwi triathlete, Terenzo Bozzone, and you know it’s going to be a hard-fought, hard-won race. I may be going into the race with Number 1 on my front, but there’ll definitely be a target on my back. It will certainly make for some good racing.

Hustle and bustle
It’s always good to head over to the ‘Wild West’ and the event at Busselton has just got bigger and bigger as time has gone on. The crowd is always huge and vocal, which is awesome for the competitors. Media coverage is good and there’s plenty of pre-race action.

The course is quick and it’s a great place to compete. Last year the swim conditions on Geographe Bay were glassy- I’m hoping it will be the same this time around. The cycle leg will be fast and furious and then the race finishes with 3 laps out and back on Geographe Bay Rd. There’s plenty of opportunity to keep an eye on the competition, which will be especially handy given how competitive this field is.

I’m looking forward to defending my title and hopefully hanging on to the course record for another year. And if you’re there, come and join me for the Q&A session on Friday arvo at Chat with the Pros in the Main Marquee. Should be fun.

Good luck to everyone who is competing. Go hard and I’ll see you at the finish!

Get breathless and raise awareness & funds towards Pulmonary Hypertension – Ironman Australia 3 May 2015

In 2006, Ironman Australia was my first IM experience where I found my love and passion for long course triathlon.  I was completely inspired by its history, tradition and the life experiences which are unique to the Ironman family. The event has been a significant part of my triathlon career, one of my proudest achievements being Ironman Australia's Female Champion 2013.  
It is a great privilege to be the 2015 Ironman Australia Charity Ambassador for Pulmonary Hypertension Association Australia (PHAA) in partnership with Bayer Australia, raising awareness & funds towards Pulmonary Hypertension and World Pulmonary Hypertension Day, Tuesday 5 May www.worldphday.org.  2015 is also a special year as Ironman Australia will be celebrating its 30th year anniversary. I'm really proud to have such a unique role as part of this historic occasion.
What is Pulmonary Hypertension? 

Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is a life-threatening condition that affects the lungs and heart. It is characterised by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs which can lead to heart failure and death.
  • There are thought to be around 75,000 Australians living with PH and it can affect patients of all ages, including children.
  • PH should not be confused with ordinary hypertension (high blood pressure), and it can occur in patients with or without ordinary hypertension
  • The symptoms of PH vary in each individual, but common symptoms include breathlessness, dizziness, feeling faint, swelling of the feet and ankles, chest pain, fatigue and cyanosis (blue discolouration of the lips).
  • Currently, there is no cure for the vast majority of patients with PH

After a hard training session or race it is always a relief when I can stop to recover and catch my breath. I can understand how difficult it would be to suffer from PH and constantly feel short of breath without having a finish line in sight.  I draw great strength and motivation from people who face a different kind of Ironman challenge, living a limited life from chronic and fatal health conditions including those who are diagnosed with PH disease. 

Get breathless on race day and help raise awareness & funds towards PH

To help raise awareness of the condition and its symptoms, spectators & athletes are invited to participate in the following race day activities taking place at the Town Green, Port Macquarie, Sunday 3 May:
  • There will be a marque where patients with PH will be handing out bells on race day. Come down and be part of all the action! :-) 
  • Jump on a stationary exercise bike for 1 minute to 'get breathless for PH' and for every participant, Bayer will make a gold coin donation to PHAA
  • Encourage IM athletes to ring the 'PH awareness bell' as they pass through the bell ringing zone set up at the Town Green on the official run course. Bayer Australia will also make a gold coin donation for each athlete who rings the bell on race day.
IM Australia & its 30th year celebrations is going to be a fantastic event and I'm looking forward to my Charity Ambassador role, supporting everyone involved and being part of the event activities.  I hope my contribution can inspire and motivate others to continue to grow PH awareness and help find a cure.

Best of luck to all our athletes on race day. I'll be cheering loud with bells on! 

Best wishes,
Bec Hoschke :-)