I’ve given myself 5 weeks rest in between races. 4 weeks ago, I raced 70.3 World Champs in Nice, and in one week, I’ll start the Ironman World Champs in Kona Hawaii. By rest though, I don’t really mean actual rest. What I mean to say is, it’s a period where I train the hardest, I have all year to get ready for the toughest competition of the year. The rest past just means there’s no racing. Let’s label that ‘triathlete speak’…
Nice was a great race. I bet there wouldn’t be one athlete there that would say otherwise. My 17th place result though, I wasn’t so happy with. I planned for Nice to be my main event for the year as I hadn’t qualified for Kona until mid-July. I achieved a 2nd place in Ironman Vitoria in Spain and it was one of the last races where it was possible to get a spot for Kona in 2019. I literally went into the race wanting to give my best and to get the Kona spot, but prepared to accept missing out if I didn’t perform to the level required. I passed the test, and got the spot. So like that, I was going to Kona. With racing though, I never plan too far ahead, because anything can change and you’ve got to be malleable. So up until I qualified for Kona, I hadn’t planned on racing. Given that run around, you could understand how I was disappointed with 17th place at 70.3 Worlds.
I left Nice to fly home to Australia bitterly disappointed, and to be honest, with hardly any confidence at all. I don’t like to turn up to races not thinking I’ll be contesting at the front of the race. I like to be fighting at the front for as long as I can, and with the defeat in Nice, I just couldn’t see how I was going to able to compete at a higher level in Kona. I got spat from rider after rider in Nice, even though I went into the race in great shape. I didn’t have an off-day, I just wasn’t good enough. Being fully committed to Kona now, I knew I’d have to turn myself around within just a few weeks.
Luckily enough, there was plenty of time to think on the flight home. 3 flights, and 28 hours later, I had a plan for the next 3.5 weeks of training, the time I allowed myself before I took my next flight onwards to Kona. I felt surprisingly fresh, and was able to fold into some good training very quickly. Having spent months on the road already, Ash & I were both really excited to get home, and I think that give us a fantastic mental boost too. If you live in a great spot for training, there’s nothing much else like coming home to all your familiar sessions and routes. Our garden was looking great with lots of our spring flowers in bloom, and the weather was fantastic. I could also resume my regular Bexters magnesium and soda crystals soaks, which is a favourite thing of mine for recovery. The stage was set!
I had many friends join me for the big important workouts, which was amazing and a massive boom for my preparation. Declan Wilson came up from Canberra, Dan Wilson came out of retirement, Wayne Cooley left the massage clinic and Ash got on her TT bike and started training for something other than sprint or Olympic distance races. I also got in some sessions with some Kona age group contenders based in Brisbane, so it was great having likeminded athletes around. I had a lot of good people around me, and it made it easy to get the work done. I was out the door early, and back in the door late. I was able to do a ton of work in 3.5 weeks. I’m relieved to say though that as I write this from my Kona condo, that all the long training days behind me and taper time ahead of me. I can honestly say I am now heading into this race as a confident athlete with big shift of metal and physical condition from one month earlier.
From the training in the pool, my swimming is at a career best. In both Kona’s I’ve done, I’ve gone both hard, and I’ve gone kind of hard. The kind of hard version (designed to get more company at the front) didn’t work, and I may as well of gone full hard and split the race up more. I’m looking at the race this year, and think the swim course record is something I might attempt on the day if the body is feeling good, as the work I’ve done in the pool has suggested I could get this record comfortably. My cycling is also back to where I know it can and should be. If I think about my string of wins and podiums in 2017, I feel just as good and strong as then, able to ride my gear range and feel comfortable during extended efforts. I did 3x 200km+ rides with intervals in the block at home, and I feel about as ready as I can be for the 180km in Kona. If I think about running, this time last year I went into Kona on the back of months of ITB injury. I’d hardly done any running at all, but I know where it is at this time. Consistency in run training for me is the key. If there’s no consistency, there’s very little chance I’ll ever pull something out of the bag. With many run days over 30km, and 3x 100km+ weeks in with no niggles or injury, the block has set me up for the best possible shape on the day. All there is left is to keep rolling off the days, and get to the start line with as less stress as possible. Race week here in Kona is insanely busy with media, race and sponsor commitments, but with Ash here to help get me from A to B (and maybe do a little meal prep & massage in between if I’m lucky), my chances are looking as good as they could be.
📷 thanks to @TALBOTCOX