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The Road to Kona

For 2017 I was lucky enough to make the Carnac Planet X team after finishing 4th overall at Ironman Weymouth and qualifying for the Ironman world championships in Kailua-Kona. Roll on 12 months and it has been quite a rollercoaster ride in getting to the big island!
For those who haven’t heard of me and that’s a lot of people I’m a very competitive age group triathlete, with my own coaching and PT business and most importantly I’m married with 3 children of 6, 4 and 9 months. I’m always juggling the needs of my family, business and training and so far I think I’ve done ok. Here’s a brief account of how the year has gone leading up to Kona.

My first major curve ball was thrown at me in April with a training accident involving a near miss with a tractor leading to a broken arm that required surgery, this was then paired with my coach at the time taking a job which didn’t allow him to coach athletes anymore. At that point, I was worried about my season becoming a real let down. I wasn’t in a good place and I needed some help to get going again this came from a chat with Spencer Smith who I met through Planet X and a plan to get back on track for Kona. Spencer agreed to coach me from my rather extended mid-season break back into shape for a good crack at the big show in Hawaii. 
My first race back was the London Triathlon Olympic Plus which originally I was hoping to podium but coming 12 weeks after the break base fitness wasn’t as high as hoped. Leading in we’d set a goal of a controlled bike with a strong run and after a par swim and an uneventful bike well under my usual power for that distance I managed a 39 minute 10k which was a PB. Not a bad start 5th overall and 2nd in the AG.

The race led nicely into a 2 week trip to Spain with the family for a holiday/training or as Spencer called it a ‘Big 2 weeks!’ Well with an extra word between the big and 2. I hadn’t put any 20+ hour weeks in for a long time and I was lucky my wife’s friend had come to stay as well to help with the 3 young children we have (it sounds awful I know). After a 4 hour bike what seemed like every other day plus a good deal of running in temperatures approaching 40 degrees celsius I was really starting to understand what is required to perform at the highest level! I made it back alive and still married and with a week of slight recovery it was time to race again. This time it was at 70.3 distance at the Cotswold classic which has become a big race since I first started competing in it 4 years ago as it now attracts up to 1200 triathletes.
The goal was top 10 which was realistic but I was going to have to race well. Spencer is always keen to remind me that the run is important to him and not to over bike. After a dash to the start from a mile long queue for the car park I made the start and got in position for the swim. I went off hard and found some some feet they died off and some lone came past to tow me for the rest of the swim and hey presto a nice 28.03 swim, a controlled bike of 2:14 which was still faster than the year before which I’m attributing to the upgrade form the Exocet 2 to the new Exo 3. My run started well and I just couldn’t hold the pace to come in under 1:30. Overall I finished in 4:18 and was 10th overall so prep for Kona was going well.
Me and Spencer decided to get one more race done before Kona which was a race which I really wanted to do but originally thought it was too close at 4 weeks before. My wife boycotted this race for the reason she didn’t want to see me get injured and miss out on Hawaii. The week leading up wasn’t great as I’d felt shattered from a big weekend of 6 hours on the bike Saturday and a 3 hour run Sunday. Everybody in the world seemed to have a cold and I was feeling under the weather. My race weekend was interesting and trying to register and rack with my 6 year old son was hard work but we both managed to get it done and get back to chill before the race. Same plan as previous races ‘STRONG RUN’. 
The swim was tough, the wind had made what looked ok from the shore a bit of a choppy mess and finding a rhythm was almost impossible but taking on sea water was no problem at all. After being ill in the week I took time in T1 to get some extra clothing on and remove some sea water, the problem was it was 5 minutes too much time! Getting out on the bike it was freezing the weather report said it’d feel like 6-8 degrees and it did making shifting and drinking hard. It was all going ok until I hit the last climb and and I made a move to pass a couple of other triathletes and ‘hisss’ and then ‘bang!’ 52 miles in and I’m sitting on a double blowout! It’s been a bad week, I change them in 12 minutes and it’s race over really but decide that a good strong run was still on and to have a crack at the 1:30 barrier. Another lazy T2 and a strong start to the run I had to stop once and I ran just in the 1:31 on a slightly long course so I’m happy with that. I took a lot of training experience from that day including changing punctures in races! In all honesty I wasn’t happy and it took me a while to get my head back on track after most other guys going to Kona had cracking sharpening races.

The next few weeks involved some really solid rides of 6 hours and trying to run with some flakey calfs, and some acclimatisation work in my heat chamber which looks like a serial killer has set up in the garage supplemented with plenty of hot baths of 40 degrees Celsius or more! By the week before leaving I managed 2 hours in the garage at 30-32 degrees in 70% humidity so it’s a good start. Swimming has fallen into place and apart from a bit of a cold I’m ready to go and Spencer has prepared me nicely. As I’m writing this at 36,000 ft on the way to Los Angles in cattle class with my wife, 3 children and my parents, I’m itching to crack the Exo3 out onto the Queen K highway, power up to Hawi and fly back down!

Next up a pre race blog.

6 November 2017

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