Its so good to be fit and firing again. Since the disaster at busso I have been head down and bum up and just focusing on executing each and every training sessions as best as I can. We have seen some nice little improvements but I think the biggest one I have taken on in my positive mindset.
My mindset took a battering in busso and I need a few weeks to get my head straight but the way I feel right now is I cannot be beaten. Thats not saying others are not better than me what I am saying is if I execute my race in Cairns I WILL have a great day.
In planning out my training block for Cairns the decision was made to use Port 70.3 as a race to practice race execution. I did this just so I could have a stress free race to focus on numbers I needed to follow and execute. If the end result was I had a bad day then better to have a bad day now than in 4 weeks time at Cairns.
I toyed with the idea of tapering for this race and really racing it or keep my training up and just back off the last couple of days. I decided I wanted to do this race under some fatigue, so I kept my training levels up and told myself don't worry about anyone else just keep positive.
Another thing about this race was it was a good test on how my wife and I would handle things with our daughter Sophie in Cairns. We certainly learnt a lot but Sophie took most of it in her stride, she is just a little trooper.
We arrived on the Friday and mostly the lead up was uneventful, I just went through the motions and kept to myself mostly, although I did enjoy seeing friends around the place. Port Macquarie just buzzes when Ironman is on and its a great place to be.
Up nice and early and prep the bike and transition area, I had forgotten how tight things are for a 70.3 race but you make do and just get on with. Out of transition and straight into my freaking awesome Xterra wetsuit. This wetsuit just feels so good on and it feels effortless to swim in. Once in the wetsuit I say goodbye to Bec and Sophie who headed back to the hotel so that Sophie could rest and I would see them later in the day on the run course.
Standing in the holding pen I see some familiar faces and the banter is flowing just nicely, which is great for me as it takes my mind off the race. We hear Pete Murray tell us only a few minutes till race start, I get focused and prepare to swim the new course design.
The swim felt slow even though i wasn't swimming to break records with lunatics swimming all over you I wasn't having a heap of fun, I just kept telling myself focus on your plan so I rounded the last buoy and put the afterburners on which thankfully dropped the clown clawing at my feet.
Into transition and I make every possible mistake you can make, I ran down the wrong isle and then I ran past my bike, I wasn't efficient enough but this is why we do races like this.
Out of transition and onto the bike and off I go to tackle the hills. My goal was to hold 225w for the day. Early on I could feel my legs but I tried not to worry to much, there is a hill just before the turn off to Matthew Flinders drive and I have a rookie moment and drop my chain. You think after all these years I would have learnt how to change gears.
I jump back on and restart myself and focus on hitting my numbers. The first 40km were pretty uneventful, I was steadily passing people and then I saw him, I saw Grisha as he was turning at the first turn at 42km and it was like dangling a carrot in front of me, I rounded the corner and set out after him and passed him a few minutes later, he would get his payback on the run and my arse cheek still has him hand print from the almighty slap he gave me. After passing Grisha I had to reel myself back in and get back on my race plan and get this ride done. I ended up dropping a few watts in the back half of the race, I found I was unable to push the watts back up once I dropped them. I think what I should have done is press my lap button and do some short focuses of 5-10min blocks holding race watts, I will remember to do this in Cairns when the mind wanders.
Anyway not my fastest ride and I was sure glad to be off the bike as the port roads really take it out of you and I really wanted to run. I dismounted the bike and found the right isle but again ran past my position, I racked the bike (harder with the bottle between the bars) and helmet off, shoes on, grabbed the race number and ran. I am running out of transition putting my watch on and realised I forgot my hat, well I wasn't going back for it so onto the run I go.
My run was all about discipline, I didn't care if I could go faster as I knew with my training I could go faster but instead it was about focusing on hitting my numbers, if I couldn't hit them then so be it as I knew my training block would have an affect one me. So I told myself, smile, have fun and enjoy the day.
Honestly I felt it was my best run in a long time. In training I do not do any long runs at the paces I ran, In fact the majority of my long runs are focused around my heart rate zones, my pace is often 6-6:30 per km and slower. On my fast run days I do get into the 4min bracket but I never run at race pace until the last few weeks of my prep.
So the plan was to do as follows:
Build over 3k as: 1k @ 6 min/k 1k @ 5.45/k 1k @ 5.30/k Then lock in 5.15/k pace or high Z3 HR whatever feels better until 12k then shut it down and run the remaining 9.1k @ 5.30 or slower pace.
Now some of you would read this and say why not negative split the run and yes it was considered but ultimately the decision was to run it this way so that the weeks proceeding this race were not compromised by extended recovery time. I took this decision as in the past I have take a bit longer to recover from my races.
Now my execution was far from perfect but what I feel I did well was in those first few km's I walked if needed to slow myself down, when it came time to hold 5:15 pace I was in my mid Z2 range so I made the conscience decision to aim for high Z3 heart rate until 12km (the second time we climbed the hill), I did change my plan and kept on the pace until 15km before I backed it off a tiny bit and certainly not as much as I should of.
In the last 5km I enjoyed myself immensely, I felt awesome and I felt awesome running, I am high five'ing people I know and even complete strangers, I am seeking out kids to high five and throwing down some banter. I hit the final turn around and see Ben Judd o I run up to his shoulder and encourage him to pick up his pace, he holds on for a little bit before backing off again.
I head into the final part of the run and I start reflecting on a great day, sure it wasn't a PB, I finished with a time of 5:04 but this was only 2 minutes outside of my PB and I am sure I would have gone well under 5hrs if I was racing to 70.3 paces. Many don't agree with my style of training and thats ok, but it is working for me, I am producing the numbers needed to race well at Cairns and its reflected in my data. I do not need to make every session a smashfest, I just need to focus on executing and doing so with a positive attitude. I won't be using my training as an excuse if I fail to execute on race day because in my opinion its been a pretty flawless prep.
A huge thanks to my wife for all you did on the day and the whole weekend and I loved giving little Sophie a kiss on the run. I am grateful for all you do for me and I love you.
Finally a massive thanks and shoutout to those that support me, Luke Martin we have a plan and so far so good, Infinit Nutrition and the whole team at Team Infinit for your continued support. I am stoked to be part of the team and as usual the nutrition was on point. Titan Performance Group for producing the most comfortable race suit and supplying me with my Xterra wetsuit. Pace Athletic who fitted me with some awesome Hoka One One's that you just do not know are on your feet, they are so light and super comfy. 99 Bikes Stanmore for your continued support and keeping my bike in tip top shape. 3DBikeFit you have me dialled in on the bike seeing nothing but stem as I punch through the wind.
Lastly thanks to all that sent messages of support and cheered me on during the event, I may not acknowledge all cheers but I certainly hear them.
Bring on Cairns Ironman in just a few short weeks.