2014/2015 Season Planning and Training
In May 2013, Fiona and I were at the waterfront in Geelong, Victoria. It was here that she told me about Geelong 70.3 Half Ironman. She had finished it four times prior and said the race was pretty fun. I thought that it would be pretty cool to do someday. Fast forward 21 months and Fiona and I are heading back on the plane to Alice Springs where we competed in Geelong 70.3 as husband and wife, the day after my 31st birthday.
Our 2014/2015 Triathlon season started after our last ironman, Challenge USA and our 6 week honeymoon. We came back fat, out of shape, and unfit. We struggled for weeks but knew what to expect; that with consistency and dedication, we would quickly get back to the level of fitness we had previously acquired. We split up the season with 2 A races, Geelong 70.3 after a full 27 week plan, 1 week transition, and then a 12 week build phase to Ironman Australia on May 3rd, 2015.
Looking back over the last 6 weeks, we did lots of great things. We trained 398.4 hours covering 3,521 miles on the bike, 1,006 miles running, and a 157KM in the pool. Learning from past seasons, we focused this season primarily on the run. We joined Anytime Fitness in Alice Springs and logged a ton of training on the bike, treadmill, and weights. (At a minimum we trained 147 hours of 2,003 miles at the gym). Running inside allowed us to increase our training intensity during hot days and saw both of us increase our personal best 5K tests. I improved from a 19:57 to 17:36 and I ran 74% more than I had for Ironman Western Australia in 2013. I finally lost my plantar fasciitis injury after 4 long years thanks to the Strausburg Sock. In the bike, we had 10 rides of 3 hours or longer but only one 5 hour ride at the start of the season and 1 other 4 hour ride. This was far different than training for an Ironman where weekly rides will be 5-6 hours but the high intensity intervals helped increase our Functional Threshold Power (FTP). In the swim, we had 6 swims of 4K or longer. In general, the training was consistent, strategic, and executed well.
Nutrition wise, I read multiple books starting with one book that my friend Trevor recommended to me back in 2009 and sat on my bookshelf for at least 4 years. The well cited book includes data and analysis from T Colin Campbell PhD about the link and trigger that animal protein has on cancerous cells. As a result, I went on an amazon shopping spree and read at least 10 other books. The next notable was Thrive by a vegan professional triathlete where he discusses reducing stress in the body due to nutrition. The end result was a meat/fish free lifestyle progression over August – December because my belief that animal protein leads to stroke, cancer, heart disease, and chronic diseases of the western diet. Fiona joined me in this venture and we also removed all regular milk to soy and primarily almond milk, butter is now vegetable butter, and eggs are only consumed except for a few dishes that require it. We will continue to ease into this vegan lifestyle and make it more a habit to really take this on. So from Jan 1st till the race we were vegetarian athletes. Race Day weight was about 183 pounds, having lost about 20 pounds since August 2014. We did this primarily through nutrition. 4-6 pieces of fruit per day, salads throughout the week, vegetable stirfrys, brown rice, whole grain pastas, oats in the AM, etc. Like many others, I had more energy and was able to wake up earlier to train on a Whole Foods-Plant Based diet.
The Race Leadup
Heading into the race, I had a bike tuneup at Smith St Velo, performed our 4 Brick (bike/run) sessions in the remaining 2 weeks, and then flew down with Fi, 2 days before the race. We met up for a big pasta dinner with our friends and the other 4 athletes from Alice Springs competing, 2 nights before the race and slept awful being distracted by the neighbors all night party. The next day we did a practice swim in the water without wetsuits at the expected race time start. The water felt good which was the first open water swimming I had done in 8 months since Challenge USA. We also got a bike ride in of 50 minutes on the course where I felt the first hill and said that I wouldn’t push hard at all up this first hill just out of transition because the power was already high. We later did a run from the hotel including 4 x 20s strides to race pace. We went for an incredible Thai meal that night with the family and went to bed.
I had forgotten my Vitacost ARO supplement in Alice so 2 hours before the race I had a Monster Energy, Chocolate Chip Muffin, Banana. I put my gear on and our in-laws dropped Fiona and I off at transition. Air in the tires, Nutrition on the Bike, GPS on, shoes snapped in w/ rubber band holding cleats up in the air. We met up with the Alice Springs crew and I hit the loo. I ran back and found Fiona, gave her a kiss, got a picture, and watched her take off at 7:05am after the pro men and women. I sat around waiting for my wave at 7:26am. I toed the line, breathed in, and was ready to see what the past 6 months of training would give me. The swim start was not a massive 2,000 start and only for the first minute were there limbs flying everywhere as I tried to make sure I was getting on ppls feet in the draft. It seemed to clear out so I just stuck to my own line, making sure I was sighting right on the buoys. I started catching the ppl in the waves ahead of me. I would get on their feet for the draft and then overtake them. I hit the first 850 marker in 10:35 so I knew that I was moving. Lots of future waves were around me and I just kept pushing, breathing only to the one side. At one point I was heading out to sea but quickly got back on path. I hit the 1,500 marker in 20:35 so was making amazing time and knew that I should easily break my 30minute goal. The best part of the swim was where I had 2 swimmers in front of me with only a foot between them. I wasn’t going to swim around them so I parted the sea and swam right through them; that was fun. I hit the shore in 27:33 which was a huge performance for me improving my PB of 28:16 from Sept’10 and over my last at IM’NZ in Jan’12 of 35:18!!! This was a result of the extensive long swims, consistency, and my swim coach Fiona. I had the 13th fastest swim of the 104 in my age group.
Transition was a quick 2:19 and I saw teammate Lynn Treis when coming into
On the bike, I was well equipped with my bike Shelly, and my new Rudy Project helmet. But my equipment was failing me. The power meter that I had depended on in all my training was not calibrating, my HR was not getting picked up either. I had speed which I knew where I should have been, and I had my perceived exertion. The bike course was good. I passed an absolute ton of ppl, the road wasn’t super smooth, the big hill wasn’t very big, the wind played up all over the place but mostly a side wind. I saw nearly all the Alice Crew including Fiona before heading in after lap 1. Fi was about 5 minutes ahead of me by then. I had 2 EFS bottles w/ 400 calories each, Shot Bloks, water, crappy Enudra, and had enough energy. I did pee on the bike which was a first for a half and I blame on the diuretic Monster. At lap 2, my powermeter finally started working. My speed was round 23.5MPH so that was good but not where I wanted to be around 24MPH or 39KPH. HR finally started working too. In reality, the legs just never felt good all day long. I wasn’t feeling like I really hit the power at all. It was actually lower than Ironman Pace. I did hit 39MPH or 63KPH on the downhill which was fun but I am disappointed in the bike. I just never felt like I was there. Now my 2:23:14 bike split was 9th in my division of 104 and was my strength on the day but I should have been more in the top 5 and my time should have been 2:15 – 2:20. However, it was a big PB over my IM’NZ of 2:33:33, so almost 10 minutes there!
In T2 I put on socks and running shoes, headed back of the area and running in front of me was my wife Fiona! We emerged together and I yelled to the announcers that she was my wife! It was really magical and amazing to share that together. We saw our family who took all the shots early on as well!
I headed in front of Fi and was about 10s in front her for half of the race. I had to go #2 and knew I would lose it from her. She said she would wait for me, and I said no way, go ahead. The bathroom break is because of eating way too much food 2 nights before. The run was very consistent but my legs were tired off the bike. I just never felt like I got warmed up and was ready to push it. The nutrition was again there but not just the speed. I should have been able to run down Fiona to catch up to her, surely I could have done that, but I didn’t. I really have a lot more to do in terms of mental toughness. Regardless, after the 1:37:42 half marathon I finished 15th in the division, 90th male, and 99th overall in a field of 824 finishers. My run time was 1:05 slower than IM’NZ after 3 more years of running. I was 30th in my A/G on the run. That is very disappointing. My overall time of 4:33:07 was a big improvement over my PB in my first ever half in Vermont, USA of 4:48:20. So more than 15 minutes!
In any race good or bad, there should always be both positive and negative things you can reflect upon. This race is no exception. The positives were an incredible swim, strong bike, overall PB, seeing Fiona, having enough nutrition, and having fun with my Alice Springs Teammates. The negatives were not hitting the power on the bike, not improving on the run, not coming top 10 in my a/g, and not running up to Fiona. I hope to inspire ppl with what I have done and accomplished. Primarily, that you don’t have to crap and a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet can easily get you to the finish of a half Ironman. I would hope people see that consistency is the best way to improve. With the last week of transition (I’m now one week later and not on the plane), behind me, we have 11 weeks ahead till Ironman Australia. The big change will now be weekly bike rides of 5-6 hours, volume to higher levels, AM workouts fueled by a WFPG diet, and SLEEP. Looking back, my run performance was rrr, so aggravating. But I believe that while I have reduced stress’s in my life, lack of sleep is the #1 hindering me from achieving my goals. I am putting sleep, and limiting the amount of stuff I try and cram into one day so that I am rested and my body absorbs all that I have put it through. Stay tuned till May 3rd, 2015 and lets see what I can turn around!