They say that it’s about the journey, not the destination. Well, if that’s true, then I must tell you about this weekend. Because it was Epic. So grab a glass of wine, I’m about to pour my 3rd glass of Tim Adams 2007 Cabernet Malbec from the Clare Valley and enjoy my weekend in review.
So we’re now 10 weeks out from the 2015 edition of Ironman Western Australia (Busso). This season has been like no other, as I have continued to build in terms of volume and intensity since I became a triathlete back in 2010. So, I won’t go into all of that now. But, we just finished Week 1 of Build 1. We use periodization which was invented by the Germans back after WWII. After years of the Germans destroying everyone in everything, the rest of the world finally picked up on it. Now, periodization is the most widely used form of training. We went through Prep, Base 1, Base 2, Base 3, and now we are in Build. Each is a 4 week block with 3 weeks building and 1 week recovery.
The start of the week included the Hatt Rd Duathlon win and a very hard 4 hour trainer ride. We went through the week following our plan which meant that Tuesday and Thursday were both 4 hour training days of swim/bike/run action. Friday was some recovery with a 30min core, 23min swim, and 52 min leg lift. After a brown rice/green curry dinner with a bottle of wine, we headed to bed around 10pm.
On Saturday, we were up at 5:30AM with a 6AM start including our Busso/Sydney friends Lynn, Karen, Matty, and Fiona. I wanted to take our mates on the Larapinta Trail to build up some ankle strength, work those little muscles on a technical trail, and see some awesome views of Alice. The run was 21.24 miles or 34.2K and I did it in 3hr33min. This isn’t very fast but HR was solid on 130; right in Zone 2. It was an amazing run, my longest training run for distance and time in a long time. I actually wanted to run a full marathon but going that long would have just been too much of a toll on my body. I headed home had a massive protein/recovery drink and went to the pool. We did our standard 6K Saturday swim which is 6x1K with the last 2K with paddles. I warmed up and cooled down going 6.4K in total. I felt pretty decent with Gatorade on the poolside, knowing that I would need the sugar and electrolytes. I swim mostly with a pull buoy today and went: 17:09, 17:11, 17:13, 17:14, 15:57, 15:54, on 30 seconds rest.
The training day was over but I put in a new irrigation system in the garden, had some vegan falafells and pumpkin bites and non-vegan pizza for dinner. Then, we went to the Convention Center and saw our friend Roxy do Muay Thai. This woman is incredible; she went and did Comrades in South Africa which is a 89KM 56 mile ultra marathon with 23,000 People from 60 countries, 2 months after having a baby. Then, she won the Alice Springs marathon breaking 3 hours, and she won the 34th running of King of the Mountain in Alice. Is there anything this girl doesn’t do? Geez!
So we left at 10 after seeing about 10 fights, having a beer and cider, and meeting a nice guy from Scotland who has lived in Alice for 15 years.
Sunday morning we woke up at 5AM. I made Fiona and I oatmeal with brown sugar and maple syrup, and we had a Red Bull. We got our things organized and were out the door around 6AM. Our other Busso Friends were heading out at 6:30AM. So the bike started off, cold; bloody friggen cold. 30minutes into the ride it was 41F or 5C. WTF!!! I was friggen freezing. I had bike shorts an ironman jersey and a long sleeve specialized jersey over that but my hands and feet were basically numb; so cold.
Another interesting thing was that 20minutes into the run I saw 2 random women running down Larapinta with a car. I’m thinking what the hell are these women doing out here? Then, further down I saw some other people, and more, and I was like, Oh, I know what this is. I saw the camera crew after that. The Indigenous Marathon Project was in town with one of Australias most successful long distance runners, Robert De Castella. It would of been fun to go through Honeymoon Gap and see the rest, but I had something bigger in store. While passing them, I was thinking of Nat Heath. This was one of the 4 that beat me at Ironman Australia in May 2015; he came from the IMP and in 2 weeks would be heading to the Ironman World Championship. Amazing. I am envious. It must be nice being trained by one of Australias best runners! I was also thinking of the connection between IMP and me. I saw them called out when watching the Boston Marathon (they do typically go to NYC) on the trainer a few years ago and the house I own is exactly 1/2 marathon from the start line. I’ve also run Boston twice so that is special to me as it was my first marathon.
Another 30min down the road Fi and I stopped. She was heading back and was so frustrated because she just wanted to do the ride that I was undertaking. She took off and shortly down the road I stopped to take some pictures of Brumby’s or Wild Horses. So awesome!
After that, it wasn’t anything too special. I was embarking on Alice Springs – Glen Helen – Alice Springs which is a 270KM round trip journey. I ate gels every 30 minutes, cokes at 3hr, 4:48, 5:48, 7:08 and all my other food. In total I consumed 3,050 calories of mostly Maltodextrin, Fructose, and Cane Sugar. Now my BMR is 2,000 calories and the average male needs 2000-2500 calories, to put that into perspective. Additionally, I burned 6,117KJ so this converts to 1461 calories. Surprisingly, I ate double the amount of calories that I burned on the bike. Also, because my IF or intensity was only 66%, I was using fat stores to fuel as well. This is why I was able to get through the whole ride feeling OK. Anecdotally, it is also why not all Ironman Athletes are fit looking. Caloric Burn consumption is typically highly overstated. As a result, you can have marathoners, ultramarathons, and ironman athletes wonder why they don’t lose weight and the answer is quite simple; they over compensate.
At Glen Helen I stopped after hitting the Mt Sonder overloook. I bought a frozen Mars Bar and a Banana/Walnut Muffin which hit the spot and the pocket at $8. What hit the spot after that was the headwind, all 135KM of it. WTF!!!! On the bright side, I won’t have any issues in wind come race day. As I was leaving there was a group of guys. They said they passed me twice and asked if I was training for something. They were from Denmark and as we departed, I said “Welcome to the middle of nowhere.”
So I’m heading back and hit peak 2, which is now peak 3 on the way back. I drink my 2nd coke of the day and see this woman. She comes over, says Long ride? I say yea. Going Alice-GH-Alice. She says thats amazing, that she admires me. Then I smell it. I look at her hand. A friggen cigarette. Unbelievable. I’m 100KM from civilization, 5 hours into a ride and I have to smell this shit? I move on thinking, You admire me? Well I don’t admire you. Geez. Honestly. You think I want to smell that shit right now? Get the hell away from me. Down peak 3, up to peak 4, I have my 3rd coke. There is a family there. They notice the bike and the 4 yr old boy asks about my disk wheel and front wheel. I say they are light and make me go fast. I ask the father to lift the 17 pounds of the bike and feel how light it is. They live out bush but I said if you are ever in Alice, come on down to a triathlon; we have kiddies triathlons before all of our events; always recruiting!!! I continue on, they pass and honk on.
After this, I was looking forward to my 4th and final coke. I had them perfectly timed right at the time I started to feel a slight discomfort in my head running low on electrolytes. As an aside, I inquired to get sponsored by Coca-Cola. After getting connected to Coca-Cola Australia I received the following response. “The Foundation funds innovative programs that tackle some of the causes of hardship for young Australians. We are committed to funding projects that are ambitious, innovative and unique in their approach to inspiring long term change for disadvantaged young people in Australia.” I found that amusing considering that the disadvantaged aboriginals where I live are plaqued by diabetes leading Alice Springs to be the capital of Dialasis in the World; mostly caused by Coca-Cola and other unhealthy western diet shit that didn’t cause them these problems for their 40,000 years of existence. Yea, thats right Coke. I’m sure you want to help them. Freaking ridiculous.
After I consumed the coke, I immediately felt better, as you do after having coke. Next up? My wife. I was looking forward to seeing her. 20minutes later she was worried about me and said she flagged down a car for me. We started going and her frustrations were impacting her. But, I was thinking, well, i had to deal with 135K of this headwind, you can too; it will make you tough. At the final hill across from Mt Gillen, I hit 8 hours. Wow. This has been a long day. I coached Fi on the rest of her route. She followed me to Anzac Hill so I could punish myself with a 2minute climb at 17% grade to just make sure I was finished; I was. I got up to the top and coasted back down. This being the same hill that Chris McCormack and other greats ran a 32min 10K on back in the 90’s. Past the long ass line at McDonalds, of course,… it’s 3PM on a Sunday, why wouldn’t there be a line of 15 cars at McDonalds (EXAGGERATION!) Anywho, I trotted along back to home and finished.
Analysis: Ok, so this is My longest cycling ride ever. 167.63 miles, 269.7KM. I did this ride with Fi 17 months ago for Challenge USA. I was 5KGS or about 10pounds heavier. Then vs Now: HR 123 vs 122, avg power 206, vs 208, NP 213 vs 215, IF 72% vs 66%, Decoupling 5.5% vs 3.3%. TSS 358. Now, what all that bull-shit means, but things that I LOVE is that, while I was quite comparable in terms of the metrics to the last time I did this, I improved in endurance and fitness. But what you don’t see is what I did in the days leading up to this: 15months ago, we drove out to Glen Helen and camped out, doing this in reverse so we didn’t have to suffer with a headwind the whole way back. Thursday was a 2:40 run but Friday was off and the Sunday before was a 6hour trainer ride at NP of 174 which is Zone 1 Recovery for me now. Furthermore, I covered 180KM today in 5:30. Now yes, I did stop, but the whole ride was again at 66%. Compare this to average age-groupers that ride 65%-75% for Ironman and you can appreciate the effort. I race at 80%-83%.
If you really knew me, you would know I suck at sport. When i was a kid, I would kick the soccer ball down the field and then just blow it, I could never hit a baseball, I could never make a basket in basketball, and forget about catching a football. Golf took lessons and even then I was in the triple digits. But when I did crew back in college and made the freshman 8 and then Junior Varsity my 2nd year, I realized that I could do this. Lifting weights since High School, in triathlon I found a sport that you don’t have to be “skilled”. You just have to be dedicated, committed, focused, and passionate. I am all those things. I love how in triathlon, you get what you put into it. There are some natural born athletes, true. But, some of the greatest just put it into consistency. That is how you get good at this sport.
Now with 10 weeks to go, and my 4th glass of wine, I must look at today and celebrate. Today was a success. I am very proud of myself. I cycled hopefully just short of 4 hours Longer than I expect to race at. I am a completely different athlete this season and I appreciate you reading this. Please share this with you triathlete/running mates as I hope to inspire.