Ironman Cairns Base 1: Races & Status

_DSC0816I was in church last night looking up at the crucifix and thanking God for all he has blessed me with. I was exhausted from the racing and training of the weekend but felt so fortunate to be living. Being in love with life and sharing it with the person I’m in love with gives me great happiness that ultimately leads me to two things I want in life. 1) That after my final day I go to heaven, and 2) That I do everything I can to make that final day as far away from today as possible by making smart, healthy, and educated choices. But of course, everything I just mentioned and will say going forward applies to both my wife and I.

I’ve been really excited to write this blog post, summarizing Ironman Cairns Base 1. Seven weeks into this journey I’ve already come quite far and am having fun with both old and new friends.

February started off with a resolution to a stressful situation. It helped friends, family, and myself be able to move forward. It removed stress and has let all of us focus on what is important to us. For me, that is racing, training, and building fitness; to have my “Best Ever Triathlon”. The excitement of the season picked up by securing flights to Cairns and Kona, seeing a picture of Fiona on her bike in Australian Triathlete magazine, receiving a personal reply from Aussie Ironman Legend, Jason Shortis, and helping to mentor a colleague that has been told he can come off his Type 2 Diabetes pills because his tests had “dramatically improved”. Note: Fiona was in Melbourne the last week for a course and said that 1 in 100 people with Diabetes Type 2 will lose a leg and of those people only 30% will live longer than 5 years. Alice Springs is also 6X higher than the national average, as the Aborigines genetic predisposition to sugar and fried food don’t mix well. Alice is also the #1 Dialysis Centre in the Southern Hemisphere and our newest training partner and fellow team members Jarrod is now a dedicated Prosthetist at the Alice Springs Hospital. Incredible.

My 32nd birthday was enjoyable with some of our closest friends there. Completing The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing by Dr Phil Maffetone helped give me some insight into my low Vitamin D deficiency (oddly enough living in a desert) at a level of 66, well below the recommended range or >75 and Phil’s recommendation of 125-200. I’m now using Vitamin D drops to get the levels up and not really using sunscreen. He dedicates a whole chapter to the topic which is very good and says things like to not put stuff on your skin you wouldn’t eat, the best protection is a base tan, and vitamin D gets blocked by sunscreen but actually helps prevent skin cancer. Although this “text-book”-like-book was good, there are some things I definitely disagreed with like eating all the eggs and meat you want (since I don’t believe this is an optimal diet for life longevity and as a mostly-vegan ironman athlete). But it covered a ton of topics and was quite in-depth.

After Ironman Western Australia, during my transition phase, I threw out my mostly vegan diet since we were going on a 2 week cruise and also got the unlimited alcohol package. I went from 183 pounds to 200 pounds in a matter of 4 weeks. However, after 7 weeks, and as of this morning I was down to 181.8 Pounds. 18 pounds or 8.2KG of weight loss (Water and Fat). I feel absolutely 100x better and have my body back to where it was, but not my fitness… yet. The results were not due to my training but by going back on a whole foods-plant based diet using cookbooks like “Simple, Tasty, Good” and “The Vegan Pantry”. I haven’t been perfect. On Valentine’s Day I had some shrimp and a pork belly since it was a set meal at our night stay at Lasseters. But, that was all the meat and fish I’ve had (and the eggs the next morning). There’s been candy and chocolate which I am even asking the wifey not to buy since it comes from cows milk. We do have wine. The biggest hurdle right now is getting rid of our laziness and dumping cheese which is the most acid forming food, and one of the worst things you can eat, period!


“delicious tofu curry & Chapatis” from the Vegan Pantry. I put it over brown rice and had a side of silverbeat.


Looking back, the training has gone really well. We’ve had some great group sessions of outdoor rides, indoor trainer rides, a special hill workout, trail runs, and pool swims. The season has looked quite different to the past where we are incorporating more quality work in Base and including sessions like 10x100m in the pool, hill run repeats with sprints in between, and 3x10min at threshold to name a few.

The highlight of the training would have to be Sunday of this past week. I competed in the Get Physical Sprint Triathlon doing the 34min TT as part of a team and held threshold. Then, 5 hours later I was joined by Fiona on her Slice, Lynn on her Giant Trinity, Chelsea on her Shiv, Duncan on his Shiv, and myself on the Scott Plasma III. Baby Ava was in her stroller sitting up and in awe. We warmed up for 15min, then did 3x10min at threshold w/ 5min Rec. Then, it was 1 hour of Z2 watching Spinervals Mt Lemon Climb. Then, we did 10x 30s all out w/ 30s Rec. Then Recovery. I provided a vegan soup with Alkaline seaweed and Nutritional Yeast for recovery. It was fantastic! I held 231NP for this ride covering 80KM in the 2 ½ hours on a TSS of 136.2. There were only 4 workouts last season that were better than this! So knowing this, I am very proud of my training partners!

Season Totals (7 Weeks): 132 hours (18.9/wk/avg), 21% swim, 54% bike, 25% run, 15% extra. 66KM Swimming, 2,034KM Cycling, 327KM Running. Build weeks avg: 22.7hours. Biggest Week: 23.8hours.


ASRWC Time Tease 5.1K (Feb 6, 2016)- The day before my birthday. I had wanted to do this race ever since I arrived in Alice Springs in 2011 and finally got up early for it and was able to train with it. Fi, Dee, Lynn, Jarrod, and myself ran 35minutes out The Gap to the start of the race. Then, the Garmin was put in a bag. In this “Time Tease” you have to predict your finish time for the 5.1KM Course. I wasn’t planning on going all out since that would have been awful after only 4 weeks back. I estimated 22:45 and while I beat that time with a 22:04 my bad estimate of 41s delta was too far off. 1, 2, 3 were 6s, 7s, 18s off their predicted time! Last year somebody guessed it exactly!!! Fi beat me in 21:48 but was 1:42 faster than her predicted time. And, our close friend Lynnie doesn’t realize how fast she has become having ran 12:24 FASTER than her predicted time of 40minutes. Cheeky cheeky. We ran home down Gap Rd and then up & over ANZAC hill just to have a little bit more of a suffer for another hour. The 2 hour run was in our plan.

ASTC Valentines Day Sprint (Feb 14, 2016)- I invented this triathlon in 2015 as an ASTC committee member. Fiona and I both Race Directed it then and I really wanted to race it with her, but I figured we’d RD, get some traction with the race and then do it next year. My vision didn’t really transpire last year, as most athletes wanted to compete as an individual so I figured this would be best for Fiona and I as well (vs doing a team), and see where our fitness levels were only 2 weeks into real training. Both Fiona and James Steer were going to be my competition and because it is a race and anything can happen, respect must be given. This allows me to really focus and work hard. For the 750m swim in the 50m pool I drafted off of Fi since I knew she was faster than me at this point of the season. I held on and went 12:16. A 56s transition and I was on the bike second behind James, a very fast junior. I went 36:05 for the 22.9KM bike leg. Looking forward this was nearly 2 minutes SLOWER than what I would do in 2 weeks at the Get Physical Triathlon (TT Only). NP was in fact only 260watts which is 41 watts lower than what I will hold in that race! This is only Zone 3 too. 38s for T2, and 21:27 for the 4.8KM run. Total 1:11:23. My pace was consistent during the run but I couldn’t get the HR high enough holding only 136 which is well below the 155 I would hold in the Intersport 4K Race 2 below and pretty poor since this is only Zone 2. For perspective, this is the same HR that I held for Ironman Western Australia. Clearly I wasn’t working hard enough, although it felt like I was! AkA – Lack of Fitness. Even on the bike, my HR bonked after 18 minutes. I really pushed myself hard in that race “mentally” but I felt like crap and it just felt awful being out of shape. But, that is what training is for and I know where I have come from and where I can improve to. My PB on this course and course record of 1:06:52 is from March 2015 when I had 3 weeks to go till Ironman Australia. Knowing that I was 4 ½ minutes slower sucked but that’s how it goes. Fiona was also much slower. In March 2015 she went 1:09:33 taking 3rd overall behind Ben Bruce. But in the VDAY event she was 6:04 slower. It clearly shows we got the Premium Drink Package on our 2 week cruise over New Years! The real test will be March 20th. This will be the 32nd running of this event. It will be at the end of Base 2, Week 3. I’ll have been training for 10 weeks by then and still have 12 weeks till Ironman Cairns. Will I break the record? Will I defend the title and win for the 3rd time? If I can do that, it will be huge and really be promising for the rest of the season.

Intersport 4K Race 1 (Feb 20, 2016) – This race was at the end of Base 1, Week 3. I was planning on going easy but can never actually get that mindset come race day. However, instead of going all out, during the race I decided to hold right below threshold pace. So it was a quality run but not as hard as I could go. Fiona, Lynn, and I think Deanne joined us at 6:30AM for the 16 min w/u to the race. I only went from Z1 to Z2. Cadence was 172 and consistent HR was consistent and averaged 147 under my threshold previously established at 151, but climbed to 155 for the last 40 seconds as I ran into the finish line. Pace was 7:02/mile going 17:42 for the 4.05K run. After, we were joined by Jaime and ran another 1hr7min on trails up to the telegraph station and came across 1 kangaroo. Total time of 1hr41min covering 18.5KM was also in our plan but fatigue was setting in and HR was too low during the long run. I came in 17th of 123 or the top 14% which really isn’t where I would be if I were racing this. Wifey Fiona came in 9th overall and 2nd female in 16:35 but I would beat that time in Race 2. J

Intersport 4K Race 2 (Feb 27, 2016) –Instead of doing my 30min Run test, I opted to go as hard as I could in this 4K race expecting my HR to pretty much be at, or slightly above my LTHR. I woke at 6AM, had an English muffin with vegan butter and chia seed jam. I ran to the race for a 15min w/u progressing from Z1 thru Z3 and feeling quite warm. The 2 loop course through Alice Springs CBD is well shaded over various terrain. This time, I started at the front and went out at around 3:40/K or 6min/mile. It climbed up to 3:50/K and was there for the first 5-7minutes. But then I started to slow a bit as my HR from min 7-9 was sitting on 159-161 which is well above my historical threshold of 152-154. The 3rd quarter, always the dead spot HR fell to 154-156 as did the pace. I grabbed it back towards the end finishing with the HR on 160. Avg HR 155.   Run cadence was over 175 for the first half but then fell to 172 for the second half as it followed fatigue. Avg 174 Cadence. This was a PB on this course form the prior years. 6:30/mile only 7 weeks into training was good and without any real speed work. 16:23 total time 4.05K. I came in 14th of 152 which is the top 9.2% and historically where I have been in running races in the USA. After the run, Jarrod and I ran with Tami joining us for a bit. Another 49minutes on 133HR right in Z2. The 88 minutes of total running 18KM was in-line with the plan. I determine my LTHR increased from the first test 4 weeks ago of 151 to 153. I believe it is lower than the 154 from past seasons.

Get Physical Triathlon (TT Only) (Feb 28, 2016)- I chose not to compete in the Sprint 750m swim/20k ride/5k run as an individual because I was coming off of a rest & test week, was not entirely happy with my FTP test from Friday night, wanted to see what I could go on this course, and because I thought it would be fun to get a great swimmer Jess and a fast runner Jarrod and see what we could do together under the team name “Witness the Fitness”. So I woke up at 5:30AM had English Muffing with vegan butter and Chia Jam. I also had caffeine ARO 30min before race time and a pack of Clif shot bloks 30min before. I didn’t really do a warmup besides ride a total of 21minutes by going to the race and realizing I had enough time to ride back home and replace the dead battery in my power meter. Jess had quite a good swim coming out 3rd or 4th. I was at the bike rack with my Rudy Project Wing 57 Helmet and Visor on. (I don’t use the visor in IM due to sweat so was excited to use it in the race). She ran on over and I grabbed shelly to the mount line and pressed start to the Garmin. My goal was to hold over 300 watts and go as hard as I could go! I knew it would be a good test and would take me over 30minutes because the course is really 22.9KM, not 20KM. Each of the 4 loops has 6 turns as well so the speed, HR, Power, are limited by this. I had half a bottle of water on board. I didn’t lap any pieces but did get 2nd Overall on Strava “Stuart Highway / Gap Road”. My 4 loops on these pieces were: 4:40, 4:52, 4:52, 4:57. So I clearly went out really hard, maintained but fell off towards the end a bit. My avg HR was 144, Cadence 89, Avg Power 302, NP of 307, IF 99%. I averaged 25.1MPH or 40.4KPH for a total time of: 34:14. However, this is lower than my 1st Place win in the 31st Annual Alice Springs Sprint Triathlon where I went 25s faster on 301NP. I was also faster in October 2013 going 7s faster there and averaging 41.2KPH with 2 months to go till then Ironman Western Australia. Looking back, in the ASTC “Blue Ribbon” event, I probably used my rear disc covers from and of course being much fitter with only 3 weeks till Ironman Australia resulted in faster times.

As a self-coached athlete it’s up to me to analyse and take away from this effort the highs/lows and what the numbers mean. The race was 307NP, my FTP test from 2 days prior was 300, and the test 4 weeks earlier was 311. So, I’m sticking to the 311 as my FTP. My HR was only 144 while I tested at 148 on Friday. This is because of the 24 turns on the course and the 37C heat from Friday night.

As Jarrod went on to run around 19:10 for the 4.8KM course, I did a cool down lap to treat the session as a brick. We all celebrated our success together as a group at the end and cheered many others in from many distances including nano, enticer, sprint, teams and individuals.

Wounded Warrior Project – This season is not just about me. I decided I wanted to give back and support our Wounded Warriors; men and women who serve our nation to defend our freedoms. People who now have both visible and invisible signs of trauma they may carry for the rest of their lives. While I am no serviceman, I have made sacrifices to be where I am. My family is 12,000 miles away. I’m 14.5 hours ahead of them. I’ve missed all birthdays and holidays over the last 5 years as I do my part to defend our nation. I ask you to help me reach my goal of racing $1,406 i.e. 140.6 miles in this journey. So far I have raised $425.26!

A Big Thank you goes out to my training family: Fiona, Lynn, Deanne, Tamara, Chelsea, Duncan, Ava, Jarrod, Jaime, Sydney.

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