Ormiston Gorge Kona Training Camp 2016

Six weeks ago I qualified for the 2016 Ironman World Championship at Ironman Cairns. Nearly every day I still can’t believe I did it. I mean, after staying disciplined and consistent with the support of an amazing wife who herself had qualified at Ironman Western Australia, I was able to accomplish something that is rare, especially for a married couple, and from a town that never produced one qualifier in the 32 years of triathlon. It makes me feel so happy to know I accomplished something I put to paper back in November 2010. At one point I can recall myself saying “When and if I qualify, I will just want to finish.” Well, that quickly changed. I have 2 definitive goals for Kona that I’ll come out with in time. But why have things changed? Why is my goal not to just finish? I respect the island, the race, everything that is Ironman. But this is the Ironman World Championship. It is the best of the best. It is the fittest strongest triathletes in the world. The only way I feel I can honor this event is to do something special and treat it like the race it is, a World Championship race.

After Cairns I took 2 Transition weeks putting in 3.8hours and then 9hours. I swam early on before getting my latest M-Dot tattoo and then lifted and biked. I didn’t run. Two weeks after IM, I did my first run. It was a 17km run on hard cement rolling pathways from Flynn’s Grave to Simpsons Gap. I went to support Debbie Page who competed with our group at IMWA’15 (taking 4th in her a/g); she’s become family. My pace was slow at 7:22/mile but the HR was through the roof at 147 since the 2 weeks off. That genius move gave me my first real injury in nearly 4 years of Ironman training. A flare up on the inner side of the knee, like tendonitis. I went to Alice Springs Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic to see a Physio, had a couple massages at Alice Springs Therapeutic Health Centre and had some chiropractor sessions there as well. Of course like any Type A athlete, I couldn’t just stop my training so I continued to run on it while training for the Alice Springs marathon in August. This past week, the pain finally went away. Phew.

In week 3, the volume and intensity started to pick up. 18.6 hours, 21.2 hours, 23.3 hours, and 25.8 hours this week. We’ve started incorporating some new swims from a fellow Ironman Qualifier, Thanks mate. Our run has started to use Jack Daniels PhD. And, our bike is coming from my own insights and ideas as well as a progression using Hunter Allen. As usual, I’m coaching Fiona and myself and we’re again doing new things that we’ve never done before. It’s really paying off.

From a diet perspective, we’re back on the mostly vegan diet and continue to try and improve upon it. We had one bad night at the Philippine Independence Day festival where we ate everything we wanted but next day were back on it. We’re really trying to reduce weight this season and we’re doing that by reducing as much sugar as we can (except during the quality sessions). We’re also limiting most alcohol. (I really miss my wine!) It’s really paying off. I’m already at 179/180 pounds and around 8.5% – 9.0% body fat. Last season, it took me nearly 3 months to shed the 20 pounds I put on from our 6 week Transition.

From a totals perspective as of July 24, 2016: 257,000 meters swum which is greater than my first 4 years in the sport and on track for 455,000 meters – 500,000 meters by years end. Cycling is 5,793 miles which is greater than 2008-2013 and on track for 10,273 miles by years end. Running is 850 miles on track for 1,507 miles but should finish around 1,650miles which is what I put up the last 2 years. Hours wise, I’m on 540 hours which is greater than 2008-2011 and looking to beat last year’s 924 hours to 957 hours – 1000 hours.

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Our mates Judy & Rob couldn’t watch our fur-child Sydney. The Burdick family once again came through for us. Thanks guys! This set us up for a Saturday camp-out at Ormiston Gorge which is about 160km west of Alice Springs. I camped out there with the BoyScouts back in 2011 and hadn’t camped there since. It was a bucket-list item. The idea was to swim early Saturday, pack up, head out. Do the run. Next morning do a bike and run brick. I posted in the Training Group of Alice Springs but only received one like from our close friend in Darwin. Ah well.


Work 6AM-2PM. In the pool by 3PM and did a quality session of 51minutes and 2.5km. Then to the gym for a 47min upper body lift followed by a 40min recovery bike. I chose not to run as the legs were quite fatigued from Thursdays 4×10 @ FTP ride that had me cover 90km in 2:30:20. Dinner was PadThai with tofu.


Up at 7AM to get packing. 9AM and we’re in the empty pool for a quality 74min swim covering 3.2km. Head home, finish packing, drop off Sydney and on the road by 12:05pm. 10minutes later I realize I forgot my sunnies; I keep driving. We arrive at Ormiston Gorge about 90 minutes later and immediately get our nutrition, water paks, and shoes together. Our 22mile Easy Run was revised. We’d do the Pound (Run) and then decide where to go after that. The weather was great, sun was out; we were off.

The run started climbing a long set of stairs/path to a lookout over the gorge. Continue running down and we hit the standing water. I had said we’d run back the other way but now that I saw that we didn’t have to swim through it we finally decided to waddle through the water to the other side. (We need to pick up our ultrarunning attitude!). We continued to run through the massive gorge that the last time we were there had the luxury of seeing it via Helicopter from Glen Helen. The rocks were massive and some quite smooth from the millions of years of erosion. We continued on to the trail which opened up into a vast meadow/prairie surrounded by the MacDonnell Ranges. It was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t believe I had never been there before.

It was getting warm and the path was sandy, rocky, and technical. Our pace was slow but running through the dry river beds was great. Fiona took the lead running up to the lookout with incredible views of the gorge. We ran down the backside and finished at Ormiston with an hour of running. They say it takes 3-4 hours to walk it. We then decided that we would run the Larapinta Trail Stage 10 from Ormiston Gorge to the Finke River; the oldest river in the world. Up and down, lots of technical pieces and one near major wipe out. Fi would take me on the climb, I would overtake her on the descent. I remembered how she came 2nd in the 45km Larapinta Ultra behind a top 10 ranked ultra marathoner… if she could only run fast down technical descents!

We arrived to the campsite with an elapsed time of over 2 hours. I told her we would make sunset, not to worry. I had some of the water and we headed back out. At times we’d run together, at other times we’d be a few hundred meters away from each other. We didn’t see any animals but it was great to be running there. Total time: 3hr7min covering 16.5miles or 26.5km. ormiston 1

Back at site, I had a 3minute hot water shower since the water was limited and for dinner we had gnocchi with pasta sauce and parsley, a French bread with olive oil & Balsamic Vinegar. Chia pods for desert. No wine this time.


Breakfast I went with Frosties and Cows Milk breast milk. Because those just taste that much better that way. Medium RedBull and we were off. The plan was bucket list item: Ormiston Gorge – Standley Chasm – Ormiston Gorge. I figured it would be about 200km and maybe 6 hours… I was wrong. The course is the best thing around for simulating the Kona course with 4 peaks and then our Hawi climb. At each peak when we saw the 5km marker we would attack at 90% for 10minutes and in to Zone 4. For Hawi, we’d go up to 95% for the 15minute climb. This would give us over an hour of threshold work during the ride. My pieces ended up being: 312, 315, 313, 310 and the Hawi climb was 327NP. I couldn’t believe I was holding 310 watts 6 hours into a ride, I had to scream out during that one.

The total ride ended up taking 7hours for the 135 miles or 217km. Avg HR was only 112, 8% VI, and a massive TSS of 328.9. At 233NP, this was the same level I held for IMWA’13 and faster than Challenge USA. It’s the strongest ride besides my IM’s, Test Days, and Big Day Outs.

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At Standley Chasm we enjoyed some Cokes and Mango IceCream from the mango farms in Ti Tree, Northern Territory. We returned, said G’day to the folks who took our picture 8 hours earlier. We quickly packed up the car and had a coke, PB& JAM sandwhiches on wholemeal, and honey coated cashews. When we got home leftover frozen stirfry vegetables with tofu on white rice.DSCF8231


It was an epic weekend, bigger than I had planned. There were highs and lows. Fiona quickly realized that low-carb in a 220km ride is the stupidest thing one could do. She paid for it, and then again when smashing down a Clif Bar. Rookie.

Alice Springs has some incredible training grounds and even though we didn’t pass a single traffic light, business, or actually have to stop for 110km, having the resources of endless crappy bitumen is what has led Fi and I to this point. Life is too short to sit on a couch and get fat. Get out there and see something.


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