Kona Training


Firstly, thank you to the 10,010 views, created by visitors from around the world. I am constantly reading blogs and searching blogs about Ironman, Triathlon, and Kona and like to produce this blog as a resource primarily for me to look back to but also as a free service to athletes worldwide. I’ve always been a story teller/writer and have enjoyed writing even through school. Please click “Follow Alice Springs Athlete” along the left side of the homepage for automatic emails when I post. And, because I’m not here trying to make money, your email is secured under WordPress. And your feedback is always appreciated. So here’s another one this week, please enjoy!


This is the last day of Build 2, rest and test week. 7 Days ago I ran a 3:19 in the Alice Springs Marathon. I did an FTP test that resulted in a metric higher than Ironman Cairns but lower than where I performed 3 weeks earlier, for obvious reasons, on Friday. On Saturday, I ran for the first time since the Marathon. My wife and I, who is also competing in the 2016 Ironman World Championship ran with me starting late in the day when it was the warmest. The “climb” from the MVR to the R&R crossing and back was complete in 2 hours at a good HR and ok Pace. I negative split the run due to the headwind and descending and again felt good. After a whole-foods plant based homemade meal of Barley Soup and Cashew-Nut Pasta I was off to bed around 10:30. No alarm, we’d wake up when we woke up.

We woke around 8:30am and I made an Organic Pancake Shaker that unfortunately included milk solids and egg. (this is why I consider myself “Mostly-vegan”). I included banana and blueberries as well as 100% maple syrup. We finished the lot good for close to 1,000 calories for breaky. (A good reason why this was the first time having pancakes in 6 months or longer). We set up the bikes, nutrition and gear and headed off at around 11am.

The plan was 4 hours at race pace with a warm up and cool down. I planned on going to the South Stuart highway since the road is the smoothest, there was a massive tailwind/headwind on the way back, it’s an out and back, and I wanted to push the speed. The legs were a little sore from the day before but I had the nutrition I needed: 2 SIS bars, 5 packages of Clif Shot Bloks, 1 bottle of Endura, ½ bottle of Caffeine ARO, 10 Salt Tablets. I also wore my Rudy Project Wing 57 Helmet and Scody USA Sleeved Tri suit on board my Argon 18 E119 Tri +. I had my XLAB versa 500 filled and 1 ½ bottles filled for race day simulation. Sami weighed 28 pounds that I then plugged into BestBikeSplit.com.

The winds were coming out of the North at 30kph; this was going to be fast. I gave a kiss to Fi and we both had our RoadID’s on as always.


Ok, warm up 20min S. Stuart Highway, over the R&R, and when the pavement wasn’t shit, I pressed start to my 2nd Garmin. I was quickly on 50kph+ aided by my new 55-42 Dura-Ace chainrings. I had my first nutrition of bloks which I consume every 20min with a lap of the Garmin to remain focused on 20min pieces and salt every 30min. My goal power was not happening today, I could feel it, but I gave it my best effort. It was also difficult to manage since the 30kph tail wind was aiding my effort at 41kph-42kph.

Soon out of town I saw an old man walking along the side of the road. He had a massive trailer he was pulling. I could only imagine what he was doing; most likely walking across Australia! This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this. Fi and I once saw a guy walking midway from Glen Helen to Alice Springs on one of our epic rides and then we also saw someone running 30km out of town, that person was running around the world! Seriously!


After the old man, I did my best to remain aero down the descents easily hitting 50-55kph. The first and only water stop was coming up. I filled up my bottles as I was drinking 1 bottle per hour. No camelpak today. It was also getting hot (although since this is the desert with no humidity it didn’t feel hot). And while the internet at home said it was 28, it was definitely 35 for the majority of the ride. In fact the avg was 90.5F/32.5C and it hit a max of 98.6F/37C which is one of the key reasons we started this ride at 11am, training for Kona. It’s also why I believe Alice Springs is one of the best places in Australia to train for Ironman especially Kona since the rest of the country is still emerging out of Winter. And over the next 5 weeks, it’s only going to get hotter!


Past Rainbow Valley, I hit the 90km from the start of the ride at 2:11:16. Per my 4hour effort, I hit the 90km in 2:16:29 because the 20min w/u was at 45kph. I was holding the effort however, now heading back to the same water spot. Remember, there is nothing out there, nothing. The only spot for anything is Stuarts Well which is 90km south of town.


I quickly saw Fiona! We exchanged some words and I told her I’d come back and pick her up. She misguided and would have been out there for way longer than 5 hours.

I was happy to have my caffeine drink soon after that, yummy. The intensity of course was now higher than before and close to my Ironman Cairns effort. The average pace was decreasing but I was holding my own into the headwind. Lots of drivers were giving me thumbs up and waving which was nice, and there weren’t that many assholes out there today. I saw the old man again and took a picture of him! Later on I would learn from Fi who had stopped to say hi to the man that he was heading for a world record and something that’s never been done; walking from the northern most part of Queensland to the southern-most part of Western Australia. In his 70’s, the walk would be nearly 6,500km and he’ll finish by Christmas!


At one point I had a horrible smell, “Is that me?”. Then I looked up and saw a dead camel to the side of the road. Well that’s a first. Another good reason why so many cars have bull-bars in Australia and why you don’t drive in the dark! Fiona decapitated a kangaroo near Pimba (Woomera) back in 2014 and wow, was that an ordeal!

I was running low on water and headed to the Alice Springs Airport. I went inside to the water fountain and filled up my 2 bottles. Ryan Coppolla who was the most talented rider in Alice Springs showed me this once and it was clutch on this day.


I had only a bit longer to go on the 4hour effort and completed it covering 91.6m/147.5km, on avg hr of 129 which is 4bpm lower than usual, of course this is because my Intensity was forced lower from the marathon fatigue, on cadence of 88. The 245NP ride was my 4th fastest & most powerful ride ever.

I kept going as I wanted to go sub 5hrs for the 180km. The effort was much lower but thought I could get there. Coming in to town a 150’, 50m road train passed me. Fiona and I always get sad now when we see these, knowing that these cattle “who lived a good life grazing in the Outback of Australia” are forced to stand in steel cages, terrified, not knowing where they are going. They then get shipped to Asia and get butchered with a 7 inch steel bullet to the head. It’s one of the reasons Fi and I remain vegetarian. And to me, it feels like the holocaust. Fact is this is done to plenty of meat that hits the dinner table (but not ours); chickens, pigs, and cattle.


Behind the road train I thought of the Strava section heading from the car place to the telegraph. The KOM and top 4 riders on that Strava section clearly sat behind a road train (which I find incredibly cheap and complete bull-shit). So to play at their game, I too sat behind the Road Train quickly hitting 37.8mph/61kph. But I was getting freaked out so I backed off. Funny enough, I’ve gone faster w/out the road train.

As I was coming home, I hit the 180km in 4:54:29 which I thought was great considering 54minutes was not at effort and it was an out and back which can nullify the tail wind. I quickly grabbed a protein shake including RawFusion (Raw Plant Based Protein), Vega Recovery, and unsweetened coconut milk. (We don’t consume whey anymore since whey comes from cows and is acid forming; it won’t aid in recovery of the body’s Ph levels. We also primarily consume Coconut, Almond, and Soy milks.


I hopped straight in the car and picked up Fiona about 15minutes from home.

After giving thanks for the day at Our Lady of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, I made FiFi a nice dinner including a plant-based dinner of “Spaghetti Squash Primavera” from the Eat to Live Cookbook by Joel Furhman M.D. “Research shows that vegetable consumption is the most important factor in preventing chronic disease and premature death.” (Page 7)

With 41 days to go, the excitement is building. I’m looking forward to the next 3 weeks to build to another level of fitness and thank my supporters and the sponsors of my group including my wife Fiona Coyle and our 61 year old Karen McPherson. We are the first 3 triathletes from Alice Springs to ever have qualified for Kona and I’m happy to represent Australia and the Northern Territory with them.

Much thanks to our local sponsors: NT Government, Triathlon Australia NT (Megan Pickering), All Electrical (Duncan Rogers), Elder Real Estate (Joanne Pulsford), Exact Homes (Jack Page), Territory Rural McPherson (Jock McPherson, TMS Mechanical (Lynn and Pete Treis), BIG4 Maconnell Range Caravan Park (Brendan Heenan), Alice Springs Physiotherapy, the Rec Association (Helen Kindness), and support from the Darwin Triathlon Club.

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