Big Day Out: Ironman Cairns 2017, 4 weeks

Ironman Cairns is 4 weeks away and we’re in week 3 of Build 2 which means one thing, BIG DAY OUT. It’s our 8 hour race-day simulation that includes a 1hour swim, 5hour bike ride, and 2hour run. Today is my 13th attempt at such a training day and may be one of the most unique ones. We’ve had many crews in the past but up until now the only legends that have joined us in this was: Karen McPherson who ended up qualifying for Kona in her first Ironman, our biggest fan Deb Page who took 4th only minutes behind the podium in her first Ironman, and Matt Whitehead who had a major improvement in his second Ironman attempt. This family of mine were united and tackled that race through excellent preparation back in Western Australia 2015. That season also included Legend Lynn Treis who I coached to her own mini-BDO for Sydney 70.3, she ended up with a PB and huge improvement.

But our family has grown since then and today was another BDO. I was joined by Duncan Rogers who competed with me at Ironman New Zealand (his first) just 10 weeks ago who will be making his 2nd pursuit in Cairns. Chelsea who desires to be an IRONMAN one day and to see what it takes has decided to train with us this season. She’s been such a big supporter of ours for years now and coming to Cairns to support that we wanted to give her the opportunity to train with us. So Fiona decided to fly Mom up from Victoria and watch Chelsea’s 2 babies (6m and 18m old) since she is a single mother. We were joined by Nat Stepan in her first attempt at the 70.3 distance. For Nat, I coached her to a shorter plan; a mini-BDO if you will, just like Lynn. And Deanne Ward who joined us at Geelong 70.3 also was there for 40km of the bike and 2hr’s of the run. Fiona was support crew today, the first time not doing BDO together after 7 Ironman seasons because she had varicose vein surgery and is pursuing a masters; she also wanted to focus on Ironman Arizona this year. We also welcomed Jennifer (Fiona’s sister) who won the Tavis Johannsen Ultra and is an Ironman athlete that has trained at Chris McCormack’s camp in Thailand, twice. And Sydney even came out to support too!

Since my last blog post I held a training camp at Glen Helen in which I did a solo 148mile/238km bike ride that took 7hours,20min. The next day we ran up Mt Sonder, the 4th tallest Mountain in the Northern Territory, the same day Courtney Atkinson a 2X Olympian in Triathlon was running up Mt Ziel 27km away as he completed running up the tallest Mtn in 8 States/Territories in 8 days. The next week continued with standard training including 4x8min runs in Z3, 6x6min at FTP w/ 3min rec, and a 5hr25min ride covering 187k going 2:35/5:13 90k/180k on 238NP. Last weekend I did the USA Marathon Signature run of 20miles (32KM) in 2hr52min. This week repeated the run set and a 30min effort at 97% of FTP or 323watts on Wednesday. The day before BDO I did a 35min rec swim and 1hour Rec bike.


I simulated carbo-loading for Thurs/Fri eating white bread, muffins, redbulls, sprite, snakes, starburst, cookies, pasta, and pre-dinner of 2 pieces of salmon, broccoli, and bread. To bed around 9:30pm


Up at 5AM. Eat bagel, 2 pieces of toast, full-strength monster. 10min before go time I had a full package of Clif Shot Bloks.

I had given multiple instructions to my crew and I’d see them all out there. It was cold to start, around 48.2F (but climbing to 91.4F by the finish) so I had arm-warmers and gloves to begin. I had a Scody Sleeved Tri Suit, Aero Helmet, 3 bottles of water, 6 packs of Clif Shot Bloks, 16 salt tablets, and 3 Winners bars.

RIDE: 5 hours, 115.19miles/185km, 129HR, 252W/258NP/300TSS.

The course: Airport Loop, ANZAC Hill, Tropic of Capricorn, ANZAC, Tropic, Airport Loop to 5 hours.  We started w/ the ride since the ASALC opens up at 9AM and I was too late to reserve for a 7AM start.

Plan was to start out at 250NP for the first 40min, get up ANZAC hill which is a 2min climb w/ half at a 17% grade. Get to the MVR, increase to 270NP-280NP to the high marker, then settle on 80%IF at 266NP to the tropic, turn around, reduce to 250’s, then repeat and in the last hour hold in the 240’s. This is my race plan and essentially what got me a 4:59 at Cairns last year on wet roads and holding back on 258NP.

So I essentially did this leading to one of the best rides I’ve ever had. I was very consistent eating every 20min w/ a salt tablet. I stopped just after the 90km that I covered in 2:25:30 to fill up the 2 bottles of fluids and run to the loo. I drank only about 5 bottles which was not enough and will need to increase this in humid Cairns, but, I didn’t want to stop 2x on this bike ride even though Fiona was fully set up with a rolling aid station.

I gave big thumbs up to all my mates out there and Chelsea had the biggest smile on her face. I had one asshole scream out something to me twice. Clearly I can’t hear them when they are driving 100km/hr, one aboriginal honked at me, I saw a 2 abandoned cars, and 2 dead kangaroos. The second lap the carcass of the second roo was gone and all that was left was its’ internal organs, I think a dingo took it away. Near the tropic I saw 4 large eagles standing 2’ tall that flew away w/ a 6-8’ wing span. Coming back into town Fiona was to the side of the rd w/ Sydney. She then trailed me as I was descending at 55KPH. I looked over and then screamed Sydney! She lifted her head out the window and I drove right next to Fi trying to reach out to Sydney; it was pretty cool. On the decent I hit 39MPH/63KPH. I coasted bits here as my back as usual, was trashed.

It ended up being my 3rd best ride in terms of power, matching what I did in Cairns last year with a VI of only 2% and a TSS of 300 even. At 78% IF and 290TSS of the 180KM, this is right in-line with what the top age-groupers handle in terms of intensity.


30min in the Normatecs on Zone 3 and I felt guilty since my mates didn’t have this luxury. I had 2 pieces of bread and 2 Mtn Dews which I knew I was going to regret on the swim, which I did. I also got my official offer letter from Raytheon and will be officially moving to Tucson July 22nd training on the same grounds as some of the best Professional Triathletes in the world. 90min later was the swim.

SWIM: 1hour covering 3,550meters on 1:41/100m or 1:04:20 pace.

My second worst BDO swim but this is because it’s the first time I’ve not used a wetsuit and in the 50m pool. The ASALC finally got their stuff together and turned on the boilers so now we have a 28C pool in winter. The worst was heading into kona where I covered 3,525 in a 25m pool w/ a swim skin. I’m usually 3s/100m faster in a 25m vs a 50m so that’s a real improvement. I did cover 4K in 1 hour heading into Cairns last year but that was w/ a wettie. I’m typically 10s/100m faster in a wettie so at 12s off, this might appear bad, but it was after a 5hour bike in the aero position and 25m into the swim I said “Shit, I’m dehydrated.” But, I kept moving and ended up being very consistent. I did feel a cramp in my foot at 50min but kicked it out. I was knocking off 500’s in about 8:30 and after a mini bile puke in my mouth at 25min and then a bit more puke at 30min in which I saw my chunks after turning at the wall, the Red Bull I had while driving to the pool kicked in and I felt much better and increased my pace from 1:42/100 to 1:41/100 during the 3rd quarter which is usually the worst.

I lapped Chelsea 3 times and on the 2nd time she tried to hang with me. I let her have it and didn’t accelerate but dropped her at the turnaround. Regardless, she did really, really well. I lapped Duncan 7 times and he seemed pissed the 2nd time. He was cramping big time and is learning the need of salt tablets. Nat also excelled and got the job done!


Another 30min in the Normatec’s and still feeling guilty. I had half a banana and 2 cans of Sprite.  90min later was the run.

Run: 2hours, 23.6km, (3:34 marathon pace), 130HR

8:11/m on avg vs 8:19/m heading into Kona. Not my fastest BDO run but good HR (3bpm below race pace) and a step up by moving outside where we usually do this on a treadmill. The arches of my feet hurt within 5min. I was using Hoka Clayton’s which I used on the 20m run and Tuesday;s intervals, but these are going back. My arches hurt more after BDO than anything else! Duncan passed me 8min in and I knew he was going too fast but I wanted him to learn from his mistakes. I over took him at 30min and then he started walking. I was running in the 8:20 miles and quite consistent having salt tablets every 20min. My first PowerBar Gel with Caffeine at 30min was felt within 10min and then I finally felt good and came to a good rhythm. At 1hr my 2nd gel and I again felt the gel w/ caffeine 5min later. At 1:30 in I saw Fiona and 5min later I had to take a squat…. I can’t keep this shit down, literally. This shit has plagued me for multiple Ironmans now and really starting to piss me off. I forgot to have more solid bars on this run so will do that again in next week’s 20mile run. I’ll also keep the same dinner but move it from 6/7pm to around 4/5pm per the advice of the Coombe’s. 10min later Fi came along side and I drank a can of coke over 10min which got me to the finish. Thanks Fiona!!!

Chelsea was using a run/walk method with Deanne that I have advised her to use and Duncan was suffering. Nat also came back to support having completed my recommended run.

While my friends headed back, I prepared protein shakes for everyone made of Chia Seeds, Almond Milk, Plant-based protein, frozen banana and mango, and VEGA Recovery.

An hour later I joined Nat and Duncan at Monte’s for a burger, chips, and beer and a full recap of the day.

Note, while I have been “mostly-vegan” in the past from 2015-2016, this season we have taken a more leisurely approach and consumed meat and fish occasionally, maybe 2-4 times per month.


Not many triathletes would train 8 hours at race pace and dedicate a 13 hour day to Ironman training but it was important to highlight to my mates what is required on the day since race day should not be a surprise. It’s important to test and see what works and what doesn’t. For me, I’m strong, fit, and focused. My pacing is spot on but I need to tape my back, change my shoes back to Brooks, and eat dinner earlier the night before. In the coming 4 weeks, I need to continue to reduce weight as I can and enjoy my 1 week training camp in Tucson where I’ll do a 5K race, 20mile run, and 300TSS ride climbing up Mt Lemmon. I’ll also continue to lift as I am seeing gains from that.

Kona is certainly a goal of mine for Cairns but I know the competition is going to be steep. I’ll need a perfect day and some luck as well. But really, all I want to do is PB in all disciples on the Cairns course. 1) Break 1:01:06 but really go sub 1hour again. 2) Break 4:59:35 on Power greater than 258NP. 3) Break 3:37:16, be consistent, and don’t walk a single step. 4) Sub 9:46:41. On a perfect day I see myself going between 9:35-9:45. But, in all honesty, it’s nice to have time goals, but it doesn’t mean shit. No one can predict what race day will bring the field. Ultimately, after 11 Ironman’s over the last 5 years I want to leave Australia having accomplished what many athletes are in search of but very difficult to find, Your Best Triathlon.


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