Race reports from the Tri Nation team.
Yarrawonga-Mulwala OD Race Report – Ben Shepherd
I hadn’t had much time to think about the race. Noting that there was no open field, the professional athletes were racing in the age groups. This meant that I was already a little more relaxed going in as I had no aspirations of winning. I simply went in to the race looking to race smart and hard in the conditions.
Unlike every other race, the event started in the afternoon. This gave me a lot of time to think, drink coffee, and think again. Dangerous. I definitely prefer racing in the morning, but all in all a good learning experience.
One of the best things I did was showing up to transition early. I managed to secure an excellent spot right by the entry to T1, allowing me to see my bike right out of the water. Unlike every other race it was not a ‘select your spot’ deal, but rather an alternating, 7-to-a-rack deal where we were ordered where to go. If you were late, you got lost in a rack, making it nigh on impossible to spot your bike. Once I had the bike racked, I went off to find an early lunch and grab a quick nap in the car.
A two lap swim (boo), fresh water (yay), murky as anything (boo). The field appeared super aggressive at the start with a lot of shouldering and nudging even before the buzzer went off. I was pushed out of the way by a dude about three times my size, which was a bit offputting. It did give me a good target to chase though.
When the buzzer went off, I experienced the most brutal swim start I have ever seen. Punching, kicking, pushing, I even saw someone have their head held underwater. It left a really bitter taste in my mouth as to how aggro these competitors were. Still, I focused on keeping good form and trying to find fast feet to hold.
Once the field cleared out a little bit, I started to see some clear water and some fast feet ahead. Keeping a thought on form and technique, I powered on a little bit and managed to grab hold of a trail of bubbles. Turns out that trail was being created by Nathan Shearer, a newly turned pro who won the 25-29AG at Kona last year. Once we entered the relative calm of the lagoon, we bounded up the ramp to T1 and continued with the rest of the race.
All in all, I swam a 22:30 – or spot on 1:30/100m. Not bad considering the start, the visibility and the fact that it was a freshwater swim which is traditionally slower. Even better was the fact that I left the water feeling very fresh and relaxed – I have never done that before, which to me means a whole lotta progress. Positive signs.
Positives: Finding (and holding) feet the whole way. Consistent power, felt like I still had something in the tank when I left the swim. Surged when required.
Negatives: Allowing myself to get beaten up at the start, getting frustrated by the washing machine effect, focusing my anger on the guy who pushed me out of the way before the gun – more control needed here
Not a lot to say here. Bike was nice and easy to spot. Ran to it whilst unzipping the wetsuit. Goggles and cap off, wrenched the wetsuit down the rest of the way. Helmet on, grabbed bike, turned bike computer on while running.
Huge transition layout meant I had to run a long way with the bike. This wasn’t too bad because it gave my HR a chance to settle down as I made my way to the exit. Mounting the bike was a bit poor – right foot went in well, but shoe came unclipped when trying to get the left foot in. A bit more practice needed here but not a whole lot of damage done to the race clock here.
Bottom line: Transition needs work!
Oh boy. This is where it gets fun. Two lap course around the bay. For the first 6km, I had a tailwind or a cross/tailwind. I was holding low 200’s on the power meter, and sailing at 46+ km/h. Happy days. Then as the course went around the corner, it became more of a crosswind, then a cross/headwind. Struggletown! I watched my average speed play jump rope with 40km/h, then watch it dip significantly as I made the turn and powered into the headwind to return. My average speed was about 39.2 by the time I had finished the first lap. I picked up the power for the second lap – as planned – but the wind seemed to have picked up as well. I surged for a bit at 300W to try and make up some time, but then race experience spoke to me and I accepted that my final return leg was going to be a bit slow. I retained a NP of 255W, and an average speed of 38.6km/h, giving me a 1:02:06 bike. There were a few moments during the ride that I was passed by someone punching out significant watts, but for the first time (ever), I accepted it, didn’t go outside the plan, and put faith in my run to catch them. It wasn’t quite the ride I wanted (sub-1 is the goal), but all in all I am happy that I rode intelligently given the conditions.
Positives: Consistency, intelligence, and lack of ego.
Negatives: Rough mount of the bike, went too easy on the way out, could probably have pushed a bit harder on the way back in too. Need to find another 20+ watts in my opinion.
Another long run back in which allowed time to get the head together. When I arrived, I noticed someone had knocked my visor and glasses around, so I scrambled to grab them. Shoes on smoothly, race number on, visor and sunnies on, locked and loaded. Another long run out, but everyone faced that. I left feeling pretty calm, thinking I was in around 10th or so position (but in reality had NFI).
‘Run Smart, run within yourself’ was my mantra as I set out. I didn’t want to burn my matches too early like I had done in Townsville, and I needed to keep the pedal down for the whole 10km. The run was another 2 laps, a small climb up and over a bridge between Vic/NSW, and part gravel/part bitumen surface, which was quite tight in some places. Not my favourite run course, but not the worst by far. I kept an eye on the heart rate, as I didn’t want to blow up on this one like I did at Townsville. Surprisingly, with a comfortable HR of 165, I was able to hold a 3:47 for my first KM. This trend continued, holding around 3:50 or better for the first 5km. Then the wind picked up and I slowed slightly. My last 5km averaged out to be about 3:55, with my slowest going 4:01 – into wind and up the bridge. No negative split, but definitely a solid improvement compared to my last race. My official run time was 37:07, but the course was 300m short – so I’d probably be around the 38 minute mark. Still, a good day out. Good signs included not needing to smash water into myself like I did at TVL, and feeling relatively comfortable apart from a bit of shoulder pain at about the 5km point. Manageable but uncomfortable.
The best part? I passed the guy who shoved me out of the way with about 3km to go. Vindicated. Happy days.
Positives: Consistency, aerobic fitness, and no need for excess hydration.
Negatives: No negative split, noticing the soreness in the shoulders.
Summary: A 2:05:32 isn’t a bad effort. There is plenty of room to grow, but plenty to be happy about. Third in the AG (won by a pro), which from my count puts me at 45 out of a possible 50 points so far. The quest for ITU world champs is alive and well.
Looking forward to Robina in January with a bit of time to grow.
Tweed Enduro 70.3 Race Report – Christy Collis
Sat 25 Feb 2017
This race was part of my Cairns campaign. Over the months before Tweed I have done a number of QTS sprint races, and surprised myself by placing well in all but one of them (that one was the world champs qualifier). The QTS races were good race practice, but they also began to shift my mindset. In the WT session before Tweed, Mark also pushed this mindset shift. He said he wanted me to stop thinking like a participant and to start thinking like a racer. He said I am now an athlete, and I’m ready to race. He said I should aim to podium at Tweed. This felt scary for a few reasons. First, I don’t really know what it means to think like a racer. I’ve found a comfortable identity and approach as a participant, out there just to see how long I can go, someone who is interested in distance rather than speed, someone who is out there to experience being myself rather than to beat others. It occurred to me that these are safe stories I tell myself in order to avoid having to feel uncomfortable and having to face failure. Second, I fear that I’m not built for speed and power, so if I race I might be setting myself up to fail. And I’m getting older: it’ll be four years until I’m the young one in my next age group. Basically: fear. Fear of having to be uncomfortable. Fear of failure. Fear of committing to fix so much energy and focus to something that my body and my age might prevent me from achieving. With these thoughts and fears kicking around in my mind, I headed in to Tweed. To try to be a racer.
My big question: how do I try to podium? What do people do? My main practical answers were pretty simple: not to use my HRM, and to push the swim and bike. To stay in a hard gear on the bike, and to maintain a low, grinding cadence. To maintain a full pedal stroke. To try to keep tension out of my shoulders and to focus the effort in my core and legs. Not to drop any swim strokes (I sometimes drop a stroke when I’m fatigued); to stay very hydrodynamic through my right lower leg. No real plans for the run. Same nutrition and gear as usual.
A final piece of context from outside of triathlon is that I’m having a difficult time at work at the moment. I haven’t experienced feelings at work for well over a decade: I stay calm, confident, and emotionally detached. But recent events at work have forced me to have feelings, and these feelings have been negative. I made a note to myself before racing to try to compartmentalise this and to keep it out of my race. In particular, I reminded myself that when I get passed, I must not let the current negative feelings from work come in and make me lose my drive. I mostly achieved this.
A good swim for me, with a twist. I pushed out in the lead, as usual, to get out of the pack from the start. I was leading right next to one other swimmer; we went out and around the two buoys together. After we rounded the second buoy and headed into the open water, I noticed without really thinking about it that the other swimmer was still swimming very close to me, right on my shoulder. It was a bit distracting because she kept elbowing me and getting in the way of my stroke. It was also odd because we were out on our own ahead of the pack: there was ample space around us. Nonetheless, as soon as I felt the tide I was happy: advantage for me. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, but I am efficient with my body positioning in the water. I knew I just had to stay nice and clean in my body position and I’d move along well. Less efficient, stronger swimmers would be at a disadvantage. I swam at a comfortably strong pace. I barely sighted at all because I could follow the tide ripples in the sand below to keep me on course: nice. But the other swimmer kept getting right into my space. So I swam away from her a bit. She followed me and kept getting into my stroke. I stayed detached and focussed on my swim. Then she suddenly pushed me right under water and swam over the top of me. She then proceeded to swim right on my other shoulder. It was then that I realised that she wasn’t just accidentally swimming too close to me: she was trying to interfere with my swim. I veered off course to get well away from her; she followed. I finally thought, “if you want to keep this up, you’re going to have to catch me,” and I put on some speed and began to leave her behind. She kept grabbing at my feet, and then pulled me backwards by my ankle. Far out! I kept my stronger pace up and ditched her. The best revenge. I just stayed focussed on swimming. Other than the interference, this was a good swim. I was steady, strong, and efficient. No fatigue: I left the water feeling warmed up and fresh. First out of the water (and, as I saw later, second female swimmer in the race).
I made more of an effort than usual to run quickly to my bike. Still toe socks though.
Also a good bike ride for me, mostly. My focus was on staying in a hard gear and using my whole pedal stroke. Every time I felt the cadence getting higher or my power getting lower, I went up a gear. My average cadence was 67, which shows that I achieved my low-cadence plan. I felt strong throughout the ride. I began to feel like my infinit wasn’t sitting well after a while: don’t know if this was the heat or that I was pushing harder than usual on the bike. What was great about this ride for me is that I found I can push steadily hard for 90kms. My splits show that I maintained pretty much the same pace throughout. The bummer of the ride was that on the return leg of lap 2, I got a 5-min penalty. I was passing a guy and he pulled out in front of me to pass someone in front of him. The TO rode by just then and gave me a blue card. Unfortunate, but fair enough. For the rest of my passes on the ride (I pass people now!) I was a textbook passer, putting into practice what I’ve learned in squad WT sessions about surges of speed, and also looking to make sure that the person I was passing wasn’t about to pass someone else. Because I knew I had the penalty coming, I rode harder than I might have otherwise. My plan was to try to make up some of the time I’d lose. Two women from my a/g passed me on the ride, so I knew I was still holding a good position. Four laps of a hot, rough-surfaced road weren’t exciting, but I was happy with my ride. I did the 3rd fastest ride time in my a/g.
I used my 5 mins in the penalty box to drink a heap of water and rest a little after my ride. I threw up once, likely from being too hot, and from sculling all that water. One woman from my a/g passed me while I was in there.
Felt dreadful for the first 10kms: way too hot, and also spewy. I had to find a slow pace just under spew and overheating thresholds. I stopped thinking like a racer and reverted to just being a survivor. I walked 15 seconds through every aid station, which seemed like too many breaks. I made sure to get water and ice in each time. At 10kms, I had a caffeine gel. I don’t have caffeine in my day-to-day life, so it’s a powerful chemical when I do use it. It was awesome. I suddenly perked up, and so did my pace. I still wasn’t doing anything flash, run-wise, but I was feeling better and stronger. I negative split the run, and passed a bunch of people—including one from my a/g—on the final return leg. I need to get my average run pace up, and maybe to stop less at aid stations (weather permitting). Calf felt fine because I was going pretty slowly. 7th in a/g for the run. Partially my poor run was due to heat; partially it may have been due to my not having a race plan for this leg of the race.
I came 5th in a/g; would have been 3rd without the time penalty. For the first two legs of the race, I did think and feel like a racer, and I liked it. Or at least I found out that I can do it. Fun fact: the woman who hassled me in the swim ended up DSQed for skipping a lap of the bike course (Stephen had also noticed her cutting corners on the run). Justice.
Total time: 5:48.39
Hawaii Ironman Race Report
Kupa’a: your strength to stand firm, to believe in and be loyal to yourself, and to your surroundings.
This was the theme for Kona Ironman World Champs 2016…And exactly how I planned to execute my race.
While the lead up week was fun, the real business started at 7:10am October 8.
The bit of a breeze that was up first thing in the morning signalled the bike was going to be tough, and the beautiful sunrise then gave way to some scorching sun. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. To test and prove yourself in the conditions the race is made famous for…yes please.
The swim start wasn’t as daunting as the butterflies in my tummy made it out to be. I’d kept them at bay all week but I definitely felt them as I’d waited in the slow and lengthy numbering cue. Anyway as soon as the cannon went off they were left behind (only for my focus…not my swimming speed). Stuck on feet and hips, and caught amongst elbows to the first turn. Must have kept a reasonable line for a change because I pretty much swam under that turning bouy. The back section went on a lot longer than I was anticipating but eventually turned again and headed for home. Reassuringly I was overtaking the (super) slow age group men, yay, first win. Swam hard to the steps and had a smooth transition with everything already being with my bike.
Undoubtably glad to be on the bike and the lap through town allowed for time to settle before heading out on the famous Queen K. Tri Travel (who are awesome by the way!) had driven us over the course earlier in the week- and we’d ridden the last ~50km, so I had some idea what I was in for. Apparently the day we rode the conditions were a 7-8/10 for “toughness”…race day was definitely hotter and windier. Cross winds until Wykaloa and then head wind for the ~30km up hill towards Harve (the turn around point). The pros came through at around 80km into the course, which was just &$@#% amazing to watch and some distraction from the head wind. The turn around was hectic- an aid station followed by special needs, scooted around people and tried to stay out of trouble. And then a tail wind combined with several descents made for a very fun start to the ride back! Overtook a lot of people on the descents so I must have finally developed some nerve? Cross winds returned where we’d had them before but it didn’t matter, town in sight. Should also mention that I had previously ridden to heart rate, but unbeknown to Mark, my HR monitor died the day before- with no where in town selling Suunto so let’s say the ride was done to feel…and it worked just fine ?
Another smooth transition and onto the run. I was told the run doesn’t start until you hit the Queen K (16km in) and they were right. Running along Ali’i Drive felt fun and easy, even the ascent up Palani Road (running) felt ok, but that highway, with its long “gentle” hills is deceptively hard!! Was hanging out for the turn to the Energy Lab…felt like it took forever to get there! An aid station at the top with pumping music and totally the best “aid” – Cliff station at the bottom and the turn around point made the notoriously difficult section a lot of fun. Seeing Mark after the climb out of the Energy Lab was also uplifting but despite more coke than I’ve ever drunk, my legs wouldn’t move any quicker! And my average pace was slowly climbing which was ridiculously frustrating. Back along the highway, legged it down Palani rd to find there was still about a km to go. So happy to finally see the carpet! Lap up some of the insane energy of the finishing shoot and make a feeble attempt to jump over the line (I saw how steep the other side looked…I would have never stuck a tuck jump). Loved every minute but also a humbling experience and a reality check to race against so many amazing athletes.
21st female in my age group
2nd Aussie in my age group and beat the girls who finished in front of me at Cairns ?
Can’t wait to continue working with Mark Turner to come back faster and stronger!
…thanks again for all the messages of support. Appreciate every one of them, especially considering I’m just getting to do what I love x
#trination #tristhlonisateamsport #IMKona #swimbikerun #feltcycles #pacewheels #mizuno
January 18th 2012 – I attended my first Tri Nation (BTS) running squad session as a nervous beginner triathlete. Up until this point I only ran – I had never in my whole life attended swimming squad and the longest I had ridden was 50km (which left me with ice on my knees all afternoon and I couldn’t walk for days!). I didn’t swim or ride outside of races.
Fast forward 3 years to January 18th 2015 and I was about to line up for my 10th half ironman, the Asia Pacific 70.3 Championship in Auckland NZ.
I knew I would return in 2015 after experiencing this race the year before when they put on a really good event – they even had hot face towels at the finish line and a big feed of fish and chips afterwards. This year I was returning to compete as prep for my first ironman (Melbourne in March) – amazing what 3 years can do.
I have discovered that the 70.3 half ironman is my favourite distance. I love the long training sessions involved and the fact that you can actually race it hard and recover relatively quickly. I have managed to improve my times from 5.24 in my first in Cairns in 2012 to a 4.53 in Busselton in 2014.
After attending so many events (10 now since June 2012) in such a short time means I am now well-versed at bike building, bike racking, registration and avoiding overspending at the merchandise store.
Race morning is always a buzz and I love the feeling and atmosphere of events – it is one thing I don’t think I will ever get tired of. A quick set up of the bike and nutrition and it’s off to get my wetsuit on and be shuttled off to the start line.
I had raced in Auckland in the World Championship Sprint Distance triathlon in 2012 and I will never forget how cold swimming in the Auckland harbour was. It was about 13deg back then, but fortunately 19 deg on race morning this year.
I don’t usually suffer from nerves in the swim, apart from worrying about a marauding shark or two, and look forward to lining up with the other girls and the rough and tumble at the start.
My goal for the swim this year was simple – swim straight. Last year I swam off course and was put straight by a life guard, so I was determined to stay on target this time. Goal achieved, however I looked at my watch and saw the same swim time as last year (which was really slow) and I will admit my heart sunk (once finishing the race and looking at results it was clear that everyone’s results were about 4 minutes slower than the previous year – goes to show you cannot compare different race times but you also have to be careful with comparing the same race year on year as, in this case the swim course was definitely longer).
Arriving back at T1 and there were many more bikes left than normal (usually they are nearly all gone after I arrive at T1); this lifted my spirits. Wetsuit off, helmet on and I was set to ride.
I may have been a little ambitious assuming it would be okay to ride a brand new bike (I had only ridden it for a total of 25km before the race) but a fit a few weeks earlier from Custom Bike Fit meant I didn’t have any real dramas, except it being quite different from my previous bike.
I had one goal in the bike leg too – listen to the coach and ride to a set heart rate. This proved to be much harder than I thought. I think perhaps my heart rate monitor took a while to work (I wore it in the swim) as it was stuck on 174 (significantly higher than planned). I eased back to try to get it lower but then started getting overtaken by others in my age group – I will admit that at around the 50km mark I had enough of trying to make it work so I put the pedal down (HR was way off target – sorry coach).
The ride is a gorgeous ride over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, then laps of the Auckland waterfront – never a moment to get bored and before I knew it I was arriving into T2. I nearly stacked it getting off and quickly had to correct myself and find my running legs very quickly.
I always count bikes from my age group in T2 to see how I am placing. I counted 9, placing me (what I thought) in 10th. I had some work to do – helmet off, Mizuno Hitogami shoes on, grab race belt and hat and go.
I had another strategy for the run – a really really low heart rate (for me); set by the coach. I was to run at heart rate 150. To put this into perspective my last half ironman 3 months earlier, my heart rate average on the run was 181. I turned my watch onto heart rate and tried my best to keep it down. The best I could do was high 160s – still a vast improvement.
My focus was on heart rate and consequently I forgot about my pace – I was pleasantly surprised to see my splits coming in at 4:20 – 4:30 pace and I was holding them. At about the 7km mark I had overtaken 3 girls putting me into what I thought was 7th. I then decided to target the girls in my age group. Soon I was 6th, then 5th, then 4th then with 1km to go I got another girl. 3rd. Maybe – was I?
My run is my strength. Coming from a running background, I count on this to finish a triathlon strongly. I have improved dramatically in recent times and am almost on the verge of catching my nearest and dearest (he is still bloody quick). I train very hard and run anywhere between 70-100km a week.
I finished Auckland in my quickest time ever for the run (1.36) and third fastest half ironman time ever (5.05). A quick look at results had me in 4th by only 50seconds. Damn. A podium spot so close but so far. It might have given me a roll down spot for the World 70.3 Champs in Austria, but that has never been my goal: however I do want to qualify for the same champs when they come to the Sunny Coast in 2016.
Noosa Triathlon Tri Nation Squad Report
The official Noosa Triathlon weekend kicked off on Thursday evening with the opening night at the RACV Noosa Resort. Tri Nation coaches Mark Turner and Tim Franklin were the guests of Smiling for Smiddy and made the most of the opportunity of chatting with pro athletes including Jan Frodeno and celebrity guests including Zoe from The Bachelor 😉
The big announcement of the night was the change of course slatted for 2015 with the swim to be held in the ocean in front of the surf club. The swim course change has certainly been welcomed throughout the squad. We hear some old hands who have been missing from Noosa for a few years have even been inspired to come back and have a go on what is surely going to add some fantastic scenary to the course.
The official Tri Nation program kicked off at 6:00am on Saturday with a squad ride from the tent. The Tri Nation cycling kit was sported by a number of athletes and feedback was that they were not only comfortable but looked fantastic! The squad breakfast at Cafe Le Monde finished off the ride and we’ll certainly head back there next year for what was a relaxed and easy option.
To ensure we all didn’t get too relaxed before the big race drama hit on Saturday afternoon with the strong winds causing one of the tent legs to snap. Huge thanks to our dedicated squad members Jeremy Bridges, Michael Curtis, Rebecca Saunders, Derrin Cason and Angelique Brearley for their awesome job at emergency tent repairs plus Shane Bamkin for helping us get the tent up in the first place. It would have been a tough day in the sun on Sunday without you guys!
With the dramas all sorted and the tent still standing on race day we were finally ready to watch everyone race the triathlon. For the first time the team at Smiddy had their own wave start and the blue suits looked very impressive leading most age groupers around the course. Congratulations to our athletes who fundraised and raced for Smiddy: Andrew Hancox, Brian Brady, Hannah Bryne and Tessa McEvoy.
While it was a steamy day in Noosa all our first time Olympic distance athletes had a great time and some impressive results for their first time out. Our first time athletes were Andrew Hancox, David Hills, Gordon Price, Kevin Panahon, Michael Curtis, Pamela Ring and Rebecca Saunders. For many of these guys the swim leg has been the most daunting aspect and Gordon, Pamela and Rebecca in particular have come a long way. All three have been consistently turning up to the swim sessions week in and week out and their efforts at getting in well under 40 minutes are to be comended.
At the pointy end of the field we had the girls smoking their way around the course. Gabby Kukla produced a 2:22 to win the 20-24 age catorgory while Hannah Hogan was in a crazy fast 30-34 age group with her 2:17 bringing her home in 5th place. Gold Coast coach Angelique Brearley keeps getting faster each time with a 2:22 earning her 5th place in the competitive 25-29 age group.
Full race results will be up on the website shortly. However we also have to mention some big PBs that were achieved over the weekend. As highlighted at the after party Brian Brady’s hard training paid off with a 47 minute PB and a time of 2:41. Both Hannah Byrne and Brett Allen also came in with over 20 minute PBs and times of 2:36 and 2:54 respectively.
All up is was a great weekend in Noosa and finished off in style with the Hawaii themed after party. Thanks to Jeremy and Sam for their hard work with the decorations and Scody for their input and prizes on the night.