Natalie and I made the call in early August for me to attempt as many races of the Ultimate Triathlon Series this summer as possible. At the time “we” were about six months pregnant and our philosophy was to just aim for it and see how everything (baby, training, etc) panned out.
Other than two goal “A” ironman races during both 2014 and 2015 I haven’t actually raced much and we thought the idea of four or five long course races over the summer would be a nice challenge and shake the body up a little with short(er) course racing.
Swim training has been very consistent with two to four swims per week for an average of 6k per week. One swim each week is a specific strength swim session. All my swims have included plenty of specific drill work and heaps of skulling and backstroke. This meant my volume was low but consistency was high. Swimming for 8 minutes (500m or so) after a bike or run was not uncommon.
Biking has been far more structured than ever before. Both midweek sessions are in the Studio with specific progression and plenty of drills (high cadence, single leg, etc). Tuesday morning is strength endurance (low cadence) efforts three weeks in four. I like my other midweek bike to be a threshold or Vo2 session on a Friday morning. Why Friday morning I hear you ask? I like to have tired legs for the Brat Saturday endurance ride. Long Saturday rides are always in my aerobic endurance zone. As the race draws near I will muck around with a few long efforts (after the first hour only).
Running is my goal for the summer. I want to find the speed I had in my thirties. However the 46 year old body has other plans. The answer has been to do the vast majority of my running slow in zone 2. This means running at over 6min k’s which, is tough to get your head around. Mark Allen said he couldn’t believe he had to run at 8.30min/miles (I calc’d the difference between his IM mara time and mine works out about right). So I just keep those words in my mind as I plod to and from work or school drop-off/pick-up. Brat track on Thursday night is the only speed work I do mixed in with (yes, again) plenty of drills and plyometrics to keep the injuries away.
This program started after returning from our US-UK trip in early August. By the time race 1 in Forster came around in mid-October I had dropped a few kg and raced at 85kg. A good swim and bike had me enter T2 about 20th overall and first in the AG. I was quickly past in the first few k’s by the eventual AG winner and second place despite me running 4:20min/k for the first 4km. I paid for this early pace with every subsequent kilometre, finishing with a 1:39hr run, 3rd in AG and 33rd overall.
Gorgeous baby Scarlett arrived on 14th November. Since Aoibheann, Cioara and I snuck Scarlett out of hospital to pick-up pizza on night one she has been very happy to just tag along everywhere her family go. Thanks to her super-mum she has fed, slept and poo’d at …Bronte bathes, the Surf Club, the pub, a few restaurants, Clovelly Public, my office and numerous walks around the east. So, when we packed the car with stroller, bassinet, maxi nappies, sisters, bikes, wetties and of course mum and dad – baby Scarlett just rolled with it.
Callala and anywhere on Jervis Bay make for the perfect weekend with or without a triathlon. But when the tri rolls into town its kinda got that old school country triathlon feel that keeps you relaxed and happy pre-race.
Come race day its game on.
On race eve she even pitched her two night-time “feed-me-now” cries at just the right pitch to wake mum and not dad – daddy’s little girl.
Having the four loves of my life on the beach at race start was a little overwhelming and fogged my goggles. Not so overwhelmed and fogged that I couldn’t tell at a glance the swim course was long. With this in mind I started the swim conservatively trying to find good feet to sit on. One by one the feet dropped away and there was myself and one other swimming together – ahead were three or four guys swimming faster and behind, the masses.
There was a decent chop making swim conditions tough. I just settled back for the long swim and concentrated on technique and the strength endurance work I had been doing. We ended up swimming just over 3k, with many “new age” athletes whinging and complaining to race organiser about getting the distances accurate. As a “salty old sea dog” kinda guy I was always taught to race the course (not the distance or the time). So running up the beach high-fiving the girls with 42mins on the watch was what it was.
I had ridden and driven parts of the bike the day before so I knew it was all up and down with a few small stretches of flat, windy bits. My number one aim was to stay aero as much of the bike as possible including the climbs. I am proud to use my small chain-ring and was happy to let guys stand up on the big ring and surge past me up the hills. I was surprised at the large number of slower riders sitting up and pushing the big ring, which is never going to make running fun later in the day?
Given the tougher swim and the smaller competitor numbers the bike ride was all solo, so I was pleased to manage a negative split for the two lap bike course and finish with the tenth fastest bike split for the day. I was onto the run first in AG but heard the announcer call in second place while I was still in earshot of T2.
Seven weeks and a baby since Forster I was only a few kilo lighter, but was hoping racing at 82kg would help on the run. The main focus was to start at 4:30-4:40min/s (not Forsters 4:20’s) and see how far I could hold on for? Having my cheer squad there as well as plenty of Brats helped with maintaining pace which dropped to 4:50’s for a few k’s around the 15-17k, but I managed to find a little reserves to pick the pace up for the last few k – with my last k being the fastest at 4:17.
Mission accomplished with a 2min faster run than Forster on a fairly comparable flat course (another 7 minutes faster by the end of the Ultimate series is the goal). After the race it was a quick exit to get Scarlett back to the house for feeding and sleeping on daddy who was an absolute wasted mess on the couch.
Special thanks to the wonderful and talented super-mum Natalie for organising everything and being such an awesome partner and mum.
Bring on Huski