Saturday, 29 December 2018

Once in a lifetime trip. Not the race I wanted part 2

After rounding up my trip in part 1. This post concentrates on the actual race.

As stated previously getting to Gold Coast was my victory. I had an aim for my race and as you can probably guess from the title. Not everything went to plan.

My goal was to finish in the top 50 of those in my age group. But even now looking at the results, that was a stretch. To get in the top 50 would have required me being nearly 7 minutes quicker than I actually was. It would have meant my best triathlon performance ever!

Even with the help of my coach getting me into my best shape in a long time, I was still some way off where I was in late 2015 / early 2016.

Back before my issue I weighed around 14 stone and could hold 300W which equated to my w/kg being around 3.4. After my last FTP test before Australia my w/kg was more like 2.6

That's a huge difference. Weighing more and outputting less power really does matter in biking even if the course is flat(tish).

But enough of the excuses. Back to the actual race day.

I woke up to be greeted with more wind than I would have liked.

My race wasn't until 12:50 in the afternoon so I tried my best to relax. Relaxing when you've still got jet lag and been awake most mornings, at 4am is a struggle. I decided to make the most of it and read my book.

I had a decision to make come race morning. Wear my wetsuit or not. The water temp was about 20 degrees so it was up to the athletes. As a swimmer it's not an easy decision to make. Would I lose more time swimming without a wetsuit or would I lose more time removing my wetsuit in T1. It's always a gamble in a sprint. I decided to put on my transfers and make the decision later.

After eating breakfast I made my way over to the race venue.

First job when I arrived was to visit my bike and pump up my tyres and finalise my transition area.

Once I'd done this I went hunting for shade. I was doing my best not to dehydrate. I was also conscious not to overhydrate like I did in Mexico, which is what I think went wrong.

Before my race I decided to don my wetsuit, as it turns out that was a good choice as the zipper on my trisuit broke 10 minutes before my start.

After making my way to the start pen, I was starting to feel nervous. The enormity of what I had achieved got to me again like it did in Cardiff. I was starting to feel emotional. I had done it. I had managed to get to Gold Coast, to the World Championships.

Just 7 months before I had my breakthrough at my counselling and set this ball in motion when I was a long way off fitnesswise.

After getting lost in the enormity of my achievement, I had zoned out and we were ushered through to the next pen, which was a snap back to reality. I decided to put myself on the left of the pen so I would be taking a slightly wider route on the swim course at the first buoy but it would be less punchy.

In local races at home I'll put myself in the mix as I'm normally one of the better swimmers in the field but in the World Championships I know I am a small fish in a big pond.

The horn went and we were underway. I dolphined once to get to deeper water and set off swimming. I reach the first buoy and was glad I took it slightly wide, as it looked to a mass of thrashing limbs.

On the second straight I was starting to pick people off. I do love racing the swim tactically and building into it rather than going full gas and dying like these people had done.

I was passing people and counting them off. 1, 2, 3, 4........

I turned the final buoy and could see the pontoon. I did my best to stick on peoples feet and exited the water. I ran to T1 and noticed I was out the water before Duncan who was two bikes down from me. We normally exit at the same time so I knew I'd had a good swim.

I grabbed my bike and ran to the bridge. As I was leaving Duncan was arriving so I was about 30 seconds up on normal

On reaching the mount line I hopped on and set to the task at hand. After about 500m, Duncan caught me. He told to jump on his wheel. I went with him and two others but no sooner had I latched onto the draft than they were gone.

I buried myself trying to get back on but felt lethargic. My quads were killing. What was going on? To make matters worse I was riding into a head wind.

I reached the lumpy part of the course and saw someone had already stacked it. Poor bloke. After the short climb it was downhill and then back to the coastal highway. Still nothing in my legs.

Just soldier on. Do you best.

I turned at the far end and was relieved for the til wind finally.

I buried myself. Didn't feel great and the numbers from my power meter reflect that.

Average power was only 235W, it should have been closer to 260W. Average HR was 164bpm, it should have been closer to 170.

Some days you have a good race some days you don't.

My bike was 36:33, Duncan and the pack he rode with put 5 minutes into me. Thats a ridiculous amount of time to lose.

I dismounted before the line and ran into T2. Wow it felt hot.

Throw on my trainers and set about the task at hand. 5000m. The only goal. Don't be as shit as Mexico. Run to the best of my current fitness.

I had a target in mind and wanted to go sub 25 for the 5km.

That meant each kilometre had to be less than 5 minutes.

I wasn't enjoying the heat, it was a case of getting to the next aid station and throwing water over myself.

After the first lap I was so jealous of those who were heading to the finish. I wanted it to be me. Just 12 and a half minutes let of pain and it would be.

I normally have really awful photos of me running but I made a conscious effort to note where the photographers were so I could get at least one decent photo of me.

Is that a smile?
I pushed onto the end and was so relieved to be running down the finishing chute. I had no idea if I had managed to go sub 25 but I don't think I could have done any more on that day.

No one can ever take the feeling of running down that finishing chute away from me. Yes it wasn't the race I wanted but I set myself a goal, I believed it was possible (when I'm sure many others didn't), I put in the hard work and I MADE IT HAPPEN.

Don't let other peoples opinions or beliefs put you off the path which you believe you can forge in life. If I had I wouldn't have been in Australia competing in the World Championship.

Me the ex smoker, me the ex fat kid who was useless at running, me the survivor of depression, me the former obese couch potato. Yes all this things but most importantly.....


It was an amazing feeling and something I will cherish for a long time.

It's all about the bling
I collected my medal and just enjoyed the moment.

With a nice touch of fate, the race took place on Thursday with was also the same day the Doncaster Free press is released. I hadn't told many people before I left but they had written an article about my appearance in Australia and this was the day it got released.

Look it's little old me
I got some very nice messages about this article, none more so than the one I received from Gia (someone from Twitter who I have never ever met)

I was so humbled by those kind words.

Anyway I digress, the results form the race were out. Not quite what I wanted but let me take the positives.

Swim PB and sub 25 5k in the bag.

Job done. Now to enjoy the rest of my trip down under. This will not be my last appearance in the fabled blue suit.

I'd like to thank Balfour Beatty and Huub Design for their support in getting to the World Championships. I really am fortunate to have these two companies in my corner either helping me with kit costs in the case of Balfour Beatty or supporting me in all things triathlon like Huub. #HUUBSTER

Thank for reading,

GB Age Group Triathlete

Once in a lifetime trip. Not the race I wanted part 1

Australia. What an amazing place to visit. I absolutely loved it.

Yes the plane journeys were a pain. Being cramped up for 14 hours on the way to Singapore isn't something I'd want to repeat every year.

But Australia is amazing.

It was a once in a lifetime trip for me so I made sure I crammed as much into it as I could.

This post will be split into two. This post which will concentrate on my trip and a second post which will concentrate on the actual race.

I arrived in the Gold Coast to a horrendous storm, which was a little confusing. Where was the sun I was expecting?

I waited for my transport to my hotel and was awestruck by the architecture in the Gold Coast. It's not for everyone but as someone who considered architecture at school, I thought it was amazing.

My apartment was about 150m from the beach and I had an amazing view of the sea from my bedroom.
Not a bad view even with the storm brewing
I'd landed on the Saturday morning and tried to stay awake all day to align my body clock.

My race wasn't until the Thursday so I had a few days to spare. Not a great deal of time considering I had to register on the Wednesday but a bit of time.

On the Saturday I decided to build my bike so I could go on the organised GB group ride on the Sunday morning.

One problem, I needed a bike pump so had to walk to a bike shop to buy one. I was determined not to get stung with excess baggage. I walked to Giant Gold Coast (which was a lot further away than I originally thought) and the thing which hit me was how hot it felt. It also felt quite sticky because of the recent storm.

I arrived back to my apartment and built my bike and took it on a very quick spin to see that it was working fine. Gears felt fine so I set my alarm for the group ride the next morning.

Bike all built on my balcony
I then decided to go for a quick run to test my legs. 2km working hard then a steady plod back.

Even though I was exhausted, I stayed the course and stayed up all day Saturday. I was a little peeved to be awake at 4am on the Sunday. DAMN YOU JET LAG.

The Sunday ride was really steady and consisted of a 25km out and back and a stop off for a photo of the Gold Coast and a stop off for some coffee. Wow the coffee was good. Like really good. Quite simply the best I'd ever tasted.

That coffee though!?
What a beautiful place
I spent the rest of Sunday chilling out and decided to walk into the City Centre to get my bearings.

I then had to pack for the next part of my trip. Like I said it was a once in lifetime trip so I was packing for a two day trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Far from ideal timing before the race but my victory was getting to Australia after my depression.

The next morning I got up at 4am to make my 6am flight to Lady Elliot Island which is an atoll on the very south of the GBR. It is beautiful and in the middle of the ocean.

It was simply stunning. I spent the two days relaxing, snorkelling, going on snorkel trips, walking round the island.
Nothing but ocean
I got to swim with turtles, manta rays, more fish than you can imagine and just lapping up the natural beauty.

My new friend the turtle

These days it is too easy to get carried away with social media and the pace of life but being stuck in the middle of the ocean with no signal on a beautiful island is good for the soul.

How amazing a view?
I flew back on Tuesday afternoon and knew that Wednesday would be a busy day registering.

I woke up on Wednesday and made my way to the race venue and transition area.
Quality spelling on the way to the venue. LOL
I was expecting a bit of a queue but really 3 hours in the baking sun was far from ideal race prep. It was so hot and there was nowhere to hide from the sun. After registering I racked my bike and made my way home (obviously after spending a fortune on clothes at the venue)

Wednesday night was the opening ceremony and I like to go to these as they are a great atmosphere. Cue more walking and being stood around. #facepalm

Being stood behind Louise Minchin on the way in the parade of nations was good. She really is a nice person and took time to speak to people.

On my way to the Parade of Nations

Love these events
Thursday was race day but that can wait until another blog.....

I then spent the rest of the next four days partying, drinking, watching the elites, spending time with new friends, riding my bike, visiting a zoo, walking round Gold Coast and enjoying the downtime.

Did I really just say downtime and list all those things before it?

There were whales playing in the background of this  
What a view
It's horrible here

Made a friend
Vicky Holland - World Champion
Vincent Luis becoming World Champ 
This was amazing. 

Blue skies for days
I also developed an unhealthy obsession with frozen cola. It tastes amazing.

This is lush
 On the following Tuesday I flew to somewhere I have wanted to visit for a very long time. Sydney and boy did it not disappoint. It is a truly stunning place to visit. It appears to be the perfect mix of water, beach, city and sea and I fell in love with it.

Sydney. Such an amazing city.
The bridge 
My home while in Sydney
The view from the roof bar in my hotel
Again I rammed as much as I could into my visit. I'd planned a trip to the Blue Mountains, a night out with friends, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and I landed on Tuesday and headed out on Friday. 3 and a half days and 3 nights of bedlam.

It was all go but I wouldn't change to for the world. I had an amazing time and fell in love with Sydney as a city.

3 Sisters in the Blue Mountains 

Sydney Opera House on the ferry home 
Sydney Harbour Bridge on the ferry home
In England we get pigeons, In Manley they have cockatoos
One of the biggest things I planned for this trip was climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I am not a fan of heights but I am even less of a fan of being able to see through gaps in floors like on piers so facing my fears for thee hours was a challenge but it was an unforgettable experience.

Faced my fears and won
Australia is an amazing place and I am so glad I went even if I did end up with an unhealthy obsession with frozen cola, chicken parms (had about 10 out there) and in particular Sydney.

Chicken Parms are lush
So sad to be leaving this amazing city
Thanks for reading,