Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ironman New Zealand 2013 race report

A lot of people have asked why I won’t ‘do’ Ironman Melbourne, the main reason is Ironman to me is a ‘journey’. Training is part of this journey but the ‘full stop’ or end part of the journey is either a) flying to the race destination or b) driving insanely long distances to get to the destination ie. Port Mac or Forster – Tuncurry. 2013’s edition was all about jumping on a bird and taking a quick flight across the ditch to New Zealand to tackle IMNZ 2013.
Training for my 13th edition of Ironman was probably the most enjoyable and testing I’ve had to date. I was the only one of my group training for NZ, the others training for Melbourne so we weren’t too far out of sync. The boys were fantastic, regular partner Rob Taranto was awesome – riding & running hard all the way, including our ‘run to you nearly chuck hill repeats’ which were a weekly feature. Long time mate Glenn ‘Hepps’ Heppell joined in, he was having his 3rd attempt at Ironman after several serious injuries & work. Geoff Pell joined us in early Spring as he built up for his Busso ’12 campaign then kept ticking over throughout the summer. 2 other ‘newcomers’ to join the group were Peter ‘Robbo’ Robertson who probably needs no introduction, Robbo added another dimension to our riding and lastly Lachie Mcleod. Lachie injected the fun element into our training, he was training for his first IM at Melbourne & had only raced a few triathlons beforehand -He was raw ! Raw in many ways – he was a keen student of the sport but also had raw speed. He could turn it on when riding & running and really get you working hard to keep up. His humour, want for the sport & patented ‘Gen Y’ speak took us a bit to get used to but was truely infectious. All together we became the ‘Hard Men’, not for the way we rode but due to waking up at 4:15am on Tuesday & Thursday mornings to try to crack a pb down to Mordi & back via Beach Rd. There were some insane average speeds, one ride had us going from Essendon to Mordi & back to Pickles St Pt. Melbourne with a 40km/h average.  Running went real well with not many wasted or dropped sessions. Consistency with your running in my view is one of the key areas to focus on if you want to achieve that elusive IM pb. The bane of my life swimming was held at Vic Uni wth the Elite Swimming squad. Again it was a matter of getting fit for the distance and not much else as I have a well known allergy to swimming.

Rob, Jase, Lachie and myself having a breather during a double ascent day of Mt Buller!

Marie, Meg, Fee and myself all headed over on the Friday, a bit over 1 week prior to the race so that we could treat it as a smaller holiday. The week leading up was awesome, The North Island was experiencing drought conditions and as such the nights were cool and clear with the days being a sunny, clear 27°C average with little to no wind – just perfect ! In the days before the race we did some great trips around to Rotorua, Napier, a yacht cruise to the Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay on Lake Taupo, Craters of the Moon and a stack of other stuff. Taupo and the surrounding district is a sensational area to visit. All the places I just listed are all within a 1.5hr drive of each other, the locals are the friendliest going around and the whole place is real clean ie: no litter, no graffiti etc. There seems to be a large amount of pride amongst the locals. They are all helpful and really like to talk up the area which was great as it gave us more ideas of where to visit. A few days out from raceday I raced in the Taupo Tri Club Aquathlon and managed to pick up 2nd place in the long course race which was pretty cool as there were quite a few fellow Ironmen racing. It was an atmosphere very similar to WSTC with heaps of spot prizes and some good prizes also for place getters !! The rest of the time leading into the race was spent lounging around with feet up, eating & doing not much else.  Training in race week was structured, light and went very well so I was jumping out of my skin to get racing.
Race Day dawned as all the other days had done – cool, clear skies with no wind. It made Lake Taupo look like a sheet of glass and already I could feel it was going to be a quick day. All the pre race tasks were taken care of with not much thought put into it, everything is planned the night before and I just go into auto pilot in the morning, not having to think too much helps keep me calm – I hate last minute rushes etc. So off to the water where I was hopefully going to see the Maori warriors come in for their Race Greeting, but bummer, I got talking to BJ and missed it. I have known BJ for quite a while now and coached him through this, his first Ironman. He was really buzzing which was great to see as he’s been struggling with a dodgy calf, he knew what was going to happen in the run and also  knew what he had to do to get there, inspirational & tough stuff indeed. I waddled into the water then swam the 150m to the swim start which I thought was a nice warm up, positioned myself about 5 to 6 people back from the front and waited.

SWIM: Bang, we were off, straight away I settled into a nice rhythm, it was still a bit dark as the early morning sun hadn’t made its way over the hills yet. As the sun rose we were looking directly into it which didn’t matter as underwater you could see the underneath of the buoys and also the chain going to the floor of the lake which you could site off quite easily. It is quite an incredible feeling to be swimming in a lake with such pristine water clarity, it really makes you feel alive ! The water temperature was awesome and the swim rather uneventful, no biffo or kicks to the head at the turn buoys, just a good honest swim ! I exited the water in a touch under 1hr 05mins..... Not bad !!

RIDE: The run up to T1 is quite a long one, for the most of it I was yelling out “coming through”, “on your right” or “stay straight” as I was sprinting past the majority of the lumbering swimmers on the way into T1. The first few km’s of the ride is pretty cruisey along the Lake’s foreshore. It gives you time to settle in ie do your shoes, adjust your tackle, get your glasses sitting right, then get comfortable and up to speed for the 2 lapper. The first hill about 5km in is a doozie ! 
It is short, 1km or so and there were supporters everywhere. It was easy to get excited and burn up it but this wasn’t part of the plan. Didimo Dave is fast becoming an icon of the race and he was sensational with his Rasta styled pot and wooden spoon making sure his support went unnoticed, he was  running up and down the hill like a mad man – Gotta love that spirit! It feels like you climb from this point for about 10km’s until the Taupo Motor Sport complex then it levels out with a few up and down bits until you get to near Reporoa at the turnaround. I wasn’t running with HR or wattage, I just used speed and PE as a guide to how I was feeling and how hard I should go. Back into Taupo for the end of lap 1, it was good to cut through the streets and head out for the 2nd lap as it gave you a bit of ‘out of saddle’ time where you could ‘sprint’ out of the corners, firing the legs up a bit. 
The 2nd lap see’s you out on a private road behind the Motorsport track that is used by logging trucks which has quite a coarse surface to it so the going was quite hard. Again these km’s out of town were uphill so double whammy ! Out to Reporoa the 2nd time and my butt was starting to get a bit tender, since I was here last time in 2006 a lot of the forests have been logged and the roads have been chopped up by the logging trucks and were not the smoothest about, this was only contributing to the hammering my undercarriage was copping. My speed was good and my legs felt fine, it felt like there was a slight headwind from the 160km mark onwards so I decided to up the output to keep my speed up rather than let it drop off and conserve. It was a gamble but turned out to be a wise choice. 
Again I ripped back through the Taupo streets treating it like a crit and had the legs firing for a quick T2. My bike time was 4:52:36, again not bad I thought, all going well I’ll crack a PB here !

RUN: I got through T2 quite quick and started the run adjusting my race belt, finding pockets on my racesuit to stash gels and salt tablets, getting my hat on and again – adjusting the tackle. My sore butt was a mere afterthought as the task was on now belting out the marathon as quickly as I could. About 1km into my run Bevan Docherty the eventual winner went past me so I thought I’ll tag on for a while. My Garmin had us doing 3:45min/km’s and after another couple of km’s I thought WTF am I doing this for? and pulled the pin on my ‘stalking’ of Docherty. 
I settled into a 4:20min pace which was my goal time to achieve hopefully a sub 3hr 10min PB. The support along the front of the lake and for the whole first lap was incredible. There weren’t many athletes around and the crowd was all fired up and in good spirits. I got heaps and heaps of encouragement and at the end of the 1st lap was being told that I was the 1st age grouper. It was really hard to work this out as I had passed a handful of athletes, but the difference in builds, styles & techniques between the top a/g’ers and Pro athletes is not too dissimilar, making it hard to differentiate as I couldn’t see any numbering etc. Still I kept plodding along, hitting my numbers, knowing that the last lap would be tough and working on slowly building a buffer of a few seconds per km here & there just in case the last lap got a bit difficult. And difficult it got ! My first 2 laps (3 lapper) were about 1hr 02 mins each. My sore butt from the bike was really starting to hurt ! Every seam on my tri suit down there felt like it was slicing me in half, it was getting quite uncomfortable, even to the point of being unbearable. It was an unwanted distraction and it felt like I was wriggling like an eel rather than running. 
Wiggling like an eel - ouch !
I could see from the last turnaround on the last lap that there was nobody close doing the same speed as me so in a way I mentally switched off. I feel I gave into the pain of all my cuts on my undercarriage and took the easy option to slow, which to now is still a disappointment, I would’ve liked to have pressed on and even split the whole run. The finish chute was empty – I had it all to myself, I could hear one of the PRO Females getting interviewed and myself running over the line was just a distraction to them, it didn’t matter as I had seen Marie, Meg & Fee before crossing the line & had a quick hug/kiss/chat to them and that is what really matters.
Y E S !!
My run time was 3hrs 09mins 53secs – a PB ! for a total time of 9hrs 13mins & 10 secs. An overall PB!
The aftermath was pretty good, I had a lot of family, friends, Ironman work colleagues, some of the Tri mags etc. all get in contact with me about my race. I didn’t really look at it as a ‘super human effort’ as one tri mag put it, rather (& I’ll bore you here) a culmination of the long days, hard efforts and training consistency that got me there. The only drawback that I had from the race was my ‘undercarriage’ which look like it had been mauled by Bengal Tiger ! It was quite unpleasant for a week or so after but we all know ‘ye good ole’ Ironman adage of pain is temporary etc.etc.

THANKS, Matty ! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ironman New Zealand - Sweet as Bro

10th overall, 1st Age Grouper home

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012 - Triathlon annus valde

Reflections of 2012 - a great triathlon year.
Not much more to say other than 4 races – 3 x wins, 1 x 2nd.
Falls Creek Long Course in February – 2nd place in 40/44 age group.
Cairns IM – 1st place in 40/44 age group.
Shepparton 70.3 – 1st place in Mixed teams category (Thanks Kate & Sam !).
Canberra 70.3 – 1st place 40/44 age group.
Seriously, these results are the culmination of a great seasons worth of training. I trained hard, up early – 4:15AM, nearly every day of the year to either ride, swim & run, although the run is not all year round. Pretty much my training for all events was well timed and helped me deliver some great results.   
The races themselves were all so different. Falls Ck. was tough. It was cold, the swim hard and the altitude at 1650m above sea level, was enough to have an effect on your performance. I loved every minute of it though. I was never in a position to challenge for the lead as I my swim was so poor, but it was great to claw my way up into 2nd position for the age group.
Cairns IM was the polar (pun intended) opposite. Hot, sea level and no excuse for not going as fast as you can. The scenery on this race is 2nd to none– stick this on your bucket list of races to do as the venue & event management is absolutely awesome. Check my race report on it.
Yeah baby, Cairns IM A/G win !!
I teamed up again with gun swimmer Kate Lister & the ageless Sam Stewart for another crack at the teams event at the Shepp 70.3 under the TEAM XOSIZE/ROCKET SCIENCE SPORTS banner. I rode and despite a fracture to a small bone in my hand when some clown decided to run in front of me the day before, the team worked well to be again called Mixed team champs.
Rockin' the TREK Speed Conept for Team XOSIZE / Rocket Science Sports
Canberra 70.3 is one of my favourite races. I try to lock it in every year as it is a great chance to catch up with long time great friends Tony & Leesa. The event was in a bit of disarray this year I thought, some corners had been cut in competitor safety and a few other areas which took the edge off a great day. I swam 34ish minutes then rode like an absolute demon on the altered 5 x 18km circuit. I had the ride course short by 1.6km but still managed to ride a 2hr08min ride for a 42km/h average speed ! I felt so strong on the bike it was incredible, then got off for the 21.1km run. I passed the fella who was in the A/G lead at the 1km mark & not long after I saw Magnus Michelson running at full steam chasing me down. He was running at 3:32min/km pace where I was at 3:45min/km pace. I had to monitor the gap which was made easier on a 3 x 7km lap. I managed to hold Magnus (who had now ran into 2nd place) off, we eventually recorded the same split on the final lap of 4mins/km & took out my A/G by a few minutes. I rattled off a PB of 4hrs 8mins which i’m really happy about as the Canberra ½ Ironman was my first ever long distance race I competed in back in 2002. I remember nervously sitting there post race waiting for the Ironman Oz slots to get posted up before taking my spot for the old IMOz race at Forster/Tuncurry. That was back in the ‘good old days’ when you had to work your butt off for an IM spot & not just have a fast computer connection like current. I’m starting to sound old and jaded so I will end my rant and post now !!
I hope everybody who takes the timeout to read all this are fit & healthy and have some great goals set out for the future.
Also special, special thanks to my supporters – Team Lewis, Rapido Cycles in Keilor Rd. Essendon, XOSize – they are at all the big events – awesome wetties, shoe selection and what they don’t know about Tri’s ain’t worth knowing, Rudy Project, thanks for hiding my rough head under your awesome looking helmets & glasses and John Quinn Elite – my sounding board & inspiration.
Cheers – train hard & train safe ! Matty.

The 2012 Road season comes to an end.

From my last report ‘Winter of contentment’ I had 2 more road races to complete. The first being the Northern Combine road racing champs, then the jewel - the Melbourne to Warrnambool. All my training & racing for the winter was done with the Warnie in mind. All the road races I competed in were about honing my body & fitness to give it a solid crack towards this race. The Northern Combine champs was a race I wanted to do well in. I went against my M2W training plan and snuck in a bit of a ‘taper’ for the race which consisted of a very light, easy 90km’s on the Saturday, the day before the race, rather than the 7hrs I had pencilled in. I raced Masters 1/2/3 out on the Strath Creek course which makes up a large majority of the Preston Mountain Classic race (minus the big hill at the end). The race went OK, I finished 5th after being in an early break of 6 that got away up the first major climb then ‘mysteriously’ wanted to soft pedal about half way through the race. The remainders of the bunch caught us so it was back to a big pack, 2.5km’s out there’s a small climb before a downhill section then a flat finish, so – you guessed it, I attacked on the last climb to avoid the big legged brigade in a bunch sprint and despite gapping the field quickly I timed it wrong and popped about 50m from the top of the hill and struggled to recover in the last 1.5km downhill/flat bit & was passed by some more organised riders – Bugger, 50m from being a hero or a zero.......Shit happens !!
Onto The Warnie, I had trained the house down for this race, I was feeling great after punching out some BIG weeks of training. I trained all days except Friday which was my day off. Mon to Thurs were a mix of high intensity rides & recovery 90 to 100km rides dependant upon my training cycle, Sat & Sun was reserved for my long rides & racing.
My thoughts for the race was to first stay upright – be vigilant and avoid crashes & secondly work into a bunch of like graded riders, work with them and take & enjoy the day as it comes. The first part came true as at the 13km mark a massive crash happened about 15m in front of me. It had brought down a lot of the NRS (National Race Series) riders so it was probably the 50th to 75th positioned riders in the pack. Before the crash I was waiting for what a lot of people had told me – ‘prepare to be on the rivet from the start (Werribee Racecourse)’. This didn’t happen, from my position in the peleton which was generally around 100th to 150th, it was very stop / start. One minute you were on the brakes with speed down to 20km/h then the next second you are out of the saddle sprinting !  As mentioned at the 13km mark a big crash happened which brought about 25 riders down, luckily I had sufficient time to slow down and managed to get through the carnage after a few quick swerves & a bunny hop. The front of the race had moved on (read: attacked) and I found myself in the 2nd or ‘chase’ pack which consisted of 20 riders, over half of which were NRS riders. There were riders from Genesys, Drapac, Budget Forklifts, Search2Retain whilst the rest of us were simply ‘graded’ riders. The NRS guys hammered it trying to catch the front pack (approximately 60 riders) & from where I was sitting, generally around 15th wheel, everything was pretty comfortable. The fellas up the front were all rolling real hard, the graded guys sat back as we all new getting involved up the front would have been massive HR stuff & an the inevitable ‘pop’ would have ensued.
This is the only image I have of the group I was in, as you can see some big name NRS teams

The only time things got real hard was when we switched from a Westerly (headwind) to a Southerly (crosswind) direction on the roads that zigzag around the You Yangs, near Geelong. The crosswinds brought out higher speeds in the front dozen guys, while the rest of us had to be strong & make sure we positioned well in the ‘echelon’, riding in the gutter, or with no protection from the side wind, would have tipped you into the red. I did well with this but a few of the fellow graded riders weren’t as good or as strong at getting a good position & you could see they were struggling. At about the 50km mark we hit the first KoM hill which I was dreading as I thought the NRS guys would smash it up, but amazingly it was quite easy. We got to the top and not long after we swung South again, crosswind time ! Again I positioned myself well, but this time things didn’t quite work. My rear wheel an Easton EC90SL which has been absolutely bullet proof for 3 seasons  gave up the ghost. I’ll leave it at that as there are things that happen in a race that should stay in the race (footy analogy – what happens on the field stays on the field). So 57km into my first Melbourne to Warrnambool, I was sitting at the turn onto the Midland Highway with a banged up rear wheel with broken spokes. I sat there and watched the race go by. My pack was catching the lead pack, at the time we were only about 200m off them & they managed to catch them 8km’s later.
Luckily for me a local cow cockie saw me on the side of the road and offered me a lift into Inverleigh to my ‘team car’ where Grechy was waiting for me with my first feedbag. We jumped in following the race all the way to Warnambool before a few beers. My 2012 race season ended up with my BIG race in tatters, an event that I had trained specifically for the last 16 weeks for, which at the time I thought amounted to nothing. But after a great yack with Grechy on the way to Warnambool it all amounted to ‘Shit happens’. And sometimes it does ! Next year ................

Monday, November 5, 2012

My winter of contentment.

Before IM Cairns I sat down and mapped out the rest of 2012. My thoughts at the time were finish IM Cairns then stop swimming & running straight away, but continue on with cycling. I had originally planned to do the Northern Combine 3 day tour the week after Cairns (Queens b’day long weekend) but this was knocked on the head as my sister had a baby girl not long before Cairns so the long weekend was probably the only time I’d get to see my new niece for a while. Active recovery was the key word for July, I continued on with base bike miles with the longest ride being 100km’s. The events I had mapped out over the winter period were ‘A’ races – Melbourne to Ballarat, Alf Kimpton memorial at Broadford, Pop Stewart Memorial at Balliang & Brunswick club champs (Masters). Followed by ‘B’ races – Northern Combine ITT champs at Balliang, Vic club TTT champs & Sunbury Trophy race at Pastoria. All these were part of my macro/micro training cycle for my big A+ event, The Melbourne to Warrnambool to be held on Sat. October 13th.

I’ll go through my winters races below and give a brief description how each panned out.

Northern Combine ITT Champs: 23 June, at Balliang circuit which is just outside Bacchus Marsh, I lined up in Masters 1/2/3 which is basically from 30 to 45 year old age groups, these are measured in the same year increments as Triathlon. It was a sunny but cool & windy day just 3 weeks after Ironman Cairns. The distance was 24km’s (I think) so it was on the rivet the whole way. My time of 34mins 23secs ave speed 41.9km/h was enough to secure 1st spot in Masters 1/2/3.

Alf Kimpton Memorial Handicap – Broadford : 7 July. I love this race, I have placed 2nd in it previously & with no road racing in my legs for this season saddled up for this years edition off a generous mark of 15 minutes. The race is a 3 lapper which has some solid little climbs, quite luckily I was in a very good group who were quite organised, our task was made easier with the majority of riders in my group all doing their fair share of work. We worked hard to pull in the later groups but on the final lap the 12 & 9 min groups caught us so the group had swelled to approx. 50 riders. The last 10km’s is quite hilly, my legs felt good so I tried a few quick bursts to join in on a few attacks, knowing the pack wouldn’t let us get too far away. Then with 3 km to go I launched a solo effort which no one matched, I didn’t know how many were in front of me so it was just a matter of making sure I didn’t get caught. 2km’s out I passed 2 riders, in the last 300m before the hilltop finish I passed the rider sitting in 4th spot. This is where I finished out of a field of 120ish so I was quite happy about it. BUT, I finished & felt REAL GOOD, on hindsight I should’ve attacked 2 km’s earlier as I reckon the time difference between me & the winner was achievable given how good my legs felt. Oh well, that’s road racing - you live & learn.

Brunswick Club Champs: 14 July, Another cold and wet day just outside Lancefield on a multi loop circuit where I again raced Masters 1/2/3. A small field assembled for the prestige of being called BCC Champion ’12. The race started well with all riders rolling evenly until we caught the Elite fellas who had stopped for an organised ‘nature break’. We rolled with them for a couple of laps then just before the biggest hill on the course on the last lap with approx. 20km’s to go we started to race. The elite fellas hit the hill REAL, & I mean real hard. I tried to follow but just missed their wheel and tagged on for 5km’s an agonising 50m behind through some seriously undulating terrain. The turn of pace was enough to drop all the Masters 1/2/3 dudes so it was solo time to the end. I ended up winning comfortably with a massive hail storm hitting me which was hard as I had nobody around me to whinge to about it ! Still it was an honour to be called the BCC Masters 1/2/3 RR Champ for ’12.

With Elite BCC club champ Luca Giacomin

Melbourne to Ballarat: 21 July, This race starts at Rockbank & goes straight up the Western Hwy finishing at Lake Wendouree. It's another handicap race & jeez I love doing these ! I snuck under the radar of the handicapper and saddled up in the 24 minute group. Markers were off 33mins and scratch featured the likes of NRS Pro teams such as Drapac, Genesys, Budget Forklifts etc. My group was super keen until we got to the Pentland Hills just past Bacchus Marsh where the majority of my group of 30 odd riders developed a dislike for doing any work up hill. It was up to 6 of us to do the most of the work with an occasional hanger onner doing the obligatory 1 turn up the front every 5 mins..... SOFT, and not helping us A) win & B) keep away from scratch or later starting groups. We were slowly making up time until around the Gordon turnoff where myself & the half dozen fellas up the front were starting to tire a bit from all the work. A few of the 21 min. group caught us which was great news as it breathed new life into the pack. An even bigger bonus was all round good guy, fellow Rapido rider & solid athlete Brendan O’Loughlin had bridged across and I now had a partner in crime. There was still only 6 to 8 of us doing the hard yards up the front with the rest wheel sucking wheels or ‘hanging on for dear life’. Brendan & I orchestrated an attack with 10km’s to go with 1 other fella which lasted all of 3 km’s as the lazy sods in the pack had decided to work & not let us get away. The frustrating part was we put our effort to bed & retired to the pack, only for them to stop riding again............ The rest was trying to get to the finish line as quickly as possible until about 800m from the finish the Genesys boys flew past us like a V/Line train. It was pretty impressive, there was no chance for the win so they were riding for the fastest time on the day. It turned real messy from here on with a couple of nasty little 90 degree turns and a short sprint to the line which saw the possibility of a top 15 finish fizzle out to 39th out of 260 odd riders thanks to the Scratch riders mentioned above catching us. This is one of the things that frustrates me about road racing – short sightedness by your peers and the lack / willingness to put your balls on the line to ‘race’ to the line for a huge possibility of a win or place. As I said above.... Live & learn

The workers in the 23 minute pack - Melb to Ballarat

Inflicting pain with Brendan O'Loughlin, trying to break away.

Victorian Club TTT Champs: 22 July, This one is a pretty tuff gig. This year was no different as one of our team members called in sick, so all team plans went out the window and it was a matter of looking after each other as the time for the team is taken by the 3rd out of 4 riders to cross the line. If you have a strong team, generally you’ll all finish together, if not the team will sacrifice your weaker rider at ½ to ¾ distance and roll over the finish with 3 riders. I’m unsure of our time, the TT course which starts at Buninyong is a very tough course and not conducive to fast times – Bummer !!

Pop Stewart Memorial H’cap – Balliang: 18 Aug, I had a small spell so that I could start punching out some miles for the Warnie, after that it was back into an intensity block so what better way to do it than another handicap ! I saddled up in the 7min group which had several strong riders, notably Brunswick boys Rich McCorkell, Steve Duggan, Jarrod Peck & the eventual winner Nick ‘Spiro’ Edwards. Outside of the Brunswick CC road champs, this is the race the BCC boys most want. It was tough from the start with flooding on the roads, heavy intermittent rain, 3km’s of potholed gravel, a brute of a southerly wind and some gnarly hills. Steve Duggan was quite easily the ‘alpha rider’ in the pack, controlling things & upping the tempo to shell out the weaker riders when they looked like they may hang on for a shot at our glory. Unfortunately he punctured on the 2nd last lap which left the above BCC boys, a St. Kilda CC rider and myself. The last lap was difficult as we caught the markers in the crosswind and had to work real hard to ditch them. The rest of the lap was spent going hard so scratch wouldn’t catch us, at one stage they were only 45 seconds behind. We worked hard to keep them away and once things looked good, the tactics started. I stopped doing turns for a minute with about 4 km’s to go. We were on the dirt road so rolling was quite difficult and once off the dirt it was about 2 km’s to go. I sized Nick up as the probably the strongest looking sprinter in the pack so was very weary of what he was doing. Unfortunately Jarrod rolled around me and had a slow gear change which Nick heard and bolted. He started his sprint with 800m to go, by the time I slowed because of Jarrods mishap then accelerated around into 2nd spot Nick was already 100m up the road. Try as I might I couldn’t reel him in, 2nd it was for me. Fortune favours the brave – Well done Nick !

Racing - Northern Combine style ! Pop Stewart H'cap - on the front
2nd place - Pop Stewart Handicap

Sunbury Trophy race, Pastoria loop, Kyneton: 8 Sept, A pretty good field assembled up near Kyneton for the Sunbury Trophy race, a 3 lapper on some undulating, typically slow roads with a touch of wind thrown in – very Northern Combine !! The race started with an instantaneous attack by a few fellas, then ½ a lap later a solo rider took off to bridge across. One of the original attackers was caught at the start of lap 2 but there were still 2 riders up the road. We caught another of the attackers 10 minutes later which meant only 1 up the road. Nobody was doing much work, so I took it upon myself to close the gap down. Richard McCorkell must’ve had the same idea as he came thundering past me and it pretty much lit up the B grade peleton. There were a few dummy ‘attacks’ by some weaker riders who had sat back for the majority of the race, these didn’t last long as they couldn’t sustain the pace. We caught the last break away rider with about 10km's to go, he was still trying hard but looked spent, gutsy...... On the preceding laps I worked out where I wanted to attack and throw it on the line for the race win. About 3 km’s out there is a pretty solid hill, it would’ve been pretty predictable to attack at the foot of that hill. 300m before the hill was a good downhill section where I noticed on the first 2 laps riders were relaxing a bit before the 1.5km climb. So it was on this downhill section before the hill where I launched a big attack which caught all but one of the pack napping. I hit the foot of the hill doing 52km/h and carried the speed up until half way up it when things started to burn a bit. I jumped out of my seat to keep my pace up then sat down. David Ransom (StKCC)was the rider who wasn’t napping and he had bridged across. He passed me easily, even giving me a push and telling me to keep up as he passed me. He kept his momentum up all the way to the top where he was about 50m in front. At the crest I looked back and it was safe to say the pack wasn’t going to catch me. It was about 1.5km to go to the finish, a 500m downhill run then a 1km flat. David was still 50m in front of me when we hit the flat but I started to reel him in. I caught him with 400m to go and went straight past him. I was praying that he wasn’t foxing and then latch onto my wheel, but his body language suggested he was spent. I rolled through real hard and a few hundred metres later I crossed the line in 1st place. There was no time for a salute, a ‘Call me maybe’ telephone handpiece with my fingers a la GreenEdge & a lot of other Combine ridersor even a Luca Giacomin piece of brilliance. It was just steamroll all the way to the finish. I was the strongest & this is how I roll – all the way to the line, flat out.

Powering to the line for a B Grade win at the Sunbury Trophy race

• All the above races were of course all part of the BIG PICTURE – The Melbourne to Warrnambool. Many thanks to Rapido Cycles for maintaining and helping out with the bike – a great bunch of blokes, XOSize for equipment and nutritional help, Rudy Project – the best glasses to sit on your face & very comfortable and stylish helmets as well, and also for John Quinn - He got me here.
Also very special thanks to Jo Upton Photography, a very loyal and handy photographer who catches great images of us racing in the Northern Combine.

Friday, July 20, 2012

IM Cairns piccy time !

Swim exit..... Thank god for the Rocket Science Carbon wettie which kept me afloat - 1hrs 9mins >>> Hmmmm
On the bike, post puncture. You can see the green/yellow tape around my draft box behind the seat post, holding it up due to the bump in the tyre from the valve stem. This was part of the race where I was absolutley flying, I'm pretty sure it is around Ellis Beach and I was trying to make up for lost time.

This is typical of the scenary & terrain that you'll encounter along the ride. It has very similar gradients to the Great Ocean Road, the road surface is far better and the tropical foliage obviously makes for an awesome setting. My race number was flapping around here and giving me the irates, I was just trying to tuck it away

Turnaround at Port Douglas. The crowd support here was quite amazing. It had a bit of a Hawi feel about it, a good sized and enthusiastic crowd at the furtherest point of the course.

Probably around the 28km mark along the Esplanade in Cairns. You can see the famous mud flats where the croc was resting in the top photo of my race report. The swim was held further in the background where you can see the boats moored. It was getting quite hot at this time of day, I reckon Dave Dellow would have either finished or been very close to finishing at this point.

Yeah BABY !!!! Ricky Jeffs just let me know that I had won my Age Group. I felt pretty good, the feeling of winning is something that doesn't happen too often but when it does............

You just can't wipe the smile off your face ! There is something intrinsically satisfying about training yourself, then coming up with an Age Group win. Self doubt doesn't enter my equation and I reckon I'm brutally honest with myself and my training performances. Still, just one thing lags in my mind - IF I got a coach, COULD he/she ???? Maybe, just maybe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

IM Cairns 2012 race report.

Hallelujah !! My first race report for a while.......

IM Cairns, what a race, I wouldn’t rate it an overly hard course, but, there are a few bits and pieces that add up to make it a difficult day. First up the swim – this was interesting, a lot of pre race athlete talk regarding the swim centred on the fear factor due to the local marine life which consisted of stingers, crocs and sharks. The sight of boats and jetski’s buzzing busily across the swim course helped ‘add’ to the atmosphere. Apparently this is done to scare the shit out of any ‘wildlife’ that was lurking in the depths - check the image above, this croc was spotted not far from the swim course a week later !! The main concern I had was lack of vision in the water which had a milky coffee like consistency. Vision was low, even lower than Shep’s infamous 70.3 swim course, which made collisions unavoidable and worse still, drafting off feet impossible as you couldn’t even see bubbles in the water.

The road surface also came into effect. It was very changeable, one minute you are riding on smooth as hot mix, the next minute you are dodging pot holes. The heat also came into play. I personally loved it and had no issues, a lot of competitors out there looked to be really struggling with cramp & hydration, hopefully a lot of lessons were learnt. Overall I give the course a massive tick – THIS IS A MUST DO RACE !

My race week started as an expensive one, I rode part of the course on Wednesday and punctured 3 times. These were on race wheels (GSP’s Zipp disc/808 combo – thx again mate !!) and trashing 3 x Conti Competition tubulars was bitter, insult to injury was I had to get a cab back into Cairns from 40km’s away – Ouch. I also got pinged by a speed camera after dropping T2 bags off to Smithfield with Dazzler Knight on the Saturday – 75ish in a 60km zone, I was getting a bit animated in my discussion with Razzle and didn’t see the speed camera – Double ouch. Apart from this it was a fairly entertaining week. I helped out Scotty & Cam at the XOSIZE & Rocket Science Sport marquees at the expo. It was pretty busy there but hopefully I managed to play the ‘bitch’ real well. My wettie sizing and fitting techniques needs a lot of refinement but hopefully I managed to grab a few sales for the boys. I was probably on my feet a bit too much in the days leading up to the race but I quite liked helping the fellas out, Scotty has given me such huge support over time & this was the least I can do to help him out. Special thanks to XOSize & Rocket Science Sports.

After a solid 5 days of drizzly weather, a cloudless sky and next to no wind greeted us all on Sunday the 3rd, absolutely awesome triathlon conditions. I had slept really well and woke up at 4:20am then onto brekky which consisted of 3 x 220g cans of Choccy creamed rice & 3 x English muffins piled high with strawberry jam. I usually feel a bit heavy after this but felt like I could eat more, so I did ! I threw down a few bananas on the walk down to T1 while yakking to Marie & Fiona. ‘Team Lewis’ had a stand in ‘Team Manager’ in Fiona as regular Manager & guru Stevo was given this race off as he was still recovering from a bout of alcohol poisoning from his 2011 Hawaiian IM campaign. Bike kit up went seamlessly, I met back up with the girls & wettie’d up ready for the swim.

The swim course looked well laid out with large buoys at regular intervals. Getting into the water was a challenge as there was only one small gangway to walk across onto a pontoon, then down some steps into the water. The 70.3 race which started 20 mins earlier was bearing down on the last of the IM competitors to get into the water but somehow it managed to sort itself out. I positioned myself ¾ of the way back, preferring to start slow and well....... finish slow..... The start was bizarre, a heap of athletes made a ‘hooter’ like sound and then the front guys started ??? So sheep like I followed. I had a cruisey swim with minimal contact all the way through and just concentrated on keeping comfortable. The murky water made it hard to draft, I managed to grab a look at my time at the ½ way point, it showed 32mins which I was happy with. My pace felt good until the last 800m which felt quite hard. Apparently a bit of a swell had picked up, I didn’t notice this at all, just putting my slower pace down to a lack of swim fitness as I had only done 2 months of squad swimming. Swim time = 1:09:32

T1 is a 400m run and takes a bit of time, I picked up an easy 12-15 spots here as some people dawdled through. I had an OK T1 then set off for the ride in ‘heaven’. The sun was out and could be felt as we headed out of town. I got into rhythm quickly and settled into a pace that was comfortable with my HR at 145-150bpm & speed around 37-39km/h. The first hour went past, downing my usual Choccy Powerbar, choccy gel and full bidon of electrolyte (Infinit). I reached the Port Douglas (PD) turnaround (75km) right on 2 hrs. The road surface in PD was awesome after the previous 8-9km on the Capt’n Cook Hwy which was best described as rugged and patchy. As I turned back onto the Cook Hwy I thought the rear of the bike felt a bit doughy, a quick look down confirmed that the rear was down on pressure. My HR was climbing & speed decreasing as I pushed hard to cover 15km’s back to where I saw a service van on top of a hill called ‘Rex Hill’. I wanted to use him as I thought this would be a safe option as I was only carrying 1 x CO² canister. I didn’t quite make it & had to pull over 2km short as the disc was starting to bottom out on the roads. I quickly recharged the tubular and pushed on to the service vehicle. When I arrived there some old fella was having enormous trouble with his aero bars, he was quite pedantic about a few things and was clearly getting in the way of the mechanic who was working feverishly to get him back out on the course. Whilst waiting I peeled off my rooted tub & started to try to put the new one on but my hands were really sweaty & I struggled. I waited while the mechanic finished off with the silly old coot who still didn’t look to be happy, then he started on my wheel. He got it all fixed up, refilled it with air then put it back on. There was another issue with the tub not being pushed on fully at the valve stem which caused a small bump in the tub that rubbed against the ‘draft box’ behind the seat tube. We had to lift this & tape it up so it didn’t rub against the tyre & slow me down, all up I lost 10mins 38secs, maybe I should’ve just changed the thing myself at the first opportunity – Oh well, live & learn. The rest of the bike went really well, I felt strong all the way through, my nutrition was spot on, downing 2 x gels, 2 x salt tablets and 1 x bidon of High 5 or Coke which was available on course per hour. In fact I finished that strongly I did the last 30km’s which was mostly flat in about 40 minutes. I was cracking along on a great road surface at 45km/h with my HR around 145 bpm. I was wrapt to be able to do this as I was starting to come up to a handful of packs (all legal I thought) and then ride right through them. Bike time = 5:01:55

It wasn’t until I had stopped in T2 to put my runners on that I realised it was quite warm. I started to sweat pretty hard in the steamy tent which made me push to get out as quickly as I could. After 2:15 of playing dress ups I headed out onto the flat run through the cane fields. My first thoughts were that my legs felt pretty awesome and that I could be in with a show for my A/G, all I needed to do was spot up my competitors & chase them down. I really wish race organisers insist on lettered a/g calf markings as trying to sneak a peek at numbers that are in the same sequence as mine on the front of competitors is a real pain. I actually flip my number around at some races at turnaround points if I know it is a close race just to throw my competitors off. I saw Matty Koorey head out of the small 3km loop in Yorkeys Knob and did a split on him which worked out to be an 11 minute deficit. I thought there was one other fella in front of him so at least now I had an idea. I was flying and felt comfortable, I split the first 10km’s in 41:40 and kept the pace up to the 21km where I split in 1hr 24mins. I caught Matty at one of the first aid stations as we hit the Cairns Esplanade, he was looking pretty RS and barring disaster I had this thing wrapped up. I kept my pace up until I hit the first turnaround point located a few hundred metres past the finish line. I couldn’t see anyone of my ‘vintage’ so had to wait until I reached the far turnaround point at the Esplanade to confirm what position I was in. Again the scene was clear, my race then turned to keeping a split on my closest competitor to make sure they weren’t gaining. It was a funny feeling, I sort of switched off, content in the knowledge that I had worked my butt off to get back into the race & was now leading. My pace dropped away and I started to get a bit tardy running through the aid stations, missing drinks etc. Amazingly I kept putting time into the 2nd place 40-44 ag’er. I felt solid and had good form but my mins/km kept blowing out to late 4min km pace. The rest of the run was solid if not unspectacular, a PB was definitely out of the question due to the earlier puncture and I’d lost focus a bit as I was cruising but still putting time into my fellow a/g’ers. The crowd support was pretty amazing, the weather definitely brought out the best in people, it was by far the loudest most vocal crowd that I had come across in all my IM’s. In the end Ricky Jeffs called me across the line saying that I had won my A/G (fist pump time !) and had earnt a Hawaii spot. My marathon time was a 3:14:55 for a total time of 9hrs 32mins 35secs to win my age group by 8 minutes and place 26th overall. I felt good, walked straight through the recovery area to meet Marie & Fee then headed off back to our unit for a clean up. My job was done.............................................................................................................

Some valuable things I learnt from this, my 12th IM are :

• My training time was HEAVILY compromised due to my increased work load. I travelled a lot so had to mix & shorten a lot of my sessions. I kept my intensity higher than I usually do as the hours per week I was punching out was down by as much as 5Hrs in my peak weeks.

• My longest ride was 160km’s x 1, 140km’s x 3 and a heap of 120km’s. I religiously rode on Tuesday and Thursday morning to Mordialloc which is an 86km round trip. I tried to keep my Wattage for these rides above 250 Watts, my PB of 280 Watts with an ave. HR of 146bpm was recorded on a still morning when I was quite fatigued 6 weeks out.

• The majority of my long rides were done in the hills north of the city – Kinglake Mt. Macedon, Humevale, Darraweit. I do enough flat stuff (Beach Rd) during the week & try not to ride there on the weekends due to the poor quality of riders about. I like the high intensity of the hills and feel it conditions my legs and lower back a lot better for TT’ing.

• I did a 1 month stint from week 13 to week 10 where I spent a lot of time on the track. I did this as I was racing the BCC Team Pursuit in the Masters Elite team. We claimed the bronze and I felt the track supplemented my training rather than detracting from it.

• My longest run was 32km’s x 1, followed by 28km’s x 2, then a heap of 20 – 24km runs. The latter being run at or better than 4min/km pace. Every second run was an easier recovery run at a pace of 4:45 – 5:00mins/km. I did no hill repeats this time around due to the timing of these runs in my weekly cycle interfering with work.

• Swimming was done at VU with the usual ETPA squad. I started after IM Melbourne which gave me a 2 month lead in - This was too short. I usually do a 12 week lead in, my shoulder usually starts giving me grief from week 8 in the pool through to week 12. I don’t enjoy this so shortened it this time around. I think I swam comfortably in the race but the trade off of a lack of speed v’s a month of extra pain to go 5 mins quicker – give me the extra month and the pain.........

• My summary of all the above is that my time was spent doing quality over quantity, it very nearly could have got me a PB except for the dreaded puncture.

• My pre race nutrition from 3 days out is near on perfect. I reckon I nailed it this time out. A lot of athletes should put more focus into this.

• Race day nutrition was good. The only bother was High5 – I hate the stuff, it is purely the taste, I went straight to Coke when available on the bike course & had no ill effects. The first hour on the bike was on Infinit which is what I loaded up on for the 3 days before.

• Staying calm when something outside of your control happens to your race is paramount. When I punctured I used the time to grab a drink and eat while the mechanic fixed everything. My HR dropped right down and I even had a small stretch. It all worked as I flew afterwards.

Thanks all for your time !! Train safe, train hard, Matty

PS - I'll post images when I get them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hawai'i 2011, Time - 9hrs 17mins 31secs - Personal Best. Position 102/1855 overall. 10th in 40/44 Age Group. Am I happy - you betcha....... BUT.....
If you are ever thinking about getting a fast TT bike, without doubt have a very strong look at the TREK Speed Concept. I keep saying it - these babies are fast !

Running along Ali'i, man it was HOT ! Sit tight while I proof my race report and shorten it. It's currently 5 pages long !! Cheers, Matty

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Catch me I'm falling

Gawd, Strewth, Shit, I don't really know what too say other than those prophetic words.... I've entered the dark and dangerous cave that's called exhaustion.
Everything I do physically is a chore and I have to conjour up all my physical & mental strength to punch out a training session. I feel drained, my HR when resting is low - I saw it at 38bpm's today, and when I train it's still darn low - tonight I 'ran' for 1.5hrs and my ave HR was 108bpm. The only thing that gets me up and going is to arrange to meet training partners for a run and/or ride.
I've tried several different methods - increased amounts of road racing, increasing my hill repeat reps, all in an effort to lift my HR and try to eek out some sort of physiological 'gain' from the session. All this seems to do is make me even more tired. So I have succumbed - From now I will lighten off my training load and get more rest to try and restore my energy levels to a similar level to that of pre Port Mac. This is short post as I'm starting to get pretty tired just typing this. I'll work on putting some more detail in my next post.
Until then, train safe, train hard, sleep tight !!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I can't stand the rain, against my window

Bringing back sweet memories, of the pain. Yep - training through a Melbourne winter for an Ironman in a far off destination (Kona, Hawaii) which is famous for bending people's minds and will due to the inexorable heat. Ya gotta love training through a Melbourne winter though, the rides where you come back soaked to the core, fingers & toes numb yet stinging from the cold, your butt chaffed from all the road grit spraying through your knicks, the grime all over your legs and mud splats on your face. I quite often think of HOT, HOT FOOD out on these rides and usually plan what sort of smorgasboard I'm going to have when I get home. All the time sense and sensability get in the way and it ends up a coffee, protein shake & a bowl of porridge instead of the lashings of bacon, runny yolked eggs, fried mushies and bangers on a couple of thick sour dough chunks of bread, oh well.
The first of my 3 month build up to Kona has gone well, pretty easy. There is ONE reason for this -

Being an absolute cycling nut, I could see there was something different about this years version of le Tour. I thought Cadel had a genuine chance of winning so threw myself into watching as many 'key' stages as I could manage. The down side to this was that my training for Kona would suffer. The thought of Cadel being the first Aussie winner of the Tour and watching it unfold held far more significance to me then getting out on the bike and freezing my butt off at 4:30 in the morning, or going to swim squad and dry wretching at the side of the pool after trying to belt out an impossible amount of 200's in an impossible time. So apply myself to the time honoured Aussie trade of couch potato I did, my thumbs gaining callouses from a remote insted of my feet gaining callouses from running. Although I'm not a real fan I am happy for Evans, but i'm probably happier for Australian Cycling in general. I feel my race licence fee's have somehow contributed to his success. I really hope we can gain some positives from this and use it to promote cycling as a healthy, safe and viable hobby/sport and not just render us as lycra clad wankers whom bogan tradies in V8 utes love to speed past and get as close as possible to knocking us off our bikes. Tolerance & respect is what is needed, sadly these attributes seem to be dwindling in our society.
Well done Cadel, well done Cycling Australia.