The Pursuit of Happiness and Motivation

I never thought I’d be writing this blog post.. at least from this point of view. It is my wish simply to let you in on how I am feeling and share some of the mistakes I have made in the hopes of helping others avoid making the same ones. As an athlete it is easy to hide behind a wall of nice photos of the places we have been and all the fun training we are doing. The truth is it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. I’ve always done my best to be completely honest whenever I write and I hope this post is a shining example of that.

Scrolling through my social media will give you an idea of what I’m about. I try to be the happiest and most positive person I can be in the hope of inspiring others to do the same. My life goal is to live so that one day when my time comes I can be happy knowing that I did everything I wanted to do. Since July 2012 triathlon has been it.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a professional athlete. After getting *relatively* close to a good career in both swimming and tennis, I fell into triathlon with ease. I won my second race overall and earned my professional license just 15 months later after finishing top 20 overall at one of the deepest Ironman 70.3 events in the world. In the 3 years following, triathlon has given me everything. I couldn’t have been more in love with the sport….. until now.

The last few months have been filled with some of the most frustrating days in my sporting life. I won’t bore you with the details but imagine a bucket of sand. The individual grains feel weightless, but add a few clumps and soon the bucket is full and becomes hard to carry. Last week I dropped the bucket. I can’t begin to blame anyone else for how I’m feeling because at the end of the day I knew I was putting myself into a giant hole. It was my responsibility to take care of myself but I kept on digging.

With a calf injury from Japan still lingering and only two weeks before my next race in Nepean, I made the easy decision to withdraw. With that I decided it was finally time to take care of myself and have a week or two completely off triathlon to get my mind and body right. The trouble with trying to break through and get a world cup start is that there is never a good time to have a rest. There are always races you ‘need’ to do and every race is a priority. Since getting back into training in August 2015 I have found this out the hard way, making time for only two weeks completely off. As I add it up,that’s 14 months with 30+ hour work weeks and  little more than 14 days completely off. I suppose that speaks for itself.

When I began writing I had no idea the direction I wanted to go with this post but on splashing my thoughts all over the keyboard, the message I want to share has become clear… Your body is the greatest instrument you will ever own- take care of it.

I have learned in the past that in sharing my thoughts and feelings, good things happen. I am extremely thankful for all the kind words everyone has given me over the last couple of weeks and I have no doubt I will come back from this short rest more motivated and inspired than ever ready to tackle the Australian season. After all, we have a world cup start to earn. For now I am using this time to search for the enjoyment I somehow lost in the sport that I love.

 

Murakami Continental Cup 2016

For me, racing in Murakami, Japan perfectly symbolised what it is like trying to break through in ITU racing. It is not uncommon to scout the list of continental cup races only to pull out a map to check which races are viable options. This weekend there were two- Murakami, Japan and Papeete, Tahiti. Tahiti, one of the most beautiful places in the world or a small town in Northern Japan… why pick Murakami I hear you ask..? As our train rolled into town on a rainy Wednesday evening, I turned to Grace and asked her the same question.

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Taking over the Japanese trains with our bike bags

With the goal of getting a start in World Cup races, a good result in a field of 79 against a few of the other top Australian guys is a far better outcome than racing Tahiti in a field of 10. When considering these things, the quality of the beaches takes a back seat.

The challenges of racing in a town where almost no one speaks English became evident on our first night in Murakami. Heading out to dinner without Internet and no way of translating the menu in front of us, we blindly picked our meals, making a game of guessing what was going to end up on our plate. Thankfully, unlike my last trip to Asia, I was able to avoid food poisoning in the lead up to the race and all 5 of the Aussies were ready to rock come race morning.

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The Japanese fun continued as they announced us down to the start. With my ranking giving me number 5 on the pontoon, I was announced to the crowd before running down to the beach high-fiving all the age groupers, supporters and officials that lined the fences cheering. Such a small thing, but definitely a highlight of my race.

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As I entered the jellyfish infested water, I reeled in my focus and got ready. Or so I thought. I don’t think I ever could have prepared myself for the dog fight I was about to encounter in the 2 lap 1500m swim. Thankfully I am a far more confident open water swimmer than I once was and despite being pulled under, having my legs pulled multiple times, swallowing water, and exiting the first lap way back from where I wanted to be, I remained calm and fought back to group ahead of me and was able to position myself well enough into T1.

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In typical James fashion, I missed the front pack of 7 and went to work chasing in my group of 8. Despite averaging 318W with a normalised power of 368W over 40km in a group that was working well, we some how managed to lose time to the group up the road. Entering T2 way back from that group meant we were running for the minor positions.

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The opening couple of kilometres of the run were met with a certain level of caution. Our group blew apart immediately out of T2 and I was wary of how hard our bike was in the 30C heat. I was cautious but confident. By kilometre 3 I was running in 8/9th with a Japanese guy and had settled in nicely. We passed a straggler from the front group and took turns running on each other’s shoulder until 8km. When I signalled for him to go through and he apologised I dropped the hammer and snapped the elastic. The next 1km was solid and I managed to put a big gap into him before I felt a pull on my calf. To say I was concerned was an understatement. I began to worry I wouldn’t make the finish and went into severe damage control. I figured I had 1km to go and being in 7th at the time, I’d get there and assess the damage at the end.

In what was a severe shock to me, turning into the finish area I picked up another spot. Making a poor tactical decision I started the sprint as I made the pass and gave him too much time to get back and just pip me at the line.

Finishing 7th is not entirely the result I was searching for in Murakami but as always, I know I have high expectations of myself.

Full results HERE 

With 3 top 7 finishes in my last 5 races, my results and ranking are headed in the right direction. This result should hopefully ensure a top 150 finish for the year. For someone who started the year with next to no points, I can be really proud of the year I have put together.

For now, it’s time to shift my focus a little and dust off the TT bike for a birthday race at Nepean before building some kms for next year with a crack at my first pro 70.3 in Western Sydney at the end of November.

Lots of love from Japan.

Arigatō! ✌🏽️

Bluseventy Transition Bag- The Greatest Transition Bag There Is

I am usually not one to review products. In fact, as far as I can remember, this might be the first product review I have ever done. I am mindful of filling my social media with obvious plugs for products and companies I work with just for the sake of it… but the time has come. There is one product that has done such a fantastic job for me and stood out so far ahead of the pack that I can no longer keep it to myself. If you’ve seen me at any time in the last 2 years no doubt you’ve seen me toting it around. Ladies and gentleman- the BLUESEVENTY TRANSITION BAG.

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How can a backpack be so good you ask? Let me start by saying this. I first acquired a blueseventy transition bag at the start of 2015. I had been through numerous swimming backpacks and transition bags prior and quite frankly I had been disappointed. There were bags that had tears in them, bags with holes in them and bags that simply could not fit nearly enough. The blueseventy transition bag answered all these problems with flying colours.

 

Capacity

If you’ve ever traveled with me to a race, you would be well aware that I like to be self-sufficient with my gear. This means carrying everything that there is a slight chance of needing. An Asian race with a reputation of being the hottest swim on the calendar? I’d better take my helix wetsuit just in case. The transition area is 400m from my hotel room? I’d better take a spare tube and pump just in case I get a flat and don’t have the 2 minutes it would take to run back. This attitude leads me to carry more gear than most to races and to race sites. Thankfully, the transition bag has all the answers.

The bag itself contains the following compartments and features;

  • Soft outer pocket on the top for valuables with headphone hole
  • Large main section with inner zippers on the top and side and a rear mesh netting
  • Separate zippered wet section on the bottom
  • Mesh bottle holders on either side
  • Adjustable waist strap
  • Shoulder strap

Here’s what my bag usually contains while traveling to races;

While traveling to races;

  • Passport, wallet, phone, keys.
  • Sweatshirt, pants, beats headphones, phone charger, ipad, 17inch laptop and charger, running flats
  • Oakley sunglasses in case
  • Wetsuit, tri suit, bike shoes
  • Helmet
  • 2x water bottle

 

On race day;

  • Sweatshirt, pants, t-shirt, running flats, spare running shoes, scissors, duct tape, baby powder, body glide, 3x gel, banana, spare tube, travel pump, rubber bands.
  • Oakley sunglasses in case
  • Wetsuit
  • Helmet
  • 3x water bottle

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As you can see, I don’t pack light. Even so, I have never had an issue having to ram the zipper closed like I have with other bags. My main concern then becomes putting too much strain on my back, not on my bag.

Longevity

To date my blueseventy transition bag has travelled with me to over 50 different cities in 10 different countries. Not only do I use my blueseventy transition bag every day for swim training and packing my run and work gear, it is also my bag of choice as a carry on for racing and holidays, taking my gear to transition for races and even as my only bag while travelling on crutches through France, Poland and Spain. You name it, my transition bag has done it.

But James, you baby your gear, of course it is still in-tact! Oh how wrong you are. Boarding a plane and finding room for my bag is possibly the only part of traveling that causes my anxiety levels to rise. For that reason I cram my bags wherever they can fit. This often means yanking it out of overhead baggage compartments. My point is, this bag has not been babied and the only damage to it is a hole in the side bottle holder netting and while this is the case, it does not impact the bag’s ability to hold a drink bottle at all.

I you are looking for a new transition bag, swim bag or just in the market for a new backpack, get one of these. Or maybe even two.

Click HERE to change your life.

 

 

 

 

2016 Singapore Conti Cup Race Report

Racing back to back weeks is never easy. Add a flight across Asia, food poisoning and a crash causing a bent derailleur hanger the evening before the race and it’s safe to say my lead up to Singapore was far from perfect.

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As we lined up on the start line on Saturday morning none of that mattered. Everyone has their struggles and by standing on that start line I was making a statement that I was ready to race. That’s what I was going to do.

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Running into the 31C ocean I felt good. My start wasn’t bad and as we got to the first turn at 350m I was in a good spot. From there things turned pear shaped. By the time we turned to start the second lap there was an obvious split in the group and I had missed it. Heading back out we hadn’t lost too much time but as we made the turn for the shore I had lost sight of the group ahead of us and I lead our group in a terrible line. That’s what happens when you do a bad job checking the course. Much to my frustration, we exited the water 1:05 back of an 11 man group containing all the big names.

Looking around as we came into T1 I felt a slight sense of relief. I was in a group of 6 including 4 other Aussies and a Japanese guy and after assessing who was there I was sure we could work together to chip some time away. Our chances were slightly dashed when a flat caused our group to be cut to 4 at the end of the first lap  but we had still taken 15 seconds and we were motivated. Big ups to Dan Coleman and Charlie Quin for their work on the bike. For the first time ever being in a chase group in a conti cup our group worked well enough and by the 5th lap of 7 we were back in the pack and had given ourselves a chance of doing something in the race.

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Dismounting together in T2, it was a time for a brutal 10km in the heat. Leaving transition I felt good and moved through a few guys establishing a solid position in 6th by the end of the first 2.5km lap. I was cautiously optimistic and moved into 5th on lap two before the real feel 44C weather started to take its toll on my body. I spent the last 5km desperately wishing there was more shade, more water, more aid stations and less distance to the finish line. The last lap was undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in sport. I wanted to stop and walk so badly but I knew I had been training hours on end for this moment and I trudged on. Usually crossing the finish line in 6th would have brought with it a big thumbs up, a wave to the camera or at very least a half smile but none of that was anywhere to be seen. Instead I stumbled across the line and leaned on 5th place finisher Taylor Cecil for support (sorry about that mate, I appreciate you keeping me on my two feet.) I’d always longed for a race where I crossed the line feeling like I had nothing left- this was that race. The next 30 minutes were spent on the ground contemplating throwing up or fainting. Thankfully I managed to avoid both and was finally able to get my body temperature down and my body headed in the right direction.

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I couldn’t be prouder of the resilience I showed and my ability to laugh at myself in times of adversity this week. Having said that, I’m also a strong believer that you create your own luck and I had done a poor job of that by eating local food and riding over a painted line in the rain. I’ve made a note to never do those things again. 

I must give a massive shout out to my roommate for the last two weeks, Chris Huang for the photos and to my friend Tony who took some time out from a business trip to Singapore to come and give his support. Tony and I started running and going to the gym together 5 years ago and running our first 5km together in 2011 is what eventually led me into triathlon. I’m thankful to be able to share a race with him. To everyone else who gave me words of encouragement and support, it is always appreciated.

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For now it’s time for a few days off before getting back into a big block of training in the lead up to Murakami on September 25th. Onward and upwards.

Until then.

#inittogether.

 

 

 

2016 Osaka Conti Cup Race Report

What can I say? A race report from Osaka is almost unnecessary. For those of you who missed the live videos coming out of Osaka on Sunday, you are in for a treat. Sit back, relax and click HERE for a whole heap of fun.

The response to our live ‘stream’ of the race has been through the roof. A massive thank you to everyone who sent through messages of support. The biggest thank you of all goes to the two guys who brought us all the laughs- two of my best mates, Robbie and Myles. It’s unheard of to have two guys travel half way around the world to watch you run around in spandex but these guys jumped on board and believe me, they were the loudest out on course by a country mile! Over the last couple of months they have witnessed the highs and lows of my training and despite often questioning my sanity, they have been a massive support. To say I appreciate it all would be a massive understatement. Sharing race day with them was one of the highlights of my triathlon career so far. Much love to everyone who is in my corner.

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I’ll keep the report itself short and sweet. Having almost the entire field staying at the host hotel meant I had the opportunity to hear almost every excuse in the book post-race. I won’t give you any. The truth is I just didn’t swim well enough. I know my swim is improving but having to make the decision to sit up and wait for the chase group after getting agonisingly close to latching on to the lead pack crushed me. It is the greatest motivation I have ever had to go back to Canberra and train my arse off to ensure it never happens again.

Leading up to the race I had plans. None of them involved not being in the lead pack. Ever the optimist, it was time for plan B. As I sat up and had a drink waiting for the pack to catch me up one of 8 climbs over the bridge I held high hopes that by working together we would be able to shut them down. The gap was only 30 seconds and we had a big group. How wrong I was. By the time we arrived in T2 we were down almost a minute and any chance of running for a podium spot was gone. With the disappointment of getting off the bike out of the race as motivation, I was determined to run well. Thankfully I did that by running myself into 13th. I can take that confidence moving forward.

Results HERE

I was able to reflect on my race while grabbing copious amounts of sushi from a sushi train in Osaka and waiting for the race that was giving me the most anxiety of the day- my girlfriend Grace’s final from Tiszie, Hungary. She has been there for me every step of the way leading up to these races. To watch her race live and share a race day was special, albeit from the other side of the world. I’m beyond proud, even if she did one up me literally by finishing 12th.

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Finishing 13th in Osaka is not exactly what I had hoped for but I also understand I have high expectations of myself. I will always set the bar high and I believe that’s how you get better as an athlete. I didn’t execute as well as the guys up the road and that’s all there is to it. As always I’ll focus on the positives, learn from the negatives and move forward.

For now it’s time for a week of training and exploring in Singapore before another Conti Cup in the heat on Saturday. If you’re reading this and have any advice on things to do while we’re there, let me know!

Until then.

#inittogether

Are You Calling Me Fat?

The topic of body weight and body composition in elite sports is something that really hits home with me. Throughout my life I’ve always had trouble losing weight and keeping it off. Growing up swimming I was always severely self conscious of my weight. I wasn’t eating any worse than the kids I was training with but some of these guys had six packs that looked like they belonged on billboards while I was finding every opportunity I could to cover myself with a towel. After taking a semester off tennis in College I ballooned out to 85kg (187lbs). Finally, enough was enough and I’ll be the first to admit I went a little extreme. My diet and exercise went through the roof. At the end of an intense 8 months I finished the Vancouver marathon weighing 66kg (145lbs). On the surface things were great, but in reality I was beginning to feel severely fatigued. On top of that, I had strained some relationships that were beyond the point of repair. In dealing with weight loss and body image there is a fine line. I had probably crossed it.

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One of the only photos in existence of me without a shirt on

That was the day that triathlon became my passion. It was something that ensured my weight didn’t skyrocket again. I loved what I was doing. That was until I began to get injured. Jumping to the elite levels of triathlon rather quickly meant I was put under all sorts of pressure to fit a certain mould. Triathletes were skinny and if I was to be a pro triathlete, I had damn well better be skinny as well. The pressure to keep this image meant I put a lot mental effort in to stay on top of my weight. As soon as I got injured the pressure was off and I felt some relief knowing the start line wasn’t immediately around the corner. The strict dieting took a back seat.

Travelling around Europe with a broken foot was a wonderful example of this. I was unlikely to see the start line for at least six months and I was in Italy on crutches. You had better believe I was going to try and find the best gelato I could. The gelato hunt, coupled with the immobility my crutches provided meant my weight once again began to blow out. On return to training I weighed approximately 82kg. I wasn’t pleased with it, but I also knew it wasn’t the heaviest I’d ever been and I’d lost the weight before. Most importantly, I was more prepared. I knew it would take some time to get down to where I wanted to, but I had time. There were no pressures.

Joining PTC was a rude shock to that system. I rocked up at swimming on day one and immediately felt out of place. These guys are skinny. I’m pretty sure I can see each muscle fiber through some of those guys’ skin. They looked like elite athletes and I did not. If I wasn’t feeling enough internal pressure to start dropping the weight, my skin fold testing and the comments I was receiving from other’s would surely help. I got my diet completely back on track and reached my goal of getting to 69.5kg (153lbs) before heading to the start line in Subic Bay.

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The weeks since have been interesting for me. After taking a rest week and backing off the running just a little bit with a foot injury, I put on a couple of kilograms. Not much, but apparently enough for everyone to notice. I have had more comments on my weight in the last month than I have had ever.The majority have been extremely negative. I’ve been asked why I’m struggling to lean up if I’ve been eating well. On top of this, there have been times where I’ve pretty much straight up been told that I’m fat. Thankfully, there’s the other side of the coin and I’ve had some good support. With my current housemate, fellow pro triathlete Jack Hickey on a tear listening to podcasts on the topic and our four combined degrees in exercise science I feel we are well and truly on the right track.

Thankfully that means I am starting to feel positive about my own body image and am now able to drown out the rest of the comments. However, others are not as fortunate. The impacts of negative comments on body image can’t be underestimated. As Ian Maclaren put it;  “Everyone’s fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

 

Penrith Oceania Champs Report

In the days leading up to Penrith Oceania Champs I was pumped. I was coming off the back of a solid run in Subic Bay the week before and with a swim that suited me, I was certain I was going to swim better than I had in the last couple of races. If those two things happened I was sure I could shake things up a little with some of the more well known Australian ITU athletes.

With the caliber of some of the swim-bikers in the field, the buzz around the start line had been about taking the bike out hard to try and split the field in what otherwise would have been a relaxed bike followed by a running race. As the minutes ticked closer to start time and the wind speed increased, so did the importance of getting out of the water in a good spot. In a nice change from the previous week I felt relaxed throughout and came out of the swim right where I needed to. So far, so good.

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From there it was on. After hammering the first 2kms of the bike, a group of 11 of us were off the front. Working with some of the stronger cyclists in the field ensured the gap kept extending to a smaller chase group that included some of the better runners in the field. As we came to the last lap I was determined to be up near the front to ensure I accomplished my only goal of the race- be one of the first athletes out of T2. In what were a good couple of lessons learned I absolutely made a meal of that goal and was 11/11 from our group out of T2 as my frustrations began.

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Heading out onto the run I was annoyed but still confident. I had done some run sessions focusing on this exact scenario and soon pulled myself up to the group. The next km was a struggle. My lungs began to feel like they would explode and my body was screaming out for my air than I could supply it with. I was so determined to run with the group that would produce a podium spot but my body just wouldn’t allow it. I spent the rest of the run trying to hold off two of the boys that were flying out of the chase pack and eventually gave up those spots with 500m to go, finishing in 11th.

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I’m not going to sugar coat this. Crossing the finish line in Penrith stung. Not because I had finished 11th. As Corey reminds us- the result is merely a reflection of how well you have executed the process. I had executed so well in the swim and bike to put myself in a great position only to have the slowest T2 in the field followed by what I consider to be a disappointing run. This is where my frustration lies. Finishing last would be fine with me if I had executed well and was happy with how I performed. That’s not the case and I feel I can do much better. For that I am left with a burning desire to go out and fix the mistakes I made… but that will have to wait. After thrashing my body for a couple of months it is time for a week off. For now it’s time for some consistent training before attacking some Asian races in July.

Results HERE

 

 

Subic Bay Continental Cup Race Report 

Race week for Subic Bay Continental Cup was much like any other race of late for me. The injuries and niggles that had me questioning my ability to perform on race day slowly disappeared as the weekend grew closer. Blisters on the bottom of my feet from the previous week’s 10km meant race morning was spent taping my feet in a way that I hoped wasn’t too tight yet didn’t come off during the swim. 

The ungodly heat of the Philippines during the middle of the day meant race organisers had the start at 5:30am as soon as the sun rose. The anticipation of wondering if there was enough light coupled by a long ‘on your marks’ call was met by the sound of the horn and we were off. Only I wasn’t. I was on my hands and knees watching everyone else enter the water after slipping on the start mat. The long 700m swim out was roped off forcing athletes towards the right trying to get on feet and follow the rope. I knew a couple of Aussie boys would be out fast dictating the race for the day and I desperately wanted to be there. If there was a race you didn’t want to miss the start, this was it. I fought so hard to get up to lead rolling over other athletes, copping elbows, punches, kicks and anything else you can imagine but ultimately just couldn’t bridge up and was stuck in between a couple of athletes in what was probably the most frustrating swim of my triathlon career.

Hopping on the bike with a group of 6 was positive but after a couple of kms I wasn’t confident in the strength of our group or our willingness or ability to work together efficiently. Given I could see the lead duo just up the road and wasn’t sure about their motivation to stay away I decided to take things into my own hands and bridge the gap with a Syrian athlete who seemed the most motivated to contribute something. A couple of kilometres later and there were four of us off the front. This is how it stayed for another 10kms until we were caught before the turnaround for lap 2. The rest of the bike was a leisurely roll for our pack of 8.

After double flatting the day before the race I was most looking forward to racking my bike in T2 and getting out on the run. Exiting T2 I slotted in 3rd of a group of 4. We ran together for a few kilometres before fellow Aussie Joel Tobin-White started stretching the elastic and broke away. I yo-yoed on and off James Cronis’ shoulder but eventually dropped off and settled into third. The rest of the run was spent trying to figure out if one of the Filipino athletes was a lap down or had run a 3km lap quick enough lead out a WTS race. After seeing him walking through an aid station on the final turn around my worries left me and I began to savour the moment of my first continental cup podium. 
  

I’m extremely happy with how my legs held up during the run and am looking forward to taking some good form into next week’s sprint distance Oceania Championships in Penrith with a few of my PTC teammates. One box ticked, back to work to tick off a few more! 

What Goes Through My Head During Training?

Undoubtedly, the first question people ask when they find out I’m a triathlete is whether or not I’ve done an ironman. After I chuckle and kill the conversation with a ‘no’ and a brief automated response the conversation usually makes it way to the next question ‘what do you think about while you’re training for all that time?’ To me this is a far more interesting question and one I have to think about. Given I have a few weeks of solid training it is also quite relevant. Although every athlete is different and I consider myself a little nuts, spending more time training in a group environment has shown me that a lot of us have similar thoughts during our sessions. Let me share some of the most common with you.

While swimming…

‘Hm what can I eat when I finish this session?’

’40×100… Well I’ve done 3 so if I do one more I’ll be 10% done. Then only 9 more times of that and I’m finished.’

‘Why won’t my cap stay on my head properly? There’s gotta be a trick to it’

‘What can I have for dinner tonight?’

‘5 down, 7 to go. What percentage is that?’

‘There’s gotta be a way to stop goggle fog once and for all’

‘I can’t wait to go to bed tonight’

‘Am I even going to be able to make that send off?’

‘Do they really need so many lanes for that?’

‘That doesn’t seem like much rest’

‘Do I have time for a nap today?’

‘I should’ve eaten something else before we started’

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While riding…

‘Man it’s cold, I should’ve worn more’

‘Where is the turn? I swear I should’ve passed it already’

‘Why is there always a head wind?’

‘What is that sound my bike is making?’

‘I wonder what’s down this road’

‘Where am I?’

‘Do I have time for a nap today?’

‘My power meter must be reading low today’

‘Is my garmin battery going to make it home?’

‘What can I eat when I finish this session?’

‘Man it’s hot, why’d I wear so much?’

‘Don’t you dare lose that wheel!’

‘Oh crap, that gap is opening’

‘Only a couple of times over the horizon and I’m home.’

‘How the heck is he riding so fast? He doesn’t even shave his legs’

(On being passed by cars) ‘Please don’t hit me, please don’t hit me!’

‘I think I need a new bike. I definitely need a new bike’

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While running..

‘I shouldn’t have eaten so much before I started’

‘An hour run.. well I’ve done 5 minutes. Only 11 times that to go.’

‘This GPS pace can’t be right’

‘If I ran that way will there be a bathroom there?’

‘What am I doing running up a mountain at 5:30am?’

‘Don’t you dare drop off this guy!’

‘What is that niggling in my calf? What the heck is that? Have I felt this before?’

‘I had better turn around and stay close to home just in case’

‘Why’d I eat that for dinner last night?’

‘What can I eat when I get home?’

 

So there you have it. Some of the most common thoughts from my workouts. I like to joke that I spend my time solving world peace. Although these thoughts are the most common, there are also times when I do delve into a world of my own. Some of my best ideas and thoughts have come while I’ve been out training. I feel I have grown a lot as a person since beginning triathlon and no doubt this is part of the reason.

If you have any other common thoughts during your training I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Gisborne Oceania Championships Race Report

I like to think I am one of the most well prepared athletes on the start line of every race I start. Gisborne Oceania Champs were a different story. With a wildcard Olympic spot on the line for the winner’s country the Gisborne boardwalk was surrounded by groups of triathletes from every big squad in Australia. These guys were all given a brief on what was to happen out there to ensure an Aussie won the race and claimed the coveted spot. Thankfully I was slightly aware of what was going on beforehand and made a conscious effort to try and avoid a mob lynching by doing anything the least bit silly.

The build up to this race was an interesting one for me. Checking out the swim course the day before the race was a bit of a shock. Despite visiting Gisborne 10years previous, the size of the swell had escaped my memory and my lack of surf skills became exceedingly evident. I’m very thankful to have had my coach Corey and a few teammates in Gisborne. After a couple of sessions working with them on my entry and exit I felt 100 times more prepared than I was on first attempt. The only problem was I was still 100 times less prepared than the guys that had grown up surf lifesaving. Nonetheless, after watching a few surf swim videos the night before and a quick swim practice early morning before the race I’d convinced myself I was an expert and it was time to go!

The start practice I had done earlier in the week had obviously paid off because for what might be the first time in my triathlon career I was one of the first athletes in the water. From there it was on. Exiting the first lap I could see I was just off the back of a decent sized pack. The second lap was spent screaming at myself to latch on or it’s game over. After a quick run up the sand to T1 I could see the pack just up the road.

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Photo Liam Sproule

Following coach’s orders I didn’t worry about my shoes and set out chasing. After punching 400W at 52kmph out of T1 I was able to latch on pretty quickly and was in my shoes before the first turnaround of the 8 lap bike. Looking around at who was in the group I knew I was in the right place. From there things got a little boring. With three Aussie guys off the front and only 5 kiwi guys, a Ukrainian and a large number of Aussies in my group, the kiwis were forced to go the front to try and bridge the gap. Any time an Aussie got anywhere near the front, the shouting started. Infighting was the theme of the race and despite the best efforts of some colourful language from their compatriots, a couple of the NZ boys refused to work. With only 2 of the 5 kiwis contributing to the pace, the effort was futile and the gap to the front kept extending.

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Photo James Blackburne

Heading out of T2 I felt good. Given I hadn’t run 10kms in a race in forever I decided to build the run with the goal of negative splitting and reeling in a couple of guys that had gone out hard. Evidently my body had other ideas. As I started winding things up at 4km I felt the pull of cramps. Then they hit me hard. Stopping to punch my leg cost me two spots and 20secs on the guy I was running with. I was worried, but not deterred. I’d been here before and I knew I could figure it out if I was smart. The next two kms were spent dialling it in and trying to run as straight and smooth as possible. My body responded and at 6kms with Corey’s encouragement I decided it was time to go. I am super proud of my last two laps. Reeling in two spots after cramps had forced me to a walk is not easy but it does show what your body is capable of if your mind is strong enough.

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Photo James Blackburne

Finishing 14th is by no means where I think I am capable of being but it is a step in the right direction and there are so many positives to take away from my progress over the last few weeks. With a strong field in Gisborne just picking up some more ITU points was the goal. You can’t complain when you accomplish what you set out to do.

Full results HERE.

I must say a massive thank you to my host family James and Lynda. They went above and beyond. I know it’s not an easy task for patriotic New Zealanders to cheer for Aussies but they were some of the loudest out there! After some rushed travel consisting of a 6hr drive to Auckland immediately post race, I’m back home and getting stuck into a good block of training before a couple of races at the end of April. Until then!