Lessons from the Pro’s….. 70.3 World Champs

Having spent a week in Mont Tremblant in June with the Purplepatch crew at a training camp, I was keen to get back there. So when I found out I had managed to collect enough points from racing to make the cut for the World 70.3 Champs, I was pretty excited. Mont Tremblant is a fantastic venue and they sure know how to put on a fantastic event. It’s like Disney Land. The town is made up of different coloured buildings and everyone just seems permanently happy. Being back here now for the World Champs the atmosphere in the town had gone up another notch and there was an air of excitement around the place.

Exploring the beautiful area of Mont Tremblant

Exploring the beautiful area of Mont Tremblant www.cycologygear.com

I found myself staying in the Australian team hotel, with a friend I knew from Sydney. I have to say Australia showed the rest of the world a thing or two at this World Championships, taking the model from the ITU Worlds and setting up a fantastic team atmosphere for the Aussie’s and supporting the athletes like they deserve at a World Champs. They had team Managers to help and support the athletes as well as a bike mechanic on hand. They had a team breakfast, which I was very honored to be asked to go and speak at as well as issuing team t.shirts and kit, making them a stand out nation at the competition. Even standing just up from the finish chute on race day handing out Australian flags as the athletes came past so they could cross the line waving a flag. For those of you who have raced for Australia or Great Britain at the Olympic/Sprint World Champs, this is normal and what’s expected by the athletes almost, however it is fantastic to see Australia taking a lead to support it’s long course athletes. A personal thank you to the Australian team for welcoming me and looking after me whilst I was in Mont Tremblant. It was great to see and catch up with many friends, who I knew when I lived in Australia, and even though I was competing under the Union Jack, they were incredibly supportive and welcoming to me, as well as helping when I had a few bike issues and transport issues. Thank you!

The Aussie's had arrived!  Me with Anne Besser and Skippy. Anne is an absolute legend

The Aussie’s had arrived!
Myself with Anne Besser and Skippy. Anne is an absolute legend and gives her time so generously to the sport.

Not only was it a great opportunity and experience to attend the Australian team breakfast, meeting so many of the athletes (including Ken who won his age group (70-74) in the Sprint and Olympic distance Worlds in Edmonton just a few days earlier and then topped it with winning the 70.3, and Karla the 64year old who’s only been doing triathlon for 5years but already has 13Ironman races under her belt and 5 Kona’s! Talk about inspirational), but I also attended and supported my coach, Matt Dixon, at his book signing that was held in the village. Yes obvious blatant plug here, for Matt’s book, The Well Built Triathlete. However, I absolutely loved meeting so many of the amateur athletes competing at the champs as well as supporters and locals, all with that same drive and passion for the sport. What a buzz!

(Order yours online at http://www.purplepatchfitness.com/well-built-triathlete or at Velopress http://www.velopress.com/books/the-well-built-triathlete/)

Matt Dixon's "A Well Built Triathlete" book signing, with Meredith Kessler

Matt Dixon’s “A Well Built Triathlete” book signing, with Matt and Meredith Kessler

Now here is how to put on a World Championships with fireworks that went on for 30mins at the opening ceremony, what a way to welcome the nations and athletes. As we lined up on race morning we were greeted to a Fighter Jet fly past, as well as fire works going off again at the start of every wave. For the very start of the race and the male pros start, not only did they have fireworks, but the Fighter Jet with precision timing flew over again at exactly the time of the gun! Impressive none the less. The volunteers were just incredible. For the locals this is the 4th race in Mont Tremblant this year, having held a 5150, 70.3 and full Ironman over the past few months, yet the town still welcomed the event and all of the athletes and the volunteers were as cheery, happy and helpful as ever, if not more. A true credit to the team in Mont. Tremblant.

Stunning views of Mont Tremblant. The lake and the village below from the cable car up the Mountain.

Stunning views of Mont Tremblant. The lake and the village below from the cable car up the Mountain.

The swim was in the beautiful lake and with the water temp a few degrees warmer than in June it was going to be great. The bike course was the same, so I was looking forward to having a better crack at that, having not had a great bike in June. The run had been changed for the Worlds from the one lap, 21.1km in June which had a few bumps but then a pretty good flat section, to now two laps of bumps (with the flat section removed). At the end of each lap we were taken up into the resort of Mont Tremblant and ran straight up the middle pedestrian area of cobbles to the top plaza before then coming back down a steep section and back out for the second lap (or splitting off to the finish). I was looking forward to these changes, knowing that I’d had a good run here in June and had had some run splits in races this year that I was very happy with. My swimming is a work in progress at the moment, and I know I have a long winter ahead with many hours in the pool, however I’d had a decent swim session up in Tahoe in August at a Purplepatch training camp, and another good few sessions off the back of that, so I was feeling that for now things were starting to click and move in the right direction.

Eccles and I at the swim start. Such a gorgeous lake to swim in. Eccles wasn't too impressed at my impromptu photo post swim session! ha ha!

Eccles (Brit Chick) and I at the swim start. Such a gorgeous lake to swim in. Eccles wasn’t too impressed at my impromptu photo post swim session! ha ha! An awesome training partner too. Thank you.

My last four World championships have been pretty special, as an Amateur winning the Sprint in Beijing in 2011, the Olympic in Auckland in 2012 and capping it off with winning in Las Vegas in the 70.3 in 2013, followed a week later by winning the Olympic Champs in London. These races and experiences were pretty incredible and I had great performances on those days and been very lucky (as well as obviously working hard for these events). Now I’m on the start line in my first year as a Professional, really having only started racing in June, with some absolutely amazing athletes. What an incredible experience. Many of these athletes have inspired me over the past few years since I got into the sport and now I’m standing ready to race against them and with them. I didn’t feel particular intimidated or daunted. I was excited at the prospect and knowing I can only control my race, was remaining focused on that.

The Pros at the 70.3 World Champs. Was I really there? #pinchmyself

The Pros at the 70.3 World Champs. Was I really there? #pinchmyself

Sadly, I didn’t execute the race I know I can. Whilst I was off the pace and off what I know I can produce across all three of the disciplines, it was the swim that let me down badly today. With the influx of the ex-ITU swimmers, the swim is becoming fiercely fast, and today was not the day, to not get the engine flowing in the water. I had a decent start and focused on executing my first 100 strokes as discussed with my coach Matt Dixon. This wasn’t too bad but I think at about 300m, I’m not too sure what happened as suddenly there was just no one ahead. On the back half of the swim, heading back to the exit, it felt I was so far behind I couldn’t even see the splashes in the water from the girls ahead, it was just flat and calm. I came out the water with Angela Naeth and Ruth Bennon-Murray just behind me and knowing these two are fantastic cyclists thought we could work together to perhaps gain back some time and bridge up to the girls in front.

Yes I kept the signs as souvenirs.

Yes I kept the signs as souvenirs.

Sadly I didn’t have my cycling legs either today, and soon found we were all riding solo and I was last. I’m not going to go into details on the bike, as I don’t want it to be misinterpreted as moaning or anything, I will just say I didn’t have my bike legs again today. I know what I’ve been producing in training and back in San Francisco and the solution I now need to find is how to unlock this on race day. I did manage to catch a few of the girls towards the back end of the bike course, but headed out onto the run still a long way off the pace. I think with about 10km to go on the bike, someone at the side of the course called out 17.5min to the front of the race. Heck! Seriously! 17mins back. This was pretty crushing. I stayed positive though that I have been running well and knew this course suited me well on the run, so had the belief that I could run through some more of the field. Well, sadly my run was left behind today as well. I didn’t really start to feel good until the 13km mark, with just 8km to go. The whole first lap I felt horrific. I couldn’t get the rhythm and speed going that I knew I had. My right knee flared up (never had this before) and was giving me some serious discomfort. I could see I was a long way behind the girls in front, but just tried to focus on my form and technique and good running. As mentioned the first lap was horrible and I went though some dark places, giving myself a few upper cuts to snap out of it and focus and carry on. For some reason with 8km to go I started to feel better (could have been the caffeine gel kicking in I’m not sure and maybe the perceived effort was better as I’m not sure I actually started running any quicker, although I did start passing everyone again at a pretty quick rate), but too little too late and again not the performance I know I can do. Looking at the splits after the race, I guess my run time wasn’t as bad comparatively as I thought, however it was a good few minutes down on where it should have been, and as athletes we are always over critical and over analytical on things like this, so I was pretty disappointed.

Photo curtesy of Julien Heon Photography. THANK YOU! www.julienheon.com

Photo curtesy of Julien Heon Photography. THANK YOU! www.julienheon.com

My first World Champs as a Pro. Yes I’m incredible proud of making it to the start line off only a few months racing and after upping my life and moving round the world to join Matt Dixon. It’s only been a few months with Matt, but I’m learning so much and feel I’ve developed a great deal already. Yes there is still A LOT to work on, and I’m looking forward to being with Matt over the winter to really put some ground work in. With me joining him at the end of April, coming off a very mixed few months of training and life in Sydney, it was pretty much straight into racing and I’ve not really stopped. So it’s been more a focus of getting me race fit and moving, rather than huge changes to things. I’ve loved it though and now looking forward to breaking things down over winter and working on everything ready to come out firing next year and building on this going forward. I’m also incredibly conscious, although yes I have to admit often forget, that this is a long term process and partnership over the next few years. I have to remember to be patient and be confidence that things will happen and change, but it’s perhaps (or more likely definitely) not going to happen over night. I’m supported and surrounded by some incredible people, the best people. I’m very lucky to have a great team to work with for all aspects of my training and life in settling into San Francisco and I’m so grateful to this community.

Great to mee Julien Heon in Mont Tremblant. Thank you for the photos.  www.julienheon.com

Great to meet Julien Heon in Mont Tremblant. Thank you for the photos.

Whilst I’m very frustrated and disappointed in my performance in Mont Tremblant, I’m taking some huge learnings from the race and the last few months, processing it, digesting it and putting it behind me to now look forward and ahead and focus on the future and being the very best I can be. The season is not quite over yet, as I’ll race at the beginning of October, before heading to Kona to watch the Ironman World Champs, which I am just a little bit excited about. I have a great many friends from around the world racing (don’t you just love the triathlon family and making friends all around the globe) so I can’t wait to support them, but also to experience the race and learn from the Professionals and utilize this experience to again grow and develop myself. I will then probably have one more race in November before a break and reset for Winter. I’m looking forward to heading home for Christmas and spending time with my family. It’ll be my first Christmas back in the UK since 2011, but only my second Christmas in the UK since I left for Australia in 2007. My sister, Charlotte is expecting her first baby in October so I can’t wait to be back and meet my new niece at Christmas time. There are a lot of great things ahead, that I’m excited for and can focus on looking forward to.

Hanging out with the ITU World Champ (and soon to  be 70.3 World Champ)

Hanging out with the ITU World Champ (and soon to
be 70.3 World Champ) #OnceAGroupieAlwaysAGroupie

As mentioned, our sport is certainly not individual and I have to say some special thanks at this point.

A huge huge thank you to Dan Brunton Publications (www.brunton.co.uk) for supporting me this year and helping me get to some of the races and events. Thank you. I met Dan on the plan from to Auckand in 2012 and became good friends. He’s an incredible guy and I’m very grateful for his support this year in helping with some of my travel. Thank you.

Thank you to Matt for his continued faith and belief in me, and for Paul Buick, who I have spent many an hour on skype to with him back in NZ but also for his enormous amount of cycling knowledge and experience that he shares with us when he travels over to the US.

To Andreas at Beyond Aero Bike shop in Berkerley (www.beyondaero.com) for doing a fantastic job at building my new Boardman AiRTT/9.8 with Campagnolo Super Record EPS.

My lovely new Boardman Air9.8/TT with Campagnolo EPS. A huge thank you to Andres and the Beyond Aero team for building the bike (www.beyondaero.com)

My lovely new Boardman Air9.8/TT with Campagnolo EPS.
A huge thank you to Andres and the Beyond Aero team for building the bike (www.beyondaero.com)

To my awesome homestay in San Francisco, Jordan and Rich Blanco. I could not have hoped for a better couple to stay with. Whilst I only intended on being in their spare room for a couple of months, they have been so very very welcoming and generous in letting me stay longer and putting no pressure on me to more out (they maybe regretting this now I’m sure). I can’t thank you enough and do not know how I will repay your generosity and support.

Jordon & Rich Blanco. Huge thanks for letting me stay with you in SF these past few months. (Promise I'll move out soon.)

Jordon & Rich Blanco.
Huge thanks for letting me stay with you in SF these past few months. (Promise I’ll move out soon.)

To the Purplepatch and EMJ community again for being so very welcoming to me and supporting me as I moved to San Fran and settle into life here. Grandpa Champ for being just an absolute legend and for looking after us on our camps and whilst back in SF. The girls, MBK, Little Red, Pokey and Eccles….what an awesome group I am honoured to train with and learn from. Can’t wait for many more camps and training sessions with you all.

So lucky to train with a fantastic group of people Thank you

So lucky to train with a fantastic group of people
Thank you

Sorry I know this is turning into a bit of an Oscars speech but I am truly grateful for having such fabulous people support me and at times pretty overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of them all.

Last but by no means least to the brands that support me with product. Huub (I promise I will be making the front pack soon www.huubdesign.com), Shotz Nutrition (the rest of the world don’t know what they are missing out on (only available in Australia, www.shotz1.com), Kask helmets (super cool helmets keeping my head safe, www.kask.it), Oakley sunglasses (love love love these so much, www.oakley.com), Jaggad (www.jaggad.com), Scicon (the quickest way to pack your bag, www.sciconbags.com), Cycology (inspired tees and clothing, so good, www.cycologygear.com), Foundry Performance (if you’re in San Fran, get in touch with these guys for your functional strength training, the best, www.foundryperformance.com), Bodyflows (www.bodyflows.com) and SFSportsMassage (keeping my body and muscles in working order)

Until next time….Don’t Die Wondering 🙂

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