Wednesday, 28 May 2014

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

These are the words of Calvin Coolidge a modest Farmer, School Teacher and Store Keeper who in 1923 became the 30th President of the United States of America. I first read these words as a 16 year old and they immediately struck a chord. I knew nothing of the man who wrote them until recently when I took the time to read about the remarkable life of President Coolidge.  I have had a shortened version of these words written on the white board in my ‘pain cave’ for years. Simply, “Persistence is omnipotent”.

“Persistence is omnipotent” very simple words, but words which remind me every single day, every single training session, every single interval, stroke and stride that all power comes from chipping away blow by blow. Not aimlessly but planned, measured and purposeful repetition. I believe that the knockout punch will be delivered, but the 2013/14 triathlon season didn’t quite bring that for me just yet. Just over three weeks from my last race I have enjoyed some gluttony, mental rest and the opportunity to focus my energy on other aspects. On reflection and removing myself from the emotion of a finish line and the fatigue of two Ironmans in six weeks, I can see several positives, lessons and significant progression from 12 months ago. Whilst I may be wearing Rose Coloured glasses and perhaps even ‘sipping a little of my own Kool-aid’ this will provide me with the motivation and belief required to ‘persist’.


Sunshine Coast 70.3 – 10th showed good bike improvement with a pb despite a mechanical (the old seat drop) Poor run and didn’t follow through on a good set-up to the day.

Murray Man – Injury, DNF long drive for no chocolates.  

Shepparton 70.3 (after a week trying to get injury right after Murray Man)Around 10th again (can’t find results) but very ordinary Swim and Run.

So after a great winter of training these results did not reflect the improvements I thought I had made. A little frustrating but as they say the numbers don’t lie and they (numbers) were telling me good things so it was just a matter of onwards and upwards.

Cape Patterson Olympic Distance – 2nd Another bad swim and good bike/ starting to find run legs.

St Kilda Gatorade Olympic Distance – 1st in Open (non-drafting plenty of faster ITU kids in the draft legal race) 1st quick run off hard bike / swim.

Geelong 70.3 – 6th was really happy with this after a terrible swim exiting 4min down on the leaders. Only lost five minutes to the lead group on the bike riding solo and then 3rd fastest run split. Some consolidation that bike is improving. Tough day at the office, with horrible weather conditions.

Melbourne Ironman – 18th in 8.36 (See Below for details)

Port Macquarie Ironman – 10th 8.58

My goal for this season was a sub 8.30 Ironman at Melbourne. At the end of the 2013/14 season I managed to podium at Ironman Australia, however I was a long way from the win and this day demonstrated the progression required to get to a more competitive level.  So on top of the 8.30 goal at Ironman Melbourne I wanted to race as much as possible without interrupting my other ‘hats’  work, coaching, kids. Racing experience was what I was after and I got that.  There were many lessons; with positives to be drawn from each of my races allowing me to set some clear pathway’s to continue to work at achieving my long term goals in the sport.


As you would expect for an Asia Pacific Championship and one of the biggest prize money / point races outside Kona the field was loaded with the highest of quality and depth. I wasn’t deterred by this as my goals for this event were time based. I wanted to go fast. Looking at the field there was a group of about 6 guys I thought I would exit the swim with. I didn’t. I was 5mins down on this group and a ridiculous 10min’s from the leaders. Even in such a quality field I should be better than this and I was pretty disgusted with myself.

Onto the bike and I set about nailing my ride, I knew it was going to be solo. I refocussed and set about nailing a smooth, even paced ride, which I did. I didn’t catch any other riders (Actually rode a minute into that group of 6 or so in front) and nor was I caught (except Luke McKenzie who past me at the 20km mark after being stopped on the side of the road with helmet troubles, I tried riding with him for 10km or so and wasn’t feeling too bad but the numbers were telling me I soon would and trying to keep pace with a bloke who dropped the entire field in Kona 6mnths early was a little silly) I felt great for the whole ride, a pb split for power and time. I nailed the ride as I had hoped Average Power 244watt, Normalised Power 252 watt VI 1.03 (Meaning I kept pace smooth without spikes for whole ride)   3.66W/kg .76 of FTP (Functional threshold power) Av Cadence 79. Looking at the file I only went over my FTP 6 times, this accounting for me feeling great at the start of the run.

Out of T2 I realised I had to run sub 2.45 to break 8.30. “Stuff it I am going for it” I told myself tail wind, undulating course (which I like as it gives you a chance to use slightly different muscle groups), feeling great everything in my favour. I was on track to do this until around 29km when the wheels started falling off. My quads started getting really tight and it got more and more painful each km over the last 10. I just focussed on form, cadence and embracing the hurt. I finished with a 2.50.40 Marathon the 7th fastest of the day after riding with Pat Malone all day. I was content. 

A week later after allowing myself some recovery I turned my attention to Port Macquarie. This race was always going to be about showing up, putting my hat in the ring and seeing what happens having raced an Ironman 6 weeks prior. After a good chat with my coach Kristian it was evident that something was lacking in my swimming. I am not the best swimmer but I am not that bad. So we sort out the help of Craig Percival who did some great work with me on technique, pacing and well just teaching me to hurt myself a little in the pool again.  This worked well and I got back to where I should be for Port Macquarie. My swim will be the focus of this off season, it is still the thing that is limiting my performance in races the most. I hope to work with Craig a little more over the winter. It also turned out I had strained my quad in those final 10km at Melbourne so it was another week of no riding and running before leaving myself 4 weeks to get ready for Port.

I felt in good shape for this race and was excited at having another opportunity to race Ironman, on my favourite course and see what I could do in a much less competitive field than Melbourne. I had the best swim of my life exiting the water in 50.20 just under the planned 1.20 pace.

Onto the bike, the forecasters had predicted correctly and it was bloody windy from the start (I was happy about this as I had ridden well in the wind at Geelong 70.3 a few months earlier). I was coming to Port to take some risks and learn. I did this on the bike and pushed myself a little harder than in Melbourne going with surges, working the hills etc. Whilst staying within the realms of reality I pushed the boundaries and this can be seen from the data. I made some poor decisions on pacing (in hindsight), which probably cost the legs a little. I certainly got taught some lessons in patience from old hat Jason Shortis and young gun Nick Baldwin (who was very patient in the first lap and then I thought he attacked the second lap, but he actually just held pace).

I got off the bike only 7min down on the combined swim/bike time from Melbourne. (Much harder bike and weather) This excited me and I felt pretty good despite knowing I had worked a lot harder on the bike. The first 10km was tough but I was on pace (just under 40min) even though the wheels were starting to fall off. I gradually got slower and wanted to pull out. I had none of the speed from 6 weeks earlier in Melbourne and knew from that point it was just about finishing. I wanted to walk every step of the way, however despite knowing a few age groupers were in front of me I was hanging on to 6th Pro, which would mean $. This was motivation enough not to walk; I knew the beer would taste better that night knowing I had at least paid for the trip. So I plugged away at what really felt like an Ironman Shuffle (but I never let myself walk), I was surprised latter to see I had actually still run 3.03 and was happy to sneak in under 9hrs in 8.58 despite a pretty poor run. (No run data I switched the garmin off when I switched to survival mode) Big Kudo’s to the Nine guys that beat me across the line and also Luke Bell riding 4.37 on that course in that weather is unbelievable.

Big thankyou to my fantastic sponsors Peak Cycles, ROKA wetsuites and Saucony.

So I have a lot to be positive about this winter and a lot of work to do. Time to roll up the sleaves J






Thursday, 9 May 2013

Podium Boohyahh!!!!!


For the last two years I have been chasing the goal of finishing an Ironman on the podium, and last Sunday I felt the great joy of raising the 3rd place tape after a slow walk down one of the best finish chutes on the Ironman calendar. I can’t explain the deep pride, exhilaration and happiness I felt. Whilst I have certainly lapped up and enjoyed this result over the last week and I will do so for some time to come, I am still a long way off being a real contender to really threaten for a win. It is important for me not to sugar coat it that way for those of you reading this post or in my own mind. I believe in myself and the developmental process I am on, with my coach Kristian Mannietta. I will not allow this success to derail me from the long term plan to develop into the best Ironman athlete I can be.
For those of you that don’t know me, haven’t followed my blog or social media posts in the past I will quickly fill you in on my background. I work full-time as a Fire-fighter, have two kids 1 and 3, my wife works part-time as a Paramedic and races Ironman Triathlon also as an Age Grouper (she managed her first Kona spot on the weekend also, which has meant double the joy for us) and I coach a dozen or so triathletes as well. Therefore training has to be well structured, our week has to be organised and scheduled keeping both of our goals in mind.  Our priorities have to be kept in check, our kids and their future is at all times number 1. We love our lifestyle and think we have achieved a great balance of being able to fund our mortgage, living expenses and understand that our personal goals in sport are a luxury and treat it as such.

Whilst sitting here in Nelson Bay still enjoying the fruits of my immediate success, it is with a level head that I look to the future with a long term plan to develop into a stronger, faster and better athlete who is capable of being competitive with the best.  Massive congratulations to 1st and 2nd place athletes Luke Bell and Patrick Evoe on the weekend who both demonstrated how to race solo wire to wire from the outset. I look forward to and aspire to being able to race like this in the future.  Luckily for me I enjoy the process as much as the result and am prepared to be patient, consistent and measured in my training in order to reach my potential.

So the skinny on Sundays race –

A mass start, Pro’s and Agers all together. The small Pro field was given a 25-50m head start, as expected Luke Bell lead from the gun, but was soon to be over taken by super fish age grouper Ben Squiers. I jumped on the feet of Jason Shortis and had Patrick Evoe right beside me. After about 500m-1km we were over taken by a fast pack of Age Groupers, who we managed to tack on the back of. After this point the swim was relatively comfortable and I exited in 52.30 with a small group about 5min back from eventual race winner Luke Bell and even further behind the super fish Ben Squiers.
My plan on the bike was stick to a wattage I had trained for; I tried to keep it very conservative over the first 90km. Before long the small group I exited with had spread out and each of us settled into our own pace. Patrick Evoe overtook me early on in the piece and rode off into the distance as did fellow Victorian Dave Meade. By the end of the first lap had worked my way into 6th place with a minute or two’s gap to 7th. Out onto the second lap I tried to push the next headwind section but my goal power slowly dropped despite feeling like I was giving my best effort. I slowly lost more time to the guys in front and a few I had overtaken early began to creep back up to me after I took quick pitstop at the last turn around in Laurieton (I was scared of the usual Ironman toilet strategies after having to fight a DQ last time I raced in Port Mac, so was suffering stage fright and had to pull over and use the facilities). I exited T2 in 8th position.

I must congratulate the race organisers, the Technical Officials (they were out in masses, great to see) and competitors for making this the fairest race I have been a part of. I didn’t see any drafting out on course and the top 20 guys seemed to spread out with at the very least 30sec gaps for most of the day.

(Heading over the top of Matthew Flinders Drive) Thanks Darrell from for this shot, check out his website to see if he got any of you!!
Like the bike, I planned to run a conservative pace, which I thought I could hold for the first 20-30km and then empty the tank over the last 10 (which would really mean just holding the same pace). I felt great on the run until about 12km when my paced dropped off because I was in urgent need of natural break. My legs felt great, but clenching my butt cheeks and praying for the next porta loo caused my pace to drop off 15sec or so per km. Once I found the next toilet I made a quick stop (about a minute I was watching the clockL) and was then able to continue on back at my planned pace. After another 5km the same issue started rear its ugly head once again. So again it was into the next loo. This continued for the remainder of the run, running 5km as planned, running 5km getting progressively slower until I visited the next loo and started all over again. I managed to work my way into 5th position by approximately 8km then it was down to bridging the gap to fellow Victorians Dave Meade and Monty Frankish. I caught Dave at the 23km and 26km marks (he re-passed me during one of my stops) and finally Monty at the 33km mark to put myself into 3rd position. Luke Bell continued on from his swim bike form to put on a clinic with the quickest run split, Patrick trailed about 12min back and ran just a fraction slower than Luke.   

I was happy to be able to work my way into third position and achieve a long term goal of gracing the podium at an Ironman despite a less than perfect race. It was a little frustrating feeling like I had the legs to run a lot faster, but my guts wouldn’t allow me. The funny thing was I couldn’t help thinking of Paul Finch a.k.a ‘Shitbreak’ from American Pie and the scene pictured above.

The day was even sweeter as my wife Tarryn had a great race to finish 2nd in her age group, 8th overall and qualify for Kona!!!! We are both excited to be heading to the Big Island in October with our kids, her racing and me as chief parent and supporter. It’s now time to enjoy our success for a while J.
A big thank-you to my sponsors; Saucony Runnners, Peak Cycles Heidelberg and Ryders Eyewear. It is fantastic to have access to fantastic products from Saucony and Ryders. My relationship with my local bike shop Peak Cycles is invaluable, they offer great service, a great mechanic who gets my bike working spot on before each race despite the hard time I give it in training and expert fitting which, I truly believe is essential to all triathletes and Sean does a terrific job of the Body Geometry fit!! 
Also Tarryn and would not have been able to race without the ongoing support we get from our friends and family. Especially my Mum and Dad last weekend who not only dealt with 1 and 3 yr old all day whilst spectating the Ironman but also keep them entertained in the days preceding whilst we prepared.

Lastly to my coach Kristian Mannietta, can't thank him enough for the contiual advice, motivation and encouragement to get the most out of the time I have and belief that I can achieve my dreams despite my other commitments.
Thanks for reading :))

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Experiencing Ironman success

Defining Success

As defined


the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one's goals.

In order to judge if we have been successful at something, goals must be set prior. Now this is the tricky bit, but so important. Setting appropriate goals can totally change your mindset, productivity and ultimately the levels of success you achieve. Set the goals too low and you will most likely achieve success, but will you experience the true euphoria that comes with the personal satisfaction of such success? Set the goals too high and you may continually fail and continually deny yourself the opportunity to be happy about your achievements. (Don’t get me wrong we need to fail, and shouldn’t be scared of failure because ultimately that makes us better)
This weekend is Ironman Melbourne and I am so bloody excited about watching my wife, athletes I coach, friends, the pointy end of the field and people I don’t even know execute their Ironman race this Sunday. For most it has been a long build with massive commitment from themselves, families and friends.  How do you set goals to measure success beyond the objective?
I like to look at goals from two perspectives and I think both are important. I believe you should have a number of Objective and Subjective goals leading into an Ironman. Objective goals are things that can be measured or they either happen or they don’t there is no grey. Qualify for Kona, Sub 10, Sub 12, Goal average power on the bike, Goal run time, Too finish. These goals are important and are really why we are on the start line to begin with. But I am a big fan of the old Journey Vs Destination or Process Vs Outcome analogy. If you focus on subjective goals (goals which require you to look deep into yourself, which require you to make an honest assessment as to whether they have been achieved) you are much more likely to achieve the objective ones. Examples of subjective goals: Did I stick to my pacing and not got too hard at the start, Did I maintain mental focus all day (lapses in concentration cost time), Did I ease off when things got a little uncomfortable, Did I walk when I could have run, Did I stick with my tried and tested nutrition plan, Did I maintain an aerodynamic position on the bike when it got a little uncomfortable, Did I truly push when things got hard as I knew it would, etc.
So whether or not you can look back at your last three months prep and say you achieved what you wanted to, it is still worthwhile setting your realistic yet challenging Objective and Subjective goals now (If you haven’t already done so). I like to have a list of at least five or six for an Ironman and judge my success based upon how many of those goals I was able to achieve.  Write them out, and replay them in the head. If you concentrate on the subjective ones race day, requiring you to be completely honest with yourself the objective outcomes will take care of themselves.
Hopefully this will stop you reaching the finish line looking at the clock and judging your whole experience on one number! Sometimes circumstances beyond our control affect the objective outcome but if you can truly look deep into yourself and say you gave it your absolute best you can still experience success. I truly hope you experience the deep joy of hard earned success this weekend, good luck! Time to hurt.
Below is an example of an athlete I coach experiencing deep success beyond achieving a goal time despite not seeing at the time.
Last year, Mark experienced the joy of achieving a goal within his reach, a sub-10 time at Ironman Melbourne. Through determination, good planning, perseverance despite setback (injury) etc etc! As a coach I was so happy to see the exhilaration he felt from such success. The next part of our plan was to have a quick turn around and back up for Port Macquarie Ironman six weeks later. Riding on the high experienced in Melbourne, Mark was truly excited by what was possible. Perhaps a Kona qualification was in his grasps if not in Port Macquarie certainly in the future. This all come un-stuck about 15km into the 180km bike ride when he hit a big pothole. He went over the handle bars at 50km/h (downhill section at the bottom of Matthew Flinders dve) taking skin form his face, torso and legs. His bike was a mess also and deemed un-safe by the officials. Rear brake cable snapped, Front Derailleur bent beyond being fixable and only three gears to choose from on the rear cog. Now Mark could have easily walked off the course then and there. Obviously he was pissed off, but the voice in his head could have justified that he had broken 10hrs six weeks ago, the mechanic is telling me he can’t fix my bike and it’s unsafe, call it a day, head back to town get the wounds clean and go get some lunch. 

 Mark told that voice to piss off, he called on his negotiation skills from his day job and convinced the mechanic that his bike was safe with a front brake (utilising some of the laws of physics) and decided he would ride the entire Port Macquarie (bloody hilly) course in the big dog, with three gears and weeping wounds. Needless to say what was to follow was a long day of agony. Mark persevered and got to the finish-line in the dark of the night. Talking to him that evening he was mightily pissed off because he was feeling great and confident he could improve upon to sub-10 mark he had set six weeks earlier. He saw this as failure. To me this was one of the best moments in coaching I had experienced. (Not through any of my doing) Marks in-built reaction was to finish at all costs and an attitude that no obstacle is too great. What an experience for his pre-teen kids to watch their Dad struggle to the line battered and bruised. That lesson is one that I have no-doubt will teach them much more than any Kona ticket, super-fast time or any other audacious goal Mark has. To me this is great success!!