Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Headed home.

My final race in China two weeks ago was my last detour as I made my way back home after the Euro season.

I left camp in Leysin 10 days earlier planning to squash an Iron distance race and double Olympic into the next two weekends. Things didn’t go perfect but I got through it and back home in one piece. Ready to have a bit of a break and get rid of some niggles that I have had lingering over the last few months.

The Iron distance event was just off the coast of Singapore on a little island called Bintan. As expected it was hot and humid and being so close to the race in Hawaii there was only a small pro field.

The conditions didn’t suit me but I thought it was worth a go, it had so many positive things going for it and was on my way home. My idea was that if I was struggling in the heat, just jog through the marathon and leave my legs fresh for the following week in China.

The race started well and midway through the bike I joined one of my team mates. We worked well on the bike and came into T2 with close to a 30 minute lead back to third place. I’d started to cramp after the 90km mark on the bike and felt terrible from the start of the run but I knew if I just jogged the marathon I would be able to hold second place. Just that became harder than what I thought and at the 32km mark I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. The doctor on course had noticed this a few km earlier and followed me in his golf cart until eventually I collapsed and got taken off in the ambulance.

At the end of the day my team mate Brett had a great race and his first professional win coming across the line with a huge gap back to second place and a massive pay cheque of US $15000 while I watched the presentations from the medical tent. Not exactly how I had planned the day but there wasn’t much I could do about it but try and get ready for the race in China the following week.

As you’d gather the week in between was pretty easy, I left Singapore on Wednesday and headed north. Its about a six hour flight up to Beijing then another 1.5 to Weihai so that took up one day.

Conditions were cooler up there and the course was extremely challenging. For the third year in a row I came away with 3rd place. I was hoping for more but the guys at the front were to good for me this time. By the end of the race I really started to fade and was lucky to stay in podium position.

A reasonable race one week after a bad result was satisfying but I still look back a little disappointed.

Its a few weeks easy now with a bit of a trip to Mooloolabah this week and a few trips in and out of the doctors to fix a few little niggles. If everything goes well I’ll be back to full training in a couple of weeks in preparation for some races early in the new year.

Cheers, Aaron.

Friday, September 7, 2012

One more week.

Our European camp is coming close to an end for another year, with most people slowly heading away over the last few weeks it seems like only the skeleton crew is left, which made me reflect apon just how much success we have acheived in the last couple of months as a squad.
Its pretty amazing... So I've found some pictures to do the talking!
Dan winning IM UK

My highlight for the camp is definitly seeing Nicola take the gold medal at the Olympics after all the hard work she puts in it was well deserved. But to see our whole squad performing well and enjoying their racing has been inspiring.

For me it was good to get back into a bit of form again after a couple of ordinary races in the middle of the year. I just have to keep it rolling for two more races in Asia on the way back to Australia then a bit of time to catch up with the family before the Australian season kicks in.

There are still some of the biggest races of the year coming up, so hopefully some more big results!
The "Bulldog" mixing it up with the boys in Vichy last month.
Cheers, Aaron.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Challenge Copenhagen

After a good race and a great result in Copenhagen, I thought this would be a simple blog to write and such an enjoyable one. But its been a week of mixed emotions.

On Tuesday morning one of my friends passed away while on a training ride back in Canberra. He was 27 and had the world in front of him.
Without any warning or pre existing condition he had a heart attack and despite all efforts from everyone in the bunch was unable to be revived.
I spent many hours with Robbie on the road and put down a lot of sweat and pain with him but nothing hurts as much as losing someone you have so much respect for.
My thoughts go out to his family, fiancee and the cycling community back home.

Last weekend was Challenge Copenhagen and after a few ordinary races in the middle of the year I came away with my second Challenge victory making it very satisfying.

It was a late decision to enter this race but once again Brett was right. Similar to Ironman UK last year it was only the week before that I finalised the trip over there.
We thought this would be a cooler race with no humidity and very similar conditions to back home in Canberra.
I was surprised just how accurate Bretts assumptions were. The only surprise was no rain for the entire week and almost perfect conditions for race day.

Being the most important race in Denmark its a big race for the Danish athletes, so there was no surprise to see such a competitive field of local athletes, most of whom I didn't know. I thought Jimmy Johnson and Tim Berkel would be the athletes to beat but I knew to beat them I would have to put together a pretty solid race.

It was a small field of Pro men, I think there was about 15 of us that hit the water at 7am to begin the days activities with a one lap swim in the calm waters on the outskirts of Copenhagen. From the start I got towards the front and exited the water on the feet of the lead swimmer and a minute gap back to the next competitors. I thought that was pretty handy and my chance to put a mark on the race. The time gap opened quickly and at the 60km mark I was told I had a 5minute lead. I still felt really comfortable and was riding to a heart rate so I knew I could sustain the effort over the entire ride. That was the final time check that I received until I put my run shoes on.
In the final 5km on the bike I ran over some glass left on the road from Saturday night and punctured. At the time it was the last thing that I wanted to hear. Unlike cycling I couldn't just get the spare from the team car and swap it, I was left with the choice of spending 10 minutes trying to fix it with some pitstop and the chance it wouldn't work or riding the last 5km on the rim and risking a crash on one of the corners or cambers in the road.
I slowed down to a safe speed and made it into T2 safely where I was told I had an 11 minute lead! I couldn't believe it.
Even better after riding the last 5km easy I had fresher legs for the run which came in very handy.

Onto the run and I felt great. For the first two laps I continued to put more time into the field. I was getting splits more often now so I slowed to conserve my legs but it didn't take long and I was starting to struggle. I think it was a combination of not being able to get all my nutrition down on the bike and simply not being back to 100% strength. Whatever happened the rest of the field started to close in on me quickly and I had to move my butt a bit faster if I wanted to win. I took my time through the aid stations and got plenty of fuel down. That was enough to get me to the finish line and take the tittle.
It was a great result and I know I can improve on that over the next few weeks. So some recovery then we start looking for what will be my final races in Europe this year.

Huge thanks to my home-stay, Daniel who actually gave me his bed for the week while he slept on the lounge!
Staying a little longer I was able to see a few of the sights and catch up with a few of the locals which was very cool and he was a great guide.
Below is a photo from one of our rides after the race. Daniel assures me it makes perfect sense in Danish!

Cheers, Aaron.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gettin through it!

Three weeks into camp things are starting to feel better and the races are about to begin.
When I arrived I thought I needed a good four weeks in the hills to get some form back to a competitive level before racing the back end of the European season and I am starting to feel that now.
One of the quotes that Brett gave me last year stuck in my head he said “Training should start to feel like a droan” and I know every time I get into good shape thats exactly how it feels.
Well when you are in camp like we are at the moment with no distractions and nothing else to do, it doesn’t take long to get that feeling and pretty soon you start to get some rythem and a bit of form.
The last couple of weeks has been some pretty awesome training with our trip to Alpe D’Huez and some big days with the boys preparing for Kona later in the year.
Racing begins next week with a trip to Challenge Copenhagen.
My last voyage to Denmark was for Challenge Aarhus last year which ended in a total disaster after I picked up some food poisoning in my travels and spent most of the weekend in the bathroom. Hopefully this race will turn out a bit better than that!
Then we will start to plan out the rest of my time in Europe before heading home in Mid September.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Favorite 5 from the last year.

I’ve been asked by a lot of people what my favorite race is and why. So for this blog I have picked my favourte five races of the past twelve months.

1. Julia Creek Triathlon. Queensland, Australia.

This is my favorite race of all time. Its not just a race, it’s a weekend festival in a small country town out the middle of nowhere with real country spirit.
The main events include the triathlon, Horse races with a redclaw lunch, Bull ride and a concert that finishes well into Sunday morning.
It excites me just writing about this weekend.
After registration on race morning all the bikes are placed on a cattle truck and driven out to the water hole, from there we ride back into town and do a couple of laps around the main street to finish the run. Being a sprint race its finished pretty early and by the time you have a shower and something to eat the horse races are about to start. So basically you go from one activity to the next usually with a few beverages in between!
A lucky few people get some rooms at the hotel but the majority of people camp in part of what the organizers call tent city under the stars.
Everytime I have been to this race I have walked away totally refreshed looking forward to the next year, I missed it this year as it clashed with another race I had but hopefully will be back there in 2013.


2. Gerardmer Triathlon. France.

The French love their tough races and this is hard core stuff. A half Ironman with a high quality field and hardly a bit of flat road. 2300m of climbing over 90km means your either going up or down on the bike. And the descents are testing to dangerous. Most of the run is around the lake on a mix of trail and road.
Race presentation is a big event and everyone attends with the hope of winning the lucky number draw. The big prize is a car!
The fastest non professional bike split wins a $10000 bike.
Most people just compete to say that they finished the event and survived. I really enjoyed the event here last year.

Cooling off in the lake after the race in 2011

3. Alpe D’Huez Triathlon

Another one of these tough French races over a weird distance of 2/120/21.
Anyone who has had anything to do with cycling knows Alpe D’Huez and this is the final climb of the day before you get off and run around the snow fields at the top.
My most memorable part of this race was the final km’s of the bike as I climbed Alpe D’Huez reading all the artwork and graffiti left behind from many years of Le Tour De France.

Some of the hair pins up Alpe D’Huez

4. Ironman Wales

2011 was the first year of Ironman Wales and we had the worst conditions for the whole week. Cyclonic winds, rain and cold weather just added to the difficulty of a tough race.
No huge mountains on the bike but constant up and down. 2500m of climbing over the bike followed by a hilly run really sorted me out.
I liked this race though it was a fair course and a bit of a novelty for all the locals, we had thousands of people out on the course to cheer us on even through the bad weather.
I was caught with about 300m left to run in the race and finished second so this race will stick in my memory for a while.

The crowd at swim start! 6.30 on a Sunday morning!!

The first km of the run and the crowd is huge.

5. Challenge Wanaka. New Zealand.

I love the atmosphere of Challenge races but Challenge Wanaka had everything and I won the race so this one is definitely a favorite.
During the winter Wanaka is the place to go for a ski in New Zealand and there are still a couple of glaciers visible from the town during summer. It really sets the backdrop for a beautiful race.
Once again it is a fair course with strong winds and lots of hills.
The support from the local town people is great. From a town of seven thousand, one thousand volunteered to help at the race and I am sure the other six thousand were out on the course cheering us along or helped the athletes out with homestays.
The after party was great as well!
Hopefully I’ll be back to this race a few more times.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome Heidi Alice!

Earlier today Danielle and I welcomed our newest addition to the family, Heidi. To our surprise its a little girl that greeted us after months of guessing.
Every wives tale we heard suggested that we were having a boy so it was a bit of a shock to see a girl. But a nice surprise!
Both Danielle and Heidi are going well and expecting to make it home on Friday. While Tyler has a big lifestyle change coming his way.
Heidi arrived three weeks early and came in quite a hurry, after a seven hour labor with Tyler I expected to be in the birthing suite for most of the day, but we were merely there a few hours which was great for both Danielle and the baby.
Hopefully not to many sleepless nights coming up!!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Ironman Cairns

This weekend Ironman racing heads to Cairns and marks the end of the Australian season as we head into our colder months.
I decided to do the race this year as usually by this time I would be in Europe but with the baby on the way it worked out well to have a major race here before thinking about heading over with the rest of the team.
Being a weird time of year to have a race in Australia has divided the pro field as alot of the guys don't want to travel around the world from America or Europe for one race. Some of the competition decided to base in Australia and use this race as their major focus before heading back to the European season, most of the others are like me, either Australian or New Zealander's  that are unable to travel around the world for races or have family commitments.

I'm looking forward to this race, its the last chance for a good result in Australia before next season and its such a beautiful part of the world. I holidayed here last year and got to do alot of sightseeing but now its business and I am counting on a good result.

Apart from a competitive field there will be a few other things to contend with on the day, the race is in crocodile territory with the chance of some box jelly fish and the weather is likely to be hot and humid. If I make it through the swim hopefully I will be able to handle the rest of it ok.

Training has been going well after Koh Samui and I have been able to get some more distance back in my running after tearing a muscle in my hamstring a few weeks before my last race, if all goes well hopefully I will be somewhere near the front of the race and pushing for the win.