Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Into some more races

After a short trip back home I have settled back into camp with the rest of the team and ready for another handful of races to finish the European season starting this weekend in Gerardmer (France).
Not my main focus, this weekend will just be some solid training leading into my next three races which are all long distance (3.8swim/180bike/42run). We are going to attempt exactly what we done with my last races as that worked so well.
Starting on Wednesday we are riding the 300+ km over to Gerardmer before and easier day Friday, race Saturday, presentation on Sunday with some light training then back to Leysin Monday/Tuesday before I head over to the UK on Thursday.
If everything goes to plan I will complete three Iron distance races and one half distance race in four weeks which sounds a bit crazy and possibly impossible.We will see.
Here is the race plan:

3/9/11  Gerardmer Triathlon 1.9/93/21
11/9/11 Ironman Wales  3.8/180/42.2
18/9/11 Challenge Henly 3.8/180/42
2/10/11 Challenge Barcelona 3.8/180/42

After the trip back home and coming down with a cold and chest infection its taken a bit to get the body back to the shape it was in leading into my last races but after a good block of training and the race this weekend I am hoping that will all be in the past and I'll be right to rip into some more good results before I head back to Australia.
I'll let you know how it goes along the way.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Back home- Temporarily

This week is a quick trip back home to Australia for Tylers birthday and Christning. I hit the road on Tuesday afternoon and get back to Oz Thursday morning hopefully not to jet-lagged as we have quite a busy week planned. After almost two months away I am really looking forward to catching up with Danielle and wonder if Tyler is going to recognize me. He seems to know my voice through skype but is a bit confused that my voice is coming from the computer. I'm sure it wont take to long!
Then the rest of my European trip will start from the 18th Aug. We are still deciding on what races I will be doing but at the moment it looks like at least another long distance race and two half distance events before heading home in the first week of October and what will hopefully be the beginning of some warmer weather back there!

Recovery after last week has gone very well and apart from a cold and chest infection that I picked up after the freezing race in Alpe D' Huez I feel great and actually thought  about racing again this weekend. If I didnt have the cold I probably would have but we dont want to risk spoiling the second half of my season by doing something stupid now. I rolled through most of the sessions this week with the group just easier and shorter than usual, using it as some active recovery.
This race was such a contrast to my first Ironman last year where I was just mentally and physically drained for the next month or so. At the moment I am trying to calm myself down and not get to carried away smashing myself in training until the time is right, so maybe the trip back home will be good in more than one way.

Cheers, Aaron.

End of the bike leg in Bolton

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My first Ironman victory!!

Without any doubt this has been my most rewarding week of triathlon in my career so far. Two long distance races in the space of four days and my first Ironman victory.
Starting from the beginning..
Sunday we began our trip to a midweek race in France, the "Alpe D'Huez triathlon". Each year most of the TBB athletes make the trip over there and use the race simply as training. We ride about 300km over there Sunday/Monday do some light training Tuesday race Wednesday then ride home Thursday/friday. I managed to get out of the ride home as I had to get to my next race in Bolton (UK) four days later.
The race consists of a 2.2km swim 115km bike and a 22km run and as the name suggests its all based around the infamous Alpe D Huez.
This was probably one of the coldest races I have done, the weather was totally horrid during the event.
We started in the freezing waters near the base of the Alpe in a small lake with the weather closing in fast and by the time I exited the water about a minute behind a breakaway of three guys it was starting to rain. I swam well enough to be in front of most of the main contenders and pretty quickly passed the leaders who each had their own problems, from there I put my head down and rode solo for the next four hours.
The ride consisted of three main climbs and some very scary descending on wet roads in terrenchal rain and fog, finishing with the most dawnting, Alpe D'Huez which is where one of the guys in the chase group caught me and lead into transition only to be given a drafting penalty handing me a head start into the run leg.
I battled to the best of my ability on the day but faded to 3rd place. Respectable but not the win I was after.
This was my first trip to Alpe D'Huez and apart from the weather it was everything that I had imagened it would be. The actual climb was covered in paint/ Graffiti the entire way to the top from where the tour de France had been through many times.
So much sporting history has been made on that one climb that I felt privileged to ride on it, although the race went alright this was the highlight of my trip by far. 
So after crossing the line in the freezing cold it was a quick pack up, presentation then in the car back to Leysin to prepare for Ironman UK on Sunday.
For an Aussie driver in Europe without a GPS I reckon I did good arriving back at our base early Thursday morning but without getting lost!!
I unpacked then packed again hitting the road Friday afternoon, touching down in Manchester that evening followed by the short drive out to Leigh where the race was to be held.
It seems lately every time I travel I have some sort of issues with baggage handlers breaking or damaging my bike and once again I arrived with my rear derailer bent so badly I thought it might have been cracked.
Luckily I found a good bike shop that were very helpful and spent most of the day Saturday there, then checking in for the race the next day.
Although looking back it sounds stressful I was totally relaxed, maybe I am getting used to these last minute issues and dealing with them better or maybe it was just because it was an English speaking country and I didn't have the added stress of not understanding the language which usually makes things really hard.

Everything worked itself out and we hit the water for race start at 6 on Sunday morning. It was a small field of pro men and I managed to sit in with what ended up being the breakaway of three in the swim.
Once on the bike we were totally blown apart from one of the french guys Romain Guillaume who by km 20 had put a two minute gap back to me then about another 2 minutes back to third. I didnt let the gap worry me and stuck to my race plan of building into the bike and if I was feeling good for the last 40km start to put the pressure down.
At about the 100km mark the time splits started coming back in my favor and I was feeling good bit by bit I was closing the gap but still weary of staying hydrated and having enough energy to get through the marathon.
I caught him at the 150km mark and he looked like he was in alot of trouble. This was the best possible news for me as I knew that I already had a big gap back to the next group behind, about 10min. From that point on it was head down and whatever it took to get the race win.
I jumped off the bike feeling like I could run the 42km (unlike my last Ironman) and had no cramps or worries. I got my legs back quickly and found a comfortable pace which I thought I could hold for the 42km run and immediately started to open the gap. This was the point I just wanted the race to end how it was but I still had the best part of 30km left to race.
The run started with a stretch into the city then three loops around the city centre. I was hoping for a flatter course but again there was alot of uphill running involved. After the first lap I was feeling great and had a 12minute gap back to second, I just had to keep in control and the race was mine.
I managed to hold on and came across the line in 8 hours 24 minutes hardly able to take the smile off my face for the next three days.
Amazing the difference a great support base, coach and training partners can make, thanks for all your support and I hope I can write many more blogs as enjoyable as this in the future.

Cheers, Aaron.