Tuesday, December 11, 2012

IM WA Race Report

We love this race for so many reasons. I wrote a year ago that it's the best race I've done, over Copenhagen, Roth, Austria, Melbourne, Phuket etc etc. I still stand by that. The race organising had been taken over by USM this year, the third group in four years. I think there was a slight backward step in a few things this year, but it was still a great event, very well run. On top of the community support and the beautiful location, there is a terrific swim, flat bike (suits me), and a great party tent holding pre and post race parties. The timing of the race falling just before the start of our winter season means after the race we are able to relax for a few days in the Margaret River post race, finally enjoying the off season. It’s a wetsuit swim, the volunteers are the best of any race I've been to, the local community really embraces the event, but you do roll the dice with the weather every year. It can be anything from 22-42 degrees and have almost no winds to blowing a gale depending on the day. Usually the wind is moderate and was on this day. The weather was hot on the run, over 33 degrees.

Justin took some great shots. The swim start in Busso is an amazing sight.

And we're off. I was far right near the front. Not sure where Ness went.

Leading into this race I knew I was biking better than I ever had in my life. Development in this sport takes a long time, so many people want to think in months, but you should really think in years. For most people, it takes a long time to get to the absolute peak of your potential. You get a big boost soon after you start training well, then after that it's only small gains. After a big training block in Kona and some more work in Australia - some good work and advice down in Berry from Team TBB coaches Matt Koorey and Rob Pickard, and Woody had given me a great preperation too, I had been round and round and round and round Centennial Park... in the last few weeks.

 I was putting out some big numbers on the bike. Last year before this race my FTP (functional threshold power - which is the maximum No. of watts you can produce and sustain for one hour) on the bike was about 320. This year it had gone up to about 360-70. Geeking out - you divide your FTP by your weight in kg to give a cyclist’s “magic number”. So for me 360/84=4.2 (w/kg). To win the TDF Lance always said his magic number needed to be around 6.8. They are starting to understand that there are limits to clean human performance (such as running a sub 10sec 100m hmmmm I am skeptical that it's ever been done clean.) and for cyclist it’s been shown that this formula is pretty reliable >6=Doper.

"When Dr Ferrari has my magic number at 6.9, I know I'm  ready to win the tour". And feeling like a pin cushion.

So cyclists - particularly climbers, often see losing weight as equally important as improving their power, as if you are climbing w/kg is more important than total watts. But for flat courses, total watts (my 360) combined with aerodynamics - (my BMC)  are all that count, and weight is not that important. For example mine and Vanessa's watt's per kg are pretty similar (she's about 4.2 also) but on the flats there is a big difference in our speed for the same watts/kg effort, even though she pokes a smaller hole through the wind than me, but, granted, she doesn't have a BMC = ).

That's what I'm talking bout.

 I was recently down in Melbourne for a physio course and went for a ride with my mate Gav Stuart and he brought along pro Josh Rix who we had met in Hawaii and he was 4th overall in IMWA last year. I was surprised on the way back into Melbourne I was almost riding him off my wheel and feeling great, so I knew I was going pretty well. After being a bit short on swim fitness we had put in 2-3 20+ km swim weeks to make sure we weren’t getting out of the water spent. I think for swimming you need to go through some massive volume of training at some stage of your life to be a stud, preferably when in your pre-teen years. Once you have that in the bank you can afford to back off a bit, but you still need to cram before a race to make sure you are not going lactic in the waters. I heard Craig Walton would always swim 16.20 for an olympic distance race but if he wasn't swimming much his lactate would be through the roof - if he was swimming 25kms a week, his time wouldn't change, but he would have no lactate, and hence be able to bike strongly. We had also been doing some Sutton-esque long interval runs too – 60x400, so the running was going pretty good too.

Yasmin and the Gibson Crew sprung up in this turn-around point mid course - that was a welcome surprise - shortly after I did my time in the joint.

We had my daughter Yasmin fresh back from her OS travels in her gap year and Ness’s brother Justin and wife Peta and their kids come to support, so was looking like a good trip.
Loved this shot of Justin's family on the Busso Pier - worth clicking on and expanding - would look good on a wall.

It was a cool and windy Friday, a cooler and calm Saturday (that would have been a fast day), and Sunday race day was 11-32 with 25km/h winds. I would have preferred it a bit cooler, but the wind is better for stronger (higher total ftp) and heavier riders like me, so that was fine with me.

SWIM 3.8kms 56.14 
The swim went pretty well. It’s such a great swim here in Busso, the best on the Ironman circuit I reckon, up one side of the jetty and back the other. Very easy to navigate. There was quite a bit of swell, but I handled it much better than last year. On the turn back I just kept steering back to the left towards the jetty as the current was dragging you to the right. Last year I got swept away and then seasick.
They racked couples next to each other this year which was cool. There was no way of telling who was in your AG though which was a bit of a shame, not that it mattered to me on the run.

BIKE 180kms 5.06 (4.37 moving time from Garmin on auto pause)

Ness showing her stellar bike-handling skills. She had a small crash on the bike - thanks to said skills making it difficult for her to grab bottles from aid stations in countries where we drive on the left.

I got on the bike feeling a million bucks. That’s what the 20+km swim weeks do - sweet. I have gone totally off the normal gels now and was going with the one bottle cage only between the bars to keep the frame clean for aerodynamics. I planned to put the extra bottles and food down my top. I had some sandwiches and Honey Stinger Waffles taped to the bars and I flicked the tape off at the first aid station's 'littering zone' only 300m from the start. I grabbed one Ignite Natural 'gel' - (actually fig paste), ripped off the top and flicked it away, with a little bit of electrical tape attached. A Marshall (Technical Official/T/O /draft buster/hard assed cranky bitch/whateveyacallem) sped up to me and gave me a yellow card. Damn – I was only 400m into the ride. 

Look out Screw's coming!
The lady had real attitude – shouting and berating me like a naughty boy, “That's for littering". She had the adrenaline pumping to get her first bust of the day. "What’s your number?” she screamed a few times – “I saw you do the first two as well!”– Yeah they were in the littering zone and big bits of tape – but this was a gel top with a 3cm long bit of electrical tape, anyway I had to cop it. “What’s your number?” Again? "It’s on my helmet and seat post if you look, Freak" I thought. I was tempted to say “1234." “You HAVE to go to the first penalty box” she said and sped off. Damn, not a good start, but to be fair I was guilty, just unlucky to get busted for a minor infringement.

Glad I put the auto pause on so I got some proof.
I was trying to keep the watts at 270, and feeling really good. I thought, well I’m going to get a rest in a minute, so I can probably push them a little bit over the 270 limit I was aiming for and nudged 300 at times. I was passing people pretty consistently the whole time. At the first turn around I could see there were two AG freaks right off the front, and then a group of 7-8 a few minutes behind them. I thought the penalty box would be at the first aid station but turns out it was about 50kms in. I'd always spent the whole ride in Busso just behind the lead paceline, killing myself to reach them all day. By the time I got to the penalty box, I'd made up so much time that I was right at the tail of the lead bunch, coming about 8-9th overall Age Grouper. I could have just ridden straight through this group if I wanted, and possibly be third off the bike. 
He's not the Messiah, He's a very naughty Boy.
Anyway I pulled in to the Penalty Box and this burly fellow gave me a stop watch and the lady who busted me was there waiting for me, making sure I did my time. Revelling in it. The guy hands me a stopwatch, and I was having a bit of a joke with him about a few things.
"Don't touch any buttons on the stopwatch" he said.
"No way mate, I'll just be trying to make these numbers go faster" I said. 
He was filling in this form, and my terrible offense was the one first entered. I was kinda proud.
“Number?"he asked.
“Litterbug,” I confessed.
“Bit of an asshole” I said.
"Ha ha, I don’t think we need comments”.
 I asked him to take some of my rubbish as “I don’t want to repeat offend” I said.
“No we’re not supposed to help” he said. Then the lady looked away for a second and he whispered.
“Just give it here” and grabbed my rubbish. And I gave him the thumbs up, looked at her and rolled my eyes. He whispered “she’s a B-I-T-C-H”, spelling it out.
 “Yeah, it was only a tiny bit of tape” I said.  

She got back on the motorbike and my mate said to the rider “You’d better go now, there’s no gap for a while", trying to get rid of her. They sped off to do some more busting. He grabbed my stopwatch and it said 2.30s…then he said – that looks like 4 minutes to me – off you go. Saweet! Thanks maaate!

I was back on and passing people again straight away. Then 5 minutes later I hit a bump and Pssst! Shiiiit! A puncture! Faaaaaark.

I did take a few chances before the race trying to make my bike as fast as possible, and to be fair these risks came back to bite me in the ass big time. 
1.  I had a few flats recently in Hawaii due to a bad tyre and a buckled wheel. I'd used all but one of my latex tubes and didn't have any spare going to Busso.
2. I wanted to use a new tyre race day and changed the front when I arrived in Busso, but the tube in there had stretched and instead of using a new butyl one I stuffed the old tube in there, and I think maybe it had a crease. Went OK on practice rides though, so maybe it was just bad luck.
3.  I use aero skewers instead of the quick release ones that need an Allen key to remove them. I woke at 3am race day, thinking “I forgot the Allen key!” as I normally tape to the frame race day and had already checked my bike in.
4. My tyre was a really narrow 19mm Bontrager that did not have great puncture protection, but was very quick.

Very aerodynamic, but velly risky too.

I put it in my bag to tape on the bike arc morning but I forgot to do it. Shizer. I actually remembered before I got the puncture that I'd forgotten to do it.

So when I got the flat I knew I was cactus. I pulled the tyre and tube out and left it hanging there in the fork asking for Allen keys from competitors and for tech support.

Rolled the dice. And lost.

Vanilla Sky - this can't be real!
 Eventually a mechanic came, a 19-year-old guy, and he had the treasured Allen (hex) key. I took the tyre off before he arrived - (No lever!) and he changed the tube for me but didn’t check the tube before he inflated with the C02 - sure enough, it was pinching against the rim and when we inflated it that one blew up with a bang! He had one more spare tube – I’ll do it myself I said. It had a massive long 80mm stem that was poking out of the H3 cut out, but I’ll make it work I thought. Eventually it went up and we taped the stem in to the wheel with electrical tape, to stop it hitting the forks. I was back in the game but total lost time was about 27 minutes. I was pretty calm throughout – I'm not the sort to have a Norman Stadler meltdown over something that was my fault. The electrical tape ended up unravelling and I had to stop again to get rid of it.

Too much Glue!!!

Back on the bike and there was still 120kms to go so let’s just try and get to the finish line and keep the 270 watts going, and maybe do a decent marathon I thought. I was passing people all the way; there was no chance to get involved in any tactics or argy-bargy with people in pace-lines bludging or cutting in my 12m space, as I never stayed in a pace-line for a second. I just rode straight through them all, my power hardly dipped below two fitty all day. A guy coming out of a turn-around passed me once, and I soon passed him back, but aside from that I never got passed all day. I did come by Ness who had passed me on the road (she didn't have an allen key....at least I hope she did't...better confirm that) and told her what happened. She was looking great and there were not many girls ahead of her. I saw Jamie Slaymaker who had a bad day and then not many others as my head was down and I was just slogging along in the zone staying as aero as I could. It was great to be able to sustain the power on the last 50kms as every other year I'd really died in the last part of the bike here. This time I felt like I could have done another 50kms at that power if I needed too.  Each of the 60km laps took 1.32, moving time, average speed about 39.7km/h. It turns out my 4.37 would have been about 5th fastest of the day, including pros and even with my slow marathon, enough to get me to Kona. Damn. It would have been cool to have a 30 minute lead to 2nd in my AG at the start of the run and am sure I would have been able to do at least a 3.40 if needed. The trail of hard luck stories continues! Remember, "satisfaction is the death of desire right!". Hmm. Am sick of learning lessons, that's fo sho.

Was great to have good support on the run. I try and give back some energy to them when I'm able to.
RUN 3.50
I started out holding 4.30-4.38 pace. The plan was to just sit on 4.38s and hold it as long as possible. The support form Justin, Peta, Yasmin and my old mate from Tokyo, Daniel (AKA Wombat) Barron – who has moved to Perth and got the tri bug big time – was awesome. I came upon Stefan and told him to come with me and we did the first 14 kms or so together and then I moved away from him a bit. Then around the 25-8km mark the stomach started to play up and I was vomiting at every second aid station, struggling to keep anything down again. That part sucks.  

Ness had a big PB on the day, after a small crash on the bike.  She died a little in the last bit of the marathon too, but still did a 3.35. She took a Kona slot, and we know there is still more to come.
I know if I take a big cup of liquid, I will vomit, and I occasionally made that mistake. Mostly I was staying with coke and water. The vollies were so good in this race, they know their stuff and we never ran out of anything. The last 14kms were just shuffle, walk, and vomit. I had Josh Rix for company for a bit as we helped each other along – he was a lap ahead, and ended up getting 12th overall, which was disappointing for him, but he gave it a go on the bike and was 2nd in T2 but came up short on the run. 

My run time blew out a lot on the  but as I knew my Kona chances were left on the road with the puncture it was hard to push yourself into those big depths of pain you need in the back end of an IM marathon, when there is not much on the line. It was a bloody relief to get to the finish line after the drama and pain of the day.

The long shirt and daggy flap hat help keep you cool, but don't worry ladies I do feel your pain, it's such a waste.

The post race area was a bit of a let down from previous years, quite sandy without much shelter. I had Daniel Macpherson on my butt the last coupe of k's so jogged it home and then I heard Vanessa come in as the winner of the 35-39 – she ended up winning it by 30+minutes! Most of the times were quite slow on a tough day, and her marathon split was up there with some of the best on the day.

She will take her Kona slot again today and I will have another go in Cairns and/or IM Canada. Onto the off-season now – time to do some snowboarding and make some money!

For consollaion I won the official Beer Mile the day after the race - 4 x 400m run with skulling a beer between each one!
Had to go barefoot now the soles of my feet are as bad as the toes.

Ness with her 2nd Golden Ticket! I had a tear in my eye and niece Estella was stoked too!

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