BYRON BAY OLYMPIC DISTANCE - 2:06 OPEN CATEGORY

I cross the line, the vice unwinds. Immediate thoughts ‘Lifetime achievement’.

I’m not sure of the time but I know I’ve pumped out a good race, sat right at the edge, hung on to the death. I’d wanted to race in an open category for a few years - back in 2016 when I was going pretty well I dreamed the idea would be the ultimate step up and mark if improvement I could qualify myself to sit in an elite field. An open or elite field is usually raced by a few emerging pro’s and top age groupers.

I started off back in 2012 with a 2:20’ish for the Olympic, the next step was 2:14 and then some 2:08’s by 2017.

With hard work I’ve been able to prove myself at the top of my age group for Sprint Distance and so I thought it would be admirable to check in at the bottom end of this ‘elite’ category at Byron Bay.

The past couple of years has been challenging and I have struggled a bit to find the rhythm and head space I had before moving up north.. I hadn’t even raced Olympic distance since feb 2017.. I left Albury on a high. With a great race and very very deep effort. Part of me always wondered how it would be possible to replicate, anything short of that out of body experience would be a failure. Shitty wall I built myself to climb over. Not very productive or allowing growth.

After countless sprint distances and success I guess I resolved that I was needing to let experiences happen, let racing be racing - where the magic happens. My back pain seemed to be something I learned to manage either way, so time to end the bullshit and race Olympic Distance.

The Byron bay triathlon presented itself at the perfect time - end of the season I felt I was just starting to find my straps with a big win at the sprint distance state champs. I thought about the race and potential of open category . Age group just didn’t excite me knowing the bike would be subject to drafting purely by the number of competitors on course. Opens would give me a clean race regardless of being far from the front of the race. To launch into the swim - first wave of the day against guys I’m amazed and envious of - to have to hold my nerve and execute a solid race to validate my own expectations/ this exited me - In fact it scared the shit out of me. So much so I think I spoke to over 10 people about it trying to get some external validation that I was good enough to enter. I put my initial entry into the age group category, but I was still on the fence knowing I could switch it over.

I prepared the best I could with the time I had, race distance efforts and severely dialling in the mental tools and fortitude I needed to carry me the extra distance. 2 hrs of focus , on the throttle. 2 hrs before the race I finally made the category switch to open ... I realised there was no other choice I had to do it today to move forward or it would continue to haunt me - when would I ever be good enough? I just needed to give my best and let that open up the opportunity for future growth and strategy. Funnily I felt like making the decision was a massive achievement, a relief an elation. I said to Stacey ‘ok that’s done but now I have to race for 2hrs - well. Or this would all mean nothing.

The ocean swim 1.5km went well. I sat in my rhythm letting the distance tick away. with about 300m to go I had Pro female Courtney Gilfillan pass me - ‘ok she has put 1 minute into me thats not too bad’ .. knowing Courtney’s calibre.

Running up the beach to transition with heart exploding out of chest whilst removing wetsuit is a feeling you get used to but its always rough. You learn to be efficient and try to mitigate the lactic before getting on the bike.

Courtney was there exiting T1 with me and whilst we weren’t racing It would give me some motivation to ride as hard as I could. There was a few cat and mouse passes early on as the rhythm settled but then it became a focus for me to get the head down and not drift of. Courtney was visible at every turn and respectfully riding about 20m back.

The 40km ride seemed to go forever.. I hit lap 3 and felt deflated i’d only knocked half it over. Keep pressing.

Reached T2 Super keen to get off the bike and get on with the 10k run. Miss G sailed passed me in the first 500m and I made sure I told her she had a good ride and pretty much good day to you as I knew she could run a couple of minutes into me. Totally chicked :)

Now it was just me Vs 10km. Control it. By this point you are mentally hanging on already, fatigued and the Heart rate at threshold its a matter of how well you can ‘hang’.

At about 1.5km in a pretty nasty stitch kicked in. F! not today. A simple matter of pushing longer harder efforts. The nature of a race. In the past this has forced me to walk and become frustrated not able to run at full tilt. I was not walking today. I stood tall and thought about stretching the diaphram.. Daggers. But I was still not slowing down much… this carried on for another 2k I reckon but eventually it subsided.

The mental practice and tools were kicking in now as all the pain was in my legs and by 5km I felt some serious depletion, I felt like concrete. There was no nutrition on course… I was running on fumes. I found a gel wrapper in my back pocket with about 1/8th of its contents remaining. I was enough to slightly appease my brain. 4K to go you can feel the end is near and suck up the torture. I thought about the bliss of finishing only a few K’s away.

I ran across the grass field for the 4th time ‘lighten up’ the extra resistance noticeably challenging.

With 1K to go there was some form of winding up the pace which was more like resisting the notion to slow down or collapse completely.

I finished. What an enjoyable beating I took upon my body and brain. The race really starts with 5k to go when the mental game kicks in past the physical death. I guess thats where my conditioning stands. but this is why I love Olympic Distance - Going full noise almost like a sprint but double the time.

Complete enlightenment.

I found my time was 2:06 and came in 10th place in the Open Category.

What an opening up of the mind and stoking the fire for the future.

Thanks to Coast Cyclery, Downunder Runner (Alphawoof) and Cannibal for the continued support.

PS the delayed report is due to me getting straight back into training and taking it to new levels. I have a few mountains to climb. Training is going great and I’m steadily building up resilience required for my next racing challenges.

Brendan

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WINNING AND THE REALM OF FLOW - STATE CHAMPIONSHIP 1ST

Surprised, elated, enlightened. 

A few weeks later these few words are still my feelings about the race at Kingscliff.

In short - I took the AG win in 1:01 with only up shot youth ahead of my time. I raced in a wave across 30-39 and led that to the post after a couple of k in the bike. 

It felt like a pinch myself kind of day where the energy was pouring out of me and all I had to do was stay in focus - The stars lined up for me so to speak.

I had a quality swim, 3rd spot out of the water - As always taking a few hundred meters to move through towards the front. I’m not fast but I don’t slow down 😂

The bike was insane, my legs were certainly willing. This was a stark contrast from the day before feeling like a wet sandbag and all week my back pain was very prevalent.

It was easy to feel on fire as I screamed past the leaders. I forced down enough to imprint an impossible pace to hang on to. I feared only how I would run off the bike, instead of backing off I pressed harder with the goal to ride our of sight out of mind and give my self the best chance to hang on. 

I came off the bike a little clunky but as usual found my rhythm at 1500m.  ‘Just keep getting the right foot to the ground’. I was clipping as fast as I could go and just had to be disciplined enough to accept the pain (Which on this day felt ‘Easy’?) and concentrate on the task. It was good to be only under my own pressure. I approached the end of the board walk and assumed a left hand turn to the finish. Yet I was wrong…

Sitting right in a maximal out put I would have to run out the the end of the break wall and back which was 600 m, searing pain, a little run through hell (it was it heaven) getting the last bit out of me and making the the finish line feeling all the more rewarding. 

I mentioned my surprise about the result - in reflection of my bike power and run pace (even after adjustment as the course was a little short) was by far my best sprint performance - my mind for a while has been fighting the notion that I was washed up - unable to reach past levels of performance - life constraints and back pain making things a tougher task - but perhaps I had been overlooking things. A good friend of mine simply said ‘ You put the work in, so you get the result’ I guess my best endeavours, although always a shortfall in my mind is a decent effort. The lack of humidity paid into the flow massively - It’s said how heat training can have similar adaptations to altitude and I certainly felt clean winded today -Opposed to every other bloody muggy thick day where even easy work leaves you hagged.

So now I look forward with a positive notion of my self - I must hold onto this - I mustn’t let doubt trash my self esteem. I again dream of racing in some open categories and racing for more age group wins - I should back my self - Even on these bigger stages. The fear is high but my body and mind seem to rise to the occasion when I decide to toe the line. I truely know now that the fear simply lies in not living up to the standard of a day like this - Heightened focus / and it truely is experiencing a next level state of reality. When your back down on the round its hard to imagine how one might rise like this again - BUT theres good and bad days in sport. Putting yourself on a start line is the first step towards entering that realm.

I press on and encouragingly step up my game with harder goals on the table and the desire to win and win over me. 

THE ENDURANCE ATHLETE | THE JACKAL

Do you know what its like to dream untainted dreams?


‘This is absolute, its the shit’. A drop of serotonin hits my brain as my heart pounding run comes to stop. I walk off the discomfort, Satisfied. Dreaming. 


I need to get this on paper before the jackal on my shoulder barks in my ear.. Deafening my flow with anxiety. 


"One day life of a lion is better than a hundred years life of a jackal (Tipu Sultan)".


I’m not thinking about the run I just did, I’m thinking forward.. I see mountains carved on the road bike, switch backs, trail running - Kosciuszko. Its the AAA Triathlon which I hope presents on the calendar in 2020. I contacted race organisers twice in the past about this. I heard about it and saw it in a magazine. The advert went on my wall.

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I contacted Organisers initially asking if it would be a regular event they said yes…I tucked it away as a must challenge. The real deal in my opinion. Its early version was something like 3K swim 128KM bike and 28K run. Mountains, altitude. Epic.


 I re contacted them again in 2017 and they said it would be a biannual event. 2018 I would be far from established in my new location to tackle this goal so I hope that 2020 it returns on the calendar. 


Pick a goal that scares you’. Ange reminded me. In fact I already had. Whilst somewhat tired from pumping Vo2 max work to fuse myself into fitness for sprint distance events, I yearn for more. 


Short distance training is hard and time efficient but somewhat cowardly in my mind, to my own expectations of my self, for the endeavour of an endurance athlete. 

Whats the point in going really fast for 20 mins if you are scared about doing a 10-15K run?

Time, patience, anxiety. That shit is out of control. 

Get it over with. I used to revel on distance. Ive done it in the past I can do it again. New challenge new conditioning.

‘Start again’ it say on my chalk board. 

I once lived in the dream of being an elite half Ironman athlete/ a mountain runner. Don’t get in my way kind of attitude. I would get out and bore the engine consistently - Less life stress / more training and untainted dreams. Naivety is gold.  Experience can be a bitch.


So I start getting out there with a new vision. I need to be out there for time. Lets back it off a touch and build it up. mental resilience and patience. 

I throw my self at a trail I found thinking I can run it at threshold for 50mins. Its hot and humid and 35 mins in my heart is suffocated. I’m walking. 

‘I used to annihilate this stuff?’ 12 trail a regular threshold Thursday arvo , Friday AM -  20Km road pushing the edge again.

‘Don’t be bloody defeated’. One cannot expect to reflect on days of peak fitness backed with months of consistent training - But turn around and expect to jump back into that picture with 18 months of half the volume of training. 

Its going to take time. Not weeks. Months. 

 I look at the calendar and I’m back in the business of wanting to do trail running events again.

I need to get familiar, I need to get strong - If I’m to run 20+ off the back of 3K swimming and 120+ biking in extreme conditions then I’ve just got to get past feelings of failure and revel in the challenges.

The weekend comes and I give my self 2 hours to spend on the trail from last week. I slow it down a tad but its steep and challenging. An 1hr 10 in, Ive reached that point, fairly buckled. The jackal says ‘This sucks’… and then I realise this is what I came for. 

The longer stuff much like the shorter stuff is the mental strength to override the negativity and endure the very uncomfortable.. Make it tolerable. Learn to suffer. 

So I smile and appease my self for slowing down. For now covering time, covering distance is important. It will get better. Persist. 

The Endurance Athlete - The reason to get your body stronger, make positive choices and have a better relationship with yourself. Be a better person. Live a reality that started as an untainted dream. 



THE BACK IN ACTION | VIC AQUATHLON STATE CHAMPS

The past few months have been a general theme about managing chronic back pain. Hence I’ve been quiet in updating anything about training. Ive managed to train through my troubles but any words put down would have been a drama story. I kept my lip up and stayed determined which has led to a couple of decent race results so I will back fill and recap my past couple of weekends racing.


ON THE ROAD - MONDAY 21/1/19 - TWEED VALLEY SPRINT TRI

I write this coming off the back of a PB sprint distance race on our TVT club course. It’s a relieving contrast from the past 4 months where my back pain has hung around as a daily theme. It pushed me to the point of finally getting some xrays done which confirmed

Severe vertebrae disfunction - 1 being compressed by 25%. I guess for me it highlighted an area of weakness and unless I stabilise it then the spasms will continue 

Despite my commitment to all the 1%ers to the point of OCD I could not find a pain free day 

Practically anything would trigger it and most of my life I looked like a cripple and was becoming pretty destitute ... 

I’d still been training and ‘able’ to punch through some racing but instead of feeling good it felt harder than it should be ...every session / race there was stabbing pain and shit mechanics to over come .. At times when running there’s a voice saying ‘This is not fun anymore, just quit.’ I always felt better afterwards though so I never gave up

The doctor said I needed to have a rethink about my training goals and that it would be hard psychologically to accept ... I thought about dropping it all to focus on rehab.. for about 30 minutes where depressing feelings fuelled me to find a solution - An adapted approach to training - Could I rehab and still achieve my goals as one thing ... ? I have been able to prove this. 

Step it up and step it back 

I’d been nudging some ok volume with quality work in as well but it seemed that I was just not holding together ..The back would spasm during the night, whilst at work and ‘d wake up most days stiff as a board and run pain . I’ll spare you the less then ideal contributing factors but that’s life and hence the need for appropriate adjustment

The intensity would need to be done hard short and fresh / back to back before soreness developed- I used feel I can go 2 days in a row hard on the legs when needed but a day between just meant being sore or weaker for another hard session depends individually but 2 days hard 2 days easy then 1 day hard 2 days easy seems to work 

 The strength work needed to glue it back together and also evoke neurological adaption. 

Everything else was not long,so instead of further stimulus it was all just easy ... recovery - shorter aerobic work but  focus on being right for hard days and that meant logging extra hours doing mobility / core over as priority over ticking the weekly volume quotas.

We can get fixated on past fitness and needing things to be a certain way but like anything it’s a fluid process and what works now is not what works in 3 months and what worked 2 years ago is another story again. There’s history in our bodies which means I know how to get fitter faster but we still need to work all the components just not all at once .. change is the key to eliciting adaption.

I can easy see this with athletes I coach yet to see for yourself requires your head to not be up your arse / case of trying to hard.

I can feel my self rising again and I could see this to be continuous with a mindset that has evolved also - perhaps I won’t get a lot faster

But I can easily get better at not slowing down. Pulled my self out of a rut and the closest I’ve been to not wanting to do it anymore but I see things through new eyes now and I’m ready for the future and the adventure it brings 


SAT / SUN 26-27 JAN

VIC AQUATHLON STATE CHAMPS / STATE SERIES RACE SPINT DUATHLON

A home town race has been the biggest driver has been pushing me through my injury. A constant motivator in my day is thinking about visiting home and racing at the Albury Wodonga Triathlon Club.

I had my goal set on the annual sprint distance triathlon but this year there would also be a double header

Saturday - Victorian State Championship Aquathlon - Lake Sambell Beechworth

Sunday - Tri Vic State Series race - AWTC Sprint Tri* at Alans Flat (Duathlon 3/20/5 due to water quality)

I’d punched out a couple of Tri’s in recent Saturdays with Sundays being a short swim run session at effort to simulate the 2 races together.

Upon finding out the Tri was a Duathlon I was disappointed as the swim would have been to my advantage. A sprint Duathlon is brutal enough without having a hard hit out the night before. So it would be about giving it my best knowing I might not be able to extract a monster performance. A war of attrition is always a worthwhile battle.

AQUATHLON - 800/3

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2 lap lake swim, I found myself just holding onto a pack of young guns which had me sitting on the redline.

‘12 mins of swimming on the red / 12 mins of running on the red’ That was my mantra and what I needed to keep it as simple as. These Aquathlons are short and I find the intensity is slightly higher than a Sprint Tri so its constantly bordering on catastrophic.

I exited just behind the leaders in 7th and quickly passed 2. The run was 1.5k up hill to the turn around so it guaranteed no relief from full gas. The lead pack was staying at relative distance 100m up the road possibly stretching a little. I was on my own.

At 1km to go I was caught and a battle begun. I pushed back in front and as I surged a little I could hear his struggle and there was disturbance from me also - This guy was tough and I couldn’t shake him. with about 600 to go I decided to try and drop the hammer, I surged and he was gutsy in responding and kicked hard. I kicked back but felt a wall immediately - there was absolutely no where to go . I was happy I gave it some mongrel but had to be happy hanging on to my position to finish.

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I was lucky enough to be ahead of my other 30-39 competitors and finish 1st place and take the State Championship Title for my Category.


DUATHLON 3/20/5

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My recovery protocol wasn’t able to stop a mid night pain attack in the hip and back. I arrived at the race and had to ignore the discomfort but it was almost getting the better of me, nauseating. Movement was bad but I went with knowing the amount of sessions I had accomplished with the exact same starting symptoms.

When the gun went off I found a nice top pace rhythm and began to find a few surges which I contained - Perhaps I should have taken the energy on hand but in reality I was on my throttle. Maybe I’ve gone soft. onto the bike and I quickly made it towards the front - All bar 1 lad who was miles ahead.

There was some positioning going on and couldn’t get clear road so I surged to drop a few and get away from any drafting issues. 2 hills later I was passed by a train of 6 and they were on for the game. I had know where to go and so watched them sit up the road 100m ahead observing some disgraceful bending of the rules. there were no TO’s out there so I just resigned to the fact today would be about getting my self through the challenge which was great enough as it was.

My bike legs had a definite cap on them from the running that was in them and previous evenings race so instead of high output growl it was a constant grind.


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Off the bike and into tackle my greatest fear being the 5K run with half of it being uphill. I worked on being in a good rhythm and straight away I was pleased knowing I could nut the thing out. My legs were not snappy but they were strong and holding a good form.

I enjoyed the push to the line, thoughts around being solid mentally and physically over the past 2 days.

Maybe all this time I didn’t need to be so hard on myself. I was stronger than I thought. Mentally I am much better trained to stay quiet and find the best I have. I wasn’t sensationally fast but it gives me courage to take through to an Olympic Distance race later this season - ‘Just hold the effort’.

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ALPHAWOOLF OMEGA - SHOE REVIEW

I’d been punching out most of my running in the Alphawoolf 2.0’s which are excellent for finding the right foot strike and feel but being a lightweight racing shoe they did leave the 6ft3 BFG a beat up when lengthening the runs out.

Looking to increase some milage I was chasing something with good feel still but just a frag more give.

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The Omega’s arrived.

A sightly more robust shoe with really cool colour way , targeted as a light weight training and marathon racing shoe

I don’t mind getting a lot of general use out of these when I’m on my feet coaching as well.

But lets talk running

My first impression was shoe heaven. I was still enabled a firm feel even though I had a tad more shoe around me. The things are far from clunky with cruising weight of 285g. 8mm drop.

I’ve taken them up concrete paths where it cant be avoided and also over the hills in the bush.

Certainly suitable for all terrains if you are looking to cover some distance or get some easy aerobic K’s in on days that the legs need to be spared or saved from further beating.

I’ve worked these in pretty well now and I’ve still got nice flat surface on the forefoot.

The toe box is graciously wide. This set up really encourages the foot to spread which is good for keeping the foot muscles engaged in the process. This way you don’t see fatigue creeping into the ankle and lower limbs - Over time this gathers tension and overuse issues.

Check out DOWN UNDER RUNNER for more info.

Brendan

GOLD COAST AQUATHLON - 3RD PLACE - PRESSURE AND REWARD

What started out as an opportunity for a ‘Solid hit out’ quickly escalated ( In my mind) to much more - Hyped up, knifes edge, pressure cooker.

The Gold Coast Aquathlon was an ‘open’ event on the ITU World Age Group Champs schedule, meaning anyone could enter as opposed to the Sprint and Standard distance races which participants were made up of athletes that had qualified to represent their country through selection races.

After a disappointing Ballina Sprint I was trawling for my opportunity for redemption and found the Aquathon which would be at Southport, Gold Coast just 30 mins up the road from where I live in Currumbin. It was on a Wednesday lunch time and I was not working that day. I envisage a small field made up of a few locals not competing in worlds. Knowing I was in my best swim and (close to) run fitness over a short distance, my hands were rubbed together with excitement.

Chatting to a few mates about the event shifted my expectations as they reminded me that most competitors competing in the Standard distance race on Sunday might use this as a hit out - Of course… The start list and wave starts were released and I would be sent of with age groups combined 30-34 35-39 and 40-44, the competitor list for this wave start would become over 60 deep by race day and be stacked with international representatives along with Aussie qualifiers - I’d be toeing the line with some of the best age groupers in the world … wowee.

Now I was confident of my fitness but now the heightened perception would make executing a good race that much more challenge to rise to the pressure - ‘I need to justify that i’m good enough to be here’, ‘What if i don’t fire'?’

‘The Nervous Self’

‘The Nervous Self’

Lets back pedal to the stat of my triathlon endeavours - you know starting out chase the dream - Surely I could become pro if i put the work in? Dreams and reality are are vastly different thing when you add the required genetic capabilities, personality strengths and life path… Ive done alright but fall short in a few areas sadly / not sadly I am who I am and one thing I am is someone that can create a shite load of anxiety and un necessary worry over bigger stages. I could practice day in day out the digging in and grinding out effort but to perform to my ‘perfect expectations’ is another level of … well bullshit really.

Anyway it exists and in my early years in running it led me to a fear based over complicating / over reaching to leave me in a debilitating state of chronic stress/fatigue and depression. This is all part of learning about life.

Many a time I have been able to step up against pressure and perform ‘out of my skin’… The ultimate high. Each time it seems to take an enormous build up of nerves and then an ultimate unleashing of surreal effort with a pretty noticeable fall out for a couple of weeks post event - Both some physical or mental fatigue.

Back to this Aquathlon and the point im making this would be potentially the most ‘Elite’ Start line I would ever toe. It would be viewed personally as a test to my self - Am I good enough to be here’, ‘Can you be all that you believe yourself to be’ Am I a good racer or just a good trainer that cant race. I once heard someone say that an athletes confidence only last as long as there last good performance or training session, Next challenge is another challenge and filled with doubts and pressures again. And this is why we continue to challenge ourselves.

The Race

I took myself to the event and went through a calm and measured warm up / preparation - Being VERY weary of not letting myself release the nerves and getting ‘over hyped’. I had trained very hard Saturday / Sunday with some race simulations and Monday I was shattered, Tuesday I scolded myself in a 4.5K Swim set. Not overly wise but i’d started to feel better Tuesday arvo and I knew it was simply a matter of doing exactly what was practiced.

The start line was finally here. The horn sounded and we entered the water - Absolute carnage. Within 2 strokes i’d be kicked and punched and my goggles semi dislodged. Luckily a quick one handed effort landed them perfectly back in place ? ! I kept calm with body blows and water chop making it more like a boxing ring then a swim. Beyond the firs buoy I was edging into the pointy end and it stretched out so i could find my own rhythm , the water chopped intensely but I continued to move up in the field. All the while I was harnessing the intense swim sessions I had been doing - knowing well I could recover and keep trudging despite being completely axed i could find my heat and head and remain present.

We had to make a deviation to gather a buoy that had been missed (misinformation given about number of buoys to count). It los me a little time but I remained in control and exited the water with a few in front of me. Up the blue carpet (ITU iconic) ramp into transition.

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Onto the run and I was clear. No one was on my heels - A few were up the road but I could just focus on my own effort. The run was 2 laps and allowed us a 400m run through more blue carpet which would be the transition zone for the professional race. What an absolute privilege and excitement.

Distances from competitors seemed to remain steady in front and back so I would just keep ‘holding’… I must say I felt a little leg tired - Not as easy as Saturdays simulation so I was HANGING ON. Focus on the exhale/foot strike was the intuitive message I got pre race via a quick pre race prayer - It provided me the form and distraction from the pain which become excruciating with 2km to go. At the far end turn with a mile to go I felt the distance behind me closing a little which gave me motivation that I needed to eat the next level pain I was in - I could not let up I want to be tougher than hell in this moment. It felt like an eternity but I reached the finish shoot where a marshal sounded Finish or 2nd lap - ‘Finisher’, ‘finisher’ - This meant that guy was up my arse with 100m sprint up THE blue carpet, in this moment I had hurt far too much to relent now so found something to put in a kick and I crossed the line alone. I was blinded, oxygen starved, and my heart made a palpitation, i’d gone to the well and it felt truely satisfying. Concerned medics as usual I regained my eyesight and ability to speak stressing this as a familiar reaction…

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Within a couple of minutes I was debriefing with other athletes - internationals included and completely high as a kite from my experience. Wow. What a rise. It was so rewarding an i could not get over the fact that i got to storm that blue carpet. I’d finisher 3rd in my age group and run an 18:40 of a very hard swim, so couldn’t be happier. I proved a lot to myself. I later trawled the results to find 5-6 guys all within 20 seconds of me..

I enjoyed the atmosphere and mingling with other competitors around the precinct. Whilst not being in one of the main races it certainly was great to be a part of the event schedule.

Big thanks goes to Kel and Dwain for helping me push my boundaries in training which let me extract this performance.


Endeavour, Enlightenment.

Brendan


BALLINA SPRINT TRI

A new event on the Calendar provoked by the worlds on the Gold Coast September. 

It looked like a semi pro event with the number of green and gold suits on as well as the NZ silver ferns running riot on the course -  I suspect these guys actually were ITU semi pro's. 

Anyway ranks aside I was looking forward to this test after a recent good couple of months conditioning. I definitely wanted to put myself up there and have a crack. 

The night before rain came down in buckets.. Air temp seemed ok race morning and I was well practiced with the cold swim conditions... As the race unfolded it turned out my body did not respond well to the cold at all and left me with a few issues on the run and feeling a little under done.. Not being able to empty the tank leaves a strange and disappointing feeling.

The swim started out as per usual - Me getting axed in the breakout. I pushed forward well to the first can only to get pinned on the inside ... The pack surged on and  I first thought I was out of my depth but leant on my pre race mantra 'Don't assume the pecking order, fight it'. Within 200m I was in clear water and at the front of the race.  (Later I realised there must have been 1 guy miles of the front). I felt my feet getting tapped as we approached the beach, I was pretty revved up, jumped out first only to run slightly off the mark and miss the exit shoot. I sat in behind the guy that was on my feet as we ran a good 500 odd metres towards transition. HR must have been on its limits. 

1st out of T1 The rain came down... Bike course went through 2km of sketchy cornering before getting to the main road, I lost the lead at the first climb which was followed by another sketch corner and decent (Might have been a better day for the road bike). 2 lap course meant rolling through technical section again and much of the ride about was staying upright as opposed to finding a rhythm and hammering the beats. 

I'd started to acknowledge it was cold but didn't realise its magnitude until getting off the bike and not being able to feel anything from my knees down. Transition went well despite not knowing whether my shoes were on or not?

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 I exited and turned the legs over without any sensation in them - A very strange feeling. I had this once before back in Yarrawonga and the feeling came back 2k in. So I plugged away hoping to find some rhthym... Furthermore I realised my upper body was battling - Probably as a result of the bike freeze. Air wasn't going down the pipes well and everything was a bit tense.. My legs felt like they had 50% more if I could get them going. 4 times I stopped to rid a stabbing pain in my diaphragm - I just suspect the cold was tensing things up and air flow was compromised. As soon as I recommenced running I felt fine again. By the last Km I loosened up a bit and had a bit more presence with my body. I picked up a place and crossed the line. I wasn't fully exhausted as usual and disappointingly I just couldn't extract my potential on the run - The whole thing just felt like a weird blur. 6th place

The conditions was certainly a far cry from what I've been training in -  25 degrees and sunny. But as a plus, the swim was better than good and bike NP was on par, run legs felt good and did want more. 

Now to reconvene training and find a course I can lay a good TT into.

Thanks to the crew at NX Sports who did a fantastic job with the event especially in the trying conditions.

Brendan

LETTING GO

We have all faced those sessions that require submission. You know there will be a key moment where you must face mental and physical discomfort in order to achieve the session objective. What ever the metrics on the program look like, you could boil down the session goal as 'Let go. Test your limits'

Sometimes we face these sessions and theres a story that tries to come to life as to why you CANT do it. Squash that on the head as quick as you can. A single session like this can bridge you towards your goal or send you spiralling backwards. And what failure would be in these sessions, would only mean not allowing yourself to potentially 'fail'. The failure is not having a crack - Having a guard of protection up. 

Over the past 4 weeks I have been working on conditioning myself to run a specific pace off the bike. Pretty much break neck for me. We started with a 1km off a hard bike followed by a back up session the next day - A simple 1km again at just a slightly faster pace but on the treadmill.

Weaknesses have certainly started to mend up and I can now run this pace pretty well without my calves blowing up - Running full throttle really requires strength in technique and theres no place for slouching. 

After 4 weeks I progressed and regressed with adaptations but now I'm full steam ahead. So with this conditioning I now face the challenge of turning 1km into 5km at that pace 3:xx mins of pain and treadmill torture ..now becomes 10 and eventually 17ish mins 

We used to use the treadmill every week back in 2015... I remember training for duathlon early in the season running full clip 5km getting in the low 18's followed by a kill yourself RPM class only to transition straight back onto the TM to run 3KM at the same race pace.. You learned to let go and move past pain. It was umm..excruciatingly enjoyable. The toughness breeds love. 

I can still pin point the session where I fell out of love with the treadmill....trying to run a 5km TM session on putrid legs a lot faster than I should have been, I failed.. it hurt and I didn't really reflect well enough to give myself another chance, I was just done with that tool. 

Fast forward to 2018 and I started playing around with the treadmill again but I could never let go and let myself submit enough. More to the point I set sessions that were 'Hard' but I knew I wouldn't fail. 

As soon as I got Kel back on board he got straight to the point setting the pace and I rubbed my hands together with excitement for what the process meant - Both the metrics and what I would need to get good a again to make it happen. 

Let me get to the point. 

Today we moved beyond the incremental increase goal which I took up to 1.9km last week. Todays goal -  'Just see how long you can hold it for... no definitive goal distance just keep running until you nearly shit yourself then run another 200m'

I would ramp the speed up and cover the bloody screen. Then rip in. I'd need some mental cues. Tricks to be as clear minded as possible - Any slight reaction to the discomfort can compound, distress and any slight objection creates tension - Heart rate escalation POP. How can you make it as relaxed as possible for as long as possible. 

Heres my internal dialogue - Pre session and during. 

'Absolute no judgement, no thought until perceived 5 mins'

'Stare at a spot on the wall' (Trick I used to use was to stare at an electricity outlet for near the whole 5km - no thoughts) 

Visualisation - A go to visual running in my favourite place - no one around just endless pace and rhythm. Still need to work on this one but it helps. 

Reactions - As it gets uncomfortable sometimes you get these very loud messages telling you to stop - Ignore. Ignore again. 

Lean forward, pick up, pick up. 

Note that tension - My back tenses up - Relax, let the hips and hands  stay loose. 

Ok heart rate is peaking now - Full air flow - Don't cut your neck off. 

Another pain jab as I reckon max HR is close, I reach my quota of ignorance and decide to check the distance - Its at 1.7km ... 'Make it to 2.5'... I hang on without it getting to messy. Shit maybe I had more. 

Next week there will be less noise. A little wiser a little tougher, once again will go further. 

Brendan

POINT AND SHOOT

The difference coaching can make. Back on board with Kel Rook.

Those footy show bullseye passing games. Imagine you are aiming up to launch yourself through that tiny hole. Human missile. Get a run up, top speed hit the line at 20k an hour and penguin dive through the middle of the target. Pin your ears back - it’s head first. SFA margin for error. 

Narrow the focus to achieve the target and repeat day in day out. No thinking required by the athlete.. soldier like shut up and prepare yourself to execute the objective. Clear mind required, no stories no bullshit, sharpen up and get positive thoughts in your head so your body will follow. Achieve, adapt, toughness achieved. This has been my mode the past 4 weeks

I spoke of this tiny hole in a previous blog back in 2014 when I started with my coach Kel Rook. With a new goal  I need to clear my mind and let actions lead to my absolute best levels of fitness ever. Something that started to wonder might become a history book tale after we relocated in 2017. I’m back in balance and playing the game of point and shoot. 

With programming taken care if I need only focus on what matters to recover and prepare for every mission.

Yarrawonga Sprint 2015 - The beauty of training under Kel is that you become fearless to this kind of hurt. 

Yarrawonga Sprint 2015 - The beauty of training under Kel is that you become fearless to this kind of hurt. 

RUNNING FORM | ALPHAWOOLF ALPHA 2.0 SHOE REVIEW

When the Mizuno Hitogami played a disappearing act, it ended a 10 pair streak for me as it was a product that I had great trust in.  For all the fancy shoe options these days it was near lone in its simple application. So I was in search of a new shoe. Important to me is a firm ride with just enough cushion to encourage the next step. The Hitogami was a 9mm drop but definitely a firm neutral racer. 


What I came across was this beauty - The Alphawoolf Alpha 2.0 - A light weight neutral shoe aimed at interval work and anything 3-10k , 21 if well conditioned this would be a fast shoe to race with. 

The shoe is a 6mm drop and weighs in at 220g

Alphawoolf is not one of the global footwear brands but some research shows backing from European Triathletes and duathletes at pro level.  

With a price point of $125 they blow everything else out of the water so with nothing to lose and everything to gain I gave them a run. 

First reaction in putting it on is the non invasive hug around the arch that opens up into a toe box that lets your foot sprawl but not swim. Under the fore foot straight away it’s firm but it also comes back at you so there’s some comfort in that response
After making the full switch I’m 8 runs in and straight away noticing a more balanced stride. There is less hiding than the hitogami and as a result I’m turning over quicker and the lower calves and feet are taking on some strength gains. The the natural stimulis towards faster cadence is remarkable and the adaption has become evident with holding faster speeds more efficiently. 
A bonus feature of these shoes is a good traction on the sole so I’ve burned a couple of decent trail runs without having to ‘lug up’.

At present I’m training for Sprint Distance Triathlon, tuning 1km treadmill and off the bike efforts, 5k races and 10k tempo runs. I must say I’m feeling more excited about my running that I have in years and I pay that purely to the feedback I’m getting - To actually pounce off the ground and whip into the next stride is a feeling that’s been smuggled under a frag more cushion with the Hitogami’ s 9mm drop

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I’ve coupled this shoe change with a re brush in technique with help from the following resources. 


- Chats with my coach Kel Rook and implicating drill and turn over strength via Deep water running


- Re reading Brad Beers - You can run pain free - In particular Part 2 'Running with great technique'


- Kenyan running documentaries - Embeding the visuals on rhthym and ease


So the shoe is a big win and whilst will take some time to adapt it’s a positive change and with a feeling of pure running imprinted positive I’m ready to set my fastest times ever.

TRAINING MIND - BREAKING THE BARRIER

Recollection of power swim set - 5x100m swim  full noise on 4:00 cycle

Goal here is to go all out in an attempt to improve raw swim speed over 100m - We apply this for 4 weeks before moving into lactic threshold work.

24/5 - PB  total rep time by 17 seconds 

Heightened senses when we fully let go.

MACCA SWIM.jpeg

Rep 1 ... ferocious .. breathe or head down? ... pressure / power smooth strong first 50 noticing 1 less stroke to the wall... there’s the lactic, ignore, cadence, length. 20m to go rise above it - more effort but it feels better - non resistant - 2 sec  PB

Rep 2 - Can I repeat it? Acknowledges where the moments of tension will be and react/accept quicker - Makes the same PB time again

Rep 3 - Slightly shaky getting into the pool edge. Launches the dive. Force, power...Length relax, length relax. Exhale - where is the pressure on the water, catch, press. I try to go through the barrier at 75m not 80m this time. Repeats the PB time 

Rep 4 - Muscles slightly floppy and weak, adrenal high is washing away. I experiment being a little more relaxed upon entry - negative result - total rep slower by 1-2 seconds 

Rep 5 - Take it to the grave (again) 

Turns.. lactic pain in the legs - kick it out. Final push. Makes the PB time for the 4th time. 

LIMITS

'Limits like fears are often just an illusion' - Michael Jordan

True words from the great man, but how can we move through/ past our perceived limits?

Setting compelling goals serves the purpose of 'forcing' us to grow. The challenge of 'Can I achieve 'X' requires us to look at whats involved to be in a conditioned state to do so. 

Starting with basic metrics is a good starting point - eg what is the pace per km to achieve that run time?

In starting any major goal or 'Project' as I like to call it, I start by putting it all down on paper. 

As per the image below

Goal in the middle - including some metrics/paces 

Negative stuff on the left - Behaviours and thinking 

Positive stuff on the right - Opportunities, thoughts and actions 

Its an opportunity for reset - Think of a wave crashing onto the shore and leaving the sand in that clean slate state as the water gets drawn back into the ocean. Thats what you can do with your mind and start fresh. 

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Putting numbers down on paper and .. In theory grinding it out seems relatively straight forward but we face internal and external resistance that can be a real battle in finding flow and sense of achievement. 

Starting a new goal we need clear goals and a clear mind aware of perceived and real  limitations / challenges - From here we can create the clear pathway an be void / aware of our own excuses and opportunities. 

A few of the below are worth pondering 

  • Internal blocks / belief 
  • Relevant to your life - Things that can get in the way of your path
  • Emotions / values 

How to get and keep a clear path - Journey to get there 

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  •  A plan
  • Short term Goals 
  • Process goals (Actions in the present moment that lead towards the outcome goals) 
  • Visualisation
  • Daily tasks that keep it all on track - body maintenance / preparation/ reflection
  • Getting the work done - There is no substitute for the physical action. 

Intuition is an important factor in all this - Acknowledging the truths and things that com up when we are in the flow are very important to note - Often giving us clues as to what we can do to improve - Be it technique or other things we sense in training that can be worked on or improved in future - Or right there and then! 

Ownership is also a very crucial acknowledgment - We cant pass the buck - Your journey your outcome.

Not getting the desired result  - Change it.

But also know where you have to accept where hard work is the resistance and getting through the uncomfortable points take some submission, trust and resilience. 

Below are some images of my walls at home - And I'm also back to the paper diary. 

Funnily enough this is a familiar sight to what I have always done until moving last year, so back in flow - Loves a good 'Project'

'What can I do? Can I prove it?

'Let me show you what I see with my eyes closed' - Kanye West 

 

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DEATH BY BURRINGBAR RANGE

Murwillumbah Cycle Club Race

Burringbar Range... maybe a few years earlier. 

Burringbar Range... maybe a few years earlier. 

 Friday I found myself in a place of zero fear as I threw my self at some sprint work in the pool - Getting past the resistance in the mind switches off the safety mechanisms that slow us down. 

I carried that mindset into a bike race on Saturday. *Rubbing my hands together at the thought of solid climb over Burringbar range and only a 50km distance*. 

The first part of the race I was climbing the back side of the hill in a subdued manner - I knew it was a day I was not wrong in knowing I felt good. Sitting in the big chain ring rolling over a slow cadence whilst in a meditative calm watching others shift down. 

We flew around the Stokers loop and a few small attacks made I imagined were targeted to fry my legs a bit before the big climb back over the range... Righto if thats how its going to be...

As we started to climb the fella from Byron club moved to the front and I know this bloke is a good climber so I went too.. First platue reached and my head took over and i juts kept putting power down and the gap opened. Head in the box. Next look I couldn't see the pack. Now I was riding scared and riding for pride to not look like an idiot. There was at least another 30 mins left in the race I would have to be hanging my self out for - Turned out to be a further 50 mins.

I was thinking the finish was close to the start at Mooball so I just had to make it over the top and hope that I could descend fast enough to the finish.. 

The climb kept going. The gap stayed big but after I finally reached the top around 8 mins later  the bunch seemed to be bridging a little. Now to descend - Rain was pissing down and the roads sketchy wet. About 3km from Mooball a group of 4 caught me and proceeded to play sit back. I'd near by killed my self to this point - Like literally gone past rational capacity... feeling really angry pretty much sums up the rest of my race... Unsure of where the finish line was (my mistake)...

I kept bombing the pace and getting deeper and deeper in rage as I hunted the finish. This finish line actually existed after a further out and back section of 10km in total and for most of that I was punching it hard in case the finish line might pop up somewhere... Keen to finish? 

Finally I sensed it was close as we returned to Mooball and made one last dig... gassed myself then glanced up to see a cone 'was this the the finish?' ... it was and i made a reply attack to finish 3rd by a wheel. 

It will go down as one of my most memorable experiences in racing..its completely vivid in my mind and keeps playing on repeat - A very unique combination of feeling good, absolutely being in control and then letting go, intense emotion and by my count probably 3 times dead by my own submissions.

Recovery still in progress. 

THRESHOLD

First check in since Hell of the West. A fair bit of water under the bridge since then..Mostly muddy stuff.

I had certainly pre planned an end to season racing after HOTW. I went all in in this for this prep and that takes a little toll. Much needed time has been spent getting the equal amount of water back into their respective buckets. Balance is the key to being able to apply yourself and level up - So I have found again it cannot be imagined or shortcut. Life will cut your legs off or something similar until you have made the corrections. 

I didnt take an actual rest per say, deciding it was a good time to try and break some raw speed into the body with hard fast running and bike intervals. After 3 weeks of running through pain and biking/ swimming like a lop sided junkie I decided to make a full effort towards mending the chronic pain in my lower back.

Work ons being 

- Core work

- Finding a therapist / correct modality of treatment

- Returning to base K’s on the run. 

 

An athlete held back by pain / situational pressure can become a nightmare. basically too much time thinking and not making progress is a recipie for asking a lot of introspective questions - Leads to not being happy in the present. 

 

I quote myself here

‘Its a sad state when your trail running shoes are being used for nothing more than hosing pool decks and scrubbing floors’.

Cue the violins I know, but thats where you can get to. In the background of this I'm working overtime on solutions... Sticking to my favourite quote - Apply it to life and or in the middle of a training session or race. Its a ripper. 

 

'When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn'

- Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

Well the tide has started to turn and Im really starting to be able to move (and be still) without being with nerve pain and muscular spasms. 

The Threshold... Came after a few too many car trips commuting - Fed up with the aggravation both from the physical pain and the time wasted in commuting, I needed to turn this into an opportunity. 

Good lights help. 1200 Lumens and a battery pack = no fail. Thanks Coast Cyclery

Good lights help. 1200 Lumens and a battery pack = no fail. Thanks Coast Cyclery

I've got a great hill to ride over in Mt Tomewin and with finally getting a work routine happening I was able to plan a 1 x per week commute opportunity - Only once yes, but its making a big impact. 

Monday - Drive to work 5am start arvo swim set, Coach the Jnrs at 4pm then ride home. 

Tuesday - Swim Squad, Run, Ride to work of an arvo and drive home. 

Its a 30 or 40km ride depending on which way which isn't a great deal but on the back of riding around with the juniors its a 2.5hr time in the saddle and on Tuesdays its on the back of 2 other training sessions

The climb is 20 or 30 mins at threshold depending on which way and the long diversion around the mountain has some nasties as well - its taught me to just leg up and get moving - No matter how busted your legs are or a long day its been, you cannot beat being outside and climbing a mountain. Fresh air, blood flow and time effective training = happy days. 

 

More to the old school theme I’ve ditched the Garmin, HRM and Training Peaks heading back to  basic stopwatch - Time and PRE and recording everything back in a paper diary and journal. 

Ink. 

Ink. 

 

I use the journal to identify mental blocks and stressors which has been the catalyst for finding the back pain solution and feeling positive about training status and progression. its also been useful for establishing my outlook for the next 12 months and what the performance and process goals are to achieve that. 

 

Interestingly since going back to the paper dairy game (Did this for 3 years previously 2013-2016) of setting hrs and km goals I have increased and been consistent with training - Finding an extra 3-5 hours a week. There is something about writing things down in pen and the inner voice that chimes in that allows far more intuition than the connection between the eyes and a computer screen - Don't get me wrong that has worked bloody well for me too - More so when Ive taken on specific Coaching though.

Chrono.jpeg

 

So the goal is to begin the level up across SBR for something I have in mind for 2019. Ive taken action by competing in local bike races and joining a swim squad 2 x per week - 4km sets that are blowing my doors off. You go from thinking you are ‘reasonably good’ to being completely schooled and perhaps the object of comedy for the coach when a band is thrown on your legs. Put yourself outside the comfort zone. I swallow my ego and my embarrassment and just get on with getting it done. 

 

Mindset - Finally the current progress has been made able by the commitment to an ‘all in’ type mindset. I have been re learning that there are no shortcuts with Triathlon - Both in getting work done and the core / recovery stretching and mobility work to allow it. A good follow / influence is Olympic Gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen (You Tube channel “All in with Gwen’) and recently on The Physical Performance Show podcast - Its a very good insight that if you want to move forward at any level then you need to be invested into the process. 

I once again realise this thing is certainly not just about outcomes but the daily medicine -  Personally to have a very clear focus and also to be leading by example in training and personal organisation for my Athletes both Juniors, Elite and Age group. 

A recent interview I listened to with another Olympic Gold medalist Jan Frodeno also highlighted the point he was reminded in the past 6 months post after a failed Kona title defence - ‘There are no shortcuts in Triathlon’. 

HELL OF THE WEST

Driving out to Goondawindi was a beaut drive and great opportunity to see some new landscapes and townships. 

How far west did we go?

How far west did we go?

A chance to catch my thoughts on the race ahead after a busy week in preparing the trip and also the week after,  Stacey and I will have in Albury post race.

I felt a bit blank to be honest.. Not driven by fear or anxiety – Usual pre race culprits missing in action.  Then you get anxious about not being anxious.. I just let it sit and had the notion that I wanted to have the power on the day as I had in training sessions.

The succession of long /hot training sessions really fed me with the confidence that I just had to roll through similar challenges and the rest would be the unique elements of racing that could only add as positive stimulus. 

I’d had plenty of recent start line practice by racing at my Club –TVT every Saturday about 6 or so times leading in. 

The same thing would come around – Friday night gear prep, ready for an early 430 NSW wakeup for a 6am Start. 

Each week was different in ways – I remember one morning feeling very run down – It had been touch and go for the past few days if I would come crashing down.  Other mornings I was fired up, some fatigued, some  a bit blah not sure what I was.  Any case the same thing happened each time – I set a couple of basic intensions, and let the rest unfold…adrenaline of racing led me to some great hit outs – All mentally sound and similar in performance.  Yes only 45min and some cases 1 hr races but the game practice was well rehearsed. 

So back to Goondawindi. 

Arriving in favorably cooler conditions than expected, We watched one of my Junior Athletes in the Firestarter race in whish he had another sound 5th place (against all ages). Later on I took the bike out for 30 min roll to navigate the course direction and Barwon Hwy feel.  Also got in the river sussing out the current and murky water status. Was very comfortable in there which gave me a clear idea of what was in store for the morning, 

Final coaching tips from Jet 

Final coaching tips from Jet 

Race morning all gear lined up to plan and made the walk to the boat ramp. The start by dark  was familiar but usually we have the pool lights – Today just a few beacon lights on kayaks. It was pretty cool. Dusk arrived midway through the  up current 1km portion of the swim where I found some feet to break the current and stayed within myself.  Found the turn at the bridge and jetted it back down current on my own merit.  I was 4th out of the water and made the long run to transition.

I was in the game. 

Now back to the previous night -  I finally laid some race intentions after seeing some familiar names on the start list – all of a sudden some game kicked in and I wanted to test myself against these names. I had not raced these guys before and new their caliber was strong but me being me likes to play to win so ignorantly and arrogantly I set my focus to drill the bike and aim to stretch  people if I could. 

We headed out on the Barwon Hwy – a 40km out/40km back straight flat course. 

Sussing out my position I was sitting in 2nd or 3rd into the first 10km – The players were there and I made my mind to focus on drawing them in / batting them off. 

I was not feeling that flash/strong but I remembered an old time mantra  ‘If its not feeling good its probably because you are going good/hard.’ My only indication of where I was at would be a time split at the 1 hr mark to gauge my speed. So it was head down on best I could do – I dropped a couple of places and sight to these front guys – Turns out I was ambitious and batting a little above  - So what they were a couple of clicks stronger but It made it about racing and that’s what was important to me. 

I got to the turn around point in 59:30mins… 3 mins ahead of schedule… Expecting the 1hr to come  up before 40km .. So I was averaging over 40km/hr. Yikes. 

Turn around… Kaboom… Heavy head wind. Half expected… Staying present was the key here as it became a really tough fight to not loose a good momentum., The wind was strong.. Legs were solidly over limits but I was extremely motivated to make my goal bike split of 209 which would give me a 37 ave. That seemed to become my only focus for the day leading in… I worked my arse off as the time faded – A few calculations at the 60 mark and I was bleeding time – maybe just holding 35 .. Could I hold it up?… Came in at 2:09. I was happy to see that rolling into transition and upon dismount… Crikey.. not the fluid speed in the legs turning over as usual.. Legs like a dumb foal I near fell on my arse . 

Slightly delusional I found my bike grabbed my 2 bottles and belt and got going... 

1st issue was that my race number was half hanging off due to some bullshit safety pin issue ‘slap’ I tried straight away to deal with it because it was bound to do my head in flapping around for 20 k ... No avail. Tried again ... No avail ... Race number then completely removed and stashed course side ‘Penalise me’. I later retrieved it finding the pin twisted and intertwined 4 times. No wonder I could t fix it on the run. I’m never using pins again.

Next issue was these hand bottles I was carrying - decided I needed to have on me as per training which I quickly agreed with previous personal argument that it was OCD not smarts I did my course home work knowing aid stations were every couple of K but still .. OCD. I ditched the bottles also.

Meanwhile the under lying issue was the cramp in my diaphragm... running out of transition is a time to settle and get heart rate  steady give the body what it needs. Instead I’m adding stress with wardrobe malfunction. I’m making mistakes I usually pride myself on. I try to work through the discomfort but it’s really limiting my flow and I feel the tension rising to that stabbing point  

I make the decision to stop and dig it out, losing 30 secs hoping to gain the ability to find something .. 2 k later I stop again making sure I get the rest of it. I stand jackknifed probing my rib cage whilst a concerned spectator asks if I need an ambulance - Gees do I look that bad? LOL! After a minute I resume running and it’s settled... about 6km in and the isuue at hand now is the the lack of fluid and fuel I couldn’t take on to begin with. I’m losing places and feeling like a big ugly duckling displaying absolute shite form. Lights are close to out as I use every trick in the book to stay relaxed and work through this terrible state... being very kind to myself seems to bring me back to doable relaxed thoughts... the mind is really dull and signaling the ditch not the finish line ... I drip feed some water and a gel, it helps a tiny bit. I’m in survival mode - I’ve written off a ‘charge’ and it’s hard not to be shitty that I am not in a happy pain it’s a really hard pain, I even observe my state knowing I could potentially flip it in an instant but I lack that ability- A mental grey / lack of grey matter left somewhere out on the Barwon hwy. The clobbering wind. Maybe that less that great feeling early on the bike was mental fatigue 1 too many lead in races, short yes but trips to the well each time. So be it. the issue was finishing and not looking like a complete loser. 

Almost disguising it well here. 

Almost disguising it well here. 

The final 2 km felt like an eternity and the concrete is batting me for six every stride but I hang on .. there was no gallant surge .. A feeble attempt maybe but there is nothing but fumes and pummeled quads. Standard collapse upon finish and munted vocabulary in response to to gracious volunteers. ‘I just need to relax I just need to let my body relax away from what it’s been holding onto for the last 90 mins. A death march ... Stacey gives me my time if 4:20  and I’m actually pretty happy it wasn’t worse .. my run time was on pace with training runs even with the stops.. I just knew I could have pushed more had I got a few more things right. I averaged about 4:40 pace – It felt like 5:20

I got my goal bike split and finish time I think? Missed the goal of top 5 – Came 9th.  I finished. I endured every thing I could. Disappointed not to feel better - deeply. But not bad for a long course return and 8 weeks of prep - Today it was the mental game I had stepped up to in training that won the day. I said to Stacey - Brendan 12 months/2 years ago would not held it together feeling that bad. 

Certainly more positives on the score card @ HOTW Tri. 

A must do race for any Triathlete. Superb job by the organisers and entire Community of Goondawindi. 

10 rounds later. 

10 rounds later. 

LESSONS IN THE HEAT

6 Weeks ago I embarked on training prep for the Hell of the West Triathlon. 

An iconic race held in Goondawindi QLD that started back in 89 – Its labeled QLDs toughest Triathlon. 

It’s a long course race consisting of 2km swim 80km bike and 20km run and serves as the QLD Long course championships 

Held in early Feb it’s the extremely hot conditions that bring about the name sake and status. 

 

I decided to pour my efforts into a prep for this seeing as though it was bucket list race for me practically since I started Triathlon. I have been eager to revisit long course for some time. 

 

I knew I was faced 4 major challenges

1 - Overcoming a back injury

2 - Going long – Could I get the mental aptitude right again

3 - Juggling 3 jobs - efficiency needed. 

4 - The heat adaptations 

 

The first 3 challenges were fixed by contacting my old coach Kel Rook who came on board to support me – Kel goes all in, he thinks big and communicates black and white and we speak nearly every day.  Its an old school approach - He tells me to get a pen and write down the program. I do it.  Point and shoot method. Working with Kel keeps me thinking less  and doing more/less when it counts.  Most importantly sometimes It’s a matter of doing it for him just as much as I do it for myself. 

Good listener, vision and pusher... That’s the kind of coach I aspire to be for my athletes. 

 

So the remaining challenge would be the heat. 

Summer came on pretty quick here ..

 

The first couple of weeks started with some midday anaerobic threshold swim sets and a 30 min time trial run – Here I found prickling skin and mental prison felt when the body overheats and loses its juice. I survived these small doses. They were key starting points in making sure I was completely on point with hydrations and recovery nutrition/ practices

 

BRICK SESSION  1 - 70KM TT 14KM RUN - Murwillumbah Cane Fields 

The first big reckoning was a Sunday morning in the Cane fields at Murwillumbah where my session goal was 70km TT with 14Run off.

The bike went off without a hitch I was somewhat surprised with the output … Off to run with my tiny water bottle. It was HOT out there. The convection on the bike really takes away the true interpretation of the heat. I was running through the cane fields but it felt like I was running on the sun. No wind, no shade and it felt like 45 degrees beaming back off the tar.. At 5km my skin was tingling…. Mentally I was doing everything to cope but I literally felt like I was in a furnace,  by 6km I made the decision to turn around because 1km more before turning felt like I may have not been able to make it back it was that bad. At 8km I stopped to  hide in a tiny piece of shade and my heart rate dropped from threshold going 5 min pace then sat on 138 and did not move.  I was out of water and trying magically make a tap appear.

After 10 mins I had cooled slightly – I had 4km to get back to the car.  Another 2km up the road and a tiny piece of shade came again. I once again hovered… this is pathetic right? I’m thinking about guys in Kona, I’m wondering if its as hot as this – or hotter? I’m wondering how anyone can survive this.. I’m not feeling overly confident about HOTW right now... 

I make it back to the car. Recover up and knock out another 5km after lunch to make up for the volume and add some for the piss weak effort. 

 

RACE DETAILS - 

I checked out the HOTW race site to investigate the run course – it says on river so I'm assuming potentially some shade break? I see the start time is 530am so the sun wont have hiked as much. There’s apparently always wind in Goondawindi so perhaps that will aid the cooling. But I’m not going to bet on any of that – I’ll expect it to be a little similar. I’ll adapt, and I’ll use the aid stations 

GETTING EATEN ALIVE BY THE SUN GODS IN RUNNING CREEK... 

GETTING EATEN ALIVE BY THE SUN GODS IN RUNNING CREEK... 

 

BRICK SESSION 2 - 80KM TT | 16KM RUN - RATHDOWNY/RUNNING CREEK

The following week another long brick session in Rathdowny 80/16  – Riding 80km TT from Rathy to Woodenbong return – This time I'm thinking smart and set out to run my 16 km as 2 x 8km laps - out 4km towards running creek and back to the car so I have an ‘aid station’ at the car….

Its hot, humid and once again there is no wind. 

Lap 1 - 3km in and I’m F cooked. Skimming under every tiny piece of shade avail, which is bugger all.  Playing the mental games to work through it. The final 3km heading back to the car I am in every bit of hell fire hurt locker. My touretts syndrome has kicked in and there’s verbal anguish. 

I reach the car and spend the next 10 mins under a tap dousing my self continually with water…. I sit in the shade for another 10 mins reflecting on that first 8km – devastated knowing I should be carrying on with 16 straight 

Im thinking 'How will I finish this race'.

I console myself and having cooled down I have no excuse as to why I cant knock out another 8km – Even if it meant running out and back 2km to get more water on my body. 

This time Stacey takes the car out with some big water bottles. 

As soon as I start the wind picks up – Wow. Completely different experience now, Im still slowly heating up but its bearable. I decide I can easy push out the 8km – Stacey hits me with water at 2km and 6km and I don’t start to really struggle until the final K. 

I got the volume done and I feel how much of a reprieve the wind and water make… that gives me a touch of confidence. Im still beaten up but I close that day feeling like it was a victory. 

 

BRICK SESSION 3 - 90KM TT | 18KM RUN - CURRUMBIN VALLEY

I back up 5 days later  with a 90/18 on the Thursday and I do this one in Currumbin from home.  I prepare more fully with bottles and set out to run the 18 as 12 km into the valley – duck into home for a quick tap hit then the final 6 towards the beach and back …..This time I go the distance only breaking 2 mins to refill bottles and douse myself with the hose. 

Whether it was slightly cooler or I was adapting im thinking a bit of both – Today was a big win. 

 

BRICK SESSION 4 - 100 | 20 - CURRUMBIN VALLEY 

Only 5 days after my last one again and a Club race in the middle of that ..Its time for the big one – 100/20.  Same deal – Currumbin, but this time I challenge myself to the full 20 as runing beach side 10km/out back. I finish the bike with equal watts and speed to my 90 the week before and I grind out the run – only stopping at a few beach showers to quickly get water on the body. Perhaps not as hot as Mur'bah or Rathy but still cooking up - Dealing with it better. 

Big win here – I know I can go the distance. 

I’ve mentally sorted a few things too – 4hrs 35 of aerobic threshold this is possibly the biggest training session ever ever done besides a race.. And I did it pretty loaded. The mental game is where its at. Constantly shoving off the little voices that want the thing to be over.. I come back to present. Nothing else to matter but moving through it.

 

Race is 3 weeks away and I still have some work to do including the obvious one being HOTW day itself.

Here is a summary that may help you with training/adapting in the heat. 

 

- Running into a breeze is a lot cooler that running with the breeze in your back 

- Water on the body it plays a huge role in reducing the perception and physical temperature. 

- Mental adjustment to pace and feeling needs to be made in order to stay positive 

- Let thoughts go that serve to concrete in the point of pain .

- Be selective with the choice of hat / or no hat. I used a baseball cap on my first 2 runs and it was certainly a factor in heating me up more than the effects of sun protecting/shading it provided. 

- Use electrolytes  and don' play catch up - Stay on top of it 

Get at it :) 

 

 

Search For Hurt

IMG_0886.jpg

Can’t see

Can’t hear

Complete oxygen depletion

No pain

I stop. Eyes blinded. Lungs hoovering air in. I stumble.

 

That’s racing and finding the ‘Letting go’. A confidence and hunger for pain. Its been months and I'm glad its back.

In my last post I was in the middle of a 4 week flu and the comeback I must say has been pretty good.

I haven’t achieved a bucket load of volume training but instead targeted VO2 max efforts

Day by day I chose the fear I needed to face, whether it be putting myself against a specific short interval goal or threshold race distance effort in the swim.

I remember coming back into swim training and trying some 100’s at max … the first time I faced lactic in weeks and I was like a kitten. Half knowing it was coming and then wanting to reduce the impact I shied out a feeble effort… acknowledging that I let go a little more on the second. Faster.

Next day I chose 50’s but this time flat out - The goal not being time but to not be afraid. Confidence grew…. That evening an intuitive message....‘Its time to start hurting yourself again’. I devised a session on the road bike starting with a hill repeat and the goal was just to throw myself at it, go lactic and menace my way through it. Fearlessness engaged. Following the hill was a 2km bike loop with a 470m circuit.. Its exciting type training that lets you pour it all out and pretend you are racing ITU or Super League style… Leaves you feeling released and excited at the prospects of racing again.

I was far from race fit but needed to be within 2 weeks, ready for a 2km ocean swim and in 3 weeks ready for a short Triathlon.

The process of test and conquer built confidence and fitness.

Last week the Burleigh Ocean swim was on and weather was terrible. So bad in fact that after our start wave was let go they cancelled the rest of the swims.

It was completely exhilarating. I think it took me 15 mins to get out to the first can through the breakers. Seas were so high it was hard to see the cans except for when the waves dipped low. It felt amazing swimming in the ocean – Blue/green water I could transparently as my hand entered. All I could think of was how grateful I was to be in the ocean. I took a punt that I was at the last can and headed into shore – Weary of the increasing chaos and not wanting to end up around the Miami headland – It was flowing down hard! I sighted the finish line and caught a huge wave into shore. Sprinted up to the finish, it was pelting rain I was speechless and my eyes about to pop out of my head from the adrenalin. Awesome.

 

Feeling a little more race confident now I looked forward to next week - A Saturday Club Race at TVT 500/14 /4. The distance of 500/14 /4 would be a challenge at full noise – Its easy to question your fitness when the longest full bore effort you have done in training is 15 mins.. this would be 50 mins I could only imagine somehow feeling short of the strength.

I decided it would be a good form finder none the less – Knowing I had well conditioned myself to smash the swim was a good start, allowing me to see where the hammer landed on the bike run.

I ended up having a really solid effort – finding strength on the back end #winter base #VO2 conditioning.

Now with race 1 under the belt I would also back up with the short course at Bribie the following day going shorter again. Confidence high I knew I could drill the 300/10/3 – I was excited for this race looking at the course – A weaving bike course that looked like an F1 track – I took the roady and played it super league style. What a blast. I felt like a big kid. I was thinking mid way I was in the ITU or Olympics minus the draft pack. 3km Run I went even harder than the day before. That familiar pain sigh as you rise into lactic and rise above it. A spectator added ‘That’s it, keep giving it to your self’. So I did.. and it felt bloody good.

I knew I was well clear of my age group – As all the talent was in the longer race of course, I didn’t care, it was ridiculously fun and I came 3rd overall. Which was really surprising as I’d seen the row of QLD talent squad members on the beach head off in the first wave(young but fast!).

 

So search for hurt well in motion and I’ve learned the value of high intensity training and racing – It breeds a lot of resilience. I’ve also learned not to sell myself short in terms of capabilities. Although it does pay to be prepped to a point where you can visualise yourself doing well - and well enough to deal with any defects. 

Now I build on this, keep the intensity but lengthen it out as I prep towards a hopeful Hell Of The West long course campaign. 

Final word, because I get asked often, kids and age groupers a like.. Should I race the long or the short? Should I do both races? - Go shorter and harder if you cant go long and hard, then go as hard but longer or don't go at all. Slow stuff is for aerobic training.

New Feathers

New journals. One for business and personal. Work ons, capturing intuition and internal chatter - Good and bad. positive actions.

New journals. One for business and personal. Work ons, capturing intuition and internal chatter - Good and bad. positive actions.

Started back into my own structured program this week. Monday morning was first session I've done in 2 weeks not feeling like I have sand bags on my back. 

2 weeks Illness was 1 week complete lay away and 2nd week started ticking some swim bike and run over but really felt like my energy was konked. 

I think back and look at it as needed rest as before the down time I was really pushing the routine hard and with a lot on my plate it was becoming increasingly a struggle to keep up.

A good chance to reset on all things. 

In the second week I found myself feeling very lost - In absolutely everything. Usual fire and drive was just missing and I felt numb where I usually felt alive. Quite scary - I just made sure that I gave the system some exercise and also identified what my goals were - purpose and in perspective to this new phase of life - eg new location and career objectives. Sounds deep but lose your perspective and you bloody well lose your marbles. I'm aware of that feeling so just acknowledging it and working through it without labelling it is important. 

So HUNGRY for a compelling goal thats not too far down the track but gives me a chance to work a decent prep to give it credit. 

I keep moving the goals posts slightly because I want the kick to go straight through the middle. So the goals list - Lining up with season goals set back in March. I want to rock up having improved not regressed. The blessing and curse of perfectionist traits. And in the next breath - Its the fear of not wanting to look like a bozo - Mainly to myself and what I expect to b able to achieve. Anyone can relate that they want the 'work' put in to 'work' and sometimes you have to just trust it, do it and let it happen. 

- December - Kingscliff  Olympic 

- Janurary - Robina Olympic 

- Feb - Hell of the West 

- March - Mooloolabah Olympic 

4 times I have to really get up. I may place slightly let weight on a couple. see how it pans. 

So the weekend was the start of punching down a few things in a new journal and getting the head space right. 

I think without a doubt if you want to make progress you have to look at what rubbish you need to delete from your head and also look at ways you can stretch limitations. 

I was reading about characteristics of an Eagle yesterday and interestingly one of them was that when the birds feathers die it goes away and grows new ones - A metamorphosis. I think thats a good way to look at change and 'hibernation periods' albeit lets keep them short as bloody possible, morbidity sucks. 

So moving forward 

A few tweaks in training approach just for the mental refresh and adding specific little things that force subtle adaptions and break comfort. 

Really grateful to feel myself and have energy back! 

On the charge. 

Brendan 

Office wall - Where ever I go, a wall always finds its self plastered in goals, images and organisation. Its energy, a brain dump and an easy reference. Clear mind clear focus. 

Office wall - Where ever I go, a wall always finds its self plastered in goals, images and organisation. Its energy, a brain dump and an easy reference. Clear mind clear focus. 

Viruses, Virtues and Vegans

I’m slowly returning from a training hiatus thanks to a nasty flu which started just a little over a week ago. Illness doesn't meet me often nor cause such significant need for rest but this one had me feeling like road kill and took the larger portion of my lungs from me. 

As you can see below in my training chart its the first break of more than a day since the end of last season which was Feb more me and where I started record on Training Peaks. 

Keeping the consistency had been a lovaable fight with some sessions being run pre dawn, max HR reached, wrapped up and refuelled before I start my Junior squad at 6am. Other days its something quick straight after before i hit the road to work, knowing evenings spent working on Coaching, cooking and cleaning ready to do it all again. 

Training History Feb - Sepember 2017 .png

 

So after 4 days complete rest and the past couple just rebooting some movement there are a few different emotions and contemplations circulating. Being creative is a positive way of making sense of it.

So I’m still the Athlete praying for that opportunity to do another long course race - and have the chance to put all my creative and physical energy into a solid prep. Stacey and I are still trying to get on our feet with the relocation. Stacey finally returns next Friday after a 3 month working stint at the hospital in Mt Isa. We have both been practicing good virtues to join the dots.

The next 6 months we hope will be a consolidation of our efforts so far - In work routines, and living routines. 

Ok so thats the background. And so the foreground that is selecting a race to focus on has been decided based on allowing the right timing and balance. 

I would have like to be able to prep for 70.3 West Syd - And half of my training motivation was directed in that hope - Comfortably knocking out some whopper runs, tidy paced upper aerobic swims @ 2km showing theres no stress in churning away there. On the bike managing solid paced 2Hrs albeit a less than ideally functioning hip - Signs are there that Ive come along well enough thats its time to put it into a race. 

So Western Syd - Given the trip entails a near $500 race entry, 18 hours of total driving and some accomodation, we think that paying bond on a rental and moving our furniture up here takes priority :( 

So further a field - Feb 4 is Hell of The West. HOTW is QLD Long Course Championships and a bucket list race so decent enough recipe and reason for preparation. Add to that the furnace like conditions that must be covered in training and we have enough sadistic experiences to flavour it into a good soup. 

The flu had me quite beaten down and some have been labelling it a ‘3 weeker’. 

I took the opportunity to reset my nutrition and build health back from there. Im now 3 days into a revived version of plant based nutrition. Something Ive experimented in the past with mixed results - In short is has mostly come unglued because of lack of knowledge on my behalf. This time around I'm empowered by greater understanding of what bonuses I'm adding to my body, what stress I'm not putting on it through lesser choices and also how to avoid the gaps. 

The changes are not life threatening - I simply remove gggs, cheese and seafood

Additionally I’m taking the opportunity to remove some of my favourites like store bought Aioli - Full of unstable oils. 

Already I feel my immune system has bee able to rebuild. For someone that already eata truckload of vegetables I feel like Ive increased that again by 40% and with that I'm noticing a way broader range of nutritional enhancements.

Calories I used to waste with some dairy/poor oils now replaced with foods that contain empowering nutrition. So I cant help but feel positive about whats not going in (Detrimental) and what is going in (Rebuilding/ Energising)

It will be interesting to see what more comes from this change. 

So running around the block this morning - Apart from the cough I'm grateful to have woken up with energy and that familiar urge ‘Ive gotta touch the water again today’. I smell the change of season and it reminds me of about the time of year where i would have asked Dad to rip the mower out and make the cricket pitch in our backyard (The WACA) a thousand balls to be bowled to no one but the search of perfection and the feeling in every roll. Theres something in that spring thought assures me theres plenty to look forward to in months to come.