Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reality Check: The Tough Days at Work

The past 3 races had went really well.  I had received my first 3 pay checks in the sport, I was happy with where my fitness was and how the training had been going.  I had dropped down to 160lbs, which was 6 lbs lighter than IMUK and 4lbs lighter than both 70.3 Koreas.  I felt good, I felt fit, and I felt ready to go into this tough race and see where I stacked up with a solid field.

I had picked out IM Malaysia because it was a tough, hot and humid course.  The field had been smaller in the past, but for some reason everyone else had the same thought process and 30 men were on the start line.  There were a few guys coming off of big races at Kona and a few others that were fresh off of some other IM wins this year.  Needless to say it was a big field for a small $30K prize purse.

I flew out of the UK with everything that I would need through March, which will include 3 IM's (Malaysia, Wanaka and Taupo) and one 70.3 (Dubai).  Bike Bag, Backpack, Suitcase, and laptop bag, that is it, for 4 months on the road.  So off I headed to Malaysia via Abu Dhabi and 28 hours of travel.  I showed up on Wednesday evening for a Saturday race.  I had a normal race week prep, was feeling good and excited to race IM #2 of the year.

Swim- 57:42

It was a 2 loop swim course that started from the beach.  It was a shallow and narrow area that they had us running in for about 30 meters before actually swimming.  I got out fairly well and was sitting in a group comfortably.  They started to pull away towards the end of the first lap, but I was able to bridge back up to them.  This happened a few times and then with about 1K to go I was off the back of the group in no mans land.  I ended up losing a minute to this group of 5, and was 8.5 minutes off the leaders, which I was actually pretty happy with.  What I was not happy with is that I lost the group again, just like IMUK.

Bike- 5:03:46

Out onto the bike I wanted to push to try and catch the group that had 1 minute on me.  The course started out flat but fairly early we had a ~20 minute climb that was an out and back section.  This is where I was able to get the first time splits and part way up the climb I was able to bridge up to a few of the riders from the pack in front.  I kept pushing though wanting to catch the second pack.  I believe the time split at the turn around was 4 minutes, so I was making up ground, but was riding solo at this point.  I felt good and just stayed controlled, and then around 60K I was passed by a guy.  This was the first time this has happened "later" in the race, as not in the first few K, where I end up passing those guys back.  But this guy came by me at 60K moving along really well.

I thought this was a great opportunity to work with someone one and hopefully make up ground on the second pack.  I sat back at 12 meters and was still feeling good.  Looking back on it, I lost concentration and got behind on liquids, not calories but just liquids.  It was 85* with 80% humidity, which was said to be a "feel like" of 100-105 throughout the day.  This caught up with me around 130K and I just felt dead, couldn't keep the power numbers up and just felt drained.  The distance between each aid station felt longer and longer and I just felt hotter and hotter.  I soft pedaled my way into T2 and pulled in back in 18th place.

Run- 4:36:49

Knowing that I was back in 18th place and that it only paid 6 deep, pretty much took me out of the race mentally.  By 1.5 miles in I was already walking a bit.  One guy went by me at I tried to run with him, but he was running a bit too fast for my comfort. He ended up running a 3:09 and ended up 10th place.  So with a great run the best I would have ended up around there.  So mentally I gave up, and I kick myself for that.  I however do not consider this race as a complete failure as I stuck it out and made my way to the finish line, in what most would consider a good day.  But everything is relative, and too my standards it was not a good day.

After the half way point I was tired of being out on the course and stopped feeling sorry for myself.  I started trying to run with people as they went by, but finding someone that was running a speed that I was comfortable with took a bit to find.  Around 15K to go a female age grouper came by and I started running next to her.  I just wanted to get to the line and be done.  I told her right away if I was bothering her to just say so and I would stop running with her.  She laughed and said it was fine.  We talked a bit and fond out she was leading her age group and looking to go to Kona.  She knew exactly where her competition was and had a comfortable gap.  We talked here and there along the way, but if it wasn't for Claire I don't know how long I would have been out there.  So having her to run with got me off the course a lot sooner than I probably otherwise would have.  So big thanks to Claire for getting me to the line, and huge congrats to her on punching her Kona ticket!

Swim- 57:42 / Strava:
Bike- 5:03:46 / Strava:
Run- 4:36:49 / Strava:
Total-10:44:46 / 21st Pro

When I sit back and reflect on this race it looks bad on paper.  But in reality I learned from this race, and I think any race that you learn something from is still a success, maybe not as great of a success, but still a success.  In Malaysia I earned a whole new respect for this sport and just how hard this sport is as a professional.  I earned a new respect for those people that gut it out on tough days, and are out on the course for hours on end.  Some people say it is better to just DNF on a bad day as a professional, so you can pick right back up and get to training for the next race.  I think once you make an excuse to DNF once, it makes it easier and easier down the road.  I never want to DNF, I have on since I have been in this sport, and it was because I had bronchitis, so my only "excuses" to DNF are injury or sickness, other than that, tough it out to the line and learn something new about yourself and this sport.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Spinlister Experience

Do you have an extra bike lying around?   Only ride your bike a few times a week?  Looking to make a few extra dollars and help out fellow cyclists?  Well then, I highly suggest that you check out the new Global Bike Share, Spinlister!  I first learned about Spinlister earlier this year at Triathlon Business International in Southern California.  It was something that really intrigued me, as we have close to 10 bikes in our household, and obviously we don't ride all of them everyday.
I stayed in contact with the Spinlister guys and once back home to the UK, I listed all of my bikes.  From my TT race bike to my commuter bike to get to the pool, and all of my wife's bikes, I currently have 7 bikes listed on Spinlister (insert hyperlink) and have made $300 in a short 6 month period.  Now, I would agree $300 is not a lot of money, but it is $300 that I would have otherwise not made if I had not listed my bikes on Spinlister.  I previously wrote about the listing process which you can find here.
The rental process was really easy and hassle-free.  The app comes with a built in messaging service and you have the choice of how you are notified (cell phone and email).  All accounts are verified with a cell phone, Facebook account, or Twitter account.  The individual renting the bike also provides credit card information to Spinlister and is held liable for any damages or theft of the bike.  Spinlister backs that with up to $10,000 in coverage for anything that happens to your bike.
Both of the times that my bikes were rented out it was a great experience and nice to be able to help others out.  One guy was traveling in from Brazil to do "Ride London" and the other renter decided to show his parents Oxford via bike, so rented two commuter bikes.  Both transactions were quick and simple. We actually negotiated drop off and pickup of the Ride London rental. I delivered the bike to London, which made it possible for the guy to have a quality ride on my Cervelo S5 and provided a nice paycheck for me.  The other renter contacted me 1 hour before, and luckily I was home and he was able to rent bikes at a reasonable rate compared to the local companies so that he could show his parents the great town of Oxford.
At the end of the day, what is it going to hurt to take a few minutes and list your bikes?  You could help a fellow cyclist out when they are traveling or looking to help friends out who are visiting in town.  So go take less than 10 minutes and list your bike and hopefully make a few extra $$$'s while helping out fellow cyclist! In addition, if you use my code, BWTRI, while listing your bike, you can get a $20 discount yourself if you end up traveling and renting a bike at any point too!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Gurye 70.3

4 October- 

After Incheon 70.3, I had a short 2 weeks to recover and prep for Gurye 70.3 on 4 October.  I headed down to my good buddy Aaron's house in Pyeongtaek (Camp Humphreys Area) for the 2 weeks in between.  It was a great place to base myself out of as there was a 25 m pool on the base that was only 3 miles from his house.  I was also familiar with the local roads for riding since I was stationed only 30 mins up the road at Osan Air Base for 4 years from 2007-2009 and 2010-2012.  This worked out really well and I was able to get into a good routine between the races.

I came off of just missing the podium at Incheon HUNGRY!  I wanted to show up to Gurye with 2 more weeks of training behind me and ready to race again.  This was still pretty early into this "new season", coming off of the 4 week "off season" after IMUK.  I was really hoping that the 2 weeks between the races would give me another boost in fitness and I would show up to Gurye even stronger.

The original start list that was released had 22 guys on it, but only 12 showed up to the start line on race day.  I had done a bit of research on the unfamiliar names and I knew there was going to be a small group of swimmers that would more than likely be together out of the water.  With the course being rolling and having some steady false flats along the way, I was really hoping things wouldn't be to "packy" on the bike.  I was able to ride my way into the race at Incheon and that was the same plan at Gurye.


I had a decent start but after about 600m a gap opened up and I was swimming solo and on my own.  It pretty much remained that way until the end of the swim.  I was having a bit of a hard time swimming a straight line and probably lost some time due to my poor swimming line.


I came into T1 and my buddy Aaron was there and told me I was 3 minutes down on the next pack up the road.  I wasn't too surprised by this and was hoping to make quick work and bring that deficit down early on in the ride.  At Incheon, I had caught some of the same guys in this race at 20 km and 60 km, so when I got out to 30 km and they still had 3 minutes I was a bit surprised.  I was a bit more upset to see some shady riding going on and the group containing 6 guys, with a few riding legally and a few really enjoying the draft of the others.  I only saw a moto with them on the 2nd lap, and it wasn't even a referee, it was just a WTC employee, that had no officiating influence.

I stayed focused and just kept riding hard, hoping that a referee would eventually show up and break the pack up.  To no avail all 6 riders pulled into T2 together and I trailed behind 2:30.  The frustrating part is that I had ridden 4 minutes faster and 7 minutes faster then 2 of the guys just 2 weeks earlier.  And I actually rode stronger at this race in terms of power and feel.

Run- 1:20:34

I came into T2 with Aaron telling me that 2nd-8th were all 2:30 up the road.  I just told myself I needed to pass 2 guys, that was it, 2 guys to make a paycheck.  I put my head down and just focused on running consistently and getting in hydration and nutrition.  I felt really good and just held consistent 3:00-3:05 half mile splits (that is what I have my Garmin set to auto lap at), and was slowly making up ground.  The course was a 2 loop, direct out and back course.  It made it easy to get splits and the roads were pretty long and straight so being able to stay focused on who was ahead and slowly make up ground was a bit easier.

I made a pass into 7th around 10 km and then just focused on getting into 6th.  With 5 km to go he was still around 1 minute up the road.  I still hadn't given up, but I knew it was going to be tough.  I just kept pushing on and when we got to around 2 km to go it was down to 20 seconds.  With 800 meters to go, I made the pass, just before one of the only short inclines on the course.  I passed him just before that, and made sure to pass with a strong effort, then when I hit the hill I ran hard up it hoping to open up the gap just a little bit more.  Worst case scenario I was going to have to run as hard as I could for ~3mins to make $750, so I figured why not go for it early and see what happened.  Well the pass stuck and I ended up coming into the stadium in 6th place, one minute down from 5th.

Bike- 2:13:51 / Strava: TrainingPeaks:
Total- 4:05:31 / 6th Pro

Overall I am really happy with how things played out.  I came back from what I thought wasn't possible and I found a bit of confidence in my run and did something I don't usually do, ran my way into the race.  I look forward to continuing to work at the little things and hopefully they will continue to add up to something big over time.  One thing is for sure, it isn't going to happen overnight, it is about consistent work day in and day out, so onwards and upwards from here!

Thanks to my wife, family, friends and sponsors for the continued support.  If you would like to support the companies that support my triathlon career, check out this page for some great discounts:

Proud of this guy, Mr. Yu, for winning his Age Group and Qualifying for 70.3 Worlds.  He has helped me a LOT throughout the years while I was stationed in Korea.  Anything from giving me rides to and from races to making sure I knew what I was eating at races when all there was, was Korean food.

Friday, October 2, 2015

41 Seconds, Oh so Close......Incheon 70.3

20 Sept 2015-

I had originally planned on doing Challenge Weymouth on September 13th, but after really looking at the schedule I wasn't feeling too confident about that race.  I was taking a 4 week break after IMUK, with two of those weeks spent on a cruise ship.  That would only leave a 4 week block of training for Challenge Weymouth.  Around June, I noticed that they had moved 70.3 Incheon from July to late September, which sparked an idea that made a lot more sense.  I would head to Korea for 3.5 weeks, race Incheon 70.3 on 20 September and then Gurye 70.3 on 4 October.  I would spend the time in between the races with friends near Osan, where I was previously stationed.  After Gurye, I planned to stick around and check out the Military World Games which were taking place in Korea and I had a lot of friends competing in.

So after removing myself from the Challenge Weymouth start list, I registered for both Korea 70.3s and booked my ticket.  All in all, I thought it would be a fairly inexpensive trip since I had a place to stay in between the race.  Well, it was cheap until I got to the airport to check my bags and rather than charging me for my bike, they charged me for excess weight which ended up costing $495USD.  So that was how the trip started.

I got into Korea and everything went fairly smooth the first few days.  The Incheon 70.3 staff had covered airport transportation to the hotel and our hotel room, which ended up being an amazing hotel, with the lobby on the 36th floor and my room on the 47th!  Each day after arriving it seemed it was one thing after the other for me, problems at the race briefing, getting double charged for dinner, and then the last adventure was spending 8 hours roaming through Korea by train and bike attempting to get my visa sorted which was originally screwed up by the Korean Embassy in London.  Since the visa issue, it has been great with no issues!

I showed up to Incheon a bit tired as we had put in a big 4 week block of training.  While on the 4 week break I had put on 20 lbs, I went from 164 lbs to 184 lbs, and I was struggling to drop weight the first week.  Then it started falling off really fast!  It was pretty easy considering my wife and I cut out alcohol (other than our anniversary night) and desserts (we are big dessert lovers).  I showed up to Incheon back down to 164 lbs and was feeling fit, just a bit tired.  I struggled to adjust to the time zone and was up at 3am the first night (4 hrs of sleep), 1 am the next night (5 hrs of sleep), and then I actually got about 6 hours of sleep the night before the race.

Swim- 25:04

I was able to get in a good warm up, which helped me get a good start.  We started off a pontoon and swam through a shallow 5 ft deep man-made river that ran through the park.  I got out and was able to stick with a small group for about the first 300 m.  Then a gap opened up and I fell off the small group and was on my own.  Mary Beth Ellis came by me around 500 m and I attempted to swim on her feet and lasted about 100 m.  Around 1 km, I looked back and I was pulling along 2 other guys and had 1 guy about 20 m in front of me.  I slowly closed the gap to that guy and we came out of the water as a group of 4.

Bike- 2:15:34

I had a quick transition and was out in front of the small group I exited the water with.  I came

out of the water 7th and knew I had my work cut out for me on the bike.  I found a good rhythm and slowly started passing guys.  There were a few out and back sections so it was good to know what the gaps were and slowly get through the field.  Unfortunately my seat post slipped around 70 km and I noticed a drop in my power, which may have been from the seat post or my lack of fitness, or a combination of both.  Either way, something happened around 70 km and I wasn't able to push as hard.  I made my way up to 3rd and came off the bike about 5 mins down from the leaders.


Run- 1:26:36

I had put a decent amount of time into the rest of the guys behind me and came off the bike about 1:30 ahead of Mitch Kibby (AUS).  I wasn't feeling great on the run, but wasn't feeling horrible.  Mitch caught me just at the end of the first lap and we ran side by side for the next 2 laps.  He pulled away at one point, and then I pulled him back.  I then tried to pick up the pace and he stayed with me.  He then picked up the pace and I dropped off, but kept him in my sights.  At the same time, Alistair Eeckman and Paul Amey were charging hard from behind.  For the last 3 km, I was more worried about getting caught from behind rather than trying to catch Mitch.  So I ran hard to not get caught and figured maybe I could catch Mitch in the process. I fell short at catching Mitch, but was able to hold onto 4th, 37 seconds ahead of 5th, and lost 3rd by 41 seconds.

Bike- 2:15:34 / Strava: TrainingPeaks:
Total- 4:09:52 / 4th Pro

Congrats to Matt Trautman, Freddie Croneborg, Mitch Kibby, and Alistair Eeckman

At the end of the day, it was a bit bittersweet to come in 4th.  It was my best result to date, but it would have been great to get my first pro podium in Korea, where everything started in this sport.  Luckily, I will have another chance at Gurye 70.3 on 4 October.  So as tough as it was to miss out on the podium by 41 seconds, it has left me hungry and focused to continue on the path and hopefully find a step on the podium in the near future.

A big thanks to Des Slote and his wife Parichat for coming out to support me during the race.  Des has been a huge part of my triathlon career and you may remember him if you have been following along, his previous "job" was "Korean Logistical Support Agent," basically he was the one that sorted all of the race entries and travel for me during my time in Korea.  It was great to see him again, have a meal together and catch up over a few beers.

Thanks to my wife, family, friends and sponsors for the continued support.  If you would like to support the companies that support my triathlon career check out this page for some great discounts:

 The amazing hotel that we got put up in!
 One of my favorite parts about being back, THE FOOD!
 View from the run course and swim course.
 Out on the bike course
 The morning sunrise over the Incheon/Songdo sky line