Ironman Western Australia – 16 weeks to race

11 weeks flew so quick, I was just doing 1km swims and now I’m doing at least 3 kms per session, 1km brick runs to now 2kms, and weekend 2hr runs! The bike, well, I just kept it consistent, kept working on getting my threshold up, to get stronger and hopefully faster.

I also started ramping up the weekly TSS (Training Stress Score), from 400 to last week at 850. I would like to maintain the TSS at 1000 in the last 4 weeks of Base training. I also seemed to find the right training balance, I can handle the following day’s session without much drama, getting a lot of sleep and able to shake the soreness next day easily. I must be doing something right :). Looking at doing between 15-17 hours in the next 4 weeks so its exciting times ahead ;).

The highlight of the last training block was an 3.5km endurance swim @ 5 sets of 700m. I was just glad to get through that one, completed it in around 1 hr 17 mins (1 min breaks), so quite pleased. Also did my longest run so far at 19.5kms in 2 hrs, @ endurance, all day pace so the legs wasn’t that wasted. Even did a 30 min Zone 1 recovery ride after so I’m just glad that my swim and run are coming around. Not too much speed work at this stage, but will focus a bit more on that in the last 10 weeks.

The bike is still gets the biggest slice of hours in my training block, as it should, between 60-65%, more strength focus sessions.

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  #imwesternaustralia #ironman

Ironman Western Australia

Cairns wasn’t to be it this year so Busselton it is. Seven months is a long time to prepare so the training program can be much more organised and I get to try a few ideas especially on bike training where I’ll focus on riding a consistent bike pace. Will be working a lot on threshold power, and muscular endurance. Not a lot of standalone runs but plenty of brick runs. Plan to ride with just a 53 ring and 11-23 cassette, no need for a small ring as the course is flat as a pancake. A tubular wheel set could be an option, but i’d still prefer a lighter set. Swim sessions are always the hardest but have to put the effort in – frequent and longer preferred.

With winter fast approaching, and work, finding the right training balance will again be a huge challenge.

The harder the challenge, the more satisfying the result is! See how I go.

Ironman New Zealand 2017 Race Report

Training

I was meant to race NZ in 2016 but got swayed to change my race to IM Australia, due to logistics issues at that time and I wanted to race with the first time IMs in the Club so I transferred. This time I was definitely going to race in Taupo. Overall, I had a good preparation, the first 6 months was spent on getting better at running as that was one of my issues during the Port Macquarie Ironman race. I had to work on building endurance to better cope with the 42.2km run after the bike, so I entered in a couple of major running races last year, I turned to trail running for cross training and eventually entered in a 32km trail run in the Blue Mountains, followed by the Sydney Marathon in September to finish off my run focussed training program.

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Sydney Marathon  September 2016

My Ironman focussed preparation started mid-October, which was going quite well until I suffered a minor setback – I injured my knee, possibly from very high running volume plus the high intensity so I had to stop running for 4 weeks, but replaced it with twice a week pool running. It was mentally tough doing a 10km run in a 25m sized pool! As soon as I recovered, I slowly added twice a week runs, albeit slow runs, it was better than not doing any running at all.  I ended up only doing 21 km as my longest single workout run but I did 3 runs per week of at least 15kms, with the hope that I’ve done enough so I don’t risk re-injury.

Race Week

I flew to Auckland on the 1st day of March (Wed), and expecting to get to Taupo around 6 pm local time, got to the airport around 9 am for my 10:15 am flight, but it wasn’t the best time to fly due to the huge number of people trying to get to work. As it was rush hour,  I had to contend for a spot on the train, carrying my bike and two small bags. People would stare at my bike bag, wondering what I was carrying. Got a few guesses, ranging from speakers to tennis rackets, which provided amusement during the train trip.

When I got to the gate, my Virgin Airline flight said delayed for about an hour. It got me worried as it would be cutting close to my connecting flight to Taupo. Got to Auckland with about an hour to spare but I didn’t know that had to go through Customs as the Domestic Terminal is a 800m walk to another building! When I got inside the terminal, I can hear my name being called out as the plane was about to depart soon. I rushed to Oversized baggage area to check-in my bike and the girl said I got offloaded on the plane. Missed the flight! Went to the Air NZ helpdesk for assistance but they told me I had to go to Virgin Australia instead as they were the ones who flew me in, and which meant I had to go back to the International Terminal. Stranded in Auckland for the moment. Not good…

I knew that my friend Marlon who’s also racing was already in New Zealand, and came in via an earlier flight so I gave him a call. He was already driving back with his friend JC on the way back to JC’s unit in the CBD. They turned back and picked me up, we had burgers at Carl’s Jr. and also let me stay for the night. Life savers!

 

Got to Taupo around 1 pm, still enough time to go through Athlete Check-in. We even had a massage to get loosened up. Part of the checkin process was the wetsuit dipping. We had to dip our wetsuits in some special solution to prevent contaminating the Great Lake Taupo.

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Getting some instructions from the volunteers on how to dip the wetsuit.
Wetsuit dip
Dipping our wetsuit is the first part of the Athlete’s Check-in process. This protects the Great Lake Taupo from nasties that could ruin it’s beauty.

Then we got through the normal check-in procedures. The Blue coloured bags contain stuff needed for the bike and the Red bag is for the run. Bike check-in was on the eve of the race, which was Friday.

Taupo has embraced Ironman for over 30+ years now.

We also got to meet the other Pinoys racing in IMNZ. Mostly from Auckland, and one guy from Perth. Did a short swim then a recon ride to check out the hilly portion of the run course and that hill on Napier Road, which was probably the steepest section of the course.

On Carbo loading night, I got to hear Mike “The Voice of Ironman” Rielly talk. I got even excited to know that he will be saying the famous three words “You’re an IRONMAN” as they come in the chute, and this is what I love about IMNZ. Its deep in tradition.

 

On the eve of the race, I stayed overnight at Marlon and JC’s motel as it was the closest to the race venue. We still had one more thing to do and that was to pack our race nutrition. The photo looked like a drug lab, with all the white powder all over the place :). 3 bottles, 2 hour nutrition each + 2 bottles one before the swim, and the other after.

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Race Day

Not much sleep as usual on the eve of my races but it was good enough. Woke up at 3:30 and had a good sized breakfast, close to 800 calories. Had the usual oats, banana, 2 pieces of bread with Peanut Butter. Left the motel at 5 with the boys and another Marlon who is also doing his 3rd Ironman race. We both did the same races too. It was quite windy when we got out so it got me worrying a bit as our swim could be a choppy one.

Got in to T1 early and relaxed. After the final checks of the bikes and more photos, we’re ready to rock NZ! As per Ironman tradition, a loud bang from the cannon started the race.

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Swim: 1:52:25

This was my worst Ironman swim. As I suspected, the wind played a huge part in the race. We had to go through a total of 28 buoys, swimming in a rectangular shaped, clockwise direction. As it was a mass start swim, everyone had to move to the water at the same time, we stayed back for a little bit and hung around at the back. It was already chaos even when everyone was just trying to claim their spot before the start so I decided to stay on shallow waters so I don’t have to tread and tire out as the swell seemed to be getting bigger by the minute. Started out nicely, not much congestion but I could tell that this was going to be a tough swim. After yellow buoy 4, I was already starting to get some rhythm but was smacked on the right side when breathing from the swell that was coming in. Nevertheless, I wasn’t worried as I’m used to this by now, especially after surviving the 2016 Cole Classic swim which was definitely worse. I saw a few people clinging on to kayaks at one stage, I felt sorry for them as I suspect they were the first timers who probably had never experienced this kind of swim conditions. Little did I know that there were going to be over 100 people who will not finish the race because of the swim. I managed to get through buoy 14 without much drama and thought that returning would speed me up but it felt like the conditions has gotten worse and to add to the struggles, my goggles kept fogging up so my vision was getting impaired. Had to make stops every 10 minutes or so to clear the goggles, and went off course a few times because I couldn’t see the buoys. Not the ideal start but I survived.

Swim exit

BIKE: 6:38:34

T1 was located 500m up a hill so you had to run to get there. Still feeling smashed after the swim I could have easily given up but I didn’t come here NOT to finish. I planned on wearing my cycling gear this time as I wasn’t sure about the weather plus I like fresh clothes the whole time. Had to give myself a brief time to catch my breath before changing to my cycling kit. I saw Marlon come in a few minutes after and he got out pretty quick. I saw the volunteers handing out fruits and electrolytes so I stopped and helped myself to a few slices. when I was ready I headed to my bike and downed the bottle of electrolyte I prepared last night and rode. I badly needed the calories at this stage.

I plan on eating every 20 minutes as I always do but this time the race dictated my nutrition. I had a few packets of Whittaker chocolates and sliced energy bars on my bento box which I started eating as early as 10 minutes into the ride. Once I finished the first bar, I knew I had enough in my stomach to ride. Going out of Taupo was fun, except for a couple of hills not too far from the start, it was downhill pretty much up to the turnaround point. After the turnaround, the struggles began as we faced the strong headwinds coming back. The 40km or so ride back felt like an eternity. The short hills seemed endless as wind was pushing you back at every pedal up. I heard someone said rider  back and I knew it was one of the women pros and it turned out to be Meridith Kessler. I had to ride to the side and let her pass.

On the second lap, I picked up my remaining nutrition at the Special Needs which was after the Napier Road climb. I had potato chips along with some Tailwind. I was expecting an aid station there too like the other places I raced in but there wasn’t any. I asked for water and the male volunteer sourced a bottled water for me, which was very kind of him. The chips were not as crispy so it wasn’t as satisfying. I had the salted chips ready as I thought I would need the salt and kill the sweet stuff that I had been having for the last 5 hours or so but I wasn’t really craving for the salt. Just weird how our body functions. We didn’t quite take the same route on the second lap, we got diverted to some back street. I managed to pick up speed here to make up for lost time. The return was again windy but it wasn’t too bad as the first time. I got to the finish, the volunteer picked up my bike and grabbed the water bottle on my rear bottle cage and downed the last nutrition bottle I had. I had Perpetuem in it and it came in very handy as I run better with a full stomach.

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Run: 05:24:49

I had change of clothes and was on my tri suit for the run and running on my 2 month old Newton 4 distance shoes. Out of the gates it felt really good  especially when the first 500 metres was a descent. From the recon ride the other day, I knew that there will be hills coming up and the course was undulating especially at the back section. Man, was it ever! You get a short descent followed quickly by a hill which will go for about 3 kms. There were no shortage of supporters, some even had loud music outside of their houses and aid stations with girls dancing almost the whole time to the music. I found it a great distraction to what I consider the hardest part of Ironman. The run makes or breaks it for you. This is where the PROs make their living and its also where you either get a race PB or not. My plan was to running until the legs had it but was targeting to get at least to 25kms before I even think about walking. I wanted a PB this time but with the bad swim time it meant I had to work double time. I got to the first lap and got a band from the volunteer. Similar to IMAUS, you go through the band collection area, whilst picking up your band and that would depend on the laps done. I got to about 23km before I started feeling some pain on the joints so I decided to start walking. However I wouldn’t be walking for too long. I have been practicing the 5min on / 1 min off strategy on some of my long runs so its time to switch that on. Did that for about 30 mins, and halfway the 2nd lap. You do get some respite from the hills when you get to section which was closest to the Great Taupo Lake, its where you go past the really nice houses/accomodation. I barely got to the 2nd lap turnaround and said to myself that that this is it, one good 14km run and were done. This spurred me on and just went for it. I was expecting to see Marlon on the other side soon but not so quite. I saw him at one of the hills at the back section walking and said some encouraging words to finish strong. I got to 9kms left and this time felt the knee pain. It got me walking again and this time it was really painful. I walked/shuffled for about 3 kms until I got to about 4kms left where the image of the finish line flashed in my head so I decided to go for broke now. I managed to finish strong and PB’ed my Ironman marathon this time.

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I haven’t been fortunate with weather in my last 2 Ironman races and they were all tough to say the least, but I got through still on a decent finish time. It’s tough races like these where you would rely on training and experience, which I obviously leaned on heavily. Love Taupo, and hope to come back and do it all again.

-R

 

 

 

Pub crawl on a bike

Its been almost 6 months in the planning. Spring, then Summer came and went but we couldn’t find the right time to do it. Autumn has started, Daylight Savings is finished, its getting cooler but the timing couldn’t have been perfect. Dennis, aka Coach Conto the Athlete/Warrior/Statesman/Spirit and I rode out from the outskirts of Western Sydney, to our destination in the Sydney CBD, where the ales awaits. We would also stop by a couple of pubs before getting there. We rode out at 9 am, heading to our first stop at the Tollgate Hotel in Parramatta, which was roughly 20kms from home. I had coke to start off as it was too early for me to having beer, but Dennis being true to our endavour had a XXXX beer. I was being soft.


Hunter’s Hill Hotel at Hunter’s Hill was next. It was the most scenic leg of this trip, riding close to the water and nice houses, passing through Meadowbank, Putney, Lane Cove, and Gladesville.

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The R5 on the Meadowbank River
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Lane Cove River
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At the bridge on Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove

We got to Hunters Hill Hotel at after 1 pm, this time though I had coffee and Dennis had Coke. OK, it wasn’t time to be drinking yet ;). The place was getting worked on, the beer garden at the back had a nice setting to it. Not your typical pub setting, the menu had some nice food on offer plus they had freezer for Gelatos but it wasn’t commissioned yet. Good to come back in another week or so and the place will be ready.


It was only a short stop as it was getting late and we needed to make a few more pub stops. Our route would get us crossing the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge to get to Sydney CBD, we took the cycleway on the Gore Hill freeway which I noticed a huge improvement in terms of the road surface and it had separate lanes for cycling and for pedestrians, which I thought was great for everyone using it. At the end of the freeway, we had to get on to the highway but it was quite safe as it had a cycle lane that groups can probably ride 3 abreast as it was so wide. Once off the highway, we ended up at the foot of the Harbour Bridge. One side of the bridge was for cyclists, when crossed takes you to the Rocks. The walking/running side across takes you to the business district of Sydney itself.


Next pub stop and probably the one that I was looking forward to was the Hero of Waterloo. They had an ale called The Duke of Ellington, which in history was the one that killed Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. http://heroofwaterloo.com.au/history/. I passed up on this one too (again), and instead made this stop our lunch stop. Lunch was nothing spectacular, just a BLT and wedges for Dennis.

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The final pub stop was at what it claims the oldest in Sydney, The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, also located at The Rocks. I was definitely having a beer here, my favourite Three Sheets, which was on tap.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t continue any further as it was getting late, lack of daylight, traffic and distance we had to ride back are going to be an issue so even we covered a total distance of 70kms and 4 pubs. I’m sure there will be another opportunity to do more pubs next time.

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Ride map from my Strava page

-R

Trail Running

I’ve been looking for a good complement to my Triathlon training during the offseason for quite sometime now, as I can’t keep on doing training sessions Swim/Bike/Run for the rest of my life, been doing Triathlons for over 4 years now and it has now come to a point where the off-season should be away from Triathlons (sort of). I’ve considered basketball, but I’m too old and slow now probably, plus the joints would just hurt some more, or even worse. Others like Tennis, rock climbing all came to mind but I guess, I wanted something more similar to Triathlons but something different.

Enter Trail Running! First time I hit the trails was about 2 years ago, I joined one of the Sydney Trail Run Winter races at Manly Dam, then did another 10km run at Bobbin Head (the one I regularly cycle to), both runs were tough and had technical sections, although being my first time on the trails, everything was technical to me! From the very tricky climbs to the fast descents but both were awesome runs. The ground can be anything from very soft mud to the hard gravel. You have to be on the ball the whole time as you’re stepping on uneven surface most of the time. Running in the trails or the bush makes you feel closer to nature (very close in fact!), not much care about pace, distance, and everything around you is just beautiful to see. I got to explore and enjoy the bush much more.

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The steps going up Bobbin Head – East side.
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‘Kangaroos in the mist’ – Euroka Clearing, Blue Mountains

Update: On the 21st of August 2016, I entered my first long trail run event, ran by the good people of Running Wild NSW, which is the Glenbrook Marathon – 34km. I probably should have entered the 45km distance instead had I knew beforehand that I wouldn’t get a medal for the 34km :(. We started off at Euroka Clearing then to Mt. Portal, which had a pretty spectacular view of the Nepean River, of which I should have done at least one run here as the short punchy hills got me at the start, then onto some technical trails up to Red Hands Cave. I wasn’t too confident going through rocks and muddy surfaces so it was a lot of walking and hiking. Once out, it was another 5kms to the main track – the Oaks firetrail then turned right and run 5 kms out and back to Nepean Lookout. That was a real test of character as it was undulating and lonely! Once you’ve completed that out and back section, it was about 7 kms to the finish, and downhill too! Finished in 4:02:15 which was good enough to qualify for the prestigious sixfoot track marathon in 2017. But with Ironman NZ 2 weeks before that event, I’m not sure if I’ll be recovered in time and trained enough to run it. I guess, time will only tell…

 

 

Ironman Port Macquarie 2016 – Race Report

Thursday:

We left for Port Macquarie on a Thursday to give us enough time to get settled and do some recon on the bike course and a short swim on the course. I managed to do an early morning swim session before I was going to be picked up by Manny. Packed everything I needed the night before. Made the final checks on the bike just to be sure, I was a bit concerned on the tyres though as both tyres were not new although I haven’t really done a lot of KMs on them, in fact I only rode my ‘new’ TT bike on the road just twice.  On the road for almost 6 hours, we stopped over at a couple of places, met up with Val and Judy Uy, Val whom I raced with in Melbourne Ironman race the previous year. I remembered him from the tram ride back to Melbourne the day after the race. Good to see him again, as well as another guy Marlon Ancheta whom we also raced in IM Melbourne. Also met another Marlon (Narvaez) who is Joey’s friend back in their Globe days in Manila who’s also racing and his wife Lila. In the evening, we caught up with everyone, including another guy from the Tri Taft team, Alfred and his girlfriend Rachelle for dinner. Manny, JO and our wives stayed at the Wyndham Resort, which was a few meters away from the bike course and is about 3.5km to the city’s centre.

 

Friday:

Early morning swim to check out the swim course. No one wanted to stay in the water for too long, don’t know if it was nerves or just wanted to get back and just do some more mental preparation for the race. The water temperature was just right for a wetsuit swim. Probably swam only about 200m. Later in the day, with the map in our hands, we did a recon of the bike course in our cars. The roads on the bike course wasn’t as smooth as expected but we’ve done a few rides out to Cobbitty back in Sydney plus I’m used to riding up and down gorges so it didn’t appear to be that daunting and should be used to the rough road surface. There’s about a 10km stretch where its flat and fast, and the rest are rolling.

Athlete check-in after the swim. This was located at the Ironman expo at the Glasshouse. All my details were correct, I weighed 65 kgs during the weigh in. Thought it would have been less but I have been eating a little bit more in the last few days so it would explain it. Stayed for a little bit at the shops of course, looked at the Ironman merchandise as well but didn’t want to preempt anything so thought I just get my shirts after the race.

 

 

In the evening we went to the carbo loading night. I wasn’t expecting this, Melbourne didn’t have one but I guess its the reason why Port Macquarie Ironman is the oldest Ironman race in Australia. There were huge tents laid out near T1, which reminded me of Cirque du Soleil, sans the trapeze and performers although there was a huge stage inside the tents, and rows of tables filled with hungry triathletes. The food wasn’t spectacular, the usual pasta, rice and plenty of cakes to go around.

 

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Saturday:

Short recon ride, just to get a feel for the Matthew Flinders Drive climb. A few photos as usual :).

Bike checkin and bag drop off followed after. Tension starting to build, I could tell from just looking at their faces. No turning back now, its Ironman or bust.

 

Race Day:

Everyone didn’t have a great sleep, I went out to the lounge area and had the aircon on as I found the bedroom to be too hot. We had early dinner last night, ate a bit too much I think as I had indigestion problems. I didn’t sleep until about 1 am, only to wake up at 4 am to get ready to go. We all got on the one car, Cathleen dropped us all near the start line and they would just catch up with us a bit later at the swim start. We finally found the rest of the Filipino contingent at the swim start, a few photos (as usual) and nerves to contend with. As its a self seeded swim start, we picked Zone 3 as this would be the closest to our expected swim finish.

Swim – 1:25:01

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Calm and cool water greeted us at the start of the swim. It was an overcast day with 1-5mm forecast of rain on the day. Same as Melbourne IM, swimmers were ‘released’ every 5 seconds or so. We had to navigate through boats, shallow waters, a weir, which I think is cool and unique to IMOZ. The water was dark and murky at shallow at some sections but the orange buoys were all laid out nicely so you wouldn’t lose your way. There were enough IRBs on standby too to guide you back when you get astray. Same as the boys, we had a slow split out but really fast one back. In fact we almost finished around the same time, give or take a minute each other. I did however lost my way on some sections, maybe its because of the current but I swam about 4.2km according to my Garmin watch. Near the 4th buoy, the water was so shallow that I was scraping the bottom with my hands. I looked up and saw a few people walking it up so I decided to do the same for a bit. Dolphin dive would have been better I suppose…

No dramas on the swim, it was a good lead up for the bike. Got out of the water and even managed to blow a kiss to Anne :).

swim finish

Bike – 6:54:27

The first 45km started out really well. I was pacing close to 30kph over this distance and was enjoying the ride. I rolled past Joey about 2 kms then Manny just before Matthew Flinders Drive (MFD). The course is definitely rolling the whole way through, loved that descent on MFD which sets you up for a good run past the Port Macquarie Golf Club which is about 10km and flat. The roads were not in fantastic shape but we were expecting that plus we’ve done enough riding on the road so we’re used to it by now.

Past the 50km turnaround I saw Marlon who was probably 5 mins ahead of me. I stopped to reload my bento box as I had planned on having gels, sweet potatoes and Endura as my main nutrition on the bike, as I have used during training. I also saw Joey, Manny and JO who were around 10-15 mins behind me. It then started to rain. Initially I thought it wouldn’t be as bad as someone mentioned to me that we’ll only get it on some sections. He was probably just joking. From then on I had to proceed with caution as the roads were now slippery. I was getting pelted by raindrops that appeared to be getting bigger (or just intense) by the minute. I then thought about my race in Cairns 70.3 couple of years ago and how I remembered one of my friends was a DNF after his 5th puncture. Bad roads coupled with rain is not good. I was starting to see people on the side of the road with mechanical problems, some of them flats, others look serious. I started talking to my bike about delivering me safely. Got to MFD and I saw a few people on the middle of the road waiting and cheering for everyone on the climb. I was hoping to see Elvis but it was a wet day, the first climb was not bad at all. I managed to get up the hill stress free. 1km before the turnaround, I saw Jen and Mango screaming their lungs out as I went past, got near the turnaround point and I saw the girls screaming at me like a rock star coming out to stage. I probably was too star struck as I missed the turnaround point :(. Rain and my bad eyesight led me on to the finish, but I had another lap to do! I calculated about 3 kms and I had to go through the foot path too as I was going against traffic. Finally got back and on to my 2nd lap. By this time, I probably lost about 15 mins already.

The rain by now was relentless, this time I had to stop a few times to check tyre pressure. It was fine but my eyes weren’t. I had to take off my sunnies as it was just dropping water on my eyes. Had to slow down even more as volunteers were all telling us to slow down especially in the corners. I saw Marlon for the second time almost at the same spot I saw him first. I got to the ‘flat’ section and I felt pretty good so I hammered it. Got to MFD for the second time and I could only see people walking up the red carpet on the side. I still had some good legs so I powered up the climb. I did slip a little bit though and was actually quite worried that I could very well have a rear puncture. Turned out the road was just too slippery. Got to the end of the bike ride and thanked my bike for doing a superb job for me.

Run: 5:50:52

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As they say, the run makes or breaks your Ironman race and I once again proven that it does. The rain has died down, people are starting to position themselves out on the run course and on the finishing chutes (the 70.3 race was also in progress), and I still had 42.2km of running to do. I thought I wear running gear on the run as from my Melbourne IM experience, the tri suit got a bit uncomfortable after a while. Plus with the forecast of rain I wanted fresh clothes and socks. My initial plan was to run between 5:45-6:00 pace in the first half then slowly build it. I did manage to run as planned until about km 15 when I started having tummy issues. I now suspect I had a bit too much of the sweet potatoes on the bike, and after a sip of cola, that did it for me. The stomach was grumbling on every stride I took and the cramps on the hamstrings were also starting to kick in. It was like experiencing that painful marathon run in Melbourne once again. The run was a 4 lap run, you had to get lap bands at every turns and had to run up a hill at the start of the lap, just one and the rest of the run was flat. I only managed to run up this hill once :). The course was littered with crowds egging you to keep going, and on almost any part of the course so it was very encouraging for all the athletes.

Now, after 14:30:39 of swimming 3.8km, cycling 180km, then finishing it off with a 42.km run, I was again an Ironman. This race was different Ironman number 1 as it was definitely tough. The elements played a part in the race which what Ironman racing is all about. Ironman Australia definitely is dear to me and is a race worth coming  back and doing again.

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Thanks to my new friends who provided most of these photos. You know who you are :).

Tapering for Ironman Australia

After 6 months of long and hard training its now come down to this final 2 weeks. Like any training program, I felt I could have done better/more but its always the case, regardless on how good the preparation is, there will always be some ‘what if’ or ‘had I’ moments. In any case, this time I’m better prepared, compared to when I raced in Melbourne last year. I focused on doing more running by working on my technique and did more longer runs. Swim wise, I think I’ve turned a corner in the last month or so and my times have vastly improved. Also this time around I utilised the Kickr bike trainer a lot, in conjunction with Trainer Road, saving me time as well as providing a better workout in my opinion compared to riding outdoors. I’m hopeful in producing a much better time, closer to what I am expecting.

 

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My Strava stats, Jan-Apr 2016

 

Someone said ‘less is more’; I agree to a certain degree. In Ironman, endurance is your best bet to be able to complete the race within the prescribed time. So enduring the race would require a lot of time outside training, not by doing junk hours but by structuring your program to suit your training needs. From the weekly to the daily workouts, training for IMOZ definitely taught me the what’s and the how’s. Yes, I had my worst moments but you learn from it and do better next time.

So on the 1st of May 2016, I’ll be once again one of the hopefuls to conquer that gruelling race, along with 3 other guys from the FilOz Triathlon Club so cheer us on!

 

Link to Ironman Australia:

http://ap.ironman.com/triathlon/events/asiapac/ironman/australia.aspx#axzz46F88Tutj

My Strava page:

https://www.strava.com/athletes/rommel_faro

 

Western Sydney Ironman 70.3 – One week to go

I truly get excited during race week; this is what months of preparation will come down to. I haven’t done a triathlon race is over 8 months, and it’s my first time in my backyard of Western Sydney so this Half-Ironman race will be something special.

So, what do I have to do to complete a Half-Ironman race? Simple, I just need to complete a 1.9km swim, then cycle 90kms then finish it with a 21.2 km run all in one day. Sounds easy enough? Never is. I had a longer training cycle this time, 5 months to be exact, some lessons learned from the previous races made me do a couple of swim and run training blocks prior. The hard truth was my legs were not durable enough and the swim was too inefficient so I had to change my training focus. Hopefully I’ve done enough to meet my target. My training volume has also gone up on all 3 disciplines, probably about 30% more compared to previous training plans and I find it hurts less. I’m probably just slackJ.

The Western Sydney 70.3 Ironman is held in the Sydney Regatta Centre in Penrith, it’s now on its 2nd year and a fast race. The swim is in a man-made lake, where the rowing competition was during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The swim during my very first every triathlon race was here back in 2011, being a newbie back then I was too afraid to venture out in the deep and I kept getting tangled in the weeds close to the banks but this time I won’t have the same problem.

ws_swim

(From Ironman.com website)

The 90km bike course was changed for this year, but still a 2-lap course like last year. The FilOz TC did a recon ride not long ago here so we’re very familiar with what we have to deal with. As I mentioned, it’s a very flat course, a slight incline about 20 kms out but it shouldn’t pose any problems. I did encounter some headwinds coming back during the recon ride on the incline but I was on my road bike and not tucked in so it will be fine.

WS_bikeJPG

(From Ironman.com website)

 

Once the swim and cycle is completed, all participants will return back inside the Regatta Centre for a 2.5 lap run. This is also a flat course and where all the loudest cheers will be heard. The team plans on putting a supporter tent which will be strategically located on the course to give the encouragement that everyone needs. This should be really fun, seeing your family, friends and training partners cheering you on.

WS_run

(From Ironman.com website)

 

I do have some expectations on how I will finish this race, goals that I have set myself up; after all, this is why I train for.  Race report to be posted after I complete this one (finger crossed)!

The effect of the Cortisol hormone on training

I have been lethargic lately, sure I’m still pushing between 7 and 8 hours a week of training and have been working a lot on my running as this was one of the issues I’ve identified after my first Ironman. 5 weeks out of an 8 week block and its going quite well. With all the running that I’ve done, it felt like I’ve burned a gazillion calories. Great right? Not really, my recovery times have seem to be longer nowadays, sleep’s not getting any better and its probably contributing to my overall feeling of tiredness.

So research I did, read stuff about the hormone cortisol and the effect of it on weight gain. Now it starts to make sense that even though how hard and frequent you exercise, some people still have a problem with a high percentage of body fat. What’s worse is that its all in the abdomen which is the last place you want it to be! Cortisol is released when we are on the fight or flight mode, ie the body is under stress. Stress can be in the form of work, at home or physical (workouts). These are type of stressors all triathletes have to deal with on a daily basis. What’s worse is after Cortisol’s released, your body will start hoarding fat in your body which is its way of protecting itself. Hence, its these process that prevents you from losing that ‘muffin top’. Once the dust settles (stress over) the body will need to to rebalance itself, and to that it will tell your brain to eat and here is where the ‘comfort food’ comes in. Say hello to your favourite chocolates and other sweet things.

It now begs the question as to whether endurance sports are really worth doing! What, no more Ironmans or Marathons?? I must be going crazy. Luckily, there are ways to combat this. I’ve said this before and will state it again that everything has to be in Balance. There’s Good and Evil, Yin and Yang and so on. Turns out, what you need is structure your program so that you have weeks where your load is lesser, whereby ‘unloading’ your body so it can recover. Now this is probably the tricky bit as finding the right hours and balance in all 3 sports is the challenge. Good thing, my next Ironman is not after 9 months so I still have a great deal of time to improve on this if I’m going to finish with a better time than in IM Melbourne.

I’m planning to get some tests in the next few weeks. First is a test to find out your cortisol and DHEA levels via stress test, from what I’ve read, you just have to spit in test tubes at specified times then it gets analysed. To get the full picture, I will also do a Lactate Threshold tests to get my training zones and work out which zone I can do the optimal fat burning.

Don’t you just love learning something new everyday.