So then, what a year it has been! I have to say I have been pretty lazy on the whole blog writing front since Kona, I have just been too tired and busy to get round to writing anything, well, that is a lie, I have had time but I am just useless like that! Firstly I must apologise for not doing any video blogs from Clearwater, the wi fi was really slow and in my hunt for some faster wi fi I dropped the laptop so that was me stuck watching American telly for a few days with no contact from the outside world! I have to take it to the fixers after I have written this anyways, the life of a pro triathlete eh!
I have learnt so much this and have so many thank you’s to say, far too many people to mention but you all know how you are. If you have helped me in any way this year, even if you just handed me some Gatorade at Ironman UK then thank you, I really do appreciate all you have done for me, this year has not been possible without you!
If I was to give myself a grade for the year I would give myself a B+, I am not quite there yet but I have come a long way from the F I would have given myself in 2008. This year was always going to be a learning experience for me moving up distances. I know a lot of people were not happy to see me having a crack at Ironman but that’s just the sort of person I am. It has been a tough year mind you! I have been training hard since September 2008 and have only just started my end of season break so that’s 14 months of hard racing and training, from racing cross country since October, time trials through February to May and then a mixture of Triathlon and TT’s, I dread to think the amount of racing miles I have racked up, 2 Ironmans, 3 Half Ironmans, 2 100mile TTs, never mind the air miles to Hawaii and Florida in the space of 5 weeks, iv watched the film ‘The Proposal’ so many times and never got to see the ending of ‘Cars’ as I fell asleep on the way back from Florida! If anyone would like to tell me how it ends please let me know as I was really getting into it before the lights went out! It’s been a long year!
So, Hawaii, what a race! To put everything in perspective, I know the ESPN coverage was on channel 5 the other night and after going to bed at 10pm I woke up at 1am and then simply couldn’t get back to sleep so at 3.55 I went downstairs, watched it all (and no I am NOT Scottish, yes, Greg Welsh got it wrong) then went back to bed at 5am and woke up at 12.45pm, it was just a shame I was supposed to have a meeting in town at 12.30 so I had to jump out of bed and ride harder than what I had to in Clearwater to get to my meeting!
Hawaii was something else; I knew it would be an amazing experience just to be there but to do the race I did exceeded all my expectations! It is such a beautiful place and magical race, in my eyes it’s more special then any other race in the world! I had a good swim, the pace was pretty fast and I was on the limit from 500m to 1500m but after that I just swam on Pete Jacobs’s feet and came out 4th with about a minute over the main pack with Crowie, Lieto and co. With the Minute lead there was no way I was going to let the pack catch me so I just put the power down and went hard. Once out on the Queen K I could see John Flannagan who led the swim out so tried to get past him as soon as possible and then I started the hunt for Andy Potts who I passed at about 35k. At that point it was quite surreal, I was leading the race! There was a huge convoy of vehicles, a helicopter and god knows how many people, it was for sure the best experience of my life! Words cannot really describe the next 60 or so Km; it was amazing as I just wore myself down at a fairly rapid rate. I got to the bike prime, had a little rest until I got to Kawaihae then tried to go again to stay at the front for as long as possible but it was to no avail, just before the hill to Hawi, Faris Al Sultan past me. Many people have asked me what he said to me as it showed our little conversation on the ESPN coverage. Basically he just said I had done an awesome job and it didn’t matter how my race went from the moment he passed me I had done amazingly well. It was a really nice gesture and Faris is such a nice guy, the sport is really lucky to have someone as good as him to act as a role model for us younger athletes. After that it was just a matter of survival, I was been cooked from the inside out! I managed to ride back into Kona with Andy Potts and then just got round the run. It was a matter of run and walking the marathon, it was so hot I felt if I really pushed it there could be the possibility I would end up collapsing and not finishing. The finish was amazing, running down Alii drive with all those people there, I wish I could re live it every day!
After Kona I had 5 days off, the trip back was pretty grim to be honest as I was utterly exhausted, and when I got home it wasn’t half freezing! Id have done anything to go back to Kona and just sit in Lava Java eating their fantastic Hawaiian pizza watching the waves roll in!
I did just one race between Hawaii and Clearwater, a West Yorkshire League Cross Country. These races breed proper men and it was a nice little, all be it muddy and windy, 9km blast. I felt good and it was the best I had run all year and gave me huge confidence for Clearwater.
So, Florida and back to some decent weather! I had a new bike to ride too, a Specialized Shiv. I would not normally ride a new bike I got only 4 days before the race but the guys at Specialized were so good ensuing I got the same set up I got on the previous TT bike it was a simple switch over, I mean the bike got a bit of getting used to but it felt good and Terenzo Bozzone, who also has a Shiv along with Chris McCormack, helped me set the bike up and make sure I was confident riding it as it is unlike any other bike out there at the moment.
The race was ok, I was 6th out the swim, missed the bike prime by about 10cm which I was extremely annoyed about but we got a bit of a gap which split things up in the last 30kms. There were points on the bike I was going hard on the front and there was just 50 guys sitting at 10m intervals behind me taking things easy, the drafting benefit when there are that many people there is amazing! The main mistake I made in my haste for a speedy transition was not to put on socks on for the run. Running in racing flats for a half marathon, my feet were just been crucified and I ended up jogging along in lots of pain, having to stop to try and make them more comfortable. In the end I just had to get to the end to be able to take off my shoes and peel off the skin that had been rubbed off, it was a minor disaster of a race but I tried to mix it up on the bike and learnt a lot that I can take into next year. Anyways, I have a few weeks off now to chill, get bored and eat lots of mince pies and cake, oh and do some work for my university degree, must not forget that, I wonder if I could submit this to get extra credit?! See you all on the road, exciting year for me next year for sure, in the end, its Hawaii or bust!
Images by (1) Phil Graves & (2) striatic