Following on from last months update where the big news was a return to Brett Sutton’s coaching and all the changes that are associated with that, this month the journey back to the future continues, and the momentum is building into what I am sure is going be a great season.
I am currently in St. Moritz in Switzerland training under the very watchful eyes of Brett and his team of coaches. While we have made some small adjustments here and there, mostly it is a case of putting in the work to build to a level where I can be competitive in any event I choose to toe-the-line at. And we are well on our way to that goal!
The first test of the new training and new focus was on 7 May at the MiWay SunCity Ultra Tri in Sun City, South Africa. The race really could not have gone better. Despite forgetting my pedals at home, a borrowed pair saw me through what was a very positive day out for me. I comfortably swam with the leaders, held great power numbers on the bike to put 7mins into my competition, and continued the effort throughout the tough run course to add another 7mins to my lead by the finish-line. Whilst the field was local and didn’t push me, I took a lot of confidence from the controlled way the day unfolded and it was the first confirmation that some small changes by the new coach could see big dividends.
After a few more weeks in SA I was off to Europe for some more events and camp in St. Moritz. En route I stopped at Salou in Spain for Challenge Salou, which was also meant to be a test event, but proved more testing that anticipated! I came down with a kidney/bladder infection a week out from the race and spent 3 days in bed. I completed a course of antibiotics on the Thursday and flew that evening, only arriving in Salou near midnight on Friday, with the race on Sunday morning. Less-than-ideal preparation. Despite that I finished a credible 3rd, after a pretty bad swim, a good bike and a solid run. While I think a win would have been likely with an even marginally better lead-up to the event, given the situation I have to be happy with a podium. And the effort in the body and legs set me up nicely for a start to camp in St. Moritz.
I have been in St. Moritz for 10 days now and have adapted well to the elevation (1822m) and the training here. It is tough being away from Jodie (she is in UK sorting out visas and visiting family before she is no longer allowed to travel), but the sacrifices will pay off I am sure.
Ironman European Championships
With the last two months of good training it was time to look ahead and make some decisions with regards to the direction of the season. After much deliberation, we have decided to give Ironman European Champs in Frankfurt a go on 9 July. I have not raced in Frankfurt before, but have been there supporting Jodie and I think the race will suit me. Of course, it means going up against a tough field of the worlds best in the biggest race in Europe, but in another month I am sure I’ll be ready to give them a run for their money.
Before that, this coming weekend on 11 June, I will head not too far down the road to Rapperswil-Jona for Ironman 70.3 Switzerland. Also with a strong field, this will be another test of both the training and racing strategies as we prepare for the first big one in July. I’m looking forward to this race more than I have for any race for a while.
The result at Ironman Frankfurt will of course decide the direction of the rest of the season takes. A top-5 finish there will see me qualified for Ironman World Champs 2017 and thereafter all work will lead to the big dance in October.
However nothing is yet decided beyond Ironman Frankfurt (except a trip home to see the 20-week scan of our little baby growing inside Jodie!). Brett and I are looking at a bigger-picture goal for Ironman World Champs at this point in my career, where we aim not just to ‘do well’ but to do the absolute best I am capable of. The reality is being prepared for that goal may take longer than the 4 months we have in the lead-up to Kona 2017. The aim is to swim and bike with the best, and then run a sub-2:40 marathon in the Kona heat. That goal may only be possible in 2018, and if foregoing Kona 2017 gets us closer to this then we may take that route - pursue early qualification for Kona 2018, and spend an entire year focusing on Kona 2018, without the distraction and pressure of a qualification points chase. This plan worked well in 2013, where I missed Kona 2012 but finished 4th in Ironman World Champs 2013. However, I personally think I am not very far from that goal already - something I aim to prove at Ironman Frankfurt.
The journey to my goal has begun in earnest and while we don’t yet know the time-frame or eventual outcome of this journey, the goal and the path to get there have never been clearer!
Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey - without your continued support it would not be possible.