Melbourne Modus Operandi

Victoria, you’re beginning to age me. Sure, I get it, you’ve got great culture, food, sporting events and propensity for telling everyone about how much great culture, food and sporting events you have, but my god - sort out your weather! I ventured down to Challenge Melbourne on the weekend, my third race in Victoria over the last few months, following Challenge Shepparton (wind, rain, cold) and Geelong 70.3 (wind, rain, cold). To both my surprise and chagrin, St Kilda delivered wind, rain and cold. And a storm, featuring copious lightning, which if nothing else was a refreshingly dramatic addition to the usual meteorological trilogy.

Pic: The Missus

Pic: The Missus

Although not particularly pleasant, especially for a precious Queenslander such as myself, who has severe allergies to the cold, there’s definitely an upside to racing in such conditions. It takes a lot of the tactical elements out of the race, as the wind breaks up the bike so much you don’t have to worry about packs forming and getting advantages. Combined with Challenges indubitably popular decision to instigate a 20m-draft rule and the wild winds at St Kilda on Sunday morning, we could line up knowing that no-one was getting any free rides, and the strongest man was going to win (spoiler, turns out this wasn’t me…).

 

 

So, the race. I was keen to get off to a quick start in the water, and try to string out the swim as much as possible. The water had more chop than a Bruce Lee film, so I figured if I could get a gap early the swim could create some gaps. My intent reflected well in my start. Three steps in, I face planted, and spent the first 15 seconds of the race flapping around in the shallows, like a beached fish trying to flop back to deeper waters. Not ideal. I got around the first buoy in around 10th, and had to spend some bickies getting back up to the front. I’d swum myself back to the front by the next buoy, and led most of the way to back lead out of the water. Sam Appleton, Sam Betten and Casey Munro were close behind with a small gap to the World Champ Tim Reed.

 

Pic: VisionFTPhoto

Pic: VisionFTPhoto

Out on the bike, I continued my tradition of inventing new ways to jettison water bottles. For those playing how Will Wilson Lose His Bottle This Race at home, this time one bounced out as I was running my bike out of T2, losing about two thirds of my planned calories for the bike in the process, as I also missed the bottles at the aid stations. Possibly an issue that has to be addressed.

 

 

I felt really uncomfortable and out of sorts for the first 20km of the bike, and Appo was dropping some serious bombs, creating a gap which he set about exploiting like a commodity in a third world country. Reedy caught me after about 15kms, and Lachie Kieran caught us and dropped us like a bad habit soon after that. On the second of three laps, things got windy. Seriously windy. It’s an old joke, but bathroom in a bean factory windy. It was slicing us up like a sushi chef, and the gusts were making it seriously hard to stay on the road and upright. I stayed on my aerobars, but mostly because I didn’t want to change hand position to the drops mid-gust. Perhaps the distraction from my legs was just the tonic I needed, as by the last lap I was starting to feel mildly better and jumped off the bike with Reedy and Matt Burton, who had had his trademark blazing bike. After spending an amateurish amount of time in T2 trying to remove my helmet and get into my shoes with frozen fingers, we were about 2:45 down on Appo, with Lachie about a minute behind him.

 

Pic: Challenge

Pic: Challenge

I couldn’t feel my legs at this stage, so I figured I may as well cash in on the numbness, and have a crack at pulling some time back on Appo, so I pushed the pace pretty strongly for the first lap. After losing my bottle on the bike, I was in need of some carbs, so was trying to neck gels at every opportunity. I think I got through about 10 over the course of the run, possibly a new PB. I got to a fraction under a minute with around 4km left to run, but gel intake notwithstanding, I faded a bit on the second lap, and Appo as comfortable as a pug on a pillow up front and comfortably took the win around, with Reedy rounding out the podium. Unfortunately I lost my timing chip somewhere in Port Phillip bay, but my back-of-a-napkin maths had me just break 1:10 for the run by a matter of seconds, and was the fastest of the day.

 

 

After a sufficient period of time spent warming up, Tash and I caught Greg Fleet at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which I can recommend as a much more pleasurable way to entertain oneself in Melbourne, as opposed to exercising in lycra in a cyclone. From here, it’s back to Brissie, and back to work. My training has been a lot more consistent over the last month or so, with corresponding increases in form, so hopefully I can continue that trend into the next training block, I’ve got plenty of areas to work on to get better at this middle distance caper, so I’ll keep chipping away at the areas that need improving. Next up is Busselton 70.3 in a few weeks, and my first trip to WA, hoping it will be a good one!

 

Take care friends,

Willy

 

Pic: Challenge

Pic: Challenge

Geelong Cobwebs

It’d been over a decade since the last time I’d been to Geelong. My last visit was in 2007, also for lycra related activities (triathlon, I should stress, just in case anyone gets the wrong idea…).  Those were back in the ITU days, and whilst things would be a bit different racing a 70.3 race around Geelong, I’d always liked the place and was keen for another race in G-town. I was wondering if they’d found a different bike course from the 2km hot-dog loop up and down the hill we used to race on, otherwise the race could be very interesting indeed…

 

Flying down to the race, to be honest, I didn’t have a great deal of confidence. Last season I raced later in the year than I ever have before, which meant I’d never raced with this short of a prep before, and whilst the training had been going ok, there was certainly nothing to really indicate that I was race ready. My swim seemed to be ok, but my bike form had been yet to kick in, and I’d had a few little niggles get in the way of consistent running, so I had about as much faith as an agnostic atheist listing to some gospels. 

Nevertheless, when you put on a race suit, throw on a start number, all you want to do is swing hard for the win, and once the gun went off, that was all I was chasing. Josh Amberger took a big swing at the rest of the field in the swim, and gapped us from woe to go to lead out on to terrestrial turf. After a bit of aquatic apathy at the start, I navigated my way to be at or near the front of the chase pack for the swim, coming out 3rd behind Jake Montgomery who led our pack for most of the second half of the swim, and limited Burger’s bludgeoning to 15 seconds or so out of the water.

 

Out on to the bike, and after an embarrassingly slow transition for a guy who was an ITU athlete only a few months ago, I had a little bit of work to do to catch Burger, who had been joined by Monty and Sam Appleton quickly out of T1. I buried myself over the first 15km to try to get across, and they dangled a handful of seconds up the road, like a donut dangled tantalisingly out of reach of a fat child. Alas for me, Burger was laying down the hammer like a psychotic blacksmith, and I was well rinsed and breathing through my ears, so I didn’t make the bridge, and thus set about trying to limit the damage with Clayton Fettell and some others for the rest of the bike. For those playing at home, yes, I dropped my aero water bottle at around the 30km mark, which is worryingly becoming my trademark. The damage-control efforts didn’t go particularly well, as the boys up front had laid some serious smack down, we got off the bike around 2:30 back on Monty, and a further 4:50 down on Appo and Burger. 

I pushed out pretty hard on the run to give myself a chance of catching either of the front two boys if they happened to crack a bit, but the lads were really strong all day over all three disciplines, and certainly deserved to fill the top spots. I managed to reel in Monty, to finish the day in 3rd with the fastest run, around 2 minutes behind Appo, with Burger not too far behind him. Shout out to the boys in front for being a class above all day, and Monty for holding strong for 5th after a long period out following his crash last year.

 

From here, it’s back into training for a while to plug some of the holes in my game, another solid 6 weeks of training before Challenge Melbourne gives me a good chance to string some form together.

 

Take care friends,

Willy

Rock-tober

Welcome back friends, it’s been a while between blogs, and things have indeed been busy. Busier than a wall-builder on the Mexico/USA border it could be said. This entry will be a bit of a longy, so if your not a fan of long form prose, read the headlines, maybe check out my Instagram, you’ll get the general idea. Otherwise, I’m going to be dropping words like they are Indian rupee.

So what’s been going on since I last checked in, still cooling down from a very sweaty Cozumel? Lets start with the biggie.

The Rock 

I’m engaged. It happened a few weeks after I got back, the culmination of several months of rock-education, rock-design and rock-decision making, which was quite a journey, given my glaring lack of prior knowledge and experience in such areas (i.e. none). If diamond rings were perhaps conventional in a different form of carbon, perhaps my preceding vocation may have lent me more assistance. Anyway, I’m a jewellery expert now.

So, the happiest day of my life came after the most nervous morning/afternoon of my life getting ready to drop the biggest surprise of Tash’s life when she got home from work to a cavalcade of flowers, fairy lights, fire pits, champagne, and very nervous looking Wilson. Whom, incidentally, had only recently recovered from the sickening shock of believing he had dropped her ring down a drain hole. Luckily, it had bounced behind some pot plants instead, preventing a instant suicide attempt.

Drain hole faux pas notwithstanding, we’re both over the moon and going through the exciting stages of planning weddings and honeymoons. Let me know if you have any catering ideas…

The Uni

For those who have been paying close attention, I’ve been completing my Honours Psychology degree over the past few years, and the Thursday before Noosa, I handed in 133 pages of blood, sweat, tears and hopefully semi-coherent academic writing detailing my investigations into personality, mindfulness and disordered eating. Thus, I drove to Noosa with my shoulders feeling several kilos lighter, and ready to think about anything apart from the aforementioned investigations.

In an argument against my own sanity, I also applied for and have been accepted into the Clinical PHD in Clinical Psychology at Griffith University, which I’ll start next year.  It’s another 4 years of hard graft, but you should feel free to refer to me as Doc Wilson in the meantime, despite my undeniably unqualified credentials.

The Racing

Finally, onto the racing, ostensibly the reason you clicked your way to this site to begin with.  After a long year of building form, things finally started to click since I returned to Australia. This time last year, I’d had swine flu, Achilles surgery, a broken arm and a stress fracture, and was about as pessimistic about my triathlon career as a Noah was about El Nino. In flagrant display of stubbornness, persisted with triathlon as a career, despite many moments of doubt, and the results at the end of the year have been satisfying as reward for pushing through.

Noosa – 1st

The jewel in the crown of Australian Triathlon, and the biggest triathlon in the world. I got off to a good start in the water, but was quickly passed three quarters of the way to the first buoy by Josh Amberger, who was crushing spirits and destroying dreams with his aquatic velocity. Feeling that this was a decisive moment in the race, I sat flush on his feet, threw the windmills over as hard as I could, and prayed the pain would stop at some stage. I dangled like a suckerfish for the rest of the swim, and until about the 1000m mark, I felt like at any second I could be shown the exit if I missed the draft for a stroke or two. After that, Burger finally relented a fraction, finally allowing me to uncross my eyes and stop trying to expel lactic acid through my ears. The damage to the rest of the field was done. We exited the drink with around 45 seconds to some quick runners behind, including Jake Birtwhistle and Ryan Fisher. 

On to the bike, and we got down to business, with myself and Burger putting our heads down and stomped some serious pedal, riding an honest, flat-out bike which had us clock the 40kms in under 54mins, giving us a about 1:20 gap to a large pack behind us. I took the run out fairly conservatively, and was prepared to give away a fair chunk of the lead to the boys behind over the first 5kms, but was hoping to be able to back-end the run strongly. As it eventuated, that was exactly what happened, making me look like a tactical genius post-race.  Jake took around 40-45 seconds out of me over the first 4.5 kms, but then I managed to hold him back over the last half to win by around 20 seconds. Pretty pumped to win Noosa, it’s been a race I’ve grown up watching, so to add my name to the honour list was exciting. Tip of the cap to Burgerman, who probably deserved better than 8th for a no-holds-barred blugeonfest of a race. 

 

Challenge Shepparton – 1st

With an awkward 2-week turn-around to my first half-distance race of my post-ITU career, I endured the ‘no-mans-land’ of training enough to maintain fitness, but no so much that I didn’t recover for Shepp. The sort of 75% training that I hate, I’m much more of a 100% or nothing kinda guy. 

Anyway, I rolled into Shepp wary of the heat that everyone had been kind enough to warn me about. Victoria can be a right bastard at times. Thus, race day presented us with 10 degrees, howling winds, and drizzling rain. Ah yes, the 'heat'. However, the conditions were the same for everyone, and there was nothing left to do, but rip off the $20 tracksuit pants I bought from Coles the night before, and get down to business. I took the swim out pretty solidly, and swapped turns in the Shepparton Lake with Sam Betten, and we had a gap of a bit over a minute by the time we got out onto the bike. Once on two wheels, things got tough. First, there was a howling crosswind for every meter of the bike. Second; the crosswinds. It warrants two points. It was seriously mental. To use a Wilson Classic, it was windier than an elevator in a baked bean factory. So much so that I thought I was going to crash every time I took my hand off the bars to drink or eat. Third, I dropped one of my bottles when I went to take my first sip. On the positive side, it eliminated some of my aforementioned drinking problems in the wind. On the negative side, I missed around 50 grams of carbs and caffeine, throwing my nutrition plans out the window, and also startling some soon-to-be-coke-soaked spectators. My apologies to them. Last, and decidedly most embarrassingly, I popped a zipper on my race suit, exposing a great deal more chest than was strictly necessary, and compromising both my aesthetics and aerodynamics in the process. 

The nature of the winds meant there was no real tactic but to put your head down and push as many watts as you could. Which I did. Uber-biker Lackie Keiran caught me at around 40kms, and I had to lift my game to match him for the rest of the bike, and we were also both caught by uber-uber-biker Matt Burton, who rode the course like the crosswinds didn’t exist. Maniac.

Out on to the run, and my legs felt ok, my chest felt cold, and some carbs at the aid stations were much appreciated. I got through the run to take the win, with Matt and Lachie rounding out the podium.  

 

Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney - 1st

It was a long 2 weeks between Shepp and Western Sydney. Tired legs, heavy arms and monumentally sore calves. If it wasn't for the lure of visiting the home of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Australia, I would have thought about pulling the pin. However, pulled by the lure of half a dozen original glazed, I pushed on. 

On to race day, and a good breakfast, a hit of caffeine, and the reminder of delectable glazing had the motivation high for one last all out effort for the season. The swim went well, I was looking to try to push the pace and create a gap early. I led for most of the way, and exited with Ryan Fisher on my feet, and Todd Skipworth just behind. The conditions on the bike, comparative to Shepp, were magnificent. I was keen to keep the pressure on the bike and gain a bit of distance from the group behind, and so along with Fish, I pushed the pace as high as I could manage on the bike, and we arrived to T2 with just over 2 mins advantage to the group behind. 

Out on to the run, and I didn't want a tactical run with Fish, he has a kick on him like a mule when he sees the finishing line, so I didn't fancy my chances in that sort of scenario. Quietly ignoring the voice of reason advising against surging 3kms into the 21.1km, I laid down my best pace just before the 3km mark, and strung together a few back to back kms in the 3:10-15 mark to create a bit of a gap on Fish. From there, it was all or nothing, so I kept the pace going as best I could from there. At the 14km mark, it got tough, hot, and my legs felt as empty as the middle of a Krispy Kreme. Fortunately, I had enough of a gap to grovel out the win from Fish, to finish off a very satisfying block of racing to finish the year, and a good start to my half-distance career.

From here, I'm boarding a plane to Thailand in a few hours with my beautiful fiance, for some much needed R and R!

That's it for me for the season, thanks to all my supporters for their help. Until next year!

Willy

 

Cozumel Crescendo

It was all the way back in 2004 when I pulled on a green and gold race suit for the first time. It was ill-fitting, I had to get the parent of a another athlete on the team to run some stiches underneath the arms to it would fit me properly. It was in Maderia, Portugal, my first Australian team on the junior squad. I was a bit disappointed with my 10th, as I’d wanted to challenge for the podium. I swapped the suit with a competitor from another country after the race. Kind of wish I didn’t now. I’ve probably had at least 50 race suits over the years, but that one would have been nice to keep.


On the weekend in Cozumel, I received my last ITU green and gold suit. I think I’ll hang on to this one. I’d decided for a while that this year would be my last year racing on the ITU circuit. Having gone through the injury patches over the last few years, which have been rehashed ad nauseam on this blog from time to time, it gave me great satisfaction to be able to finish on my own terms and take the opportunity to savour my last outing for the ITU elite team that I’ve been part of for so long. I got an overwhelming amount of messages both leading up to, and after the race. As someone who in the past has always set quite high standards for myself, I’d always look ahead to my next goal, wanting and expecting more things from myself, I guess there’s been times I’ve been quite dismissive my achievements and representations over the years. To get so many nice words really meant a lot and will make me reflect back with more pride. 

From here, I won’t be toeing too many more ITU pontoons, instead I’ll be sticking my nose into the wind a little more, and seeing how my game transfers to the non-drafting circuit. I’ll keep you posted on those developments later, but in the meantime, just how did Cozumel pan out?

It was hot. Hotter than a Porsche in Inala. If you don’t know the suburb of Inala, rest assured, that means it was more than hot enough for Snoop Dog to drop it. It was hot, but what made it brutal was the humidity. I’m used to pretty hot and humid conditions in Brisbane, but things were next level in Cozumel. It was a rude shock to arrive from the icy conditions of Edmonton, only to be punched in the face with all the heat of a fistful of Mexican habaneros. 

 

Additionally, amid some mild peer pressure from the team, I took the opportunity to try to appease the Mexican gods of weather by paying homage to the host country by sporting an outrageous, filthy Mexican handlebar moe for the race. Whilst it did little to quell the meteorological conditions, it did garner me some additional support from the locals, with one band of spectators yelling out ‘el moustachio!!!’ every lap. The aerodynamics tested very well, the aesthetics… not so much…

I swam ok, despite losing my cap at about the 200m mark and spending the rest of the swim cursing my lack of haircuts over the last few months. I was out at the front of the second chase pack, and I felt pretty good on the bike, although there was a distinct lack of willing punters willing to chew the stem. Or even remotely nibble at the stem for that matter. Consequently, we rolled into T2 with a decent deficit to the 9-man group up front. With the conditions still oppressive, it was a blood bath out there for everyone. My run was ok, everyone seemed to be in survival mode, in what easily the hottest race I’ve ever done, see the Brownlee’s antics as Exhibit A. 

I finished up 22nd, not my best race ever, but definitely a race I will remember fondly. It was very satisfying to have finished my ITU career on my terms, and I really relished my last race with all my friends from the ITU world. Thanks to all who made my journey in that domain special. 

From here, my next race will be on the hallowed turf at Noosa. Meanwhile, I’m on a plane back to Brisbane, and I’ve got a TT bike to jump on, a thesis to write, and most importantly of all, a beautiful girlfriend to see! Can’t wait!

Take care friends, 

Willy

Pics: Delly Carr

Frostbitten Pain

I’ve always held the firm belief that if the ambient temperature is suitable for storing most types of dairy, it’s not the kind of weather you should race in. Edmonton had me going against my ingrained beliefs like a One Nation voter enjoying some Vietnamese cuisine. It was cold. Bloody cold. Having exited France for the last time in the final, drawn-out throes of a broiling summer, it was a rude shock. Alberta dealt us gloomy skies and a cruel wind that ripped through you like a dagger, chewed up every ounce of warmth deep inside, and then spat it out in your face and made you eat the icy remnants of what was once your soul, while it watched with disdain, taking a contemptuous drag on an icy cigarette. It was quite a wind. Anyhow, my tactic of whinging every time we stepped outside did little to alter meteorological outcomes, so I was forced shut up and get on with it.

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Truth be told, the water in the race wasn’t too bad, I did a dry land warm-up, so hadn’t gotten too cold before the start, and as with any WTS race, the pace was that frenetic during the swim I had little time for the cold to concern me. I was out pretty clean to the first buoy, and sat pretty well for most of the swim to come out in 9th, and with a good transition was in the main group, just behind Brownlee, Varga and Royle who dangled off the front for most of the ride. The ride was pretty uneventful, the wide roads and lack of turns made it one of the easier WTS races in recent years, and we ticked off the kilometres pretty quickly. However, the aforementioned cruel wind was still blowing, I was definitely starting to feel the cold. Unfortunately, it took its toll by the end of the bike, and despite jumping off in 3rd, I lost about 10-15 seconds in T2, with my fingers about as dexterous as an oven mitt, I couldn’t get my shoes on for love nor money. Once out on the course, I was quite pleased with my run, and moved through the field for 21st place, and clearly my best run of the year. The race was tighter than Warwick Capper’s shorts, and my slow T2 ended up costing me a lot, as you can see by the picture below – I’m the failing figure in the background while Pierre is crossing in 12th. However, the rest of the race was good, so was pretty happy with that!

From here, we move to a warmer abode, I’m on a plane to Mexico as I type, and will spend the next 2 weeks in Cozumel leading up to the Grand Final. My form has been continually improving all season with more and more running under my belt, so hopefully can finish with a bang at the Grand Final!

Take care friends,

Willy. 

 

Pictures: Trimes


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L'alpe, London and Liverpool's Lament

With a solid 6 weeks between Hamburg and Edmonton WTS, I had been keeping a beady eye out for some racing to kill some time, keep me sharp, and hopefully earn a few sheckles along the way. Cue three races in three (and a bit) weeks, the uber-cool Alpe d’Huez tri, the uber-big London tri, and the uber-fun Liverpool tri.

 

Alpe d’Huez

 

First, to Alpe d’Huez. Nought but a short van trip from Aix, the Alpe d’Huez is undoubtedly a bucket list race for anyone that can get themselves to it. Highly recommended. The swim starts out with 1.1km in the frigid waters of the Lac du Verney, followed by 16kms of flat before you hit the Alpe, and then there’s more elevation than a U2 concert until you reach the top of the Alpe 14kms alter. From there, your legs are buckled and lungs are gasping as the run goes around the ski trail at altitude up to 2200m for the final 7kms. Given the amount I’d been waxing lyrical to a banter-wearied training squad about my win there in 2012, I was well aware I wouldn’t be able to show my face at training again with anything less than a win this time round.

 

Under that extreme pressure, I pushed the swim as much as I could to lead out, knowing that Andy Bocherer was in the field fresh from stoushing with Keinle in Ironman Frankfurt, I tried to get hustling from the start. Onto the bike, and it was a game of managing wattage, I rode just under threshold until the Alpe, then sat on threshold up the mountain, and hoped that would be enough to extend my lead. I had over 2 mins by the time I got to T2, and grovelled my way around the gravel to grab the win by just under 4 mins in the end, and more importantly, saved face by backing up my pre-race smack talk by arriving back in Aix with some hardware…

 

London

 

London Triathlon, the biggest triathlon in the world, yet one that I’d never managed to squeeze into my schedule. With a gap in this years calendar, I pulled the trigger without hesitation, and booked a ticket to the ole dart. What was supposed to be a quick easy trip over from Aix les Bains on the Saturday morning turned out to be anything but, with a 3hr delay in Geneva, and then some overenthusiastic questioning by a border security guard in London for the best part of an hour, meant it took us the best part of a day to make what should have been a super quick trip. Anyway, I was there!

 

On to the race, and the started out pretty well, and despite their being more chop than a Bruce Lee film, I managed to move my way into the lead after the first few hundred meters and lead the swim into T2. Out onto the bike and we formed a group of 7 and we set about trying to extend the gap. With training mates Kenji Nener and Matt Robert, it was like swapping turns on a Saturday morning in Aix, with a few bonus Brit’s thrown in for good measure. We worked reasonably well together for the 40kms in gusty conditions, and had about 45 seconds by the time we hit T2. 

 

Out on to the run, and I put together a decent 10km in what was another step forward in my running progression for the year. David Bishop was definitely too quick for me, and took the win, I was good enough for 2nd , and it was great to share the podium with Matt Roberts in 3rd , who continues to develop as an athlete in an impressive fashion. Watch this space.  

 

From there, I spent the week with the guys from Zone 3, doing a bit of filming and training with Ironman Big Dog Joe Skipper. Had a blast training in Guildford, despite some navigational issues extending out some of my rides beyond the intended duration. Big shout out to the guys from Zone 3 for putting me up for the week and showing me around, had a great time!

 

Liverpool

 

Following a mammoth 7 hr van trip fighting the London traffic with Gareth and Jake from Zone 3, it was nice to arrive in Liverpool, and finally gave me a chance to try out the Northern accent I’ve been trying to perfect over the last decade in its natural environment. First appraisal from a local – “Bloody ‘orrible”. More practice required then.

 

It was a strong field for the British Champs, featuring the Bishop brothers, Adam Bowden, Aaron Harris and a host of young talented Brits for their junior worlds selection race. I had another good swim, sneaking away solo on the right hand side from the start, whilst the rest of the field battled among themselves on the left. I led out onto the bike and for the first 5km rode solo, but the front group of around 12 behind me were working like a well-oiled machine and caught me after the first lap. From there, I had a few digs to try and break up the pack a bit, but there wasn’t too much going on, so we entered T2 as a group with around a minute to the main pack behind.

 

Onto the run, and Bowden showed everyone a clean pair of heels to take what looked like an easy win. My escape sticks were good enough for 4th behind Tom Bishop and Ben Dykstra. Another step forward in my running for this year, slowly but surely getting quicker each race, so hoping to continue the progression forward!

 

From here, I’m currently en route back to France courtesy of the spacious aeronautical carriage provided by EasyJet. I’ll spend the next 2 weeks in Aix before departing Europe bound for Canada, to race the Edmonton WTS. On that note, my next race after Edmonton will be the Cozumel Grand Final, I’ve been picked in the Elite team for my 6th senior team, which given the last 12 months worth of ups and (mostly) downs, I’m pretty happy about.

 

Take care friends,

Willy

Hamburg Heists

For the 9th time, I trod the road to the North to ostensibly everyone’s favourite stop on the ITU circus – Hamburg. Home of fanatical fans, frenetic racing and pretzels. Mmmm, pretzels. The trip from Aix was relatively straightforward, save for the elderly Swiss lady inexplicably gifting me a banana whilst I was minding my own business in wait at Geneva airport. It came adorned with a bouquet of napkins and a torrent of uninterpretable French, presented reverently with two hands and a smile. I figured she was either a benevolent Swiss with a full stomach, or an organ thief with a well practiced routine. Weighing up both my options and my hunger, I ate the banana. Thankfully, my future did not involve waking up in an ice bath minus a kidney.

 

Arriving in Hamburg and rooming with long-time collaborator Ryan Fisher meant the banter was flowing faster than the lager during Octoberfest. On to the race, and in typical Hamburg fashion, it was over in a flash of lactic, speed and rabid crowds. The rain belted down, yet the crowd was still as abundant and vociferous as ever, emphasizing the Germans love for triathlon, which I’m yet to find an equal to around the world.  My swim was a little lacklustre, and I found myself in the chase pack on the bike. Around 10km into the bike, and the rain started to come down, and the roads turned as slippery as a jelly-wrestling eel. Consequently, the carnage started, with riders dropping like a teenager’s pants when the “Eagle Rock” starts playing at a partly. I navigated to T2 without tasting bitumen, and donned the running shoes. With another 2 weeks of running under my belt since Stockholm, I got around the run in an improved fashion, with a marked enrichment of my aesthetics, and both qualitative and quantitative appraisals. Still a bit of work to do, but it’s starting to feel like running again, rather than surviving, as the previous races have been. Finished up in 43rd, but trending quicker on the run...

 

From here, Project Run continues. Next major race is Edmonton WTS, before which I’ve given myself roving commission to find some training races to keep me interested until then. Stay tuned for what those are – it’s somewhat of a floating calendar at the moment!

 

Take care friends,

Willy

Scandinavian Hell Hole

As alluded to in the previous post, it’s been a long time coming, but the time has finally come where I’m healthy enough stage to don a race suit in anger. Kicking things off with a French GP in Valence with a solid 36 hrs of recovery time from the long haul flight from Brisbane isn’t something you’ll find in any triathlon textbook (should such things exist), but surprisingly enough, jet lag didn’t seem to hit me too badly. Presumably my body knew how raw my running form was, and figured I had enough problems to deal without adding jet-lag to what looked like was going to be an already foul-tasting potion.

 

Pulling on Mulhouse colours for the first time, I managed to get round Valence in one piece, and in the process managed to blow out enough cobwebs to make Indiana Jones squirm. My swim and bike was decent and in the main pack, and in my first run at full effort, it was reinforced to me just how many steps one takes when running 5km. I felt every single one of them – and each required a prodigious amount of effort.

 

By the time a volunteer had removed my timing chip, my calves were experiencing ROMS (Rapid Onset Muscle Soreness), which progressed that night to MOMS (Moderate Onset Muscle Soreness) before settling finally on DOMS (Delayed onset Muscle Soreness) where they remain, albeit to a lesser extent, to this day.

I spent the next two weeks dividing my time between reacquainting myself with Aix les Bains, furiously trying to repair calf soreness, and causing untold amounts of hilarity with my attempts to walk down stairs whilst the aforementioned repair took place. 

 

Then, it was time to voyage North, to Scandinavian waters, to the cobbles and corners of Stockholm. The Norse Gods must have taken kindly to me, perhaps owing to a decent amount of esoteric Swedish music in my library, and granted me the gift of starting next to Raoul Shaw on pontoon. Raul owns arguably some of the finest set of swimming arms ever to pull on a trisuit, and well cognisant of his aquatic exploits when we raced together for St Raphael a few years ago, I knew his feet could be my ticket to the first buoy. As so rarely happens in triathlon, everything went to plan. I took the Shaw Express to the first buoy, and sat in third position for the pretty much the whole swim, before making the terrestrial transition in 5th, and had the rare privilege of exiting a WTS swim without having had my head beaten in along the way. 

 

Onto the bike, and in between the cobbles and corners (upwards of 160 over the 40kms?) it was just as easy (more accurately, just as hard) to be at the front, so I spent most of the time chopping turns with the typically loquacious Brownlee’s and some others in our small group of around 12. It was a relatively trouble free bike, save for dropping my chain over one of the more severe cobbled sections. At this point, Raoul, not content with assisting me out to the first buoy, gave me a push whilst I replaced the chain, before politely suggesting I turn left rather than smashing into the rapidly approaching barriers. 

 

The run was pretty tough. My form resembled a man who has only run as long as 10km once in the past 12 months. Given I happen to be a man that has only run as long as 10km once in the last 12 months, this was somewhat anticipated. Thus, for the run leg I was forced to act like a transgender cemetery worker, and dig in my heels. I crossed for 32nd, which I was happy with in my return to the top level of racing. Well pleased with my swim/bike execution, and the run is just where it’s at right now – plenty of scope for improvement with more training. 

 

Possibly one of the highlights of the trip was Jake and I talking to a gregarious spectator post race, undoubtable under the influence of a range of various substances. He greeted us by inquiring if the Crown would be happy with our performance, before insulting us, discussing the Commonwealth, then befriending us and admitting how tough we were and how proud he was that no-one in the field “bitched out about how hard it was and stopped and cried”. Lastly he admitted that despite having cycled a bit himself, he doubted that he could have kept up with “those British boys”. Indeed. Following this, he proudly showed us his ID, a Hawaiian drivers license, the picture in which he neither resembled, nor admitted to being the original owner of. At this stage he expressed his jealousy that we were to shortly leave this ”Scandinavian hell hole” at which stage Jake and I chose to parts ways with the gentlemen, as he continued to eloquently and enthusiastically express his thoughts on Stockholm and Sweden in general. Fascinating. 

 

From here I’ve got 2 weeks until Hamburg WTS, which will be another furious attempt at recovering from the ROMS, MOMS, and DOMS, and hopefully some good training sessions to take a few steps forward in the my running progression. 

 

Take care friends, 

Willy