Auckland 70.3 Race Report - January 2015

Auckland was the first race of 2015, and the second for the season following Sydney in December last year where I placed 4th. It was an important early season race, with it being the Asian Pacific Championships, and good points up for grabs to kick-start the World Championship Qualification Period. Auckland had a solid start list of athletes with a mix of previous World, Full and Half Ironman Champions.

 

Over the festive season I have been training hard, and was looking forward to traveling over the ditch to improve on last years disappointing result. My goal for the race was to build on the success I had last year at the 70.3 distance. I wanted to put together a solid day and draw a line in the sand in terms of where I am at. Setting myself up for qualification at the World Championships in September.

 

Auckland does a fantastic job of putting on a great race with fantastic crowd support. I felt very relaxed before the race, despite having two flats that morning. I had a good swim warm-up and felt like I was ready to go. There were a few good swimmers in the field including Dylan McNiece and Joey Lampe, I wanted to exit the water with them.

 

I had a great start and settled into third position behind Joey and felt comfortable. The field was strung out early, and I was surprised how quickly this happened being a wetsuit and salt-water swim. About half way through the swim, Joey started to drop his feet. I went around him and sat behind Dylan, keeping pace with him. At the next turning buoy I saw we had a nice sized gap between us and the next pack, which was looking spread out. This was great for Dylan and I. We exited the swim together, both in Blueseventy wetsuits, and got to our bikes.

 

Upon entering transition, I was relieved to see that my tyre was still inflated. I had a quick transition, and jumped onto the bike first. Feet were in and I hit the start of the technical section fast. I knew the pack would be chasing hard, trying to close the gap that Dylan and I made in the swim. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t caught out on the bridge. Dylan was just behind me and we had a good sized gap between us and the chase group.

 

Though the chase group was filled with World Class athletes who eventually caught us around twenty minutes into the ride. The first half of the bike course was quite hard with undulating hills which caused lots of changes of pace amongst the pack. I decided to sit further off the back of the group, so I didn’t end up getting caught out in the draft zone.

 

We made it back into town and hit the two lap flat part of the course. This section is fast, with great support from the crows along the sides of the road cheering us on. The pack was still surging a lot, and I stayed off the back. I didn’t have the legs to attack, so stayed where I knew that I was not in any draft zones. I cramped a little towards the end of the first lap, and got some nutrition in for the second lap.

 

Mark Bowstead was first off the bike, and had formed a decent 90-second gap in front of the 11 man group. We came into transition together, and I did a great job of messing up my change over for the run. I lost time in transition so had to settle into my run, and tried to close the gap. My legs felt a little sluggish, and I knew it was a long way so just tried to settle into a pace and build on it over the next 21km. I managed to pick off a few athletes, catching Dylan McNiece and Clark Ellice. They stuck with me, and we were all pushing each other along, trying to catch the guys in front.

 

It felt good to set the pace, right up until around the 14km mark. I went from running tall, to feeling like I was sitting. My pace had slowed down, and Dylan overtook me, which helped with keeping the pace. Though I eventually couldn’t go with him. I was running around 1:14 pace, I think I just didn’t have the fitness to hold that pace to the end. I ended up pushing through with dead legs, and ran a 1:18.

 

I finished the day in 9th place and am pretty happy with the result for this early in the season. With a long year of racing ahead, this is just the start. I am in a much better position than I was in this time last year with points. Now to put my head down, and get in some more hard work before Geelong 70.3 on the 3rd of February. After that race I head back to the USA to get some work done with my new bike company. Stay tuned.

Boulder Peak 70.3 Race Report - 24/07/2014

 

I have just had a great week with the arrival of my parents and the Boulder Peak Triathlon. I placed second last year and I really wanted to get a great result in front of my parents.  The course changed a little due to road damage from the flooding last year so we didn’t have the Classic Peak of old stage road. The organizers still did a great job of making the bike course challenging. I had a week off following my three sequential 70.3 races and had only been back in training for a week in the lead-up to this race. I was nervous, as I knew that it would either be a fantastic day and that I would feel unbelievably good or that I would feel like I’m pushing through concrete all day long. Ben and I talked a lot in the week to make sure I wasn’t digging myself a hole so I could have a good hit out in the race.

 

With any race in Boulder, it’s a given that you will have a few of the world’s best lining up. One of my pre-race favorites, Greg Bennett, raced on Saturday in Minneapolis and unfortunately had to pull out of the Sunday race. He is a legend of the sport and I always love racing him even if it means getting my arse kicked. For the first time in the US, I had the honor of having number 1 for race day - I always try and beat my number so the pressure was on.

 

It was a beautiful morning and we started a bit later in the day so I knew it was going to suit me with the heat starting to kick in. I had a good swim start and quickly settled into fourth place. There were a few athletes on my feet so I started to drop off the front guys to open a gap; I could then accelerate across to hopefully get rid of a few. By the time we headed home the tail end was smaller and I moved up to third spot. I was feeling good and I thought about picking the pace up but decided to stick to my race plan and save it for the start of the bike.

 

The first 10 km of the bike is a slight climb and can demoralize anybody slightly unprepared.   I used what Joe Gambles has used to great success and hit the start of the bike hard. I managed to gap everyone straight away except Matt Chrabot who seemed to have the same race plan. As we crested the top of the first hill he opened a gap on me and I was sucking in some air to recover from the effort.

 

I train on most of the roads that made up the course so I knew each hill and what the winds could be doing.  It is nice to have the advantage of knowing every aspect of the course and where I could subtlely make up time. I had a couple updates along the way so I knew that, coming into transition, Matt had about 1 minute on me and I had about a minute or two back to third place. The run course is surprisingly hard with three laps up and over a small rise – by the last lap it feels like a mountain! The sun really beats you up on the black top and it can be a suffer-fest. I ran out hard and wanted to try and close the gap to Matt which I knew would be a big call. At the first turn I managed to see that I had a good size gap to Kevin Collington, who is a known fast runner, and my housemate, Mark Bowstead.   I managed to run strong all the way to the end and hold the gap to Kevin and I was also happy to see Mark hold onto 4th position.

 

I was pleasantly surprised that I felt good on the day and was even more excited to come away with another second place. I now go into a big training block for my main focus races for the year: HyVee on the 31 August and 70.3 World Championships the following weekend.  After the week off, my body recovered well and my mind is fresh and ready for the final push to get in the best shape possible. I have had a great year so far but I still have some goals that yet to achieve…

 

Thank you to everyone for the amazing support on and off the course. 

 

Regards,

Jimmy

 

Syracuse 70.3 Race Report - 27/06/2014

 

I made it!! I have just finished off my three 70.3 races on back-to-back weekends. All in all it has been a great few weeks with my final race last Sunday in Syracuse. My body definitely feels ready for an easy week! I loved the challenges thrown my way racing over consecutive weekends and I am really happy with how I raced in each race. I have learnt a lot and feel like I have really gained some valuable race experience and overall strength. The plan from here is to recover well, physically and mentally, this week before ramping up the training leading into the Hy-Vee Championships and the 70.3 World Championships.

 

The swim in Syracuse was held in a beautiful calm lake. We were greeted on race morning with great weather and tough, undulating yet stunning course ahead of us. The swim started well and heading out to the first turning buoy I was sitting third in the group, although there was quite a large group of us still together. Not wanting a repeat of last week with such a big group together out of the water I decided to try and mix up the pace. I let a small gap open in front of me before accelerating back up to the group, trying to make the swim a bit harder. This helped to string the group out and get rid of a couple guys. II sat in third for the rest of the swim and felt pretty comfortable; I knew the start of the bike was going to be hard with some strong bikers in the field. Ben Collins and Andrew Yoder were racing and they are both very strong on the bike, coming out of transition I was expecting them to hit the start of the bike hard and I wanted to be able to follow them. I wasn’t wrong! Once we hit the big hill at about 8 km into the ride in we had dropped the others and it was down to the three of us. I was hurting to keep Andrew and Ben close and knew that I needed to get up and over the first climb with them. Andrew started to open a gap on Ben and I towards the top and that was the last we saw of him. Ben was riding well and I was still uncomfortable with my legs feeling the previous couple weeks.

Around the half way mark of the bike Jordan Rapp rode up to Ben and I. Ben accelerated up to follow him while I was doing my best to will my legs to accelerate as well and follow them. The boys were riding strong and had me against the ropes. I managed to follow these two and stay in contact with them heading into transition. Near the end of the bike Ben picked up a penalty and had to stop and serve it just before transition. This left Jordan and I together entering transition together about 5 minutes down on Andrew. I took off out of transition and my run legs seemed better than my bike legs, I wanted to try and close the gap between Andrew and myself and keep ahead of a few very fast runners behind me. I could feel my hamstrings on the hills at the start of the run so I backed it slightly and decided to try and build into the run. At the end of the first lap I had taken 2 minutes out of Andrew’s lead and had a nice buffer back to third place.

 

I decided to try and pick up the pace heading out on the final lap. The run in Syracuse has a very nasty steep hill at the half way point of each lap that we had to conquer twice, I have decided since the race that that hill should be names ‘Soul Crusher’. That is exactly how I felt on my second time up the hill! It was as if I had a football player jump on my back and my pace slowed dramatically, I was amazed at how quickly it took the strength out of my legs. I downed a caffeinated Shotz gel and thought I could still make it home strongly. My legs were crumbling and with about 3 km to go Lionel ran past me like he was doing a 100 m sprint. He was flying and not far behind him was Ben. I dropped to forth place and had absolutely no response or acceleration left in my body.

 

I saw Ben and Lionel disappear into the distance as I fell off the pace. I had great support from the local crowds and they really helped me finish it off. When I crossed the line it was easily the most spent I have been crossing the finish line. I had doping control post race and I was not feeling great for about an hour. My body was getting pay back on me for pushing it so hard.

 

After getting some food in post race and laying down for a bit I started to feel better. My home stay Eric Hinman also raced and placed 4th in is category so it was a great day all-round. I stayed in Syracuse until Monday knowing that I didn’t need to rush home as I had this week to recover. We went out for an amazing dinner that night to recover at a local restaurant. I enjoyed Syracuse and loved the city, there is a great vibe to the city and I met some great people over the weekend. Syracuse is definitely on my list of races to return to in years to come.

 

For now its time to put the feet up, relax and give my body a bit of rest! Thank you everyone for your amazing support over the last few weeks, months and years it is greatly appreciated.

 

Regards,

Jimmy

 

Kansas Race Report - 12/06/2014

Since my win in Memphis three weeks ago I have been back in Boulder doing a hard training block leading up to this next series of races, three 70.3 events in a row! My first race of this block was on the weekend just been in Kansas, I checked out the map and decided that Kansas is close enough to Boulder to pack the car up and head off for a road trip. I was excited to have the challenge of the 3 races in a row in front of me with a keen interest on how my body will respond to the workload. First things first and that was to have a good race in Kansas 70.3 on Sunday. I wanted to get a solid result in Kansas to set me up well for the following two weekends of racing, with the aim being not to dig too and destroy myself for the weeks ahead. One of my main efforts over the weekend and the next two weeks is to make sure I am very on top of my nutrition and hydration  pre, during and post race.

I arrived in Kansas after my little road trip and settled in with my homestay, Rodney. It is always great having a homestay for these races as they pass on some great local knowledge on the area and the previous races, with Rodney’s knowledge we managed to park as close as possible to transition on race morning after a short off road experience.

The swim was held in Clinton Lake and though the water felt like it was bath water temperature the race was declared wetsuit legal on race morning. I knew with the water being so warm and with a wetsuit on I would have to be careful of not overheating and paying the price for a big swim effort later in the day.  The gun went off and I had a decent start, settling onto the feet of the two guys I started near. They were setting a great pace and I was happy to just follow in the wake. I felt a little bit flat in the water but I think that was mainly because of the warm temperatures. I could see by the half-way point that we had a front group of four of us with a nice gap over the rest of the field. Exiting the water I wanted to have a fast transition and push the pace on the bike early. I did this pretty well and managed to get on the bike third but took over the lead heading up the hill from the first transition. I felt better on the bike than I did in the swim so I was happy. By the time I was nearing the exit of the park I had two of the other lead swimmers, Joe Umphenour and Todd Skipworth, with me.

Todd took the lead from me around the 10km mark and then went on to set a good pace. Joe was just behind us but behind Joe we had a nice gap on the rest of the field. The bike course was quite an undulating one but a really nice course. By the half way mark of the bike, Todd was still leading and I was sitting second focusing on staying calm and controlled. As we took the turn I saw that TJ had ridden up to us, on the downhill following the turn he flew by! I was shocked at how much faster he was down the hill and was worried that I would find myself five or so minutes down by the time I got to the run. Luckily he never got to far out of sight and I just kept plugging away. The second u-turn was a great time for me to see the gaps to everyone on the course, by this stage TJ was still up the road , Todd and I were riding together and putting time into Joe.

I arrived at the second transition a little over two minutes down on TJ and with about a minute over Todd. I had a good transition and quickly settled into my pace while trying to work out how fast I needed to run to catch TJ and hopefully hold Todd off. I managed to catch TJ around the 6km mark of the run and I was feeling quite strong. The crowds on the course were awesome and there were people cheering the entire way around the course, which is always nice! I finished the first lap of the run with a slightly bigger gap over Todd and TJ than I had at the start of the run. I had some friends around the course giving me time gaps so I could keep an eye on how I was travelling compared to Todd. By the final run turn I knew it was going to be a big ask for Todd to catch me so I was able to back off the pace a little bit and really enjoy the run into the finish. I was absolutely stoked to win my first 70.3 race, it was such an awesome feeling running down the finish shoot.  Winning is always a special feeling but winning my first 70.3 event was just a little bit special! One race down, two to go!

I recovered well after the race and enjoyed a bit of time with my homestay and his friends before hitting the road back to Boulder Sunday afternoon.  I am now back in Boulder resting up and getting ready for the Boulder 70.3 race this weekend. There is a great startlist for this event and is has now been nicknamed by some as the second World Championship for the year so it will be a big day! I am quite excited about getting to race in Boulder again, its always nice when you can race in your home town. Thank you so much for your continued support and I will keep you updated on how this weekend goes.

Regards,

Jimmy

 

Memphis Race Report - 26/5/2014

As I stare out the window watching the ground below me while listening to John Butler Trio through my headphones, I have a smile on my face. Ok, maybe more of a cheeky grin but I am happy. I am flying back from Memphis where I have spent the last few days for the Memphis in May triathlon on Sunday. This race is part of the 5150 series and has a unique experience with a time trial start. What this meant was that on race morning they started the athletes one by one alternating female – male with ten seconds between each athlete. I was interested to see how the start would affect swim time differences with weaker swimmers not being able to sit in a pack and get towed along and the bike pack dynamics. I was the twenty-third athlete out of 25 to start so I got to spend the day chasing athletes in front of me all day! There was an extra curve ball thrown on race morning, with some very heavy rain over night and the early morning the grassy transition area turned into a muddy ankle deep quagmire.

Lining up at the start I was looking at the time gaps I had to the guys in front of me. One of my main challengers for the weekend was Rudy Von Berg who was starting 20 seconds behind me. I had a good start and started passing other athletes within the first few swim strokes. I found a nice rhythm in the swim and I was slowly picking off athletes in front of me and feeling quite good. I wanted to use the swim to set up a good advantage for the rest of the day. I know I passed a good chunk of the field in the swim but it was only when I got on the bike that I found out how many athletes I had caught. I managed to catch the defending champion in the water and he had started nearly 3 minutes in front of me. The first transition was interesting with the mud and getting my Blue Seventy wetsuit off while slipping and sliding everywhere. Running onto the road we had to go through some deep water so I managed to wash away most of the mud I had picked up in the transition area! I got on my bike just behind Daniel, he had ridden very fast last year so I knew I had to ride a similar time to him. I passed him in the first 5km and then I just put my head down and started to watch my power and go for it knowing there were athletes chasing me.

I caught Lauren Brandon on the bike and she was the first female on the road and I could see there was only one more bike down the road in front of me. I worked on catching him and it took most of the bike leg to reel him in. The bike was flat with not too many turns and not much wind. Luckily the roads had dried since the morning rain so I could hit the corners hard. Coming into the second transition I had a nice gap behind me and I had just caught the second last athlete on the road in front of me. I dropped my bike off in the mud and picked up my Altra race flats, I then ran out barefoot and cleaned the mud off my feet through the deep water before putting my shoes on once I hit the road!

I quickly saw that last athlete ahead of my was just up the road so I zoned in on catching him. I recognized him as Barrett Brandon who is a good friend of mine but for now he was my rabbit. I managed to catch and pass him by 1.5 miles into the run and now all I had in front of me was the lead vehicle. I just kept trying to catch the lead vehicle to help me keep the pace high. I knew that I was going to win as long as I kept a good gap between myself and Rudy. The u-turn for the run was about the 4 mile mark so I knew I would get a good idea of where I was compared to Rudy on the road, I saw that I had quite a decent gap back to him at that point. I ran all the way to the finish hard, the support on the course from the age groupers who had raced earlier in the day was excellent! I’m sure they enjoyed relaxing after their morning races and watching us navigate the slip-n-slide transition area!

It was a little bit of a strange feeling crossing the finish line first but not knowing whether I had won the race. I watched the clock for the next thirty seconds, once it passed thirty seconds I knew I had got the win! I was surprised at how close the finish was between most of the men.

I am really happy for my first win this year and my biggest win in the USA so far. Like I said earlier I an now flying back into Boulder to recover and get some more training in before a big June of racing! I have three 70.3 races in June in three weeks, it will be quite a busy month! I am excited to see how my body handles the back-to-back half ironman’s. I know one thing for sure, and that is that I will definitely gain some really good fitness and strength from this block that will set me up for the second half of the season.

Thank you for your on going support and I look forward to writing to you soon with some more good results in a few weeks

Regards,

Jimmy

 

Muskoka Race Report - 18/9/2013

My hands have been a bit full since returning from Canada with the horrific floods in Boulder, CO. Luckily (my sister) Maxine and I are in an area that has had very little flooding and our house has stayed dry. Many have not been as lucky and we have some friends staying with us who were evacuated from their house just up the hill from Boulder. It will be interesting to get back out on the roads to survey the damage. Currently every canyon within the front range of Colorado has had some part of the road washed out making it impossible to get by.

I am trying to let my sore legs rest after 3 solid weeks of racing. I have raced some of the world’s best athletes and have been able to put together some great results. I believe it is always important to learn from each race and grow as an athlete to improve my performances and myself in the future.  I was in Huntsville Canada for my 3rd week of racing in a row, finishing with a 70.3 but more importantly the first 70.3 qualifying race for the 2014 World Championships. I was hoping for a quiet race but we had some great athletes lining up including Hawaii Ironman runner up Andreas Raelert. I felt pretty good heading into the race and the body felt like it had recovered well from the previous weekends or racing.

It was quite cool in Canada compared to everywhere else I had been racing and we were greeted on race day with blue sky and a pretty decent temperature. The start line was wide and the men and women started together. Everyone went to the far right except Tom Davidson, Andreas and myself. When the gun went off I headed straight for the first turn buoy. When I breathed to the right the entire field except the 3 of us who started on the left missed the first two buoys and were heading to the wrong turn buoy. I was nervous, as the boats weren’t pushing them back on track. I started to move towards the group as I didn’t want to be the only one out by myself and lose time. Luckily as I started to move over, the group then realized their mistake and started heading for the correct first turn buoy.

I was second around the first buoy and was getting a lot of chop off the leader in front of me so I overtook him and took up the pace setting. My goal for the race was to pace the bike more conservative so I could run a stronger more controlled race. So having company in the swim was good, only 2 athletes could hold onto my draft in the water. I kept a nice tempo up until the exit. I got over taken in the last 10 meters of the swim and exited in 2nd. I soon took the lead again with the long 500m run to transition. I put socks on and had a good transition but was out behind Tom. He took off like a scolded cat and disappeared up the road on the very hilly and twisty bike course. I was by myself for the first 35km before being joined by the athlete who beat me out of the water. It was great to have him with me for the remainder of the bike leg and to pace off him.

The course in Canada is either up or down hill and is over 90km so it makes for a slow bike split. My legs felt pretty good coming off the bike and I ran out a little over 4 minutes behind Tom and sitting in 3rd. I was getting time checks as I was running and could here the gap coming down quite quickly. Before the race I wasn’t able to check out the entire run course but I checked out the run course map and profile quite closely and from the map it looked like there was just one hill on the way up to the turn around point and the rest was pretty flat. When I got out there on the run course it was either uphill or downhill a lot like the bike leg.  Those hills really hurt my legs more than I expected them to. I was still in 3rd at the turnaround but had pulled Tom back to about 30 seconds with Andreas chasing us both and reeling us in by about 70 seconds in the first half. I was quite excited knowing there was a podium position within my reach. Unfortunately the pace I ran the first half combined with the hills took its toll on my legs and my second half of the run was not as good as my first half.

I was about 90 seconds down on Tom with about one kilometer to go and there was quite a significant gap behind me. The finish is brutal as it has a sharp 200m hill about 800m before the finish. The crowd was huge and cheering like cray being the finishing shoot. I was embarrassed at the final sharp hill before the finish as both of my hamstrings cramped making stop for a minute. I listened to my nutritionist Darryl from Shotz before the race with the nutrition I should have with me for the race but with the cool conditions I just didn’t drink enough and I feel like this was partly why I suffered in the second half and hence the cramps right at the end. I had to stop and stretch with in sight of the finish and in front of a large crowd, definitely not ideal. I wanted to hide under a rock but once the hamstrings relaxed I was able to cruise into the finish. I ended up 4th and was semi happy with the race. I know I have the ability to race better and will work closely with my coach on pacing and strength over the longer distance. I definitely think I need to start racing with a watch on the run to be able to monitor my pacing.

As for now I get to have a weekend at home in Boulder before heading off to Interbike and then Tempe Arizona for a Lifetime series race the following weekend. The end of the season is not too far away with just the final three Lifetime Series races to go, I am feeling mentally fresh and ready to go and I cam excited to finish the year off strongly. 

- James

 

 

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