The Kenyan Way

I have always loved to run. That feeling of being free, escaping from the realms of life, taking in the fresh air and exploring what the body and world has to offer is rejuvenating. My major inspiration to running has come from a number of people but what had always intrigued me were the Kenyan runners. I had heard and seen stories of what makes them so successful in the middle to long distance form of running, but it wasn’t until now that I can clearly see why. Being so close to Kenya post Ironman South Africa, I decided to visit these wonderful human beings and train with them in their own environment. The opportunity arose from my shoe sponsor ON, who also support a group of athletes. They are part of a non-profit organisation called “Run2Gether”. I spent 6 days living like a “Kenyan” athlete – and what an eye opener it was!

The Run2Gether camp is situated approximately 2hrs outside of Nairobi at 2500m above sea level. On arrival, I was greeted by my driver and as immediately leaving the airport saw Zebra’s on the side of the road (a bit different to the usual kangaroos you see in Australia)! We drove most of the way along the main highway out of Nairobi before I was told “we are just going off the road now and are 3km away”. Now before going any further I forgot to tell you I was in a small station wagon not really appropriately fit for the road we were about to travel on – but alas, after a few sketchy moments I made it to camp.

The camp itself resembles very similar to an outreach camp found in Australia. There was a large dining room and kitchen to cater for the athletes and guests as well as communal rooms and amenities. The Run2Gether organisation has done an amazing job to provide not only jobs for locals but give the athletes a safe and secure place to stay while they train.

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View from camp

Similar to the Z-Coaching program in Phuket, the athletes follow a generic but somewhat specific training program outlined by the head coach. Depending on their focus, the athlete would participate in key workouts with the group and then adapt their overall run mileage or recovery runs as needed. My training partner Janet, a sub 33 minute 10km runner would be my guide for the week, showing me the run routes as well as keeping me in check and pushing me when needed.

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Weekly training schedule

The running itself was something I had never experienced and one of the toughest run weeks I have done to date. A combination of factors made it challenging – from the altitude, to the terrain (there were no flat roads/tarmac, everything you ran was either up or down), the weather (temperatures included cool mornings and evenings as well as quite a strong wind most days), as well as nutrition (a staple meal included potatoes, rice, corn polenta, beans, root vegetables, and of course black tea). When you ran, there was no talking, rather complete focus on the task at hand – socialising would come later during rest at camp. I ran at least twice a day, mostly aerobic due to my limited adaption to the altitude with the morning session being the faster session with a recovery run in the afternoon. I also got to run on the local 400m dirt track on my last day for some leg speed whilst the “pros” showed me how its done knocking out 4 x 2km intervals which were increasing in speed. It was an effortless display and a sight to watch first hand.

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Not something you come across every day on your training run!

During my stay, I was invited to visit a local school with the Run2Gether volunteers to donate much needed computers to teachers. Education, compared to the western world, is very simple but yet effective. Children are taught both Swahili and English languages (there are also 42 different tribal languages in Kenya), and mathematics is taught the “old school way” with no calculators but a simple piece of paper and a pencil. There can be up to 60 students per teacher in one small “shed like” classroom. On arrival, I was consumed by enthusiastic and intrigued children wanting to touch my hair and skin – it was quite a moving yet humbling experience. There was no insecurity on their behalf and it was like that also on my training runs with children yelling out to say hello or running alongside for as long as they could usually barefooted (up to 2km mind you!). Some children have to walk up to 3km (one way) to school each day. I also got to present end of term certificates and awards. This usually comprised of a simple exercise book or a pencil to use for the new term.

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A typical school classroom fit for 60 students per teacher. A child is found drawing a picture to his sponsor family in Europe

I also went to Sunday church with some of the athletes and other running guests. The Christian faith is somewhat dominated in these parts and attending was very uplifting for both myself and the local community. There was a great display of unity and joy and this was showcased through song and dance.

My time in Kenya has definitely motivated me to get on with training and prepare for my next event to the best of my ability. The battle for athletic greatness is in Kenya is competitive and tough and you can see the “battle of survival” through their training and lifestyle circumstance. One can only feel grateful for the opportunities to live the way I have and be thankful for the support from my family, friends and sponsors.

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The runners showing a effortless display on the track

I have less than 4 weeks to prepare for my next event being 70.3 Ironman Vietnam. I will be ready…

“The Duke”

For those interested in training in Kenya with some incredible athletes – check out the Run2Gether Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/run2gether-270499570794/?hc_location=ufi

 

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Fear not, Want More!

 

Ironman South Africa would be my first “A” race of the year. My preparation leading into the event was the best it had ever been – I felt in shape and on form. I had changed my mindset slightly in my training as described in my previous blog and it had paid dividends. I really felt for the first time in my professional racing career that I can belong and can be competitive against the worlds best.

The race would be classed as a regional Ironman Championship event meaning a large prize purse and more points up for offer for world championship qualification. This also would mean for me tougher competition – with the number 1 and 5th ranked female on the starting line as well as a number of other credible athletes, I was in fine company.

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(Hobie Beach Pier. Photo Credit: Chris Hitchcock)

The industrial town of Port Elizabeth would be the host town for the event. At first, I felt slightly insecure being there on my own but over the days leading into the event, I started to feel a little more comfortable. The town reminded me of my local seaside town of Busselton with the bike course showcasing a rugged/surf coastline similar to the cape-to-cape region of Western Australia. I could feel a sense of insecurity in regards to the segregation of the white and black cultures and was even given a lot of advice from the locals not to venture outside of high public areas on my own. Thankfully, a few other Z-Coaching athletes were also racing the event so I was able to train together and socialise with them keeping my mind at ease.

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Race day was interesting for me but one I wont forget in the scheme of things. I had never felt so great and in my element. I exited the 3.8km swim (was a nice change to wear my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit!) in 10th position and had felt comfortable throughout expending very little energy. Onto the 180km bike, I made a little charge to catch 3 other women up the road and by about 20km I was sitting in the group comfortably covering any move. After the first loop at 90km I was in the top 8 riders. Onto the second loop, one of the riders in my group decided to put in a solid effort using the tail wind. Once again, myself and another rider responded and knew this was make or break time to catch the next group ahead. Onto the “major” climb on the course I started to lose contact un-expectantly only to find out that I had sustained a flat tyre. Lucky for me, I was able to dismount and calmly repair the puncture quickly with a roaming mechanic also stopping to assist. But as I was inflating the tyre, the tube punctured again and instead of limiting the time gap to my competitors – I had just lost more time. I tried to get going as quick as I could but with the cooler conditions my core temperature dropped and I found it quite difficult to get back into my previous race pace. Once again, I was stuck in “no-mans land” on my own only to see I had lost 8km to the athletes I was riding with.

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(Photo credit: Ingo Kutsche)

From then on, I tried desperately to refocus and regain any lost time but knew that given the calibre of athletes and the time lost, it would be very difficult to collect substantial points for my world championship qualification (Kona). I had to be realistic, and so calculating numbers and the likelihood of athletes not finishing, I decided it was in my best interest not to continue to run the marathon. Even though I knew I could finish and may pick up a few places – there would be no benefit to my overall goal of qualifying for Kona (I needed top 7 overall or better). It was the hardest decision I have had to make racing in the pro ranks – especially when I was racing so well only to have mechanical failure stop me in my tracks. I had hit an ultimate low emotionally but looking back, one week later, it was the wisest decision. My personal goals have changed from just “finishing” to being a force to be reckoned with. This means I can recover quicker and get back to training and focus on the next Ironman and other lead up events.

So, to conclude, I apologise to my supporters for letting you down. But, I am hungrier than ever to succeed in this demanding and sometimes brutal sport. I have just spent one week in Kenya to not only clear the mind but also run with some of the best athletes in the world and gather some inspiration and motivation. I can tell you now this has been a life changing experience and one I will cherish forever. Stay tuned for my blog about Kenya in coming days…

“Always look on the bright side of life”

The Duke

 

 

 

“What if? Why not?”

My “Road to Kona 2017” has been travelling along nicely. Post last year’s Ironman World Championship, I headed back to Phuket and rounded out the year with some confidence boosting results which included a 2nd place at 5150 Bohol and 70.3 Ironman Phuket respectively, as well as win at the Thailand Tri League Series in Sattahip.

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Since then, I have been working hard on my preparation for my first Ironman of 2017 which will be in 2 weeks time. Back in December, I was able to head back to my home town in Western Australia and spend some much needed “down time” with friends and family. Even though I had no daily structured training per se, I was able to hit my run mileage target (I will not scare you all but one week was equivalent to running from Bunbury to Perth) as well as some swim and bike sessions. It was nice to incorporate my training with my local sporting clubs and see some old training partners!

I returned back to Phuket in mid-january where training commenced with my annual participation in Siam Bike “Zack Attack” Tour. The 10 day tour includes riding from Bangkok to Phuket in 10 days as well as swim and run sessions under the watchful guidance of my coach, Jurgen Zack. Not only does this tour enable me to meet new athletes, but gives me a great boost of aerobic endurance heading into the race season. Each year, I have seen improvements in all 3 disciplines which is a great testament to my coach, consistent training and determination to continuously improve over recent years.

Since then, I have competed in 2 races – both to test the fitness and lead me into my first “A” race of the year. Even though both races have had some on course issues – I am fairly delighted with my overall race day effort. I was able to finish on the podium for both races (Thailand Tri League Bangsean and 70.3 Subic Bay) and am now very keen to tackle my preferred race distance (being Ironman).

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What I have learnt most in recent months is that for me personally, my mental toughness is still lacking – especially on race day. I have been working hard to remove the worry of failure out of my mindset. Now I think more on the lines of “why not have a go?” – because really what is the worst thing that could happen? Using inspiration from fellow athletes whom I admire and look up to, I have found a positive outlook within my training and racing and am not afraid to search for hurt!

I am delighted to continue my training and so-called “abnormal life” in Phuket (yes mum and dad I still do miss you each and every day) with my great network of friends whom I consider my family. Thanks to the continued support from Z-Coaching, Thailand Tri League, Alaska, The Siam Supper Club, Jiakina Customised, Xterra Wetsuits Australia, On Running, KMC Chain, Reize Energy Drink, Bont Shoes, Compressport Thailand and Sponser. I am so excited that I am able to live my dream and this is not possible without your support.

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“Willpower knows no obstacles”

Stay tuned…..

THE DUKE

 

 

“Life Lessons”

The 2016 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, was  to be the highlight of my calendar racing year. All my races in 2016, were stepping-stones leading up into the event. I was in the best shape both physically and mentally possible…..well so I thought!

Looking back to that day now only 2 weeks ago (sorry for the delay in the report but I am not one to write just for the hell of it, I want it to have a meaning for future reference), I would now have to say that mentally I was not 100%. I could have done better by using my life experience…but to my inexperience, I didn’t play all my cards that I subconsciously knew I had. Ultimately, the lava fields won!

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I guess you are now wondering what I mean and where this is leading? Well, I am one of these people who “can not sit still”. I am constantly listening and learning from all walks of life, whether it is friends, family, sponsors, the good old “Dr Google”, or even the environment!. I consider myself a quiet person at times, but not in a bad way, I just like to sit, listen, people watch – whatever you like to call it. I like to try to find the best attributes out of every one and everything I meet and take something on board which I can use for future reference.

BUT, come my very important day – being race day – I used very little of my cards from what I had learnt through life. I went back to being a “rookie” (someone who is new to the game, being triathlon) – completely unaware at the time. I had been given tools of the trade to compete against the best women in the world and I wasted the opportunity to shine. I became unsure of myself at critical moments when it mattered most – whether that was playing an attacking move or holding back to wait for the right moment to unleash. I should have just trusted myself…like I had done in previous training sessions over months leading into the event.

Now, the reason why I am talking openly about this is because of what triggered these thoughts. During my trip, I was given the opportunity to check out the Kerry Sports Facility in Manila en route to Hawaii. The facility had every thing you could think of to cater for people aspiring for a healthy lifestyle. From the latest gym equipment, to group training facilities including swimming pools and tennis courts – you name it, they had it!. But, what caught my eye was the basketball court (for those unaware, I played basketball at state and national level for almost 15 years prior to taking up triathlon). I had not picked up a basketball for over 5 years but within a few shots I was hitting numbers like I had never stopped!

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Since then, I have been reflecting on those basketball years both good and bad and underpinning what made me so successful during that time. What comes to mind is that when I was playing, I laid it all on the line, using my sheer determination to make myself a better player and doing what ever I needed to help team to win. I was not afraid to miss a shot or even make a mistake as I knew I would fight defensively to get the ball back and hit the basket next time. I was also committed to put the extra time in training to make myself a better player. I also felt that if I didn’t give it my all both on and off the court I would be letting my team down – plus in my eyes less time playing on the court where it counted the most.

So back to the triathlon world, it has only now come to light that I need to take a step back and just race with sheer heart and determination like I did in my younger years. I need to stop worrying about what other people think and  I need to believe in my capabilities and never give up. I also need to keep it simple – trust my intuition and use perceived exertion instead of following numbers all the time. Like my coach only recently said “play the player and not the board!”.

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The next few months will be focusing on this element of my game. I have a great coach and a great team of people behind me whom I will use to take me to my next level. With races coming up in the next few weeks, there is no reason I can’t lay it all on the line and give myself a huge confidence booster heading into my next Ironman in early 2017. I have nothing to lose!

“The Duke”

 

“Preparation”

The last few months have been one hell of a ride! But like always, I have embraced it and relished the highs and the lows. Sitting now at Manila International Airport en route to Kona (host Hawaiian town of the Ironman World Championships), and writing this report, it has given me a chance to reflect on what has been and what lies ahead. The “Road to Kona 2016” is almost complete!

Since Ironman Frankfurt, I have taken the positives and negatives of the race and focused only on the preparation for my “A” race of the year. My road to Kona has not been easy, but thankfully I received a roll down slot (the same as last year) and could use the last 2 races in build and lead up to the big day. Both races post Frankfurt (being 70.3 Asia- Pacific Championship and 70.3 World Championship events), have enabled me to race the best professional females in the business and see where I was at. Even though I was not fully charged on race day for both events – a choice that I personally made given my level of ability in the 70.3 distance – I felt the experience was a great learning curve and has enabled me to fine tune the race specific aspects of my game.

My training has gone according to plan and I have been able to hit majority of my personal parameters on the swim/bike and run. Not every training session has been perfect but being the self critical person I am, I know that I have trained smarter and have been challenged every step of the way. My consistent training could not have been done without the support of my awesome team from Z-Coaching Phuket. Thanks to my coach Jurgen and all the athletes for pushing me and keeping me motivated when the going gets tough!

If I reflect back to this time last year, I would say I am a lot fitter, adapted, and more aware of my personal form and what realistically I can achieve. There is no doubt in my mind that I have what it takes to race the best and be competitive. It is now up to me to get the race formula right!

So, from me this time it is a short and sweet post. There is nothing more to say other than I am ready for the challenge which lies ahead in just under 2 weeks time. An opportunity has come knocking at my door…I will make sure to not miss it!

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Thanks for your support!

“The Duke”

 

 

 

 

 

“Chasing The Carrot”

Ironman Frankfurt would be a highlight race for me heading into the second half of the triathlon season. Being a European Championship, this would mean double the usual qualification points for the Ironman World Championship (Kona), a bigger prize purse and ultimately a higher quality field which would test where I am at racing against the best. The pressure to perform for me was not so much nerve racking, more exciting, as a top 5 placing would secure my spot for Kona. The carrot was there to be chased!

I had a great preparation heading into the event taking confidence from 70.3 Ironman Vietnam (4th place) and 5150 Subic Bay (3rd place) in the weeks prior to my touch down in Europe. I travelled to Germany 3 weeks prior to the event enabling me to train in cooler conditions as well under the watchful eye of my coach Jürgen Zack in his hometown of Koblenz. Being able to experience where he trained throughout his career was not only a great change, but an opportunity to meet his life long training partners over the years, ride famous bike and run loops where there was no chance to hide from embracing the pain, and not to mention sleeping on the “leopard” sofa! A new bike was also revealed and even though the time was relatively short to adjust, my new Canyon courtesy of Z-Coaching is an absolute “rocket “and I am super pumped to have the opportunity to ride one of the best brands on the cycling scene.

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I headed to the outskirts of Frankfurt 1 week prior to race day and stayed with Arndt and Claudia Hille. Not only great friends of Jürgen, but two great athletes in their own right with years of knowledge and success in the triathlon scene. Arndt also raced the Ironman so we were able to prepare and calm each other down in the final days in lead up to the big day.

Race morning was crisp and cool (11 degrees) but this still did not allow wetsuits for professional athletes (water temperature was less than 21.9 degrees – the cut off for a non-wetsuit swim). I was confident in my swim training in recent weeks and felt at ease swimming behind targeted competitors with minimal energy expended. I exited with the eventual winner of the race (Melissa Hauschildt also from Australia) whom I knew would be relatively similar to my bike time and one to watch.

Onto the bike and it was a matter of playing my cards right. A small delay in transition meant I had a small gap to chase Melissa down early on but I caught her before the first small hill climb for the day. For the next 150km I remained in striking distance around her and some other competitors maintaining 4th – 5th position. I continuously monitored my effort – putting on surges when required, as well as keeping my calorie intake regular with my Sponser nutrition. BUT without prior warning and merely a lapse in concentration, and to no fault but my own, I received a drafting penalty on the bike with 30km to go…something I am very disappointed by especially when I pride myself to race my own race under most circumstances. A 5 minute “stop and go” penalty would ultimately mean time lost heading onto the run.

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Once again, and a usual occurrence as of late, I put myself into “no mans land” starting the marathon. This position not only tests you mentally but I had made the “carrot” so much harder to chase. Even though it was a 4-lap course, I was never able to see my competitors in front. I tried to keep myself focused with the use of my watch and the support from people I knew supporting out on course, but it is not as easy as one sounds and something I need to work on. A few stomach issues also played a part in the later half of the race also caused more frustration. I knew deep down inside that I had missed a good opportunity to call myself real competitor on the battlefield.

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Reflecting on my race now one week later, I can say my frustration has passed and I am channelling all the positives from the event to move forward and keep striving for personal success. The carrot is still hanging but it is closer than ever to be caught!

In closing there are some special people whom I would like to mention and thank with regards to this trip:

  • Jürgen – No words can really explain how much time and effort you put into me on and off the racetrack to make me the athlete I am today. I will be forever be in debt to you and look forward to you to keep pushing me out of the comfort zone! – We are getting there!
  • Stefan Keul –Very grateful for you and the Canyon brand for getting my new Canyon race ready! I appreciate you being part of “Team Duke” and I look forward to working with you in the future.
  • Claudia and Arndt – Understanding what it means being an athlete, made my stay at your place so much easier. I appreciate your hospitality and look forward to seeing you both again soon!
  • Ladi Demko – Not only your support out there on race day was greatly appreciated but I am super pumped to be an ON running ambassador and thank you for having me in a new set of shoes for race day!
  • Ruedi Wild – Proud to be part of the Sponser team and look forward to getting my small nutritional issues dialled to perform at my best.
  • Arnaud Selukov – Not only your kind words of encouragement but your assistance with bike accessories gave me the “free speed” I needed. Thanks again!

To all my sponsors and fellow sponsors, you all have been part of this journey in one way or another and look forward to sharing more success with you all!

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So in closing, I am now in preparations for my next confirmed events that include the 70.3 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships (Cebu, Philippines) and the World 70.3 Ironman Championships (Mooloolaba, Australia). I look forward to taking on the worlds best over the half distance Ironman and finding some leg speed!

My “Road to Kona” is still in progress J

“The Duke”

 

Overcoming the fear of failure…

I have been tossing and turning over whether I should write this blog talking about the above theme or just write the same old post race recap. Thus, I apologise for the delay. But, if I didn’t write my true feelings I have once again failed myself and taken the easy way out! So here goes…

The last two races I have competed in have had different circumstances and a major turn of events for me personally. Now for some who follow my social media, you may think differently. On paper, my results weren’t bad (finishing 3rd and 4th respectively) but it’s what happened during these events that has had a huge impact on my mindset racing and training at the top level.

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Ironman Australia was to be my first “A” race of 2016. Heading into the event, I felt I was in great fitness shape thanks to a great preparation from my coach Jurgen Zack. In saying that though I felt I was also in the unknown – I really didn’t know how I could really perform. The week leading into the event I started to question myself mentally (how fast can I really go? Am I really this good? Have I done enough?). Knowing that this race could impact my chances of returning to the Ironman World Championships, I knew I had to also race smart, as it could be a long season chasing qualification points otherwise!

Now as said, finishing 3rd place overall was not a bad result, but it was the way I went about it which frustrated me. At the end of the day it may have not changed my result but mentally it would have. I let the fear of failure get the better of me. From the half waypoint in the swim, I hesitated. Instead of just trusting my form and my instincts I let uncontrollable events dictate my race. I tried to turn things around on the bike leg but a low point at about 70km into the ride also hampered my chances. From then on, it was a matter of trying to regroup mentally and not give up. I settled into my race and focused on what I could control which worked. Luckily for me, the back end of my race was uneventful but the two small mistakes within the first 3 hours of my race put me out of contention for challenging the top 2 spots.

Moving forward, I had 6 days to physically recover and mentally prepare for my next race, 70.3 Ironman Vietnam. Now, from some people, all I would hear – “You have got be crazy! How are you going to pull a half ironman off after racing a full distance Ironman just one week before?” Well lets just say, when you have raced multi day events like I have (For example, The Australian Four Day Off-road motorcycling Enduro) where you race up to 8 hours a day on unforgiving terrain, pushing your body to the absolute limit where everything in your body hurts (you may even break a rib or two on day two of the event) and then the race does not finish until you have changed a set of tyres, fixed any mechanical problems, and may even have to push your bike back into the pits for the next day of racing,…you can now see my above Ironman scenario was a absolute breeze! I just mentally had to get it together and get it done.

And to conclude, that is what I did… I got it done! I didn’t let personal pressure or other athletes get the better of me, I just focused on what I could control and believed in myself. I felt like that 12-year-old child playing basketball back in the day whom never worried about the fear of failure, just kept believing that I would never miss a goal and would never let an opponent beat me. I also pulled off one of my fastest bike times riding completely solo!

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Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be times that I will ultimately fail, but this is when I need to turn it around and see it from a positive light. For example, in my recent swim session, I pushed myself to failure where my upper body just had enough (like reaching fatigue in a weights session). But instead of mentally saying to myself “I have had enough” I turned it around, changed my mindset, and pulled off one of my fastest 300m swims in the final repetition.

So the last two races may not have been the best results on paper, but are ones that have been the most influential on my racing career to date. With more experience, knowledge and self-belief, it will just be a matter of time when I will find the ultimate personal success!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

“The Only Way Is Up!”

Reflecting on my recent race on the weekend, I am happy to say that I feel I am heading in the right direction! 70.3 Ironman Subic Bay, Philippines was the start to assert my authority in the long course triathlon scene in 2016. I am starting to feel I belong as am known to be the “consistent performer in the Ironman Asia-Pacific ranks”. Yes, I may have only come 3rd overall (I wouldn’t say I am happy finishing on this step of the podium all the time but I will take it) but it was a result which came with taking some risks and actually seeing what I could do racing the best in the business. The top 2 women who I finished behind are world class champions with multiple accolades to their name including Olympic representation, 70.3, long course, and ironman podiums and wins.

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The Xterra Speed Suit stands out in the pack!

I was not going to be deterred or so called “psyched out” of racing these fantastic women who I admire both on and off the race circuit. I am a strong believer that no one is unbeatable! I already knew I was going to be a few minutes down coming out of the 1.9km swim. Instead of worrying about it (I was dropped from the lead swim pack after 300m) I focused on my form and technique and was able to produce my fastest swim time over that distance swimming solo! (maybe it has something to do with my Xterra Speed suit :)). It was then a matter of getting onto my bike and closing the 3min gap to the leaders.

Onto the bike and the strategy was to obviously bridge the gap. I had worked hard over recent months on bike setup and form and it paid dividends! My coach Jurgen Zack, suggested I use the top male age groupers who were potentially stronger on the bike (they started 2 minutes behind the pro women) as a pacer to make up some time. It took them 60km to catch me so once this occurred, I sat my legal 12 meters behind the group and conserved some energy. I was feeling great until I made a silly error by missing the final 2 aid stations for water…not completely my fault but one I will also take blame for. I knew then I was potentially in trouble and within the next few minutes I started to cramp badly in my upper legs. Trying to reduce the problem I immediately took some salt tablets hoping that would ease the problem. Fortunately it did somewhat and I was able to ride relatively strong for the remainder of the ride which also produced my fastest time over the 90km distance.

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The run segment which is usually my strength didn’t show today

Heading out of transition 2 and onto the 21.1km run I was just under 4mins down on the leader. For the first few kilometres I tested the legs to see if they were ok but immediately knew that my mistake with hydration on the bike would pay the price. Every time I tried to pick up to my race pace I would feel cramp was imminent. Being an out and back run course I used the first 10km to get in the adequate hydration and calories from my Sponsor gels. In the event the front girls had gone out too hard I felt this way I may be I could bridge the gap on the second half of the run. Unfortunately to my disadvantage and full respect to the professionalism of the top 2 women, no mistake was made and I had made up no time on them. So for me it was a matter of consolidating 3rd place and surviving to the end. It was disappointing to finish my race this way as I knew my running form has also been good. Never less, I am happy I stuck it out and finish respectfully in front of a welcoming Philippine crowd.

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I love being part of the Alaska Ironkids! Just one of the commitments I am part of with racing in the Philippines.

I am always impressed by the standard of the races in the Philippines. The Sunrise Events team run by Alaska CEO Fred, and his leading hand – Princess, do an amazing job looking after the athletes whether they are the Alaska Ironkids, age-group participants and professionals. I look forward to supporting their events over the next few years!

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The Z-coaching team dominated with multiple podium results across all age groups including securing their spot for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships!

So now it’s time to get back to the training track with the Z-Coaching team and continue to strive forward. With my next race coming up in 7 weeks time, it is a matter of fine tuning and working on both my strength and weaknesses.

Stay tuned….

 

 

“The Off Season”

After my final race of 2015 (Ironman Western Australia), I was able to give my body a chance to absorb a busy racing year and have some “down time”. This included catching up with family and friends as well as rejuvenating the mind and the body. The plan for the next few weeks post IMWA was to build a solid aerobic fitness base before my return to Phuket mid January. This included mileage weeks with focus on the run – mostly low intensity, with no specific structure. It enabled me to fit in other activities such as golf, paddling and diving, which was a good change.

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By the time January 2016 came around I was energised and ready to head back to Phuket. My first few weeks comprised of a triathlon specific bike tour organised by Siam Bike Tours and my coach Jurgen Zack. In 10 days I rode just under 1000km between Bangkok and Phuket as well as fitting in 120km of running and 10km of swimming. Having completed the tour the year prior, this enabled me to gauge my overall fitness and strength that I had attained after 12 months of full time training.

 

With a successful few weeks of base training under my belt, it was time to sharpen up for my first race on the year – the inaugural Bang Sean Triathlon hosted by Thailand Tri League Series. It is a great opportunity for me to be part of the local triathlon scene here in Thailand. Kobkiat and Ben, organisers of the event, have really put a lot of time and effort to make their events better each and every time. They have made their events very safe for amateur and professional athletes with a swim that is well marked and contained, as well as 100% road closures on the bike and run.

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For me, it was the first time in many Olympic distance races that I fully tapered and felt somewhat fresh heading into the event. It was also a great opportunity to see if the hard work had paid off over the last few months. Having a competitive field of female athletes also gave me no chance to think the race was won. My race plan was to swim hard and see if I could produce a personal best time, which I did. This put me in front of my closest rivals so from there I set out on the bike hard and fast to establish a good lead. From there I was able to enjoy the moment on a awesome run course and celebrate with friends and fellow competitors.

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I am happy to say that the race itself was a huge confidence booster for me. Not only to have a win, but to see that the small changes I have made in recent months, have put me in the direction of wanting to be competitive with top world class athletes. There are so many elements within the sport that you need to consider, but one take home message for me is training smart. Training takes a lot of discipline and a good understanding of what the session is set out to achieve. By knowing this I know when I need work on different body systems so when it comes to race day I can adapt the the race conditions. I am looking forward to seeing what I can do for my first half distance race of the year in less than 2 weeks!

Before closing I would just like to say a big thank you to my sponsors new and old who will be assisting me in 2016. I would like to welcome back Z-Coaching, Xterra Wetsuits, Sponsor Nutrition, KMC Chain, Reize, Soundwave and Thailand Tri League Series. To my new supporters including Alaska, ON running, Bont Thailand, Wasp Peformance (Including Casco and Xlab) and Jiakina clothing – I look forward to working with you and promoting your products and services!

“The  Duke”

 

Patience

Welcome to my new blog which is now available on line! I would like to thank my training partner Imogen Simmonds for helping me get my website up and running. I hope you find my site easy to use and easy to access and I look forward to your feedback and comments!

My 2015 race season has come to a close and what a whirlwind of a year it has been! Looking back now it has been a crazy but memorable year which I will never forget. One that has defined me as I feel I have finally found who I am and who I want to be. Living in Thailand for the last 12 months has made me see life in a different perspective. Keeping things simple, uncomplicated and most importantly being happy with who I am, and being around positive, like-minded people are what I appreciate. I have met so many amazing people, from all walks of life whom all have shaped me into the person I am today.

The last 3 races of 2015 will also be ones to be remembered. From my first 5150 win in the Philippines, to a 3rd place at Laguna Phuket Triathlon on what I call “my second home turf” which included racing alongside my z-coaching training partners was awesome! I then finished off with a 4th place at Ironman Western Australia in front of my official home town crowd – a sound result which was satisfying after such a heavy race schedule post Ironman World Championships.

Writing this post, Ironman Western Australia is still quite fresh in my mind. It was my 8th consectutive time racing the event and one that I still find to this day quite hard to master! Expecting the usual radiant heat, I was greeted with sub optimal cooler conditions. The swim around the famous Busselton Jetty was quite difficult for some athletes and with choppy conditions encountered, this made it harder than usual to master. Thankfully, my new Xterra Vendeta wetsuit and home town knowledge enabled me to exit the swim in 2nd place. Onto the bike, I struggled to find efficient form heading into the headwind which made me lose time on the eventual front runners. Onto the run and with limited running volume over previous weeks, I was able to maintain my position but unable to bridge the gap on the top 3 place getters. Being the fastest Australian women over the line and being acknowledged as the fastest Western Australian female athlete was a great highlight.

To say I have raced a lot in 2015 is a understatement and most likely too much with some people’s way of thinking. It was a personal choice and something I don’t regret. To me, I considered this year as a “apprentice year” and I was able to see how my body coped and responded to the full-time training and racing testing my limits, capabilities and finding out my strengths and weaknesses. I now know what I need to develop within myself as an athlete heading into 2016. Next year, working with Jurgen Zack and the Z-Coaching team in Phuket, I plan to have my schedule much more well structured so I can perform to my best at key races. The ultimate goal of reaching top 10 at the Ironman World Championships will include qualifying races in the Asia-Pacific region as well as Europe. With some new sponsors coming on board including Alaska Milk Corporation in the Philippines, On Running, Sportsmaster Thailand and my continuing partnership with previous sponsors, 2016 looks to be even bigger and better!

I know I need to be patient…persistence, perserverence and some perspiration will reveal more positive results! Onward and upward!

Stay tuned…..