Bucket list race: Escape from Alcatraz

Words: Athlete Ollie McNulty

Like most of us triathletes, I watched the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon and decided this was one for the bucket list! It was a few more years before I decided to have a go and entered the lottery. When I got the email to say I had a slot my first reaction was excitement. The second one was “Oh shit how will I get through that swim!!” (if you haven’t heard about it watch here)

The Race. The Escape from Alcatraz is not a standard triathlon. It is unique with a few new challenges I have not experienced anywhere else before. A 2.5 km swim in the cold waters of San Francisco Bay. Jumping in from a ferry off the shore of Alcatraz Island. (This was pretty cool – literally and figuratively! ) 😉 An amazing but tough 32 km cycle with plenty of hills and climbs. Followed by a 12.5km run with again plenty of hills, soft sand and the sand steps – all keep you honest!

Preparation. I live and train in Deniliquin – country New South Wales. We have a 50m pool which only opens between November through to March, so makes swim training over winter very tough. You either have to travel an hour to a near by town, or you can brace The Edward River, which is ok if you like the cold! To make it even more challenging to train for this race, we don’t have hills to speak of to train on. So sitting down with Coach Sarah to map out a plan we had to be creative!

I did the training that I could and braved the 11 C Edward River. ZWIFT is great and I managed to at least pretend I was cycling up hills. I don’t run to much so continued to shuffle around the bush her in Deniliquin. When possible, I travelled to Melbourne to get some additional sessions in. All in all I was proud of my efforts leading into the race. I could have always done more, but with a demanding and high stress job, we simply worked with what we had and did what we could, and I was content with that.

Pre Race. I arrived in San Francisco on the Wednesday before the race. First thing Thursday morning I collected my hire bike and went for a spin to get used to it. I had a good look around the city and again stressed a little (a lot) when I realised how small Alcatraz Island looked – so far away from the shore! And how steep some of the hills were – no amount of zwifting compared to these! (If you know San Francisco you will know what i’m talking about!)

The race and preparation of the race from the event organisers is fantastic. You get weekly updates giving you advice about the race which I found highly valuable. They tell you what to expect and how to help prepare, but coming from Deniliquin it was still a bit of a shock. Registration the day before is well coordinated but dragged a bit as they send you from one tent to the next to get all your information, forms, bags, drop off gear. We had an unusually warm day with a lot of people scrambling for shade and water.

Race Day. We had a 4am start to get to transition, as all athletes had to be on shuttle busses to the ferry by 6am . I was glad of the extra time as firstly our taxi driver was given the wrong destination and decided to take us to transition via the airport! (stress that wasn’t needed pre race!) Thankfully he was not to fussed about speed limits. I got to transition at 5am to find my back-wheel flat. Thankfully Coach Sarah and I had previously gone over a pre race mental check list with we went through scenarios of when things go wrong – so mentally I was able to work through this easier and not get too stressed. The bike mechanic on hand was great as my bike had tubeless tyres. Whilst I was a little stressed it stopped me thinking of the swim and made the shuttle with plenty of time to spare.

The journey out on the boat was an amazing atmosphere. So much nervous energy with 2500 packed athletes of all shapes and sizes. I was delighted to meet Jorge a Californian also had thought ahead and had a little extra ‘padding’ like me to accommodate the cold swim. 😉 Everyone like in all races was so positive and so encouraging as we got to the start line. They played the national anthem and then it was go time. We queued and with lots of encouragement we jumped! What a moment!

Once I got in and tried to settle into a steady stroke I was delighted to realise that my time in the Edward River was well spent. San Francisco bay was much warmer and with my extra buoyancy I felt good! I misjudged the current and after 50 minutes I managed to make the shore 400-500m downstream of the exit point. Just what I love an extra run across soft sand! It felt great and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the swim – which is the leg I worry about the most.

Out on the bike. The first 3km are flat and then you hit the hills. They were a lot steeper, longer and tougher than I expected. But I loved every second and managed to pass people going up the hills as well as going back down. Some of the roads were rough but we were well briefed about what to expect. When you are going 8km/hr uphill that does not really matter!! haha.

When I got to transition I knew I had pushed a bit hard and enjoyed the cycle to much. SO at this point, I was not looking forward to the run. The first 3km was flat so I settled into a slow steady shuffle. When I hit the hills there are a lot of narrow tracks, so it was easy to stop and walk as I didn’t want to try and push past people!! My legs were stuffed, and I had not prepared at all for a course like this – pretty hard living in flat country NSW. When you hit the beach and the soft sand it was so somewhat reassuring to see how much we were all suffering and all the support from other competitors and volunteers. Heading back in the sand steps are tough I was so glad to have the rope along the side to help pull yourself up the hill. When I reached the top, I felt faint and walked the next km. I hadn’t come this far to end up passing out and not finish!

With 4km to go the downhill section started to the finish line. I managed to get back into a steady shuffle and continued my way. Like all these races the thrill of finishing, crossing that line and getting that medal make all the training, the self doubt and the hurt all worthwhile!

In summary. This is a tough race. I loved it and would look to go again. The organisation was fantastic and as in every race the volunteers are amazing and looked after us extremely well on the course. Its so good to be able to say I Escaped ! !

IN FOCUS: Ironman Cairns

CPC: Firstly congratulations, Caroline Houston YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!! How does it feel? 

CAROLINE:
Coming down that chute I was so stoked – I forgot to do anything coming over the line, so no special pics there !

I am happy with how I stuck to what I needed to do to prepare, which I don’t think was very sociable sometimes, and gave me some hard decisions, but it really gave me confidence (once I got out there) that I was fully prepared. But I seriously did not believe that until I was on the course, prior to that I was sick with worry (and still not very sociable!)
CPC: It’s a tough game this Ironman business that’s for sure and can bring out deep rooted insecurities and fears. But… for now, let’s take a few steps back, you started your coaching / training with CPC mid 2018 ahead of your preparation for the Standard Distance worlds. You were really looking forward to the experience, but unfortunately race day you had an unfortunate accident and crashed – but even that couldn’t stop you finishing! It did however stop you in your tracks for your attempt at Busselton 2019 with a shoulder injury. Talk us through that.

CAROLINE: 
Yes, I was happy to finally be on a supported track as I had wafted around trying to do a ‘self program’ & was getting very dissatisfied with lack of progress/direction.

Worlds:  lesson here,
1) this was the only corner I didn’t recon thoroughly prior to racing,
2) plus, I went into it too hard as I was trying to make up ground, braked hard (right hand corner & I am worse that side) & the wheel went from underneath me. I knew I had done damage – I got up & yelled at this guy not to touch me (otherwise I would be disqualified) & he said he was an official, so it was OK but as I could move my arm I figured nothing broken and I should just finish. From here, I then worked out I had no lower gears, only big chain ring and I was a bit concerned with a short sharp hill on 2nd lap, also, being on the drops was a bit painful. Then both running in with the bike and the pull on my shoulder was painful on the run, I was always going to finish (this is the Worlds!) , just maybe not in good shape.

CPC: so post race you actually had to have shoulder surgery, spent approx. 8 weeks off training (incl. 4 weeks in a sling) and 14 weeks out of the pool, but worked diligently on your rehab. How hard was it though coming back to full health after your surgery? How did your coach and physio / medical team help you work through that process?

CAROLINE:
This phase was a very controlled & prescribed section. I was on the bike (WT & Indoor classes) as early as possible (in a sling) as I figured I could monopolise on that period to build up my bike strength. Injuries can be an opportunity!

Honestly, my physio & coach worked hand in hand to both strengthen & control me through this phase (which was quite long). One thing I found was, I needed to communicate avidly  to both of those experts in order to get the best outcome. No comment from me – no comment from them , because there were no details – absolutely, categorically, tell them the smallest changes / concerns (eg. something going on in this calf – which turns out to be a stress on the perineal, easily fixed by some rehab) So having a team around ou is super important and helped me get to the start line of my Ironman that’s for you – I could not have done it without them.

CPC: when did it get to that moment in your training when you thought ‘yes I can really do this’! (Ironman) ? 

CAROLINE: I am forever mindful that it’s a huge ask of the body, and, there are so many things that can get in the way/go wrong. When I reached the taper period I added up the training & prep and thought I should be able to do this, and the confidence in my preparation grew, so I was OK to put myself out there, but I think it was only when I was out on the course & gauging how I was feeling, that I actually finally allowed myself to truly believe. 

CPC: Once you landed in Cairns / Port Douglas and checked out the course, what went through your mind? And how did you manage any self doubt that started to creep in on race week?

CAROLINE: Hah ! Thanks to Geoff for getting me in the water at Palm Cove at least 3 times. The more we went in the water, the more comfortable I felt, but I was mindful that I am not strong in the water and if these were race day conditions, I was not likely to make the cutoff and was not sure how I would manage that heartbreak. But for me, it was about being as prepared as possible to help allieviate those doubts, and that included putting myself in situations and exposing myself to conditions I didn’t feel super comfortable about, because you can get anything come race day.

CPC: Despite that, conditions on race day turned out not too bad, soooo, talk us through your race? We want to know how it unfolded! How were the nerves on race morning? What did you find the toughest? How did you keep focused? 

CAROLINE:
I knew I would be almost unable to talk on race morning & we had made the decision to take the buses so I was not having an apoplexy about being late – good move. Checked the bike, heard the usual explosion of a tyre in transition and glad it wasn’t me ! Frantically looked for Sharon starting in the 70.3 and off she went effortlessly into the froth.

Swim: I had been nervous all week and on the morning, luckily for me the water was calmer. So, I figured I had a chance. I was with my friend Michelle (7 time Ironwoman) going into the water, and she was boldly pushing us forward. Once out there, I think I could even see her in the water near me – good news, I was not completely at the back!  Reaching the yellow buoy I knew this was about ¼ of the way but couldn’t see Michelle & figured she was way ahead, it didn’t feel as strong a current against us as it had on the leadup days, but I was getting nowhere fast. So much so, I checked my watch at the 2nd pink buoy (hoping it was 50 mins, but it was actually more like 60 ). Trying not to feel deflated I plodded on hoping for a bit of current to bring me in. For a while there I looked around & figured that the circling rubber duckies meant that I was the last one out there, couldn’t see anyone either. I got into a bit of rhythm & thought maybe I would try breathing on the left as on my right it was very sunny plus into the chop. Turns out that was a bad move, I became a bit dizzy doing that, and went back to 1in4 on the right. Bit tricky spotting the last buoys as the swell seemed bigger in the last few hundred metres. BUT all in all, I got through for me – what is the toughest leg.

Bike: running (trotting) out of transition after my complete wardrobe change, I was hanging onto all the food I had in my back pockets – reckon I could have fed a few of us ! (I watched a video of me getting on my bike – it’s hilarious, it’s as if I am in slo-mo!)

I spent a lot of time thinking about Sarah’s advice to always be pedalling – make the most of the downhills, so we could hit that 27kph average. I was a bit nervous going hard down hills and concentrated to stay alert, and thanks to Geoff for painstaking going over every metre of the bike course (in the car) prior, to be as best prepared as possible – pot holes, wind etc. The scenery was amazing, and, when you are ‘up the back’ there’s quite a bit of open road with not too many athletes so plenty of space to view.

I had slightly misjudged the last 30k’s by not having enough personal landmarks to help me ‘clock’ where I was, so the last part of the ride was a bit of a slog, especially as my expectations of times kept slipping past, and, by this time, me & the saddle were not friends. So I was happy to pass the bike onto volunteers and start to tackle the last leg.

Run:  What a relief to get here with no mechanicals & in one piece !  I set out with a renewed energy but brought myself straight back to sticking to the plan and not going out too hard – a long way to go yet. I was at first very deflated as the pace is very slow but I knew I had to do it to get there, also, some ‘empty gut’ issues were starting and I didn’t want to suffer from that again so started sucking on Clif Bloks as a way to get at least something in. I spent a lot of time thinking about the course and how many k’s I was at as I couldn’t really see my watch, and, I don’t think I had turned it on properly as it kept beeping at me. Once 1.5 laps in, I was a bit more settled and just stuck to the pace, sucked on a bit of water melon and the Blocks & it was starting to go OK, I just wanted to finish ! With 2k’s to go I decided to go as fast as I was capable of at that point & storm home. Stoked coming down the chute!  What a wave of emotions!

CPC: Hearing an athletes race story always gives me goosebumbs!  For most athletes doing their first Ironman (well technically your second after the shortened Busso in 2017), I try not to focus too much on the time outcome, but more the experience and having a consistent and well-rounded race. How do you feel you went in this regard? 

CAROLINE: I was certainly so much better prepared for this race than Busso, I had really put in the training, to achieve realistic goals. I was thinking about it when I was on the bike, I felt confident that I had the prep behind me for all disciplines.

CPC: and the bonus – you nailed the race and came away with not only a fantastic experience, but a race result that reflected all you hard work – PLUS A PODIUM FINISH! Full results here

CPC: So  what would you say is a highlight (or highlights!) is/are from your Ironman experience? What will stay with you forever? 

CAROLINE:
My strength at the end – I had energy left for the last 2 kms and I pushed hard to the finish & enjoyed the finishing chute experience ! It really was a little surreal, and awesome, and hard, and incredible all in one!

CPC: any wise words for other mature athletes thinking of taking on the goal of Ironman later in life? 

CAROLINE: 
Don’t think of the end-game if you have a big goal in mind. Break it down, with your coach, and it is all achievable. Be patient and it is possible 😊

CPC: Wise words!
I always finish with this question…. so – what’s next for Caroline Houston? Would there be another Ironman on the cards one day?…. 😁

CAROLINE: 
Oh wow – right now, I feel like all the stars were aligned for me, I did the best I could do on the day, I had all the training under the belt, plus, the weather was good to us, so if I went in search of a better performance time wise I could be in for a tough challenge.  Not sure I need to go there again, I need to sit back for a while, I might do shorter racing for the time being – I just don’t want to assume shorter = easier, because it is not!

CPC: anything else you would like to add / people to thank? 

CAROLINE:
Gosh, this was a team effort !  A huge thanks to this team 😊

Coach Sarah: honest & upfront, & able to gauge me as an individual to probe questions and help me through with a ‘fitted’  program

Hubby Geoff: for putting up with me hardly being around, being with me in the open water no matter how slow I was

Friend & training partner Sharon: constant encouragement, great friend & being that arse for me to chase (she’s a very good rider)

Friend & S&C Coach Kerryn: constant support, strength training & sounding board to unload to

Steve: physio from Lakeside Sports Medicine Centre, who helped me set my expectations, & used needles & painful massage to keep me on track. 🙂

My employer, Mondelez: for being flexible with my hours

IN FOCUS: Nailing your first Ironman!

When an athlete comes to you with the goal of tackling their first Ironman, you know you are in for exciting and rewarding ride. Every race, no matter the distance and no matter the goal are as important as the next, but there is just something about Ironman / endurance racing. Something that lights a fire deep in your belly (of coach and athlete!), it creates a higher learning, a commitment to the work load, a dedication above what an athlete often believes is even possible until they actually complete it.

As a Coach you really start to get a deep understanding of your athlete. Conversations form around family and how important they are to the journey, the significance of such a race, the impact it has emotionally and what is required to undertake such a feat.  And always along the way for the athlete, its about learning. What makes them tick, what their default is when the going gets tough, what they revert to and think about over long lonely rides….

The Ironman journey is far more than swim bike run, it’s a journey that takes on a life of its own, and when an athlete goes through an Ironman journey, they come out the other side not only a stronger and more resilient athlete, but  more appreciative of the human body, understanding of the importance of mindset, of recovery, of becoming in tune with their own physical, emotional and spiritual self. Ironman is not just a race….

Some will never understand why others choose to put their body through such grueling and time consuming training “Why would anyone want to do that?Why put yourself through the hours of training? Why choose to sacrifice sleep or nights out in favour of the lure of a race? Why? No one can ever really answer those questions apart from athletes themselves. Everyone has their own reasons…

So we sat down with athlete Scott Salmon who recently completed his first Ironman at Ironman Australia – Port Macquarie. We find out what his experience was like, what kept him pushing, what he found the toughest, and how he crossed the finishing line feeling like a ‘million bucks’!

CPC: Firstly congratulations, Scott Salmon YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!! How does it feel?

SCOTT: The Ironman race experience was absolutely amazing! Definitely up there with the other highlights of my life. It was far more than I could have ever imagined.  I hope this is not arrogance but I feel more like a sense of accomplishment than being proud. Maybe they are the same…..?…. Either way, I could not be any happier!

CPC: Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it! Now let’s take a few steps back, you came across Coach Sarah & CPC after reading one of her articles in Aus Tri Mag. You had been doing some of your own training, and training alongside members in your local club, so what made you want to look at adding a coach to your arsenal?

SCOTT: The desire to learn more about being a competitive triathlete and making the finish line of an Ironman. I didn’t think I could do it justice on my own, so when I read an article Sarah wrote about Ironman racing, her words really resonated with me so I got in touch. And as they say ‘the rest is history’. 🙂 

CPC: You had what I would call a pretty perfect Ironman race lead in. You nailed your sessions, listened and learned, stayed healthy and injury free. What do you think were the key aspects in your build for an Ironman that helped you train while staying injury free, healthy and happy?

SCOTT: The whole holistic approach of my coach Sarah, learning, trusting and putting things into practise. As well as my Wife/nutritionist for supporting me. A few key things that I started implementing that were instrumental was mindfulness – nearly daily, allowing time post session to rest and recover and not just rushing off to whatever is next, along with prioritising sleep.  Oh and listening not only to the Coach, but to my body – as Sarah would say, each of us know our own bodies better than anyone else, so really looking and listening for cues if something isn’t right or doesn’t feel right, and having a Coach can then help you break that down and action whatever is needed.

CPC: When did it get to that moment in your training when you thought ‘yes I can really do this’! (Ironman) ?

SCOTT: A third of the way through my IM training block I felt I could finish an IM , but it wasn’t until about halfway into the run leg on race day that I was confident I could race an IM. SO as long as you have a goal and be prepared for the  commitment and the work, trust that the process will get you there.

CPC: Soooo, talk us through your race? We want to know how it unfolded! How were the nerves? What did you find the toughest? How did you keep focused?

SCOTT: I found I was relatively calm leading up to the start, we were so blessed with ideal conditions, so that definitely helped. But as I said above, I was confident I could finish with the training, with the race plan and the tools in my toolkit, so I was confident on the start line – albeit a little nervous.

The swim leg went really well , I felt my strength was my controlled pacing for my relevant swim fitness. Exiting the water was my first experience of crowd support and wow what a picked me up!

The bike was a great time to reflect on my IM journey with a few moments of tears and joy along the way. I had a feeling towards the turn around point of the first lap that I might of went out a bit hard, but I settled into the rest of the race really well.

The highlight of the bike ride was climbing Matthew Flinders hill the first time, riding through a fantastic crowd of friends and spectators was surreal which I can only imagine what the pro cyclists feel climbing the Pyrenees in the tour! Making my way back into town for the end of the first lap was also another highlight with acknowledgement from the Race commentator towards me personally with reference also to our Maitland Tri Club really hit home of the importance of community. With that lift I started heading back out for another lap and my mental energy was very high which made the trip south seem quicker than the first time.

After the turn around it was back into being in and out of the saddle which I found was a blessing for my backside. Coming into the section of the race which was flat, I found myself concentrating and reassessing to stay focused. Coach Sarah gave me lots of tools for this, so I started concentrating more on form, breathing and positive thoughts. It worked a treat , as for the first time along the flats no one passed me (LOL) maybe they were tired.

Back into the outskirts of town and the thought of climbing the Matthew Flinders Hill again felt daunting and it was. A fitting moment towards the end of the bike leg was to ride down the main street (draft legal of course) with a true legend of the IM circuit and our club Sensei Pete Hodgson. (Maitland Tri Club)

Setting out on the run and the hardest thing was to slow down to a Marathon sustainable pace. Coach Sarah warned me of this, so I was diligent. Further in and the mind starts to want to take control and once again from the things I learnt from the coach about feeding off the crowd,  acknowledging volunteers, soaking up the atmosphere and trusting in my training really helped me to stay focused on the present moment. I was expecting the run to get tough though and it did. But the support I received from my fellow club persons young and old and the desire to finish so I could see my family was a very determining factor with staying focused and positive towards the back end of the race.

CPC: for most athletes doing their first Ironman, I try not to focus too much on the time outcome, but more the experience and having a consistent and well rounded race. How do you feel you went in this regard?

SCOTT: I’m hesitant to say without sounding cocky, but  I think I had the perfect race. Everything went exceptionally well, right down to (with your help Sarah) nailing the key points like nutrition, having no equipment troubles and no injury’s. So in regards to reflect on how I felt when i finished, I felt like a million bucks!

CPC: and the bonus – you nailed the race and came away with not only a fantastic experience, but a race result that reflected all you hard work. Awesome work!

Swim: 1:01.13
Bike: 5:57.26
Run: 4:08.40
Overall: 11:16.58

Check out full race results online:  Ironman – IRONMAN Australia

CPC: And what would you say is a highlight/s from your Ironman experience? What will stay with you forever?

SCOTT: Most definitely the community spirit within Triathlon at a local and national level. The unselfishness and kind acts of the volunteers sharing their time for my enjoyment too. And mostly sharing all the emotions at the finish line with my Wife Sharon and Daughter Lauren. That will stay with each of us forever.

CPC: Oh for sure! And do you have any wise words for other athletes thinking of taking on the goal of Ironman later in life? 

SCOTT: Like everyone with a bit of age on their side, we often reflect on things we have done whilst maturing. These experiences make us who we are, some we are not proud of, but taking on the challenge of the IM has helped me personally draw back on the all my years and filter the experiences to leave the positives and from that I’m confident in saying I am a better person for it.

CPC: Love that – a great way to utilise your life experiences. 🙂
And I always finish with this question…. so – what’s next for Scott Salmon? Would there be another Ironman on the cards one day maybe?…. 😁

SCOTT: I would love to keep learning about the sport under the guidance of Sarah at Complete Per4mance Coaching as well as staying involved with the Maitland Triathlon Club community which my family and I feel apart of and is something I hope does not end soon. Knowing that gang  I’m certain I will be attending or competing with them on that first Sunday in May at Port Macquarie Ironman……

CPC: anything else you would like to add / people to thank?

SCOTT: My wife Sharon who keeps me grounded and is by far my number one supporter.

Coach Sarah  for her above and beyond commitment to all her athletes and preparing this old bloke to a high level of fitness to take on an endurance event.

Pete Hodgson for inspiring me with the love and dedication he has for Triathlon and the whole City of Maitland.

And for everyone else who I trained with and competed against to learn the skills especially, Aaron Hughes an honest true friend.

CPC: So honest, humble and a true gentleman, truly deserved Scott, well done again!

 

How to nail racing overseas

“Wooohooo BOOM I did it coach! 1.28.56 (50 second PB) And a podium  to top it off. So happy thank you coach you got me the goal we were searching for!!” ~Athlete Andy Rogers

Now this is the kind of message you like to read on waking up on a Monday morning! Andy executed his race plan to a tee, and his hard work paid off.

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There’s nothing quite like a race in a different country / city you have never visited before. The excitement of deciding what to pack, the nerves of travel, the research, the sightseeing when you arrive. Preparing for a race in a different time zone is not only exciting it is also more challenging in managing the long haul travel, the stop overs, the and the jet lag. Ensuring an athlete is able to recover from the travel and feel fresh and ready on race day can be the most challenging part of an overseas travel prep. Last week, we had not one, but two athletes head over for the San Fransisco Half Marathon, and they not only nailed their preparation, they nailed the travel AND their races. Three from three! Read on to find out how their races went….

ANDY ROGERS: 1:28.56, PODIUM –  3RD M45-49!

CPC: Tell us, what was the San Fransisco Half Marathon like? One word – AMAZING! It’s such an incredible city and we had an amazing time. I love being able to incorporate our love for travel with our love for fitness and racing.

A 6.15am start made for our first race starting in the dark, but when you are doing it in a city such as San Fran, it is actually truly spectacular. 6000 Men and Women all with their own stories to why they were led to a very exciting start line in San Francisco. For me, it was about two things: my own achievement and trying to reach my own goals, but also celebrating an event with our overseas family (I’m from the UK but now live in AUS). The 6 all entered the race, and all had our own journeys to get to this day, and it was very emotional and for us to be able to stand together at the end of the race with our medals. It was the greatest feeling ever and something that we all will never forget.

Course highlights:

  • The Golden Gate Bridge – running over this iconic bridge was something!
  • Flaghill – where soldiers held flags every 10 meters cheering you up the very steep hill, gave you goosebumps.
  • The 190mt downhill finish line with 100’s of spectators cheering you home was simply incredible!

CPC: SOOO: Tell us, how does it feel to PB and podium in the same race, seems you nailed it?! 

On a personal front, I ran a pretty much perfect race plan from start to finish. Sticking to a plan and never losing sight of it, even with some very testing hills to challenge me on the course. I went in searching for a PB and PB is what I got! 1.28.54 (50 second PB) 3rd age group, 50th overall. 🙂

As much as being able to achieve your own goals is amazing, being able to share these kinds of experiences with loved ones is simply incredible.

 

CPC: As an athlete that isn’t getting any younger, you still seem to manage to be improving. What do you think has been the biggest contributor to this?  And how has having a coach helped with your achievement?

ANDY: There are a number of factors, including my diet – nutrition plays a big part in being able to fuel your body correctly and recover  well to gain maximum performance. My training program (although I had to manage an injury late on) has been perfect. Low k’s generally looking after my (older) body and listening too it. Not been afraid to call a rest day or to cut a session short.

Practicing my race day nutrition in training sessions and setting out a detailed race nutrition plan was important to ensure I had dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. Like I said before my race was THE PERFECT RACE, I don’t think you get a whole load of these in your life, but it really was spot on, and I can thank my coach for that!

Having a coach on TAP has just been amazing and crucial to my continued performance. Without a coach I wouldn’t have been able to make adjustments to my plan with my knowledge, so having a coach has just made it so easy. To be able to drop a text or a quick phone call to ask a few questions which is then discussed and an answer to a question quickly resolved.

The last 3 weeks was very testing with the onset of a niggling injury, but there is no way I could have made it to the start line in the shape I did and made the wise choices I made without the support of Sarah. Just like my IM achievement under her guidance, ‘WE’ achieved this PB. Thanks so much Coach for your continual support, you are amazing and know exactly how to get the best out of me and I cant wait to set and achieve my next goal with you!

LISA GROVE 2:28.11, sub 2:30 goal achieved, along with loosing 13kg! 

CPC: Just a few short months ago you weren’t able to run 5km without stopping, and now you’ve just smashed a half marathon! How did you find the training, and the race itself? 

LISA: I’m not going to hide the fact that I didn’t particularly enjoy running, I found it a tough slog. But since I decided to do the San Fran half marathon I’ve had no regrets, and dare I say now enjoy running?! 🙂

During my training plan with Sarah, I’ve shredded 13 kilos and over 55cm in my measurements. This has helped make running a lot easier that’s for sure! Not having ran for years apart from run / walk park run, there was only one place to start. 5k run walking we continued to gradually build on that each week until two weeks out from race-day I ran a 19km training run and knew I was ready! The thought of that extra 2.1k didn’t worrying me at all, but the hills I knew I had to tackle did. I had to mentally prepare myself for what was going to be a hilly course and this was the only thing that was going to stop me in my goal chase. But it was never going to happen my mind was in the right place my pre race build was perfect and we were ready to do it come the gun.

Sarah talked me through some great strategies to try if things weren’t going my way on race day (luckily i didn’t need these) so I just focused on hitting each of my race day targets – to slowly run all the hills, then as got to come back over the bridge I could have a quick walk to reset (12km mark) then walk through the last couple of water stations where I needed.

CPC: What did you find the most challenging about your journey, along with the most rewarding?

LISA: The most challenging part of my journey was running at a weight that was uncomfortable but of course the most rewarding part of my journey was losing those kgs, beginning to enjoy running again and feeling great and comfortable. And being able to share this experience of training and running with my partner Andy and being able to make him proud of me and my sister/coach proud of me, makes all the blood sweat and tears worth it. Who knows one day I may just think about doing a full marathon…. but not on a hilly course lol.

CPC: And the result? !

LISA: Sub 2:30.!!! Get in there.!!! Far out the hills were nuts.!  1km in and a big hill climb, 6kms in and another big winding hill climb, a gradual hill up both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge plus another big hill 1km from the finish line! But the views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline for almost all of my run kept me going. The support along the course was brilliant and the support of Andy and his family at the end cheering me down the last hill got me to my sub 2:30 goal! Thanks heaps coach you’ve helped me 100% to get me to the start and finish line of this race. And hopefully many more to come. Thank-you so so much for all your help, support and guidance.

Full details and race results here. 

Great start to 2019 !

Wow, what a way to start the racing year in 2019! Long forgotten already is Christmas and New Year, with athletes already a couple of weeks deep into their New Years training, and racing kicked off in Victoria over the weekend, with other key races not too far away and will be upon us before we know it. We have such a wide variety of races being targeted in the next 6 months including: 

2XU Triathlon Series
Maitland Tri Club Local Races
Ironman 70.3 Geelong – 17 Feb
Puka Up Ride 2019 – March
Tri Forster Ultimate – 30 March
Ironman South Africa – 7 April
San Francisco Half Marathon – 7 April
Challenge Melbourne – 14 April
Ironman & 70.3 Port Macquarie – 5 May
Tour de Cure – May
Ironman & 70.3 Cairns – 9 June

Plus loads more local racing – so much racing, and so much variety, it’s an exciting and busy first half of the year for athletes (and Coach!) 😉

RACING RETURNS 
The weekend saw racing return to Victoria to kick start 2019 and spanned from one side of the bay to the other.

Pier to Pub
On Saturday, Lorne hosted the historic Lorne Pier to Pub – a 1.2km swim fro the iconic Lorne Pier back to the Lorne Lifesaving Club. It’s such an awesome event held along the sea side town of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road, and also includes a 5000m swim, and ‘Mountain to Surf’ Trail run event.  But really – it’s the famous ‘pier to pub’ swim that has competitors enter a ballot months in advance to secure a coveted spot on the starting line.

This year we had athlete Robyn Bourke race as part of her annual training, and preparation this year into Geelong 70.3 and finished in a time of 22:17. A great chance for a race specific open water swim and gain the confidence leading into next months race.

 

2XU Race 3, StKilda

A great morning and a great conditions at St Kilda for Race 3 of the series. The breeze picked up as the morning went on, but actually provided a little relief on the run when it started to heat up. But otherwise a great morning for some solid racing!

We had a small contingent of athletes racing, with others opting to continue their training build without this race, and with Race 4 at Elwood just 3 weeks away, there is plenty of chances to get that racing fire power.

We had some great results including podiums, and some confidence boosting racing leading into further key races. Congrats to Kara Landells who secured herself another podium for the season finishing 2nd 25-29F in the sprint, and Mal McCleod who also continued his consistent season finishing 3rd Clydesdale in the sprint – and the fastest bike split in his category.

Robyn Bourke backed up her Pier to Pub yesterday with the Olympic Distance today and had a fine race! Robyn only commenced coaching with CPC in November last year and has grown immensely in such a short time. She finished with a solid race, hitting her target of just on 3hours, with a sub 1hr run – best of all she felt great all race and is well on track for a great 70.3 in Geelong.

Shout out to athlete Narelle Crooks who after a super start to her race and flying on the bike, had a mishap which left her on the bitumen and nursing some nasty bumps, lumps and grazes. A disappointing end to her day yesterday, but no doubt will be back with even more gusto at next race. Sending you fast healing vibes Narelle!
Full race results here.

Check out our pics here from the days racing

A shout out also goes to Jamie and his team at JET Coaching for hosting us for the day! 

Two Bays Trail Run – 56km ultra
Think of trail running and you can picture running along beautiful scenic trails, amongst trees and nature, an adventure outside of the city. Add to that a trail run that is an ultra distance (56km) that goes from Bushrangers Bay (Cape Schanck) to Dromana (Port Phillip Bay) and return, including up and over Arthurs Seat with over 1000m of elevation, and all of a sudden you had a trail run that is not just a huge test on the body, both a mammoth test for the mind and ones mental fortitude. The Two Bays Trail Run Ultra 56km

Athlete Scott Memery has taken on the 28km distance at this event the past couple of years and this year decided on the double distance – a chance to test himself over this ultra endurance event. Scott is no stranger to endurance racing, previously competing in Ironman, but ask anyone, and ultra distance running can rival that of Ironman.

The day provided pretty warm and tough conditions for competitors, when in the bush trails there was little breeze and the heat and humidity was always going to be a factor and make for an even tougher day on what is already a tough day! 🙂

Scott went into this event super prepared, managing his time between training, recovery, work, family and volunteering and a huge credit to him he pretty much nailed his preparation. We had a goal of sub 6hours going into the event and with a solid race, nutrition and hydration plan and the day was then all about managing the body as the race went on.

“Very tough day for everyone, I’ve never seen so many people walking and struggling so much…. We only got the benefit of the breeze when out in the open, through the bush(majority of the trail) there was no breeze and felt bloody hot… It was a huge mental battle to keep going, while still trying to go under the 6hrs…. I passed a group of four with about 1.5k to go but told them they’d been in front of me most of the day and deserved to finish ahead of me so I slowed to allow that to happen, while keeping my target in mind. It wasn’t about finishing positions for me today. 
Legs are absolutely shagged, toes sore but other than that I actually feel pretty good. Thank you again for all your support!”

Finish time: 5hrs 58min! 

What an achievement Scott ! Now time to ice up, rest up, sleep up and eat up (and maybe avoid stairs for a few day!) 😉

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Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Sarah qualified for the Ironman World Champs in her first Ironman attempt at Ironman Melbourne 2013 (also achieving a podium place in the same race), going on to compete in Kona that same year.

Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training and coaching options for you.