It’s been an epic 12 months and a pretty intense couple of years. I’m now on my first break since I started racing in 2012. I’ll be honest and say that I am loving every minute of it. I think I will make sure that I build a solid break into my training every year from this point onwards. A big reason for why I raced so much was about survival. And another reason was not being able to say no. But the first 4 months of this year were pretty much next level and I realised I’d finally come close to my limit. Luckily I didn’t blow up and ended on a high, and the break came at the perfect time.
As most of you know, my Olympic Triathlon campaign came to a rapid end when I DNF’d at the Goldcoast World Series Triathlon race. Probably my first and last opportunity to race Triathlon at this level. I was gutted. I made some fatal decisions in the swim, which reflectively came down to nerves and lack of experience. I decided to bail on the group I was with in the first part of the swim and attempted to swim through no mans land to the main pack. I had convinced myself that this was what I needed to do to have a chance at making a race out of it. But when you are swimming with a field that are all sub 18minute 1.5km swimmers, going out on your own isn’t a great bet unless you are one of the Brown-lee brothers. I should of tried to stick to the hips that I was with. I don’t think I’d really come to terms with the fact that my swimming wasn’t where it needed to be. I ended up last out of the swim after swimming most of the race by myself. Ironically it was a personal best and a swim that in any other situation I would have been stoked with.
I got on the bike and blocked out the deflation of the last leg and tried to catch some wheels, but again being by myself didn’t really work to my advantage. It was a pretty tough call for me to pull out after a few laps, but I had already committed to Rotorua XTERRA the weekend after and had to back that up at Asia Pacific XTERRA Champs the weekend after that. It was without a doubt the hardest decisions of my career so far, as I started it and I wanted to finish it, but I made the decision that day and I moved on. And it turned out to be the right one for me. Once I was back racing XTERRA the next weekend I realized I was back where I wanted to be and was more stoked than ever to take away both the NZ XTERRA title and the Asia Pacific title after having not been on a mountain bike for several months..
I guess in most cases, we learn only by our experiences and its the tougher ones in life that seem to enhance the learning process. For me, I know that the learnings that I have made will take me into the later part of this year with a much higher chance of success in the goals I have mapped out for myself. I believe I could achieve more within Tri and its sucks to walk away knowing that, but I’ve made a decision and I know its the right one. It’s still a bit gutting to know that you can’t just come back to ITU and bash out a top performance when you are feeling good. The sport doesn’t really work that way. It’s all or nothing and you need to spend the whole year building points just so you can get starts. There are a huge number of things that are always out of your control and you have to put everything on the line always. Huge respect for the guys who play this game year in year out. It’s a huge endeavor and a really stressful one at that.
I have a family and that has always played a big role in many of my decisions about racing. This is some of the reason why I wouldn’t consider continuing to race ITU, and most of the reason for my choices moving forward this year. For me its about enjoying what I do, challenging myself to be better but also having a life that I can enjoy with my family by my side. I attribute my family to be my advantage as it ensures I keep a balance in my life and it gives me something other than myself to race for. The dark days that I did experience in ITU were still few and far between because of this reason. I just reminded myself that its because I race that I get so much time with these guys and get to travel the world with them by my side.
So the rest of the year will be dedicated to becoming a World XTERRA Champion and Sal and the kids will travel with me to almost all of my races. I’m very lucky to have Flight Centre Sports and Events, who support us to do this.
My schedule laid out below is based on where I am at right now and what I feel I can do. I think I’m sitting in a better position than ever before after doing 3months of speed work and then having a solid rest off the back. Having the down time has also given me a chance to reflect on areas I can improve on moving forward. So this is how it will play out.
May: Recovery, adventure, enjoying not having a plan!
June: Having my 30th Birthday party on the 4th of June. Then heading to Auckland to work with Bevan McKinnon (new coach) and train with his swim squad. Bevan was named number 1 endurance coach in NZ and I have got to know him well over the last few months. He is up front, honest and I think he will get the most out of what I can do. Based in Auckland he also has a wealth of resources I can tap into at AUT Millenium Sports and Performance Clinic. We will do some metabolic efficiency testing, running and cycling mechanics and swim technique video and analysis. This will be my first time as a lab rat and I’m excited to have this information to work as my baseline and for the first time I’m really open to change. Nothing like getting smashed to remind you that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
July: Train with a focus on 70.3 Worlds in Mooloolaba Australia.
August 7th: Asia Pacific 70.3 Championships Philippines. Good lead up race before World 70.3 Champs in Australia in September
September 4th: World 70.3 Championships QLD Australia. Leave for USA the week after with the family.
September 17th: USA XTERRA Championships UTAH USA. Travel UTAH to Lake Tahoe California after this event and base there for 4 weeks at altitude and train hard for XTERRA World Champs in October.
October 23rd: XTERRA World Champs. Stay a week in Hawaii and then fly to WA for the next one.
November 5th: Augusta Adventure Festival WA Australia
November 19th: ITU World Cross Tri Champs ACT Australia
December 10th: Taupo 70.3 NZ
January 21st/22nd (dates still pending): Red Bull Defiance
I want to say thanks for everyone who backed me and supported me through Triathlon and for their continued support after Triathlon. A huge thanks to Tim Brazier my coach for 3 years. He taught me what I am capable of and I saw huge progression working with him. I also want to thank my sponsors. They stood by me knowing that I was potentially giving up my career to try a sport I had never raced before, and they didn’t care. They were happy to support me to have a crack and for that I’m so appreciative. I feel privileged to work with the people behind the brands and also brands that offer me the best equipment and resources on the planet. Subaru, Red bull, 2XU, Flight Centre Sports and Events, Rhino Rack and Specialized. Bring on the rest of 2016! Thanks again to everyone for your support!