Tommy at Nice 70.3 World Championships
Bonjour, I’m back from the land of Rocky beaches, croissants & shit coffee. Had an absolute epic trip though. First overseas trip for a race & first 70.3 World Champs. Nice is Nice hahaha. Such a picturesque location. Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, riding up the Col De Vence & running along the Promenade des Anglais. How good is that. Atmosphere around NICE was amazing! With 5000+ competitors & all their supporters there was no shortage of people getting around but that all added to the vibe & the hype.
Week leading up to the race, I pretty much got any training done early in the morning before the traffic got hectic & also before the masses woke up. Coastline was epic for morning rides & runs just so different from home. It also made you realise why the Europeans are so good in the hills as its pretty much all hills with little amounts of flats. After the morning sessions I pretty much just left time to go sit on the rocks, relax at the beach & eat baguettes. Watching people get in & out of the water was all time. As it is all rocks with a decent drop off before the water, it certainly made for some laughs with all the spills and different approaches everyone took.
Race day came around very quick. Next thing you know I was in a bull pen with 440 + of my 30-34 AG mates ready to send it. Water was 25.6 degrees so a non-wetsuit swim. Since there were so many athletes we went off 15 people every 10 seconds. It wasn’t too bad in the water in terms of bodies even though there was already around 1000+ people that had started since our AG wave got the call up. I got pretty close to the front, didn't want to get stuck right near the back. I actually swam well, a lot better than I thought I was going to do. My old boy was waiting at the swim exit for me to come out & I had told him the day before roughly what times I assumed I was going to do for each leg or at least aiming to do after seeing the girls race. I was shocked when I saw my watch- I came out 5 mins faster than I predicted. The swim suited me though. There was a little cross wind so slight chop & open water with swell- this was my jam as I’m not the best tech swimmer but I'm strong and don’t kick much anyway. I was moving past a fair few people in the swim & felt good when I got out.
Next up was the bike- time to get onto this course & see what we can do. Out of transition I was feeling good but I made sure I sat on a comfortable 39km avg until I hit the start of the climbs so I didn’t exert too much energy. I hadn’t done the climb to the summit so I really didn’t know what to expect. I had heard it was about 1hr to the top but that is all I knew. Up we go, it was pretty steep out the saddle right at the start to really sort everyone out. After that it was full of false flats, little pinches and a couple little 1-2% downhills all wrapping the hills heading to the infamous Col De Vence. At this point I think it’s about 7km to the summit & avg grade of 6%. I was really lost on this bike course as I just really didn’t know how much to push on these up hills as I had never raced with elevation like this. I didn’t want to full flog myself for the run leg. I knew if I got off the bike with some sort of run legs in me, I could make up more places that way rather than smashing myself up the climb.
I reached the summit & it actually wasn’t too bad. It felt like it went for ages but had still had plenty of time to get in nutrition & gather myself before hitting the descent. Being fairly new to the sport I haven’t been riding for long but I knew I would be descending with some absolute European weapons that ride these type of hills on the daily & have been riding for years. First part of the descent is pretty much on the TT bars hammering it around bends until it hits hairpins and starts the real descent. That is where the game changed. I saw two guys go FLYING past me. To give you an idea how fast- I was sitting on 62/63km speed going down at times & these guys were hooking past still. I then came around the corner and those same two guys were both on the ground screaming, all cut up and tri suits all ripped. They had both clearly come off around a corner. After this I saw two more crashes- guys with their face all busted open and a bit further on a bike in a tree with a guy getting loaded into an ambulance in a neck brace. This was when I said to myself ‘ok how about we back off a little & just make it back to transition in one piece.’ It wasn’t even my cycling skills I was stressing about (I'm not horrible just not a speed demon), it was more the fact other athletes were riding so crazy and out of their cycling ability. I didn’t want someone taking me out around a corner. Anyway, I made it down & once on the flats with 12km back to town/transition I averaged 43km & felt good. Time to get my run on.
Coming into Worlds my two main personal goals were to have a good swim & most importantly a good run off the bike. At Port Mac I had the worst run possible so I wanted to prove to myself that that race wasn’t normal & something was going on with my body that day. Back to Nice and the run course was flat & very hot with hardly any shade. Heading out of town towards the airport there was a little head wind which was enough to play a little mental game with you. It was also just enough to have you lift the HR a little as you had to push to keep the pace on. My aim was to sit on 4:00 minute km’s out of transition & for the first 5km then reassess to see how I was feeling. All was going well, felt good ticking off athlete after athlete along the promenade. Started to drift into high 3-minute pace as the body was responding ok & I was settling in nicely. Went through the 10km mark clocking just under 40mins so was on track & I was thinking ‘ok I'm in a good spot here to pick it up and run a sub 1:25 Half marathon.’ Well spoke too soon didn’t I. I turned to start lap 2 and BOOM little head wind started to really play with me. I honestly think I worry too much about sticking to a pace at times when I race & I should maybe just unleash when the body is feeling good. There is always going to be a point on the run where your body goes through a few Km’s of feeling horrible & starts fading. I think it is how you handle this moment of the race to then get through it & push to the finish line. I was in a bad place from around the 12-16km mark- really up and down. It is a hard feeling to describe. There are moments of ‘I'm not going to finish this run’ then all the sudden you are like ‘nahhhh I'm good I'm ticking them over still.’ I’m still so new to this stuff & post-race I always start thinking ok is it Nutritional errors? Or is it just my body isn’t there yet to handle hard bikes into a decent run? Who bloody knows? I’m still learning to analyse my race in better ways. All I know is I turned and saw the 16km marker, went damn time to grit the teeth & bring it home. I ended up picking the pace back up, god it was ugly, but I got myself back to sub 4minute Km’s to finish strong but it was too late. I faded too much & lost some minutes trying to gather myself. I clocked a 1:28 half marathon. To be honest I wanted faster but the bike leg was way more time on the bike I have ever had in a race & with the climb like that, in the end I was happy with the run time (especially after the shocking Port Mac run).
First 70.3 World Champs done & dusted. What an experience & I’m glad I went over & raced.
I guess where do I go now, what’s the plan?
As for racing my next 70.3 race will be Geelong in Feb. I loved this race when I did it last year. Really honest strong bike course & the run has a few little hills in it. Safe to say I learnt a lot from racing this last time & 2020 I want to go back, prove to myself & show I’ve gotten stronger + faster. Well I hope I have by then haha.
I’ll also be racing the Local Olympic distance race here in Jan at Robina. Always good for a little hit out & get the year started with a race. Other than those 2 races I’m really not sure what is on the cards. I’d like to qualify for Taupo 70.3 world champs but also at the same time would mind looking at doing a 70.3 race in Asia somewhere as well.
Aside from racing I really need to actually get my bike fitted properly. I have actually never had a bike fit done. I think it is time now to invest the money into getting this done. There is so many benefits of getting this done. I just really want to go see the guys at Adaptive HP in Melbourne so it isn’t a quick, easy or cheap thing to do and get done. I want to see these guys though I like the approach they take when it comes to fittings & also they designed Ride Sync products so would be great to get these integrated into my front end set up. I mean who doesn’t like free watts.
When it comes to training. Still working closely with Blake from BMF for all my Strength work. This has been great & made a big difference already. If you don’t take your gym sessions seriously learn from my mistakes & get onto this NOW. I think a key part for my run to get better off the bike is getting my bike strength up. Being able to push what I do now but with less tax on the body so I can come off the bike & be in a much better place to run like I know I can do. Big goal of mine for the run is to be running sub 1:20 no matter how hard the bike course.
Swimming for me is getting better I just need to keep working on my technique. I know I won’t be a 23min swimmer but getting down to 25mins is the key to make sure the gap out of the water isn’t too big. Then it comes down to a good solid bike followed by an epic run to make up those minutes & onto the podium. That is how I see it in my head anyway.
That is pretty much what I’m focusing on the next few months. Trying to keep it simple. Stay injury free & have fun of course. I actually love training haha. I’m frothing to watch the big dance aka KONA in a few weeks. Who have you got your money on?
Bring on the next year of racing.