Exactly 2 weeks on post IM Barcelona and having done no exercise whatsoever since I crossed that finish line, I find myself watching the World Champs in Kona in a rather emotional state. Of course I can totally feel the pre race nerves on these athletes, the anticipation of a great battle ahead, but mainly I can’t help seeing MYSELF there. Thinking, as they start exiting the water and I recognise some athletes I usually swim with, I would have been in that group, I would have done this and that…but I am NOT in Kona. I will never get to race that race. Not only that, but I will not be racing in the pro ranks anymore at all. This is a decision I took at the beginning of the season and it’s been a long time coming, but it seems like I had somehow buried this thought in the back of my brain up until this point. And now, as the athletes reach the turn around point at Hawi the realisation is finally hitting me and it’s a tough one… + more
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Being on the start line of the Weymouth 70.3 race, 3 months and a bit after my last race and only a month after announcing my imminent retirement, was already a victory in itself. Not that I expected much, having had only a few pain free runs and a training regime somewhat chaotic what with a summer filled with festivals and gigs (and ensuing sleep deprived week-ends) every single week. In fact I hadn’t had a week-end off partying since Japan in early June! But, having teamed up at the last minute with my mate and 70.3 novice Evgeny, here I was back on the Jurassic coast nonetheless, planning to use this race as a good training day that would hit the reset button on and turn me into a triathlete again, albeit for a short amount of time. Because yes, Ironman Barcelona is only 2 weeks away, and as previously explained this will be my last race as a professional athlete. + more
Having declared in my race recap post Lanza 2015 how glad I was to have finished because that meant I wouldn’t have to do it again…well here I was toeing the start line one more time 2 years later. DNF in 2013, 9th in 2015, what would 2017 bring? A hard race that is a certainty, but what else, and why the change of mind? + more
I missed a turn…
One thing I get asked repeatedly by a lot of people (namely my mum and my girlfriend) is to explain the motivations behind this triathlon malarkey – when will I stop ? It’s a tough one to answer really as any endurance athlete can find new goals and challenges pretty much ad vitam aeternam. I think though the main reason I am still sweating buckets going nowhere in my living room in order to compete at pro level having now just turned 40 and despite having arguably a better career to focus on (phew, breathe here!), is because I know I still haven’t reached my full potential. And I want to (reach it). As per customary with elite sport, I went through as many highs as lows over the years, but somehow I tend to dwell on those missed opportunities a lot more than on the successes. As a runner I always seemed to get injured while at the peak of my form, and hence never got the times/results I knew I could have had. When I tore my Achilles in the final of the U23 french national championship, 300m for the finish line, that was one injury too many and I stopped my running career right there. I was in the shape of my life that day and fighting for glory and a definite PB when injury stroke again. This was a pivotal time in my life as I then took a 180º turn away from competitive sport, but the feeling of unfinished business never left me.
Un résumé de la course en français se trouve ici sur le site de Trimes:
My whole 2016 season has been shaped around this AA race. The preparation started at the beginning of November, when the list of selected athletes was announced. I must have read the race manual at least a dozen times to make sure I was ready come race day with every technical, physical and logistic aspects of this mythical race. That leaves plenty of time (9 months) to have recurring dreams about one of the most renowned and most coveted finish lines in the world of triathlon. The summit of the G.A.U.S.T.A.T.O.P.P.E.N.
Norseman means support team. You don’t race on your own like in a regular triathlon. Nobody will get DQed for outside assistance here. In fact this is compulsory, as the only 2 aid stations are at K25 and K32.5 of the run, some 8 hours + into the race. The team that follows us throughout the day is there to feed us, dress/undress us, calm our nerves, shout at us, encourage us, etc. This is one of the key aspects that makes this race so special. Then of course you have the course (unique and magical nordic landscape, cold fjords, 5 ‘cols’ on the bike for a total elevation of 3360m, and last but not least possibly the hardest run of any iron event with the 12K of Zombie Hill averaging 10% followed by 5K of fell ‘running’ (scrambling really) to reach the finish line, at an altitude of 1883m). Add to this a rather hostile and unpredictable weather, and that gives you a never ending yet unforgettable day out ! + more
In early March I was in the best shape I’ve been at that time of the year. To validate all the hard labor I took part of the Mudman duathlon, which I hadn’t done since 2009 (then my first ever duathlon) when I finished 2nd behind a certain Sam Gardner. I remember not being able to walk for a couple days afterwards. Up and down and up and down and repeat ad infinitum; nothing technical just a hard and honest race. The preps for Norseman started here. After a prudent start I slowly but surely ran past everyone and entered T1 with a 15sec lead, feeling easy. After 3/4 of the bike I was 1:30 ahead and just had to cruise home. Then somehow a rock (I believe, as this all happended underwater – yes we had to ride (and run) knee deep for about 100m each lap) hit my rear mech which got caught in the wheel and destroyed as a result. Frame got cracked too. Game over that was. + more
The (very last minute) idea behind ironman Malaysia was to make one last use of my 2015 pro license, and depending on the result to decide afterwards whether to pursue the Kona dream and KPR race in 2016. Or not.
Obviously having never been to Malaysia the prospect of 10 days in the tropics in the middle of November was also a big bonus, and with my mum coming along it really was a no brainer. The big unknowns were my fitness level (what with 2 weeks off post xterra Japan in September then 1 week off sick in October and barely any running due to a micro tear in my left calf) and my ability to race long in extremely hot and humid conditions.
When I first heard a year ago about a new location for xterra Japan, I had the perfect excuse to plan another extended visit to one of my favorite destinations in the world. This was my 6th trip in the country in 4 years, and despite an embarrassing lack of progress in Japanese, I do feel like I have a second home here. And once again the trip lived up to and even beyond my expectations.
After spending the first half of the year preparing for and racing on the IM circuit, it was a welcome relief to be back on fat tyres and playing up and down muddy trails. I must have ridden my mtb 4 times max since Maui 10 months prior but I knew I had the fitness after a decent result at IM Kalmar.
In 2012 the race was in Marunuma, in the Gunma prefecture just a few hours outside of Tokyo, and it felt as remote as can be, with even a bear attack to add authenticity. This year it took place in and around Lake Kanayama, about 3 hours drive from Sapporo, Hokkaido. It didn’t look as stunning nor as remote as Marunuma, but still we had a nice enough background to play with. + more
6 weeks after the huge deception of a DNF in Nice, I could finally toe a start line again and put that race in the past. Here I was in Kalmar, Sweden, roughly half way between Stockholm and Copenhagen, an unknown part of the world for me, with a vague expectation of a top 5, a sub 9 h and a sub 3 h…Finish at the very least!
I enrolled my dad for the journey to one of the most civilised countries on the planet, one that seems to live on berries, mushrooms, salmon and alcohol. At 6-7 euros a beer, this is not exactly the cheapest place around, but luckily we didn’t come here to get drunk.
That should have been the big one. My A race for 2015, for which I had various goals like a top 10, a sub 9:15 and a sub 3:00 marathon. Totally doable after a decent IM Lanzarote 5 weeks prior, and being in the shape of my life in between these 2 races. But on race day I was empty… + more