26Oct

Kona 2017

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Some Insights you would not  see on the coverage of the Kona pro race (my perspective):

1) In the transition zone pre race even the worse joke receives nervous laughter, anything to release some of the tension trapped inside. Even if you don`t understand the language its spoke in you will still laugh along.

2) There is always about a 45minute gap between getting the bike sorted and the swim start so you find a seat and relax.  Most pros have either a friend/coach/sponsor/team manager with them at this point.  My guy knows exactly what to say to me but you always here some idiotic stuff being said.

3) The frantic searching in the water before the cannon goes as you look for where the stronger swimmers have placed themselves. Finding Josh Amberger at this point is like hitting the jackpot.

4) The 50 km where Patrick and I salvaged our race.  Dropped going up Hawi as the Wurf/Lionel/Kienle express train came through and not strong enough in the cross winds to make the next group we were left alone with only Tyler Butterfield keeping us company for a while.

From the top of Hawi to just before the airport we were by ourselves frantically chasing to bridge back up to the next group that had formed ahead.

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5) The out and back nature of the run course gives the opportunity of those having a bad day to see what is happening at the front.  Every pro I passed on my way home along the Queen K would give some sort of encouragement.  After 7 hours plus under the Kona heat this means a lot.

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6) The epicness of all the volunteers.

7) The moment it finally sinks in that I managed to step onto the podium

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07Apr

In news, Racing

Ironman South Africa- 3rd

Nine days before South Africa the training plan was that I should have been starting to feel `fresh` and that sessions would still keep some intensity but my freshness should make them feel comfortable. The last big block of training had finished 4 days earlier and I had even surprised myself with how my body coped with the training load. So with 3 days of easy training I should have been good to go. Sometimes the body decides to make its own plan.

There I was 9 days out from race day with a 3hour bike ride with some race pace intervals and a short run off on the plan.  Instead I woke up, made porridge and went back to bed.  I did nothing that day.  From feeling on top of the world and ready to take on anything just a couple of days previously my body had now decided that it much preferred to stay in the confines of my bed.

The training plan went from activation/ race pace sessions to “just do what you feel like and when in doubt do less”.

Physically and mentally it saved my race.

Afrique du sud IM (4)

The race:

Swim- 49.09. Terrible run start into water; made the first 500metres a lot harder having to navigate my way safely through people into the front pack; in severe oxygen debt I made it; time to recover and stay there until the end.

Afrique du sud IM (23)

Bike- 4.28.45

First 45k- “We cannot keep this pace up until the end”- my in race thoughts.
60k- Bollocks, I can’t believe I missed 3 times trying to grab a water bottle at the aid station.
85k- Do I have the strength to go with them?- as the eventual 1st and 2nd place went of the front. The answer was no and I never saw the front of the race again. I remained in the main group of 8.
120k- I get more and more excited when the aid stations arrive, the race intensity drops for a couple of minutes as we take on fluids and I stuff energy bar in my mouth. Fresh water and food really has never tasted so dam good.
150k- “Usually I am dropped at this point, this feels strange, I think I might actually enter T2 in a group”
180k- I hope my run legs are good. I really hope my run legs are good.

Run- 2.45.36

Opening 3k- I love running! However I am 6 minutes behind two very good runners but 3rd place is only 5minutes ahead and looks struggling.

5k- 17.30. The watch beeps. This is way faster than planned.  However I have arrived at the conclusion that I should be able to get 3rd if I don`t fall apart but to make it to the top step of the podium I need to do something unbelievable. I decide to throw caution to the wind and go for it.
14k- I run into 3rd and it dawns on me that I am now on a podium spot at one of the biggest Ironmans of the year. This is cool. Painful but cool.
20k- My quads hate me. Maybe I should stop and stretch for 30secs and see if it helps?  Actually lets not be stupid, if I stop the rhythm might go and I may find myself being the guy who runs onto the podium only to give it up.
30k- Shit. I have went from feeling like I was the hunter to being the guy `running` for his life, even if now the running is a lot slower than an hour earlier. I am destroyed but I try and keep looking relaxed on and out and back sections.
38k- I know I am 2minutes 30seconds ahead of 4th place but my head is such a mess I cannot calculate how many seconds a kilometre I can afford to lose and still stay on the podium. Spectators at the side of the road congratulate me on coming 3rd but I know I haven`t made it yet and my head is now so irrational I am convinced I will get caught and end up walking till the end.

Afrique du sud IM (81)

Red Carpet- Where is he? Where is Kyle (the person in 4th)? He must be right behind me? Don`t walk the whole 100metres or so of carpet or he will sprint by me. You will look an idiot (I still had over 2minutes but my head was gone). With 20metres to go reality finally hit and I did some high 5s and got over the finish line.

Total- 8.07.31

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08Jan

In news

2017

Walking away from Kona in 2016 was frustrating, For only the 2nd time since 2009 I left a World Championships having performed below where my fitness was showing in training.  However racing is all that matters and nobody wins anything in a session.
Like every emotion the frustration quickly disappeared and instead I chose to focus on 2017 and targeting a big event early on in the season.  Therefore I will return to Ironman South Africa on April 2nd.  In 2015 I did my first Ironman there and that experience was unforgettable.  I told myself that one day I would go back when I felt I could challenge for that elusive podium, lets hope this year I can do just that.
With that in mind it is time to knuckle down training wise, lose some of the extra padding around the waist that appeared over Christmas and switch my attentions to Africa.
The rest of 2017 plans I will decide after April.  I am tempted to try and do a 2nd ironman before Kona but I will let my body decide that- I won Ironman UK in 2015 and I would love to do a repeat of that performance again in Bolton.  We shall see.
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13Oct

In Kona, Racing

KONA 2016

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copyright @koruptvision
13th in a UK Record on the big Island
Keep eating and moving forward`.  When all my race plans had become meaningless, when there was 90k to go on the bike and I am working with blown legs, when I know things will probably become darker before there is light, my answer was to keep things simple-  `Keep eating and moving forward`.
It had started of so well with the swim.  Life had been easy then, 3.8k in relative comfort and hitting dry land at the front with the leaders.  Just like the plan.
Over the next 2 hours I rode well in the pace line of the front group.  I had been feeling good, even when the usual big pace surges had happened like they always do at the start in Kona my body had reacted good.   I was growing in confidence as the kilometres passed.
Then it was over.  Just like that.
I have had my share of explosions in the past but never so early or so spectacular in a race.  For it to happen at the World Champs when I felt like I was in peak shape was a tough pill to swallow.
This is where the mental battle begins, physically you are temporarily broken but you can always win the mental battle if your prepared.  However when your 90k from transition on and out and back course it`s a hell of a battle.  So telling myself simple things like `Keep eating and moving forward`, `You never know what can happen` are the tricks I use.
In Kona most people fall apart at some stage, if you can keep motivated when most people would give up then you can salvage a respectable position.
I made it to T2 but my legs had nosedived even further. I shuffled towards the change tent with my bag in hand not really knowing what to do.
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copyright @koruptvision.
My lasting memory of Kona 2016 will probably be of the volunteers in the change tent.  I was broken and they could see that.  However their passion and shear enthusiasm to see me get out on the run course had me slipping on my Sketchers and hitting the tarmac.
Last year I had the fastest run split in Kona, within the first couple of steps I knew there would be no repeat performance.  I ticked of the first couple of miles at nothing more than a fast jog.  However as the miles ticked on I finally found my second wind and going into the final 2 hours of racing I felt like I was back.  Even if I found myself in 30th place.
You can make a lot of progress in the closing stages of an Ironman, especially in Kona when you are running on the highway in the afternoon heat.  It is brutal.  15 miles of highway, followed by the infamous `energy lab` section before the return leg on the highway.  You see many broken people here, physically and mentally.  Pure emotion on show.
I locked into 6.10 minute mile pace and just tried to hold it.  It felt like I was flying.  Very quickly I passed guys who were going through their own version of hell.  Some walking, others cramping up and some just stopped at aid stations trying to get enough energy on board to make it to the end.
Over the remaining stages I climbed my way back to 13th and became the fastest Brit ever in Kona. Somehow finishing of with a 2.49 marathon split.
I gave it my all, it was not the performance I had hoped to produce but this is Kona and it can destroy even the best prepared athletes.  Till next year.
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Challenge Galway and Challenge Poznan

It took almost a year to reach the top step of the podium again but then it goes and happens twice in a month.

Race dynamics in non drafting events are often overlooked but my route to victory were complete contrasts.

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Galway :  I hung on for dear life in the swim, it wasn’t fun, it was by no means comfortable but I just about made it.  A good transition saw me lead the way on the bike and for the first 30k, however at times I felt like I was pedalling in squares and soon there was a group of 4.  By 65k the strongest cyclist in the field joined the party.  For 60k I rode defensively, never leading but trying to make people believe I felt good.  Trying to conserve energy for the run.  Everyone watched one another, nobody really wanting to be the person to push the pace at the front to later fall apart on the run.  Coming of the bike the run legs kicked in and I ran away to win.

David McNamee

Poznan:  A slightly more enjoyable swim experience but by no means easy, leaving the water 10seconds adrift of the lead.  This time though the bike legs had turned up and I stuck my head down and went for it.  Soon I had the lead and forged a gap.  By the time a group formed behind me they were more concerned about racing amongst themselves than catching me.  Result- 5 minute lead coming into T2.  Any sort of a quick run was left behind on the 90k bike leg but thankfully this time I never needed them.

Same result but in totally different mannersNext up I go to Austria to race Challenge Walchsee which are the European Half Distance Championships

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Lanzarote- 3rd

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As a kid I watched the highlights on TransWorldSports.  I`m sure most people at that age would have thought it looked boring or even silly. I thought it was awesome.  My earliest memories of Ironman evolve around this event and it felt only right that I had to make the start line.

So there I was, 21/5/16, joining the list of names who have tackled probably the toughest Ironman on the circuit, an event celebrating 25years and the most known Ironman outside of Kona.

A brief race recap:

Swim – After the usual tussle at the start I found myself near the front, I could see the lead kayak and knew all was well in my world so far that morning.  For most of the swim I try and mentally switch off, chill out and prepare myself for the long day ahead.

Bike – For the first 80k it was only me and the lead vehicle, there I was leading, something that was never in the game plan but when an opportunity presents itself sometimes you have to roll the dice. By the end of the 180k I was still 3rd. I then decided to fall off my bike at the dismount line. Ego bruised but body intact I made it onto the run.

Run – 42k of physical and mental battles doing random things you would never do in training. Like grabbing some ice cubes and putting them down your top, I don`t know why but I felt it made the next couple of kilometres more manageable.
I then decided to leave the Lime flavoured Etiixx gels until last for thats my current favourite flavour of the month and therefore I had a treat to look forward to. All these distractions really do interrupt the physical brutality of the marathon, them and the crazy support the event has especially for the Brits.  Truly special.

I made it to the podium and hopefully some kid at home watches the race and thinks that looks pretty awesome…

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The 2015 Report Card

teamPhoto: Jeremie Reuiller

Attendance: David completed 3 Ironman events- he was very eager in his first season. In addition he raced 5 half ironmans however I am sure he wishes he could forget the dismal debut. On a brighter note the one sprint event he done, mainly due to his German team unable to find anyone else showed clearly why David no longer belongs in the shorter distance.

Swim: It is fair to say that David finds the Ironman swim a lot more enjoyable than the washing machine of ITU.  He does need to work on his starts, I know he doesn’t appreciate the early mornings so maybe he needs to strengthen the coffee. Playing catch up is not an ideal situation to put yourself in from the get go.  Overall: B+

Bike: In Davids first couple of months he was very unsettled in this area, his body was confused and acted out at times.  His work ethic was very good though and his body started to come around.  It still remains an area that still needs great focus. Also during races he drifts away mentally, at times he is heard mumbling to himself, this can sometimes be followed by sporadic and frankly stupid spikes in power.  David needs to learn about energy conversation in 2016. Overall: C

Run: David adapted to the higher volume run training extremely well.  We felt this was going to be a strength in racing.  However pacing in races was haphazard at best and woeful at worse.  In South Africa he decided 3.30 kilometre pace was a good start, this lasted 10kilometres until things went downhill quickly.  Ironman UK was better but still showed a lack of experience by running far to fast when he was going through a `good patch`.  Thankfully by Kona, with the heat and humidity this slowed his usual `burst from the gates` marathon approach and managed to run consistent.  Overall: A-

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23Nov

In news

Some helpful pointers to a Successful Break

So far for the best part of my career I have managed to make a complete blunder during my off season.  From training when I shouldn`t  have to sitting around doing nothing feeling sorry for myself having messed up the grand finale of the season. Thankfully somethings have finally sunk into my brain. Some tips for your season break:

1) Spend time with the people you have possibly/probably been too absent from when those season goals have become the focus and you have run out of hours in the day.

2) Have a plan and stick to it.  If the plan is 2 weeks of nothing, then do 2 weeks of nothing.  Even if the sun is out and your legs feel twitchy then my advice would be go back and do some more of point 1.

3) Relax. Smile. Do the things you always want to do but never find the time during the season. Even if your last race/ whole season was a disaster its over and done with and theres no point worrying about it.

4) Use up some of your current free time and start planning ahead for the next season- What do you want to achieve? Do I truly want this? What needs to change for this to happen?  Do I have a plan that I will commit to? Formulating the right plan now will be the cornerstone of the following years success.

5) If your planning on having a new bike to race on next year then if funds allow why not buy it now?  Don`t wait until your first race is almost upon you and then waste countless hours trying to get everything set up properly and for you to feel comfortable riding again.

6) Eat donuts.

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18Oct

Kona 2015- A race recap

 

12065791_1200933366589094_1004971172634332030_nWith 15 minutes to the start I vaulted over some barriers, an act of agility I never knew I had in me all to get to the only available portaloo.  The things you can do when you must.

The Swim– With the best 55 guys on the start line the swim standard is a lot higher than any other IM.  For me it felt like being back in the ITU.  A battle.  However instead of it being the 3rd pack swimmers I was clashing arms with, receiving and giving out the odd smack in the face to-accidentally but it`s the nature of open water.  Instead I found myself next to the `big guns` of IM.  Well apart from Frodo and Potts who were making us all look bad.

The Bike- Testosterone and World Champs are a deadly combination.  The first 20km we all forgot it was an Ironman, we raced like the finish line was well at 20km.  Stupidity you could say but if you got dropped then you for sure weren’t riding back up to the group solo.  The remainder of the ride was similar to my other Ironman experiences, well apart from your in a sauna and I managed to pick up a 5 minute penalty followed by me riding for 10km feeling sorry for myself.

The Run- Post bike penalty and losing the group I was out of contention.  It`s the World Champs though so you battle till the line, plus the crowds on Palani are nuts which lifts you up even when physically you are falling apart. The Kona marathon is both a physical and mental battleground but somehow I managed to claw myself up to 11th.kona2015res3

Destroyed I finished my first Kona.

Facts and figures:
Normalised Power First Hour:  320
Run Nutrition: water/ ice/ 3 gels an hour for 21km. Then water/ ice/ red bull/ 2 gels every hour
Toilet Stops in marathon: 1
Front chain ring: 55/44
Run Split: 2:49:52
Hours of sleep pre race: 3
Hours of sleep post race: 2
Number of days in Kona pre race: 10
Number of Pina Coladas consumed in Hawaii: Not enough

Swimming (52:31) was a great start and confidence boost going into the 112 mile bike. That was until a 5 minute penalty became apparent, and was duly taken on the bike, to complete a split of 4:45:49.  Onto the run and perhaps the penalty was the rest that was required for McNamee to record the fastest run split of the day (2:49:52) confirming his place as Britain’s top performing athlete in the men’s race in 11th position, in a total time of 8:32:27

Speaking of his first Kona experience…..
“I am very proud of the way I raced and it was the best performance I have had since the Commonwealth Games last year.  Still many things to work on but it was a big step forward for me.  It was great to have so many Brits here supporting and to be able to rely on Fraser’s experience of racing here.”
(courtesy of Triathlon Scotland)

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02Oct

Hawaii Prep Part 2

If your shorts aren’t dripping by the end of the session its not hot enough for Hawaii prep, the motto in Mallorca. I must be about the only Scotsman who complains that 25degrees is too cold.

Over the 2 week period I tried to hit some key sessions under the sun, taking the easy stuff even easier in order to have that little bit extra gas for when it matters. Some 6 hour bike rides lifting the pace in the 2nd half, the longer runs being ran at marathon pace and even the odd 5k swim with quality. A stretch session or two were even thrown into the mix.

Next up was Lanzarote 70.3- a tough, honest course just like Hawaii. I was found out early on in the bike leg and just about survived to finish 4th. Not my finest hour but I continued the learning curve, descended Tabayesco almost like a pro and managed to beat the first girl out the water (we all started together and I made it by 2 seconds). Its sometimes the small victories.

Now I am in Kona….

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