Ironman Frankfurt – 5th place


July 4th, 2016 by



finish photo

Oh here he is…Finally popping back up to speak a few days after a result to be proud of in Ironman Frankfurt. Truth is I actually wrote TWO race reports after my rubbish race in Ironman Brazil but never posted them because they just sounded bitter and morbid and that’s not what I want.

To update you briefly on those, I want to get to Kona. It’s the pinnacle of the sport, so I had to race big points races and for that we chose Brazil about 5 weeks back. Everything was great leading into those, I was super positive. I felt very fit and prepared but the race was an utter mess with the drafting, I got shafted on the bike, ended up all on my own, pulling out on the run exhausted.

To pick myself back up I quickly got myself into Challenge Denmark for the 1/2 distance race. If I didn’t do something I’d keep on moping about. I did a decent job there. I definitely had a bit of fatigue in my legs from what I did in Brazil but I finished up 3rd with a pretty fast run and confidence back where it needed to be.

Challenge Denmark was mainly used to tune the engine, and keep me occupied and in the game for European Champs, Ironman Frankfurt another chance to grab up 4000 qualification points. 

I felt pretty good leading into Ironman Frankfurt regardless of the preparation being pretty bit disturbed and sporadic. However I definitely was still riding the wave of fitness I managed to get from the training for Ironman Brazil, it doesn’t go anywhere really.

The field was really stacked. Many of the best guys in the World racing, Sebastian Kienle, Andi Bocherer, Tim O’donnel, Eneko Llanos to name a few. I’ll put my neck out and say I’m sure it will be the best field outside of Kona.

After a non-wetsuit swim was randomly announced last minute to everyones shock, it was a quick kit change and down to the swim start. Everything happens so fast on race morning when the gun goes off at 6:30am. I hit the water and felt crap straight away. I think a combination of a lack of swim form, getting mauled in the first few hundred meters, bad technique and the cold water threw me completely. I even contemplated pulling over once, I felt like I was hyperventilating a bit and dizzy. However eventually I got round the swim and came out just under 4mins down in 52mins. (had no idea how far down actually I was at the time). That’s my career worst swim right there!

Onto the bike I knew we had a heap of work to do but I also knew that Ironman is a very long day and many people will come back to us in the latter stages. It’s all too easy to follow the big guns and over cook it when you come out the swim with them. I was however with some top boys in Bertrand Billard and Jeremy Jurkiewicz so we just did our race plan and rode at a sensible pace. Never too quick, never too slow. Fortunately the pace that Billard and co. set going out was about perfect for me. We rounded the first lap in a casual 282w and on the 2nd lap I decided to start pushing at the front and around 140k we were still sitting steady at 282w and feeling in perfect control. We began passing many top guys who had obviously over cooked it and we also started to drop the athletes we had ridden with the last 3hrs. We began to realise, “hey, we’re still in the game here!” I got onto the run around 11th with Billard, also Denis Chervot and Tim O’Donnel who we caught towards the end of the ride.

Running out my plan was to start at a steady 4:05 pace, manage my nutrition as well as possible and at 6k push on if you feel ‘it’. In Lucs words. So of course we all ran out at around 3:20 pace to impress the crowds which is obviously way too hard! Even once I told myself to slow the hell down we were sitting on 3:40. At 4k I went for a toilet stop and got re-passed by a few guys but once all done and feeling way lighter, I caught back up with Denis Chervot and we decided we’d buddy up and run together and aim at 2:45 marathon pace which I’d be more then happy with.  We had a bit of a chat and we discussed a fair bit that it feels quite like a Sunday long run at the moment but sure anyone with a bit of experience will never read into the first half of the marathon, you’ll be a fool to think that you’re the only one that feels good in the early stages and it’s the last 20k where the real difference is made if you’re the one still moving fast.

I actually felt so good that eventually I went back on my word with Denis and pushed on back up to 3:40 pace for the 3rd lap of 4. That really was a magic lap for me, even more of the top guys came back to me and now I was now in the hunt for 5th place!

I couldn’t believe that 7.5hrs of racing had passed and I still holding the same paces as the beginning the time in an Ironman really does go pretty fast if you’re sensible with your pacing and nutrition but I was starting to get pretty tired, the quads were going and if I put a foot wrong I started to buckle at the legs. I’d been moving for so long that I felt like if I had stopped my legs would probably carry on going and I’d stack it! So I started with the coke stops just in case and bought it back to a more manageable pace.

5th place was hard to get but eventually I got him and couldn’t stop smiling the whole last lap at my best Ironman BY FAR! I knew from my watch that I was going to come in somewhere around 2:40ish so I pushed hard the last 5k just incase I could walk away with one of the fastest marathons of the year and for sure a run course record which is certainly worth having for the sake of 15mins of pain!

I’m so stoked to have achieved this, when I came into Ironman to be honest I thought I’d have a much easier time then I did in ITU but this is a different sport. You have to be a real student of the sport to get it and the level of the best athletes is incredibly high. Sebastian Kienle and Andi Bocherer we’re crazy strong out there and killed everyone, Congratulations to them. 

I had many doubts over the past few years about wether I could translate my ITU ability into an Ironman performance but this is just a little confirmation to me that I CAN be good at this and I’m on the right path. I have to say my team BMC Etixx Powered by Uplace and the whole structure they put in place for their members, my coach Luc Van Lierde, Psychologist Rudy, Physio, Doc and of course we’re using some of the best equipment available. I’ve really been a benefactor of this set up. It was up to me to stay motivated, work hard and finally with this little confirmation I’ve found the love and I’m motivated more then ever to keep striving in this game.

Thanks to all for your support everyone, social media has been off the hook and I love it! Big thanks especially my long suffering wife Clare and Fredmeister general.

Challenge Fuerteventura


April 28th, 2016 by



I’m really happy, and relieved to be sitting here in Fuerteventura on my post race ‘Over Drive’ training camp with a close 2nd place finish in Challenge Fuerteventura under my belt and as a result confidence back where it needs to be to be successful in this game.

 

swim

It’s only 2nd place, I’ve had many of these before in 1/2 distance races and it becomes more and more apparent to me that the guy who wins these is half of the time the person who is willing to go to a different level of hurt to elk out that last 30 seconds. I don’t think that there was that much difference between myself and Andi Bocherer in the race so congrats to him for the win. This was a training race and a process goal for me heading into Ironman Brazil next month and I just didn’t quite have that smark and race fitness to jump the gap and take the win.

I arrived the week before the race, it’s such an easy place to base yourself with a short flight with easy transfers and then everything from your training to your food right there on your door step. It’s easy to be relaxed at such races especially when you arrive the week before. That feeling will be crucial when I race in Brazil but going to be harder to achieve that in a different continent.

cycle

Race day came round and I felt pretty fresh, bouncing out of bed quite well considering the time in the morning and had enough energy on my 5:30am morning jog to be happy.

The swim was pretty straight forward, I followed the train of 6 guys, and my Speedo wetsuit and goggles were perfect even though I was wearing my Pearl Izumi sleeved Tri suit under the wetsuit. That can make your arms a bit tired as it restricts movement a little bit but on the bike it’s FAST so I took the gamble and thankfully I was strong enough to get away with it.

The bike was where my main concern was, with a field of top bikers and I really wanted to prove to myself that I could ride with them as the whole last year I didn’t manage it once, so you can see why I might be nervous! I knew my bike conditioning is as good as it’s ever been right now so I tried to remember that fact whenever the going got tough!  I tried to ride at a level I knew I could hold the whole way. Fred Van Lierde was riding a bit too strong for me right off the bat so I had to let him go, I also let Henrik Hydelunde drift away but I had confidence that I could bring him back on the run (by the size of his legs!) I ended up riding the first 1/2 on my own at around 340w average before Andi Bocherer and Timo Bract caught me at which point I dropped back and followed Andi as best I could.  Timo left a bit of a gap so I jumped around him and managed to shake him off which is a bonus!  I just followed Andi the whole way in from there, Andreas Dreitz also joined us towards the end but I think by then we were all a bit too dead to smash each other.

run shot

To be honest I was already stoked after coming in on my BMC TM01 with some of the best guys in the sport with a new NP record of 330w! It showed a real nice improvement for me on the bike which is great for the season ahead! From the very start on the run I felt DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!!! I had no spark at all in my legs and no push off at all in my stride. I realised quite quickly that something had happened to Fred Van Lierde (later learnt he crashed, get well soon man!) So the leader was only 2min30 ahead. Dreitz got a little gap on me off the bike so I had him to chase and I actually pushed through my pain too hard on the first 5k to catch him.  As soon as I caught him he attacked me again and instantly dropped me and straight away I felt exhausted and started to think about damage limitation dropping momentarily back down to a more comfortable pace and getting some Etixx Gels into the body. I grovelled through the next 8k getting time put into me by Dreitz and then Bocherer tearing past me and I even started to look over my shoulder worried about the top 5 finish even! However I persevered and after a bit of cold water over the head and some coke at the aid stations I couldn’t believe it but I had risen from my grave and I was running well again! I picked off Henrik the bike leader, then Drietz also came back to me very quickly but Andi also had found some extra gas but I had then run out of real estate!

Finish shot

Last year was the hardest year of my life on and off the race course. With the burn out, fatigue and the first years with my son Freddy and everything that comes with that, I am very happy to be back racing at a high level and have the belief that I can win big races! I’m super grateful to my amazing team BMC Etixx Powered by Uplace, my support team Ben De Wold, Luc Van Lierde and Rudy Heylen, my wife Clare, family and friends. without them I’d still be stuck where I was before but we’ve come out the other side now stronger and richer for the experience. This is quite a long blog, but it was an important turnaround race for me and I’m excited to continue the progression through the year hopefully to me best season yet.

Will

 

 

South Africa


February 25th, 2016 by



team photo

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all well. At the moment I’m sitting in my apartment with my feet up in South Africa trying to ride out a bit of illness picked up somehow/somewhere. I’m not sure what it is with this place. I really love it, the weather is unbeatable, you have amazing food and wine, natural beauty, good friends. 24 Rand to the £ also helps but I do find it super hard here to put in the work. I’m off home next week back to my house in Leicestershire where I hope to get my consistency back that I had before I came out here with the Charnwood Riot.

beach SA

In general the winter has gone pretty much perfectly to plan, I’ve had a couple of great camps in Lanzarote at Sands Beach including our annual team camp. It was amazing to catch up with the gang again, and of course receive all the amazing new product from our top sponsors. Big thanks to the Wolfs for organising another great few years for the team, I’m excited to be part of it.

At the end of January I also raced my first 70.3 of the year in South Africa. After a good start to my winter in training I have to say I was expecting to deliver a much better performance then 7th but unfortunately I had nothing to give. I was rusty, under-prepared and tired from a completely mad travel schedule the days before and I didn’t set myself up well at all. Lesson learnt on that one.

Running with Sofie

My ambitions this year are to firstly Qualify for Kona and then deliver my best possible performance over there. There will be some 70.3’s along the way that I hope to perform in as preparation events but those are the two big ones. I think Ironman Brazil will be my target race to qualify but we will have to see what coach Luc Van Lierde says and when he thinks I can be ready.

Hope everyone has the season they wish for.

Will