My tri-journey began in 2008, as most people do, Clanwilliam in Oct, Jailbreak in Dec all working towards the Ironman 70.3 in Jan 2009. At this stage I was really hacking it. Some may say I am still hacking it. So to initially guide my training I downloaded a "trial week" of training off the MTD website in November 2008 and basically manipulated that to con my way through my first 70.3 in Jan 2009 (5hrs 35mins).
At this stage I was working as an Intern at Victoria Hospital so time was limited and training twice a day was only something that other people did, people who didn't work real jobs... How naive was I? So roll down a little further in to 2009 and all of a sudden the full Ironman looked like a good idea. Enter MTD. I met with Claire in August 2009 after everyone I spoke with said, “If you going to do the full, do it with MTD (I roped a number of other people in for the full in 2010 and basically sent every doctor I knew keen on triathlon to Claire - at this stage Kent wasn't coaching - he was just some guy that rode on the front of the group all day long. After my meeting with Claire I was told come to my first group ride on a Sat morning. I arrived there on a road bike and promptly got interrogated as to whether I could ride in a group? Do I know how a paceline works? Whats the square root of 17? Can I get a free script? Needless to say, 118km in, I was still watching Kent sit on the front of the group but I had managed to get over OuKaapse ahead of the Spanish inquisition. I was sold. This was the place for me
In Dec 2010 I had to move to Nelspruit to do my Community Service year. In the short space of time that I had been with MTD before going, I realised that it was much more than just a training group. So much so that I wanted to delay Community Service by 4 months in order to beat Claire at the Full in April 2010. (Jan 2010 70.3 I had to withdraw due to an anterior tibialis tendonitis so it was on to the full.) No such luck in delaying (my wife Claire Hauser wanted me to do some real work) and I reported to Nelspruit in Jan of 2010 only to find out there was not much place to run or ride during the week - I did find a 10km stretch of road that was reasonably flat and on a number of weekends would do 150-180km on this road up and down recording the wildlife I spotted to put in to my logs for Claire - at this stage logs were updated on Excel and with a comments column. Training in Nelspruit was tough but we met a lot of people and even organised a Ironman Camp under the auspices of MTD. Again I roped in a number of people to do the full with us. Sadly 2010 was not to be the year for me to line up and beat Claire at the Full Ironman. 2 days before the race I got bad bronchitis and no amount of legal and illegal supplementation could get me to the start line so I watched my wife and all the people I had roped in cruise through an amazing 2010 Ironman. Lets try 2011...
2011 I moved back to CT for work and to get in to specialising in Anaesthetics (read get back in to MTD squad sessions to beat Claire at the Full Ironman, now in 2011). It was great to be with friends and training again - twice a day: 'you got it!'. Three times a day... 'if thats what the program says: done!'. You coughing?... go away, leave me alone up until April. I am not a doctor and I don't care if you are sick, I have a race to do.
70.3 Jan: a little less training but some more miles in the legs so managed to complete another Ironman event (5hrs 25. Quicker than attempt #1 at least!) I got through all the training, all the sick people and lined up on Hobie Beach in April 2011 for the big one. I had a great swim (came out ahead of Claire) great bike (still ahead of Claire) and then exploded on the run after watching Claire tell me to "slow down or you will blow Doc!!"... what did she know?? Needless to say I did explode on the run (spectacularly - the one water table even asked me to leave as I was drinking all their coke) only for Claire to run past me and kindly say "Told you so..." Never saw her again. Finished that year though (10hrs29)
So after finishing this race it was off to specialising and sadly saying good bye to triathlon for some time, bar one failed 70.3 attempt when Kent broke my ankle in a Wines2whales race the November before, kindly telling me to "walk it off you will be fine” while I was sitting in the dirt wondering how I would get home. Needless to say didn't quite line up for any triathlons in 2013. Similarly 2014 and 2015 were all about completing my Anaesthesia Specialisation leaving very little time to swim, bike and run. I remained with MTD throughout though doing the odd DC, a weekend ride whenever I could, running occasionally and swimming even less.
I got fired by Claire as an athlete, secretly I think she believed I was uncoachable. Kent was now in charge of my program and together with David Ellis I have become one of his "problem athletes" that always trains and never races. So finishing specialising in May 2015 I entered 70.3 and again began training twice a day and appearing at the early morning rides, swim sessions still optional and track I made 2 sessions (still a problem athlete) but I still made it to Orient beach 24 Jan 2016.
5 years after doing my last 70.3 event I felt really mixed feelings. I felt like a newbie again (but my mind kept telling me I had been here before). The nerves were there, the excitement, the unknown - have I done enough? Which bags take what kit? How fast must I run? Power calibration: whats that? So Kent dums it down for me - do not go over 260W on the way out, keep it steady, and go hard back! But the best thing about it all is I got to line up on the beach with people I have trained with for 8 years - now it all feels familiar only new again.
A great swim and a paranoid ride later I am back out on the run course in EL again and I am smiling all the way. The real excitement was to be racing again alongside people I call my closest friends for over 8 years now! I had a great day. I lined up next to Duncan & Nicole on Orient beach (I lined up with Duncan at my first Ironman in 2011 and reminded him of that). I waved and shouted at my mate Matt Trautman who won the race, I listened to my coach, for the first time ever and did a PB (Kent you are a legend and I concede you are right, I will listen from now onwards - until some random goes past me on an uphill...must chase randoms). I chased Claire again and once again never caught her. I waved and shouted for any athlete wearing a Red/ black and white shirt (some may even not have been in MTD but they had the colours so I shouted at them). I got cheered on by my pregnant wife who sat like a Queen in a deck chair on the side of the road and asked me on my first run lap “why you going so slow?” (Claire admits she may even make her comeback to Ironman in time after she spectated all weekend, she still reminds me she did a full before me) - I didn't podium. I didn't win. I am not going to Australia but I have made it back to a place I have missed for 6 years and I loved every minute of it. I have made lifelong friends. I have learnt about myself. I have learnt how to train. I hope I have taught people something too. I have raced and I have left racing. I stayed in contact and a part of something even when not partaking. I have been called a cyclist, a runner, an academic, a work-a-holic and lazy, now finally I can call myself a triathlete again. To me this is a real journey of discovery and growth and its... my tri-journey...
Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I have putting it down on paper!