17/9/11 Lausanne, Beijing

Unfortunately I didn’t have the best day in Lausanne. Not sure what it was bit I was just a bit off the pace all day. Maybe the timing since I was at altitude? I had a good swim start and was in the first 5 at 300m, but then I slipped back a bit and wasn’t able to get into the very lead group out of the swim. Onto the bike and there was a small gap across to the lead pack which I would normally jump across without any trouble, but I couldn’t do it and had to settle into the chase pack. I struggled the whole bike and was in even bigger trouble when I started running. 40th. Bugger!
Onwards and upwards! From Lausanne I had 3 weeks to prepare for the 2011 Series Grand Final and 2nd Olympic selection race in Beijing. The course in Beijing should have suited me. A one lap non wetsuit swim, and tough hilly bike. After Lausanne I went back to Sigmaringen and spent 2 days in my room with a really bad flu and fever. I recovered quickly and felt in great shape nailing some key sessions and feeling particularly strong on the bike. I travelled well, and did everything right in the lead up to the race. On the day it was actually really cold. Every race this year seemed to be bloody cold and raining. I woke up after a week of awesome rest and recovery from the flight from Europe, ready to rumble. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but I had a bit of diarrhea. I felt ok and just got on with getting ready to go. I went into the race with an A and a B plan. Plan A was swim at the front, push the pace on the bike early and try to get a group away. A top 8 finish would guarantee me selection for 2012.  Plan B was if the bunches came together or there were too many up there, I’d do what I could to help the other kiwis in the race and show I can do the swim bike job.
Once the race started I wasn’t feeling myself. I started in the middle and got clear of the field around me as I have most of the season. There was a long drag to the first buoy, and I was swimming parallel to groups on my left and right, but as we got closer I started to feel weak and wasn’t able to keep up with them. I slipped back and was not where I wanted to be out of the water exiting in 30th but still just 14secs from the lead. Onto the bike and I was battling straight away to make it into the lead group. I was the last to get there. I was hurting bigtime the first time up the hill, but killed myself to hang in there, expecting to be able to get some recovery later in the race. Plan A was off, so towards the end of the first lap I tried to make my way to the front of the bunch to help the other guys. We had Ryan, Bevan and Kris all there. I got near the front just before we hit the blue carpet, but then went straight backwards and was back at last wheel within 100m. Something was not right! I hung on the back, then up the hill we went again. Blinding headache, tunnel vision, then I got dropped 3/4 of the way up the hill and got spat out the back. 30 guys in the bunch and I’m dropped. My legs felt terrible and I was really not enjoying myself. I gave everything to get back in but I had no chance. I knew something wasn’t right and made the decision to pull out on the second lap. Horrible feeling!  Highlight of the weekend was watching my training mates Andrea Hewitt and Laurent Vidal absolutely smash their races in Beijing. Both had already qualified for 2012 in London and went out and destroyed it for Laurent 5th and Andrea winning for 2nd overall in the series. Great to see and nice to feel a small part of their success.
It’s not quite the end of the season as I’m off to Yokohama in Japan for one more race this weekend, but getting close! Looking forward to a rest!

10/8/11 London - Roll the Dice

London WCS has been and gone! The biggest race of the season, and what a great race it was. We saw the dress rehearsal for next year’s Olympics with the best field ever seen. To get a start in this race was a feat in itself and many had been scrambling all season just to be able to toe the line. Here’s how my day panned out.
Initially training for London I thought I would need to have the best run of my life and absolutely nail every aspect if I was to have a chance of getting a top 10 and qualifying for the games. Madrid, where I had my best result ever after I got into a breakaway early on the bike straight from the swim changed my mentality a bit going in. I started to focus a bit more on making sure I was right at the front out of the swim and ready to push the pace straight away on the bike. I’ve raced with and watched many times how Alistair Brownlee races. He and his brother get out of the swim and just try to absolutely nail the start of the bike, and when there are strong guys around him and willing to work they usually get away. The course in London was dead flat and quite open, meaning that it was not a course suited to breakaways, and most athletes seemed to believe this pre race. All I needed was for a few strong guys to believe like me that a group could get away and it would be possible. In the end I had a crack, rolled the dice but it didn’t quite go my way. You’ve probably seen the coverage of the race. I was 3rd out of the water feeling fantastic. I had prepared to be right there at the front, swimming 40km the week before the race and shaving my arms, armpits, everything! I felt great tucked in behind Jan Frodeno and Javier Gomez and could have probably led, but I couldn’t see where I was going with fogged up goggles.
The group was all together through transition, but I got on the bike and tried to get something going. Unfortunately only the Brownlees were keen to work and we soon had a group of 22 with a gap of about 20 secs to the second pack of the same number. Too big to work together effectively and a lot of guys just keen to sit in the pack for the next hour and save their legs for a fast run. Fair enough, most countries were using the race for Olympic selection and the field was tough, there would be no room for wasting energy unnecessarily. After a lap on the bike I was a bit gutted that plan A hadn’t worked and kept riding at the front to at least try and keep the lead we had over the chase pack. This soon led to someone losing my wheel through some corners, race favourite Alistair Brownlee and Alexander Bryukhankov jumping across to me, a few pedal strokes in anger and bam! Time for a breakaway!
We rode really hard and shared the work around evenly. We had a pretty small margin; 12 secs after one lap, 15 secs after 2. We were kind of in no man’s land, but committed to pushing on. Then it started to rain. Great. Then former world champion Ivan Rana managed to jump across the gap and joined us. Great! The 4 of us got really stuck in and slowly but surely extended our lead on the now 45 strong pack. I felt really strong on the bike, the S-Works SL3 was humming and I was loving it! My legs felt awesome and I wasn’t in any difficulty. I thought this was my day, I was going to need time off the bike to hold off the chase but I was feeling good. When we went around Buckingham Palace for the last time I saw the gap had gone out quite a bit to the chase pack which was all over the road looking at each other. It was an awesome moment. I started to believe I was going to do it. I was going to qualify!  
When I got off the bike I had a reality check. My legs were smashed! We only had 1min 15 secs on the chasers and I would need to run close to my 10km PB to hold that top 10. If only we had had a few more guys like in Madrid. Then I would have probably been fresher and might have had a bit more of a gap. I could only watch as the wonder-kid Brownlee flew off as if he was sprinting, and then 3km later when his brother and Gomez caught me. I came right on the last lap, but it was far too late by then.
I was disappointed after the race as it’s not a nice feeling to have 35 guys pick you off one by one on the run and not be able to do anything about it. But I can take some positives from the race. I raced on the Olympic course against the best in the world and took it to them showing a breakaway there is possible. Actually it’s more likely next year as the Olympic field is smaller and weaker. I was on global TV for a long time, won a bike prime and rode as hard as I could and was still able to run a 32:55 run split. I’ve shown the NZ selectors I can swim and bike with anyone in the sport and could fit a swim-bike helper role at the Games. Although Bevan and Ryan had awesome races, no one has automatically qualified for the team, meaning I have another chance in Beijing in 5 weeks.

Now I’m in my old hometown in Sigmaringen in Southern Germany having a week rest before doing the World Sprint Champs in Lausanne Switzerland, then the Beijing Grand Final on the way home.

26/7/11 - Breaking Convention in Geneva

Hey guys. I made it into the race in Geneva and have just got back from an in and out weekend to the race. The hand was healing well and in the days leading up to the race I was able to venture out onto the road for rides and swim up to 4k in the pool. I would just need to be very careful not to open the break up again as it would then take a very long time to heal.
In the end the race went well. It was a cold day with a wetsuit swim, and the course in geneva is one of the hardest on the circuit with a tough 1km climb on each of the 6 laps. I had the #1 ranking again which is an awesome feeling. I chose the far right side of the pontoon so my right hand would have clear water at least to the first buoy to avoid getting hit. My great swim form from the last races continued and I was out of the water in the top 10.
The pace was on right through transition with a group of 8 guys trying to get away in the first km of the bike. I was able to bridge a pretty big gap on my own to the back of this group, and then hang on up the first climb without blowing up. We lost a couple on the climb and there were 7 of us. It was a solid group with 3 aussies and we worked well together and we extended our lead on the chasers every lap. I had to really dig deep to hold the group each time up the hill as I was very cold and I hadn’t ridden out of the saddle in over 2 weeks. Once I recovered I was able to contribute to the work on the downhill and flat sections, but I felt like a bit of a passenger. Anyway, things were looking good for me with just 7 guys to run against, and the confidence of coming down from altitude with 5 weeks of solid running behind me.
When we got off the bike I did feel good, but not amazing. I think the cold affected me a bit as I felt like I had asthma the whole run. I started at the front and was joined by a young English guy Matt Sharp. He turned out to be too good and I couldn’t hold onto him. We ran away from the rest of the field and I came in 2nd. Not a bad result but I was hoping to win the thing especially as there were only 7 of us off the bike. I picked up a bit of prizemoney, some points and got back in the rental to Font Romeu. I now have 2 more weeks here leading into London with Debbie Tanner, Coach Pete Pfitzinger and Physio Caleb Hill. Feeling good and excited for London!

19/8/11 Dem's the Breaks....

Since Cremona I’ve been training hard up at altitude in the French town of Font Romeu in the Pyrenees. I came here last year and made sure I set aside some weeks with no races to come here and do some very hard weeks of training in the perfect environment. It’s 1800m above sea level here, there’s a 50m indoor pool, running track and endless mountains and forests for riding and running. The weather is great and the town is full of athletes.
After being here for 4 great weeks, everything had gone perfectly. I completed 3 of the biggest run weeks I’ve ever done, running 10-12 times per week for around 140-155km. My harder speed sessions have also gone well and I have adapted well to the altitude. Times that seemed imposible in the first couple of weeks here are now a piece of cake. 
When everything is going well, you have to expect your luck to eventually run out... My luck ran out last week as I jogged to the forest warming up for a speed session. Somehow I tripped over and came down really hard. I put my hand out, did an army roll and found myself sitting with my hand in my lap thinking I’d dislocated my pinky on impact. It hurt quite a bit, but I said to myself with 4 weeks to London I was lucky it wasn’t something worse. You don’t really need a little finger for triathlon!
I got up, ran to the forest and completed my session. By the time I got home the finger and hand were getting quite swollen, but I thought nothing of it and got ready for my 2hr ride in the sun. When I started riding I realised I had done more damage than I first thought. I couldn’t hold the handlebars or put any weight on the hand. I went to our team physio Caleb and then we went for Xrays and bam I found out I have a broken bone in my right hand and was into a full on cast. I’ve never broken any bones in my body before despite plenty of crashes off the bike, so it was pretty hard to believe.
I was meant to race in a Grand Prix in Paris for my Team Largardere last weekend and then the World Series race in Hamburg this weekend as my last 2 sharpeners before our Olympic Selection Race in London. I’m now trying to get into a European Cup race in Geneva, Switzerland which is next weekend. This would be 2 weeks before London, and the last major race available.
Honestly I think the hand is healing pretty well and I have now taken the cast off and got gently back into the water. I have trained really hard for London and I don’t think I will lose too much fitness. I am riding on the windtrainer (HATE IT!) as I can’t put any weight through the hand yet and running with the cast on in case I fall again.
Not the end of the world! Watch me heal!


Good Vibes in Italy

Hi Guys

Just raced the ETU Sprint European Cup in Cremona, Italy and finished 6th.

Cremona is an awesome little town in the Lombardy region of Italy about 50k Southeast of Milan. I rolled into town around 11pm on a warm Friday night with the Van Barneveld's (Mr & Mrs) following the GPS through narrow cobbled lanes and pedestrian only areas and to our hotel. We pulled up in our little white Peugeot rental right in the middle of town to find that the ground floor of the building was a restaurant and bar, absolutely packed and raging with people (read HOT chicks) spilling out into a big town square. The whole town seemed to be pumping with a live band and a great vibe. It was pretty tempting to head out for a couple of beers and enjoy the night once we'd checked in. Lucky I always travel with a good set of ear plugs! Next morning we awoke to find a completely different scene out the window with a blanket of white tents filling the streets with Saturday markets. Later that afternoon it was dead quiet like a ghost town.

So to Sunday's race! I came in with no points pressure anymore after my good result last week in Madrid (see post below). I decided to go ahead and race just to get a fast 5k in the legs before going up to altitude in a couple of days. I was also ranked #1 which meant a free hotel, entry etc which was a first for me!

With 75 guys and plenty of names each getting 50cm of real estate on the startline the 750m swim was always going to be another scrap, so it was important to be out up front. With my ranking I got the best spot right on the end of the pontoon and everything went to plan. Just like last week I felt great. I was out of the water 3rd and able to push the pace early on the bike to try and open some gaps in the field. I'm really feeling strong on both the swim and bike at the moment. The course was very technical down narrow streets with plenty of potholes and cobbled sections. We got a lead group of around 20 away, but it was too big to get everyone working, so we were caught with around 5k to go resulting in a 40 strong pack into T2.

I ran out feeling great and led the first of 3 laps. I was joined by a group of 10 or so for the second lap and was able to recover from going out hard. On the last lap I finished well but wasn't quite able to go for that last gear to make the podium. I was 6th, 11secs behind the winner. Marty didn't have a great day, unfortunately missing the front groups on the swim but then posting the 3rd fastest run of the day. Some days you can be in great shape and still walk away with no reward...

I'm happy with the race and it gives me a bit of confidence in how my run is tracking after not really flying off the hard bike in Madrid last week. I'm looking forward to now having a 4-5 week break from racing to stoke the engine up at altitude in Font Romeu to make the final preparations for London in August.

I was VERY tempted to extend my stay in Cremona and enjoy the after race party and all the town had to offer, but was strong for the second week in a row, and chucked everything in the car and set off on the 700k drive back to Sete, France. I will have my party one day on the horizon, but right now there are more pressing matters at hand!

Thanks for the help of my family, sponsors and supporters.

Full results are here;
(Run course measured at 5.15km)

Also a Photo Gallery courtesy of Ali Van Barneveld here:
(Copy and paste this one into your browser to view).


Career Best Result on the Big Stage in Madrid

I’ve just had one of the best results of my career for 15th in the World Champs Series race in Madrid on Saturday. I’ve worked really hard for this since finishing uni and going fulltime 3 years ago. It feels fantastic to put one together for everyone who supports and believes in me. I've changed the way I do a few things and am making better decisions under new coach Pete Pfitzinger. More than anything I am doing everything I can to get to the Olympics next year. This is at the front of my mind when I get up every day and Saturday was a step in the right direction.

I had a perfect swim feeling great the whole way exiting 5th. I got on the bike and drilled it up the first hill to make the lead pack of 12. The pace was on up front the entire 40km and we rode about 1min45 into the chasers. A dream scenario for me, I helped pull some turns when I could, (mostly on the downhill and flat just after where there were no tv cameras!) while at the same time conscious that I’d need my legs to last the run. I ran sensibly; not wanting to be a hero for 5k and end up 30th. Three passed me but I paced myself and saved a bit for the end. Ryan Sisson’s group caught me 200m out, but I was ready and dug deep to hold them off in the sprint. I ran 32:40 odd, well behind the amazing Brownlees up front but a solid finish to a good all round race. It was awesome to see Ryan, Clark and Doddsy right there as well having very strong races.

For now; the plan has always been to shift my focus to running fast from this point in the year on. I know I have a great run in me and with the technical changes I've made with Pete over the last months and the big base I have laid down over the NZ summer I can't wait to get into some session work and bring it out. Once I've recovered I’ll head up to altitude to Font Romeu to make that last improvement to try to give myself the best chance to qualify for 2012 in London in 9 weeks. Should the possibility arise that there’s a place unfilled on the NZ Games team I've shown I can swim well and bike strongly in the big ones and could assist a NZ medal contender like Bevan.

Now its back to the NZ base in Sete, near Montpellier in the South of France. This weekend I have a sprint distance European Cup in Italy to top off my points score and guarantee my start in London in August. I'm ranked 1st on the startlist and will wear number 1 for the first time in an ITU race. Should be fun!

Check out the Madrid race highlights video on www.triathlon.org 

Happy James.


Sleepless in Monterrey

Hey guys
My report from the World Cup in Mexico on Sunday where I DNF'ed; :(

I was feeling pretty good for most of the week, able to find great places to train up in Santa Monica and recover from the Philippines race. But when I got to Mexico the Jetlag of crassing 10 time zones finally hit me. On the Friday night I slept around 4hrs off and on which wasn't ideal but would have been ok if I'd had a full night the following night. Unfortunately I found myself wide awake from midnight till 3am tossing and turning the night before the race. Eventually I cracked and took a sleeping pill, which I would normally avoid before a race, as you don't get as deep a sleep and I always feel weird for half the next day. At least it knocked me out and stopped me lying there worrying about it.

I tried to push this to the back of my mind and think positive going into the race. I went for my morning jog and felt average, but then my swim warm up was ok. It was a nice day and the course would be interesting. We swam in a massive chlorinated pool about 2km long and 1.5m deep that snaked its way through a parked area. The bike course was flat but quite technical on a motor racing circuit. The field was good but I was ready for another solid points score to set the rest of the year up. 

I had a good ranking and chose the middle of the pontoon. It was important to have a very good start here as within 150m the course narrowed to about 25m across. I got away well as usual and was easily into the top 5 for the first 300m, but just didn't feel right. My arms were very heavy and my stroke rate got slower and slower. Not a good sign...

We had to get out and dive back in at 500m, and I was in 10th at this point usually a great place to be and means the rest of the swim would be no problem, but I got worse as things went on and slipped back to around 35th out of the water. The furthest back I've been in a long time. I got onto the bike and was with Bevan about 20 secs down on a lead group of 20 guys. I was feeling terrible and thought I'd just try to help Bevan get up to the lead group and think about pulling out after that. We got there and I refocussed, got some recovery time and had a good drink. I felt better as the laps went on. 

The course suited me with the tight turns and a lot of the guys making a meal of it. It made it easy to move through the pack which had grown to about 60. There were lots of crashes. I got stuck behind one pileup and then soon after there was a split in the bunch. I crossed a big gap on my own which is always a good feeling but then went down round one of the U turns. I got my chain back on and again solo'd up to the bunch. I'd dealt with the heat pretty well and was starting to think I would have an ok day. 

Onto the run and the legs weren't there. I slipped back through the field and couldn't do anything about it. I got back to about 45th or 50th where the points are thin and couldn't see myself improving over the 2nd 5km so stepped off the course. I didn't like the feeling though so started jogging again. But about 100m down the road decided that yeah I was done. I haven't pulled out of a race in a long time. Its horrible thinking about the money you've just wasted, the points you have missed that will have to be caught up later, and everyone supporting you you've let down.  

Bevan also DNF'd after struggling with a cold. The other Kiwi racing Tony Dodds had a great day coming home in 10th. At least one of us got something out of the trip! We had a pretty cool night after the race put on by the organisers with a boat trip along the 'pool' to a restaurant, then a ride in the back of one of the Mexican  athlete's utes around the city to a couple of bars. Monterrey is a pretty dodgy place with an average of 4-5 murders a day, so we were pretty happy to get back to the hotel and out of there the next morning.

Now I'm on my way to France to start the European summer with the next race in 2 weeks; a French GP in Dunkerque, then my next opportunity to add to my ITU points ranking at the WCS race in Madrid. 

:) James


3 Days Chilling in Santa Monica

Hey guys, So I've started a Blog, its hopefully going to be a bit easier to put together and keep going than the old pdf updates!

I'm in LA staying in Santa Monica with a good friend of Terenzo's; Derek King. He runs a cool triathlon website K226 http://www.k226.com/ with events, information and links to all things triathlon. Check out the athlete section with links to athlete facebook, twitter, websites and blogs all in one place.

Derek has been great driving me everywhere and organising training, which has been much better than going straight to Mexico and trying to figure everything out where pools etc are. He has a pretty sweet bike collection in the living room including Chris McCormack's bike from his 2007 Kona Ironman win. (Looks great with my new S-Works SL3. Thanks to new sponsor Specialized!).

I'm here trying to get over the jetlag until Thursday afternoon when I fly to Monterrey for the ITU World Cup on Sunday. I'm ranked 12th on the startlist, and it's a really good field. It'll be a hard hot day. I'm feeling confident after last week's solid result in the heat and have recovered quite well. May the blue skies and hot days continue here in Santa Monica!


Subic Bay Report

I had a solid race in the Philippines at the ITU Asian Cup race in Subic Bay on Sunday. See the TriNZ Media release below;


I'm heading to LA now for 3 days to get ready for the Monterrey World Cup this weekend.


TriNZ Interview

I had an interview with John Whiting from TriNZ at Auckland Airport as I left NZ for 5 months. You can listen here;


I'll be doing these all year while away. Enjoy!


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