Returning to race the Coast to Coast a year after winning my first title had to be a decision based on more than just trying to ‘add another title to my name’. I am not interested in numbers and tallies. But I am certainly excited by targeting better and improved performances every year. Not just that, but at 34 years of age I am now prepared to do whatever it might take to have a career-best performance in this race. I have never had a performance on this course that feels like an expression of my true potential. So when the time came to find the true essence of what I would return for, it became a case of setting out to achieve two goals. The first was to arrive at the start line with my best fitness and preparation ever and the second was to execute a performance on race day that would be a true reflection of this fitness and preparation. And so in October of 2019, the journey began.
I enlisted the guidance of Gordon Walker who had once again agreed to help me, despite his life already being the definition of busy. I felt automatic incentive to honour his time and expertise, by following and trusting his recipe religiously. It is also important to note that while this blog is intended to offer some insight into my training build for coast to coast, I also need to acknowledge and respect his intellectual property by not giving away excessive detail on the methods that he has opened my mind to.My last rest day was about December 14th I think. It was the day I travelled home from my successful attempt at the Waimak Classic River Race title and threw Goat Pass into the mix the next day. Since then I have trained about 2-7 hours every single day. Approximately 23-30 hours per week.
Some of my key sessions are comparable to last year which has given me insight into where my progressions have happened. Basically in run, kayak and bike. A rather exciting prospect I must say. My run threshold seems to have shifted about 5 seconds per kilometre as has my kayak threshold. I have been able to do 5hr bike rides that include a 100km segment holding over 330 watts. Throw in a couple of solid gym sessions a week and I seem to have been able to build upon last year very broadly. My CTL in training peaks cracked 160 which is a first for me too. Admittedly last year was my first tilt at Coast to Coast in six years, so I would like to think it would be a fairly realistic expectation to step forward another notch this year in terms of the specific fitness and skill requirements of this unique race.But what does all this mean? Well nothing at all if I cannot achieve the second goal: execution. It is all well and good having good fitness and equipment, but there is only one day to get it all right and a year is a long time to have to wait for another shot. Something that both scares and excites me all at once. Unlike when I have been fit for ironman and can transfer that fitness into a race happening somewhere in the world virtually every weekend, there is only one Coast to Coast, so the fitness and skills I current possess are really only transferable on February 8th. With the endless variables an athlete will encounter on race day, there is an immense level of focus and organisation that will go into executing the race strategy and performance on the day. A little bit of luck always helps too.
If you think about it, the two goals I set myself before my training build began are controllable. They have nothing to do with other athletes or weather conditions or times or outcomes. If I can achieve both then I do think I will stand a good chance of another victory, but if achieving both means I am beaten by a better athlete, I will shake their hand and accept defeat. This is what sport is all about at the highest level, showing up with your A-Game and seeing how it stacks up among the best in the business.
Before I disappear into race week, I want to finish by acknowledging the people that have been part of my daily, weekly and monthly commitments. My wife Amy and our children Flynn and Matilda are my world and our ‘adopted parents’ Will and Joy Harvey make up the five people that have made it possible for me to have another tilt at this incredible event. My coach Gordon who really didn’t have to add another commitment to his schedule but still agreed to coach me for another season, I am forever indebted.
Finally I want to acknowledge Bivouac Outdoor for their support this season. They have felt like extended family for me and their support has afforded me the difference between a good build-up and a great one. They have helped me access premium outdoor brands such as Inov-8 Shoes and Osprey Packs and have been a wealth of knowledge and expertise for me along the way. My other sponsors have also been integral to my preparations this year so thank you to BeSure Tailored Insurance, CurraNZ, Profile Design, Felt Bicycles, Nautique Paddle Sports NZ, Radix Nutrition, Smith Optics, Camino Apparel, Wanaka Sports Massage, Wanaka Physiotherapy and SLF Motion.If you are planning to be part of race day as a competitor, official, volunteer, supporter or spectator, I wish you all the best and look forward to sharing the day with you all.