The Half Ironman World Championships are being held again in Las Vegas, on 8 September 2013. A challenging hilly course in the hot desert heat makes for a tough race for some of the best Half Ironman Distance athletes in the World! Tri Alliances ‘Zoolander’ sits down with our athletes leading up to their big race.
Athlete Nick Sissons has had to work hard to overcome injury that plagued his season last year, and toes the start line in the 35-39M age group. Nick has been training well over winter, so let’s find out how he is feeling leading into the race….
So where did you both qualify for this race?
Mandurah 70.3 in October 2012 (Had a PB and top ten in Age Group finish)
How do you feel and how has your training been leading into the race?
It’s been a mental challenge, as I took two months off post Melbourne Ironman to allow my torn soleus (calf) to actually repair. So once I got started again late May I had actually not run longer than 4km in over 6 months. So it felt like square one again for the run and the bike… which meant lots of long had slow miles (think slow laps of the track 2-3km run sets and lots of slow hill climbs on the bike). Plus training in the Melbourne winter is not that much fun, but fortunately I had no work on so I could pick and choose my long ride days to soak up as much Melbourne winter sunshine as possible.
How much extra planning have you had to put into your preparation given you are racing overseas?
I think I’ve now traveled to race 3 Full Ironmans and 5 Half Ironmans overseas (including 70.3 Worlds in Clearwater in 2010), so for me there isn’t any real extra preparation, it’s just all part of the cause.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of what everyone else is doing, sometimes you can even feel left out, as the majority of the squad is in a different training phase, how have you coped with this and what have you done to compensate?
Racing long course you get use to training many miles on your own, and given I had weekdays available, as I said I could pick and choose my days based on the weather. But I think you need to have a good knowledge of your own program and goals in order to know what you can swap and when it works. I also tried to make sure I made the group rides and runs on the weekends for the social interaction and motivational push. If you are new to racing “offseason” then you should talk with your coach to get the best advice for you. I would suggest that you find people of your race pace level, e.g. it may mean if you are at a speed phase you go riding with the stronger riders to get that extra encouragement. I know that my midweek rides on my own are never as taxing compared to when I’m with a group, it’s not that I get slack on my own, it’s that the group encourages you to push beyond your limits longer.
How has your motivation been training over winter and what’s motivated you?
Getting some fitness back and thinking of the northern hemisphere summer that I will enjoy while Melbourne finishes winter.
How important has the support network of Coaches and other athletes been to you?
As I said earlier, you need the group interaction to help push you that little bit harder, further and faster. But end of the day racing long course means you still have to do the work and that is often on your own.
What has been your biggest challenge leading up to the race?
Overcoming the winter training, the alarm has snoozed many times so I could go training when the sun was out rather than at 6am with the squad. And taking the steps in setting up my own business, which should be all go by the end of October… stayed tuned!
What do you think your biggest challenge will be during the race?
The run in the heat! Actually just running off the bike full stop for 21.1km at a consistent pace really.
Of course, making the team is one thing; you have to qualify, what advise do you have for those attempting to qualify for the Half Ironman World Championships next year?
Train hard race hard and go to the roll down!
You are in Sin City – the Gambling Capital of the world, Vegas! So how will you celebrate post-race??!
Um, there will be chocolate cake at the Cheesecake Shop (which is near our Condo in Henderson) but that’s about it … (see next answer as to main reason why)
What are your race plans post World Championships?
I’m racing Ironman Lake Tahoe which is 2 weeks after the World Championships … hence no wild nights in Vegas! Then I’m back early October and getting set for Ironman Western Australia in December.
One word association:
Swim – dislike
Bike – strength
Run – slow
Gel – GU
Wax or Shave – Shave
Vegas – Baby!
Black or red – Odds!
Pokies or tables – Tables
Good luck to everyone else from Tri Alliance racing 70.3 Worlds, ITU Worlds and those racing Kona, who will all leave a few days before I get back from my 6 week mid-winter vacation, see you all in October!!!
Thanks Nick for taking the time to share your experience with the rest of us. It’s always great seeing someone focusing on rehabilitation and come back from injury. We look forward to following you in Vegas and each of your other races this year. Good luck, and stay cool!
Until next time, Coach Zoolander….