Sunday, July 22, 2012

On hiatus

If there’s actually anyone out there still reading I’m sure you’ve noticed the frequency of my blog updates has gone downhill of late.  If I had to put my finger on why, well the material's been scarce and, quite frankly, the motivation nonexistent.  While I’m keeping somewhat fit for the upcoming season, I haven’t been pushing myself out the door and don’t exactly feel like I’m doing the theme of this “triathlon” blog justice, so for these reasons so I’m checking outta here for the time-being.  I’m not sure exactly what that means, other than being a ready-made excuse for being lazy and not posting :)  I'll be back sooner or later...maybe I'll chime in with some race reports, or I if I think of something important or interesting or relevant.

I still have some long term goals I want to knock off but they’re taking a back seat as Alex & I focus on other things over the next 12 months.  Don’t worry I haven’t given away the racing thing completely…I’ll be on the startline at the Rotorua and New Plymouth Half Ironman events this summer (Dec 1st edit: I'm rethinking these plans), but probably little else. Well, little else apart from terrorising trails & tracks on a new toy…

I finally joined the 21st century a few months back and got one of dem wisephone fings, and I'm kinda liking the simplicity of Twitter right now (I know, I'm like 3 years behind, right?) if you want you can follow me over there, otherwise I’ll see you at the races!

P.S...can I ask one favour?  Go check out my mate Ben's new Avantiplus/Performance Bicycle Tuning store in Newmarket.  That's one freakin cool bike shop stocking some sweeeet gear*.  Ben works all the big races and has a reputation as the go-to guy for discerning pros and hard-to-please amateurs alike.  He's come a long way from his last workshop in a shipping container on his front lawn, and his old man's basement before he's the proud owner of a big, bright, shiny & prominent premises in retail central.  Awesome!

*sadly no sweeeet single-speed disc-equipped steel CX bikes tho ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

[tap] [tap] Is this thing on?

Yes folks I'm still alive!  Just super busy and very time poor right now.  I mentioned in an earlier post that this year might be one of change and it's certainly shaping up that this space ;)

On the triathlon front, I'm still chugging along with the training, albeit very swim/run focused as I'm currently without a working bicycle.  After 2 months and much back & forth, I'm still trying to settle a fork warranty claim with Cervelo.  I should be fair and say they approved the claim reasonably quickly from a set of photos only (although it took a bombardment of requests and follow-ups) but sourcing and sending a replacement fork is proving frustrating.  Anyway, I don't mind the break (pun alert) from the bike too much...keeps my cycling mind fresh and gives me time to do other stuff.

More soon...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My response to their response

To their credit, Tri NZ got back back to me yesterday with a very thorough and detailed response to my email from last week. Obviously they're not my words to reproduce so I'll refrain from posting their response here, but this is what I had to say in reply:

Dear [Tri NZ] team,

Thank you for your response to my email outlining my concerns about the cost of entry for the Auckland World Champs. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the reasons behind these figures.

While I have no doubt the costs involved in shutting down busy sections of NZ's largest city on a long public holiday weekend are significant, cost is merely one determinant in setting a price (albeit a significant one in most cases)....ultimately the price of a product is determined by what the market will bear, and the point of my email was to ensure the concerns of athletes like myself that will not or cannot bear to pay a thousand dollars to race in their own backyard are considered. From the feedback I’ve received from other athletes it seems this segment of your target market is not insignificant, however I can accept my perspective may be skewed (emotive topic!) and your research might suggest otherwise. I also accept that the fees indicated were given considerable thought and are the best you feel you can achieve in order to cover the costs of running the race, fulfil sponsorship obligations, and provide athletes and spectators an experience befitting a World Championship finale, however I remain disheartened if this is a sign of things to come for big events in this country.

Regarding the comment about posting my email online without first seeking some understanding as to the reasons behind the pricing model, frankly none of the reasons in your response were new or surprising to me, so the
personal views I blogged were not, in my opinion, completely uninformed.

Regardless, again I truly appreciate your detailed response to my email. Just in case my correspondence is mistakenly taken as hostile or unconstructive, indifferent views on the cost of race entry aside, I bear no ill feeling towards Tri NZ and will continue to support you in your role as stewards of the sport in this country. I sincerely hope this event is a roaring success and I'll support it in my best capacity as an athlete host, a technical official (if you still need more of us), and of course, a fan of triathlon.

See you at the races.


I received another polite and courteous email soon after acknowledging the above and sharing further concerns about the costs associated with hosting such events. While I was satisfied they took the time to explain their position, it's still alarming how easily deserving participants can be roadblocked by this barrier of exclusivity. Hell, I've only been around for 6 or so years and still consider myself something of a newbie...are most of us okay with paying this much to race? Am I out of touch?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A first for me

A first "first" that is!

I've had a few age group wins over the years, but I've never been first over the finish line. What a fun race...I wish it received better local support. Official results here, and I've copied my stat line below:

Friday, March 23, 2012

An email I sent this morning

23 March 2012

Dear Tri NZ team,

Thank you for selecting me in the NZ standard distance age group team for this year's ITU world champs. An opportunity to race at such an event in my home town, in front of my friends & family, and on a course I can train on every day is special and unique.

This said, I must voice my displeasure at the costs indicated in the latest update(s) to the athlete handbook. I understand these were posted online before my selection race on March 10th so I take full responsibility for not keeping myself informed beforehand, however the points I want to address remain.

I've been selected for NZ teams in previous years and recall opportunities to purchase Tri NZ uniforms, courtesy of generous sponsorship, free of charge or at heavily subsidised prices, however the mandatory minimum uniform cost for year's race is $300? And you're suggesting the race entry fee, for a standard distance race, will be $450-$500? This after we've already paid $195 for the "race license" to secure our place in the team? Paying the latter up front and on the spot left a bad taste in my mouth, and reading these additional exorbitant costs only adds to my concern.

For these reasons I ask that you withdraw my name from the team for this year's event. In some ways I can understand, and to a certain degree would agree with, an inclination to exploit such high interest in this home event, however the above fees have crossed a line. I cannot accept these as reasonable & fair, nor do I feel they meet Tri NZ's first objective of "
...allow[ing] people to easily be involved in the sport and inspire them to participate for life". This is not a matter of personal finances, rather a matter of principle.

While planning for this year's race may be too far advanced for my concerns to effect any change whatsoever, I trust you'll at least consider them for future Tri NZ age group teams & events. I hope there is still time for you to replace my slot with another athlete willing to take up the opportunity.

Peter Hughes

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Funny pic from Welly

My last post didn't elaborate too much on the event itself. What a fantastic location for a race, and props to the powers that be in Wellington for shutting down a big chunk of their beautiful downtown waterfront area just for us. The bike course was accurate and mostly flat, albeit with some sketchy road surfaces and somewhat tight & congested lanes in some parts, but coupled with dead flat run this course should set up nicely for PBs. The swim in the inner harbour was very cool (yes, bad pun!) with a deep water start and the last few legs swimming right alongside the pier...awesome for spectators, they were within spitting distance.

I saw Alex running along beside me at about this point, so I smiled and waved...and she caught it :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

RR: Contact Tri Series Wellington

(aka NZ oly distance nats)

I’ll keep this brief.

This was a really unusual event for me. Typically when I have an important high stakes race on the schedule I have the whole thing from early prep to post-race recovery plotted out well in advance, and the mental fortitude to knuckle down and get whatever I need to get done done…but this build was different. I won’t make excuses, ‘cos I don’t have any to offer. My approach was unfocused & haphazard and my swim, bike & run performed precisely as well as my swim, bike & run training would’ve predicted. Here are the numbers:

Swim: 21:10
Bike: 1:07:28
Run: 38:46
Total: 2:07:24
8th in AG, 49th overall
(results here)

It was an odd feeling racing a tri for the first time since last year’s PoT Half…yes, it was that long ago. I made lots of silly rookie mistakes, but I’m actually pretty satisfied at the weekend's result. I did what I came to do and picked up a slot for this year’s world champs here in Auckland, so the sole objective of the trip was achieved. I felt terribly unfit going in, but much better coming out. Now I’ve got something to work on over winter…the competitive fire always burns a little brighter after these reality checks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Want. Bad.

I often think I was born in the wrong era.

Plastic bikes with deep aero tubes, smooth junctions and integrated this' & that's do nothing for me. While today's carbon creations are undoubtedly faster, lighter, stiffer and let's face it, "better", metal frames still have a unique allure and, to my eye, a classic unmatched aesthetic. Welds & lugs are hot, full stop.

I can't help it, call me old school.

My trusty alloy P2-SL still puts a smile on my dial every time I ride and leaves me wanting for nothing. To part with this bike will mean prying it from my cold, dead hands. With fast wheels & tyres, close attention to cable routing & bottle/spare placement, good fitting apparel and a dialled in position this 90s-era frame (albeit tweaked with minor advancements over the years) still gets the job done.

Like anyone who rides I waste far too many hours thinking bikes and fantasize about some day owning a lightweight ti Baum, or a rugged & purposeful Ira Ryan, an exquisitely detailed Vanilla, a beautifully painted Signal, or a custom fabrication from the master himself Richard Sachs. These are all up there in the dream bike realm, but if I were to buy a roadie right now I'd want a modest & understated workhorse for training in all weather, fast group rides & races, the odd commute or even some light touring. In other words, I'd get a Cielo Sportif:

Since the 2012 colours were released a few months ago I've been imagining a build featuring an oyster white frame with orange details, retro Mavic open pros and black 105 components on mango coloured Chris King spinning bits, a full Ritchey classic finishing kit with a black leather saddle & tape combo leaning against the garage wall. Throw on some full length fenders over winter, or my stealth blacked-out HED Jet 6/9s for road races.

(big sigh)

Better get a garage first though...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Schedule change

Well at least one of you reads my blog and noticed I’d taken the NP Half off my calendar next month...there’s a couple of reasons for the change, notably:

1) I’m creeping up the Wellington waitlist faster than I thought I would. At the time of my last post I was down at #30something on the list and didn’t give myself much of a chance to get there hence the scheduling of the NP & Auckland HIMs to fill out the rest of the season, but the list is moving faster than I anticipated so there’s a very real possibility I’ll make the start line. This is the key race I need to focus on to secure a slot for ITU Worlds in Auckland and avoid the lottery of "selector's discretion".

2) I’m just not ready. The thought of racing a HIM in <3 weeks is laughable to me right now, such is my level of fitness. But perhaps even more of an influencer is the logistics/travel/$$$ of doing the event on Feb 12th, coming home for a few days in the office, then heading back for our wedding (in NP) 6 days later! It sounded doable in theory a few months ago but now that it’s upon us I just don’t think I can make it work, or at least not without some unnecessary added stress.

So unfortunately it’s off the calendar and my focus shifts to Wellington standard distance nats and the Orbea Auckland Half Ironman two weeks later. I like the lead times of 7 & 9 weeks respectively. The latter fits perfectly with my usual HIM build schedule, albeit this one will be slightly disrupted with a bike-free wedding long weekend, and a hard olympic distance race two weeks prior, but I think I can manage.

Speaking of the latter again, as ridiculous as it sounds this is still the only annual non-drafting triathlon in the greater Auckland area so I try and make an effort each year to support my favourite local race. If you’re currently sitting on the fence for this one but like the idea of racing a tough course with great triathlon history & mana I suggest you do the same…vote with your feet (and your wallet) and sign up today! In the interest of full disclosure, yes that’s me on the homepage and yes I’ve managed to arm-twist the organisers into a small discount on my entry for every participant I get to register :) So stop dilly-dallying, mark the date on your calendars, sign up today and leave a comment on this post confirming you’ve done so. See you on the start line…

(you know you're alive when you ride this surface!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A new look

No sadly, not a new bike. Thought I'd give the tired old blog a splash of colour. Whadda you think?

If you don't recognize the title pic, thats the famous track at Nike HQ in Beaverton Oregon. Pretty sweet huh...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, what an up & down year that was.

It started well in early January at the Port of Tauranga Half, which doubled as the 2011 NZ long distance champs. I achieved all my goals for the race and made amends for a poor showing in 2010. An AG win there meant I spent a year as the M30-34 NZ long distance triathlon champ. Good!

That result had a sour note though as I spent the next 8 weeks off my feet recovering from (another) lower leg stress reaction. Knowing I was short of time to prepare for some of my other target races, namely the Contact Series/NZ nats in Wellington and the Auckland HIM, I wrote off the rest of the reason and became a spectator. Officiating IMNZ & the New Plymouth HIM from the back of a motorcycle was great fun and a nice distraction, but I took that break a little bit too literally...I put on about 8 kgs and felt like I’d lost a tonne of fitness over autumn and early winter. I’m not usually one to take a break from training. I like the idea of heading out the door when others won’t, but this offseason I lost some mojo and skipped plenty of winter workouts. I didn’t ride my bike for 3 months at one stage. Bad!

Couldn’t blame anyone but myself there...I just got lazy. Other things took priority, such as planning a long holiday in North America and our wedding to follow soon after. In the back of my mind though was the reason for our trip...ITU Worlds. As I got back into regular training in the middle of winter though, in preparation for the real race build beginning late August, I noticed most of my numbers (pool times, bike power, run paces) were pretty close where I left off. That was the start of what was possibly my best sequence of training ever. 9 solid weeks, no workouts missed, good balanced fitness (certainly the best run numbers I’d recorded), and zero injuries. Good!

Of course ITU worlds has been well documented here so I won’t go on. Since the race I slipped into another funk...with the exception of one bitterly cold 30 min run in Portland OR I didn’t lift a finger for a month. When we got home I got pretty sick with a nasty flu which set my build for the New Plymouth HIM back a few weeks. I’ve been training on & off since then, and noticed a few familiar pains in the lower legs which have put a halt on my run training again. If you’d checked my training log and noticed no real entries for 4 days...that’s not a mistake. So the year ended feeling a bit down in the dumps in that regard. Bad!

I shouldn’t complain though. In real life, the one outside of triathlon, Alex & I have some exciting stuff ahead of us this year. I hope (and truly believe) we’ll look back at 2012 as a huge one, where we made lots of good decisions affecting our lifestyle going forward.

As far as triathlon goals, well they’re actually remarkably similar to last year. First and foremost I’m hoping to get through NP in good health (and without embarrassing myself on poor fitness), finally race short course nats in Wellington (I’m deep down the wait list of this sold out race) and qualify for ITU worlds in Auckland, and to put in a good (top 10) showing at the latter. That last goal was the only one I failed to achieve in 2011. If I can't race Wellington the only way I can get into Auckland is with a discretionary slot. Failing this, I'll have to give the schedule a rethink. Rotorua looks like a good early season backup option.

Anyway, good luck to all my friends racing the PoT Half next of my favourite events and definitely one I’ll miss racing this year.

Happy New Year!