Ben Williams


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Busy, Living

Since the last post there have been two races, the Sunshine Coast IM 70.3 and the Elite Energy Yamba Classic. Both were a success. The Sunny Coast race smashed a personal best by 15 minutes*. The Yamba Classic showed encouraging signs of improvement in the swim and bike.

Bright Future(Planet Sun UV Sleeves, protection from the incredibly bright future)

 

Ironman Kona happened. It was hard to not be there in person, in some capacity. Over a dozen friends toed the line, and just about all of them finished with smiles.

Spin City Bicycles opened its doors as Giant Sunshine Coast. With a wildly successful makeover, the shop is about as impressive as a bike shop can get. It is a privilege to work there.

There was a 30th anniversary of my life on Earth. It seemed slightly climactic in the lead up but as the day rolled around, nothing really changed.

Training is going better than ever. I have a companion to share the challenging (and pleasant) hours with.

It can all be summed up in one sentence: I wake up every morning to the life of my dreams.

There’s not much more to it than that. I miss my family, but we keep in touch. I miss Hawaii, but know my last days there have yet to come. I work hard every day and have something to show for it.

I share Jessica’s view on life.

Next up:

November 3 Noosa Tri

November 23 Challenge Forster

December 8 Ironman Western Australia

 

 

*It was an incredibly fast course, and despite the fast finish time I was smoked in the overall results


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Ohmygosh This is Exciting!

The Sunshine Coast Ironman 70.3.

 

Race week is here. Life is good, birds are chirping (including the swooping Magpies), rainbows are in the sky, unicorns are dancing. It feels like race week! Training consists of fun workouts. There are new faces cycling around town in aero helmets and race wheels. The signs are up for road closures, and the forecast is perfect!

 

As with earlier races, it helps my mind to post some thoughts on the course. This time around I’m not too concerned with the competition. What will happen, will happen. Though some prize money will certainly help get me to the next race…

 

The swim:

 

I haven’t found it in writing, but rumor has it we start from the beach. This is great news because my beach starts have “plenty room” for improvement. The opportunity to practice is highly anticipated. Otherwise it sounds to be a pretty straightforward out and back, counter clockwise, loop. Wetsuits will likely be legal. Current shouldn’t be much of an issue. Swim fitness is at a lifetime high (an incentive for more regular pool visits has swum into my life). Two weeks ago was the biggest swim week of my life, and several weeks before that my swim found a new gear. For those that remember, I’m pretty sure I’ve straightened out the wiggle. A great dance move but not efficient in the water. I’m looking forward to the swim more than ever.

 

The Bike:

 

Riding on the other side of the road is no big deal anymore. Racing will be something new. Passes need to be on the right, aid stations on the left. Got it. The course will be super fast for the most part. There are two loops with one hill early, and the turnaround in town might get a little tight and technical. Otherwise the pavement is very smooth, the hills are only slightly rolling, and we ride in a straight line for most of it. I scored a Zipp disc rear wheel from Coach Tim (thanks Tim), preloaded with good energy and previous race wins. Bike training has been completely different in the last 8 weeks to anything I’ve done in the past. Between time in the gym to strengthen my hip and regularly riding in the hills, I’m feeling strong on the bike. The power meter is reflecting that. Of the three disciplines, my bike will be the wildcard. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to ride as fast as I have in the past. There is a chance I will ride much faster. The unknown is exciting.

 

The Run:

 

Oh man I’m looking forward to this run course. Especially if it’s windy. It is simple with two loops and a big hill that we run over four (4) times. I’m headed off in a few minutes for my last efforts over that hill. There is a chance it will be hot and windy. Right now I’m feeling lean and aerodynamic. If all systems are firing properly I plan to turn myself inside out on the run. I will avenge my recent half marathon that was limped through.  If things go to plan, this is going to hurt. It makes me nervous to think about how deep I’m willing to dig to finally post a solid run in a 70.3. I feel strong, this will be the day.

 

The hip (just “touched wood”) is feeling as strong as ever. There have been a couple breakthrough moments that needed to happen for it to all come together, and it seems that it has. Part of it I’m proud to take credit for: slowing down, using proper technique, hitting the gym regularly. The other part I have Anica to thank. It has been the exercises she empowered me with that have brought things back into alignment. Her magical knee circles and towel squeezes have all the right muscles firing.

 

The weather is here, my body is here, my mind is ready, and my soul has needed this. I am definitely, finally, in my zone.


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Sunny Coast 1/2 Marathon and The Countdown Begins

The better part of one week ago I crossed my first finish line in the southern hemisphere. I’m pleased to report that they cross finish lines in the same direction down here.

The Sunshine Coast 1/2 Marathon. It was a great event. The organizers did a fantastic job of running a well oiled machine: volunteers were coordinated, the course was well marked and accurate. Officials were calm and collected, everyone had time to help without a sensation of chaos- all while pulling off the event without a hitch. My hat is off to Jason and his crew at Atlas Multisports. Great job guys!

The race itself was fairly non-dramatic. We started, there was a hill, then a very flat two loops. Everyone separated early in the race and we all just settled into our tempos. It was a great morning for an aided long run. The atmosphere on the course had vibrant energy and multiple loops made it easy to see everyone all morning. This visit to the Sunny Coast is turning out to be a very special time in my life. I’ve been blessed to cross the path of some wonderful people. And the circle seems to keep growing. Cheers on the course were a very unexpected and pleasant surprise.

The hip: ugh. A dramatic story of love and infidelity. I give it love and attention and we’re good. The second my eyes wander it cheats on me and breaks my heart. It wasn’t cooperating from Friday morning before the race. To the point that Saturday was a forced day on the couch. Fortunately I had company to ease the burden; a lovely distraction but not a solution. The issue is clear, when it is looked after it comes good. We still aren’t over the hill of “better” yet, though, and will continue to require maintenance. It was very tweaked and painfully distracting throughout the race. Monday morning it adjusted with an earth-shaking “crack”, and was back to good. And so it goes.

Next up is the Sunny Coast 70.3 on September 15. To say that I am excited is an understatement. My heart is so ready to race. My body is feeling  fit, if the hip stays under control I’ll toe the line with my highest expectations yet. I anticipate my largest improvement to come out of the swim. These last weeks have provided the most effective time in water to date; the clock is reflecting that. A good swim means a good position on the bike. And maybe my legs will want to go for a run…

100_1082(proudly representing the rainbow state)


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Butts and Radio Silence

Butt(sneaky picture discovered on camera, where is the butt? I see no butt.)

Ladies, I’m a butt man. Nothing catches my attention faster than a great butt. Of course, the definition of a great butt is incredibly diverse. Really, as long as it has shape, firm, strong, regularly used, and occasionally (or often) displayed in a bikini, it works for me. There are so many great butts out there, and I am grateful.

Perhaps this affection towards a shapely derrière comes from my lack of, but desperate desire for one of my own. In May I was afflicted with a pain in my hip. The show went on, and several race efforts didn’t help but to compound the situation. Stress of travel and plenty of free time to ride my bike led to a scare of possibly describing the issue as “chronic.” Because I (didn’t) have a butt.

The last four weeks I have been in a cave. There have been very discouraging moments when my body just was not cooperating. Borderline depression. The weather was bad; it was cold, raining, dark. I was grumpy and didn’t have anything nice to say. So I turned the energy inside, took every ounce of focus in patience, and am pleased to announce that today, this morning, I feel great.

The problem is (was) my butt. My “glutes.” The left one wasn’t working. My left arch was collapsing. My “kinetic chain” wasn’t kinetic. Every waking moment was spent on the roller or in the gym, isolating and healing. It is starting to work, though it reminds me the second I’m being lazy. An effective exercise in focus.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a volunteer to photographically document the gluteal change. You can take my word, it’s growing.

The view has transformed, maybe it’s the improved weather…

Meanwhile, here’s my life at the moment:

Swim Course Sunset(70.3 swim course, sunset)

First Swim(70.3 swim course, sunrise)

Bike Repeats(perfect, hilly, traffic-free, and the only pothole so far)

Uni Pool(lots of swimming)

 Ahi(fresh Ahi from the local fish market)

Status update: My body is working. Swim is improving, bike threshold power is up 7 watts in a more aerodynamic position, and unless the track here is short, my run is looking pretty good. The weather is here and there are girls in bikinis. Training is at full intensity and it looks like I’ll be in shape to hit the last couple key workouts before September 15. All is well.

Aloha

 


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Routine is Bliss

Happy Independence Day!!

I have a home:

Home(I live under a stairwell, it’s cozy)

I have a job

I have a perfect training venue:

Fields(hills)

I have help to fix my hip.

As these last few weeks have unfolded, focus lately has been on the things I have. Somehow by landing here, I have been embraced by a tremendous group of people. The landscape is gorgeous and diverse. The initial shock of urgently needing to settle in a new place has been usurped by overwhelming acceptance in the community. My housemates are awesome and a breath of fresh air to come home to every day. In particular, it is tremendously exciting to share a space with Kacey, a talented and driven triathlete in the thick of Kona training. The family at Spin City Cycles is incredible. I feel valued and respected; they might be faking it, but it really feels like they like having me around. Between friends at home and work (somewhere the Thiele family fits in there), it just seems like I’m in the right place. Then there is Caitlin and Sam at the Good Bean, Darryl at Gourmet Destinations, and Georgia at the uni pool. It’s a cozy scene and they already call me by name.

Monday real training started. It is back to the grind and my life has purpose again. There is stuff to do. Yesterday felt like a “long” day with four hours of training and nine hours of work. I love it! Each week averages out to about three days at the shop, four days for full time training.

My hip is still pinching, grabbing, and making regular popping and snapping noises, but I’m not waking up with it on fire and totally inflamed like in the past couple months. Training hasn’t resumed full intensity because the majority of workout time is spent focusing on proper engagement. I went to my first massage session today with Bec and we’re off to a great start. It seems like (just as Anica diagnosed), a faulty glute. Pinpointed and connected with, it will get better.

There is hope. My first track session this week was fantastic. I warmed up slowly and eased into the workout and felt great. I eventually blew out a couple surprisingly quick 400’s with no regret later that evening or the next day.

The weather has improved dramatically. It’s been mostly sunny and warm for the last week. When it’s raining it still hasn’t been too bad.

This week’s report is that life is back to normal: thriving

There have been some firsts. I saw one of these at the track:

Cute Kanga(cute little guy)

Then I ate this for dinner:

Kanga Burger(mmmmm, tasty)

I dropped the front end on my bike:

Screen shot 2013-07-05 at 8.53.06 AM(lower)

The end result in that fit  kept the drop but the saddle moved back about one more centimeter, opening my hips and core a little more. My knee angle is a little more closed than I would typically advise, but if you look at my heel, it’s pretty high. My foot is usually a little flatter than that, this just happened to be where I stopped the video. Going for the first ride tomorrow.

Riding in the dark is becoming a little more comfortable and my body is “acclimatizing” (Aussie for “acclimating”) to the lack of sunlight at the start and finish to the day. I’m still centering my key workouts around the afternoon when the sun is up, when at all possible.

Missing home this Fourth of July, headed out now in search of a good Oakville Cab (amongst the endless Shiraz) to celebrate.


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Sour Grapes

Sunny Coast(dark sunshine coast)

Sour Grapes was fitting in the middle of the week. But today, it was more like this:

Sunshine(today’s sunshine. no clouds.)

It seems that with a little homework and the right attitude it takes about one week to show up off the street in a foreign country and find a home, a job, and friends. If you’re lucky. It seems I’ve been lucky, but it doesn’t make for an easy week.

The Sunshine Coast started off as great as these things can. I was invited to my host’s tri-club end of the year social and had a first-class guided ride up to Noosa on a spectacularly beautiful day.

There have been a few grumpy days in the process. There have been horribly cold, wet days and slices in new fancy bike tires. Everything starts in the dark. I am such a princess that I can’t change a flat tire on the side of the road without fearing my life to poisonous snakes. I was bummed, and I needed a sign that this was going to work out. On my way home from a cold and unsuccessful ride I passed this:

Opportunity(a sign. who is willis?)

So I did. The Spin City weekly shop ride started in the dark and cold (as they all do). I managed to drag my ass out of bed and into the dark and cold before 5am Wednesday. In addition to the normal routine of wearing every piece of cycling clothing, several layers of non-spandex clothing went on too. By the time I got out the door I had either successfully layered enough or was warmed up from having to put on so many layers. Either way it wasn’t the worst ever, just normal freezing.

With a renewed attitude after finding my sign I set out on the shop ride. In the dark. If you head the right way, these rides that start awfully cold and dark usually end up poking out somewhere beautiful about the same time the sun is rising. The Spin City Wednesday ride makes good on that deal. Before I knew it we were at a coffee shop on the beach watching the sun rise. Before that day was over I had my first scheduled day of work on the calendar.

Spin City Cycles is a Giant dealer. I love my Felt bicycles. Every time I go for a ride (as long as it’s not the worst ever freezing cold) I am smiling on my Felt bikes. That said, Giant is a pretty cool company. They put stickers like this on their mountain bikes:

Racing(it’s made to ride hard)

Here are a few more gratuitous pics from throughout the week:

Coffee 2(post ride coffee)

Coffee Stop 1(post ride coffee. different day, different spot)

Felt Beach(post ride coffee, they’re into that here)

Noosa Park(self explanatory)

Noosa Beach(Noosa Beach)

Today was one of the most beautiful days I have ever experienced in my life. Maybe top five. It was very sunny, a little breezy, and cool. The ocean was bright, people were smiling, birds were chirping. I stopped by the Good Bean Espresso Bar this morning in hopes of picking up a part time shift or two. The owner was very easy to talk to and the manager is super cool. Even if it doesn’t work into a job I’ve found my new favorite coffee spot. I love coffee and people that drink coffee, the other staff are all super friendly, the view and work environment is dreamy. Either way I found my new favorite coffee spot.

In other news, that hip injury from Honu is still there. Getting better slowly, but too much time of neglecting it means it won’t be better overnight. Trying to make friends and keep up on rides and group runs hasn’t helped anything either. All energy vibrations are positive and focused on healing at the moment. I miss Anica, her energy would have me fixed by now. I really feel on my own with my body right now. It is an opportunity for growth, of course.


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To The Great Men

We would be a mess without the special women in our lives, but the role men play is a powerful one. I miss my dad on this Father’s Day. Especially in the last years of his life, he played a significant role in mine. The hardest part of losing him is the regular thought that he would be my best friend now. I miss you Dad.

Saying that, I have been blessed beyond words to have great men in my life that have been both great role models and great friends. My best friend Greg has encouraged me through major life events. He has shown what it means to make the right decisions, often when they are the hardest ones. He is a virtuous leader and defines the balance between hard work and play while keeping family values at the front of his thoughts.

My stepdad Rick has shown me unconditional love. He is great man; he has been a great husband to my mom and has lived his life for my siblings and me. I hope by carrying your fortitude into my life you see how much positive influence you have had.

My grandpa gave me my first Red Rider bb gun. He taught me to whittle, paddle a canoe, build a tree fort, pick wild muscadines, and ride a lawnmower. He always had some scrap wood around to build something with. He stayed married to my beautiful grandma for over 50 years, God rest her soul.

There are so many others, Jaime Topp was there the first year I lost my dad. All of the crusty old guys on Pacific Velo don’t have a clue how much they influence my life. To work hard, do the right thing, be sensitive and share my feelings (well, maybe not that one)…that misery loves company on those long IM days. Dan Woodside and Ron Wheeles meet the definition of great husbands and fathers.

To all of the men out there embracing their role in the world, who decide to use their strength to make the world a better place, thank you.

Happy Father’s Day.

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