Sam Appleton was sick right before his race in Austin, so he’s gearing up to make his mark at the IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship in Bahrain. Trizone caught up with Sam for a chat.
Ironman 70.3 Austin swim cancelled
Standing on the bank of the Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas, Sam Appleton couldn’t see further than a few metres in front of him. The entire lake was shrouded in heavy fog, threatening the Austin event. “We couldn’t see any of the buoys that marked out the swim course. We just waited on the bank for an hour, and because of the safety and time constraints of an event like that in a city, they ended up having to cancel the swim,” says Sam, adding “so we started with the TT bike.”
“It was pretty foggy on the bike too,” he says. “I remember thinking ‘sh**, I can barely see the road!’” Sam progressed through the race, crossing the finish line in sixth place. “I crossed the line in sixth, but because it was a time trial (TT) race, I had not idea if I’d actually come sixth,” he adds. “Someone could have been 20 seconds behind me and beaten me.”
TT racing structure isn’t for every athlete and Sam is not a fan. “I didn’t particularly enjoy it as much as racing, especially since I have a swimming background,” he notes.
Lead up to Ironman 70.3 Austin
It wasn’t just the TT aspect of the Austin race that made it less enjoyable for Sam Appleton, he’d also come down with a heavy cold and recovered just five days before the race. “I’d been in Kona and was caught up in it all, and enjoying a bit of time off,” he recounts. “I was doing bits and pieces of training but nothing too intense. When I got back to Boulder, I’d set aside two weeks to train for Austin, but as soon as I got back I got sick!”
Sam was unable to train for over a week, which made his fitness sub-optimal for the gruelling race. “The TT style of race wasn’t great since I didn’t have the best fitness. In a pack it’s a bit easier,” remembers Sam. “Since I’d been sick, I treated it more like a launchpad to get ready for Bahrain.”
Speaking to the athlete, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d barely finished but he still managed to finish sixth, and claim some prize money. Certainly an achievement after suffering a heavy cold only days before!
Sam Appleton prepares for Bahrain
“I’m healthy again now and I’m looking forward to training for the next five weeks to race in Bahrain,” says Sam happily, glad to be returning to peak form. “It will take me around two weeks to get to the point where I can push myself really hard. Then it will be three weeks of really hard training.”
IRONMAN Bahrain on December 10th is a challenging, picturesque 70.3 race that winds past historic sites like Bahrain Bay, the Al Fateh Grand Mosque and the Al Areen Wildlife Park. Due to its position so late in the racing calendar, the race is a great chance for athletes to maintain focus before a much deserved break – although a holiday seems a long way off for Sam Appleton right now.
Sam Appleton’s triathlon training regime
“I start with a three hour ride with three lots of twenty five minutes,” says Sam. “The first ten minutes are building up to 70.3 pace. The second ten minutes are holding that pace, and the last five to ten minutes are above 70.3 effort.” For those who love to measure power output, that works out to be:
- 10 minutes building from 200-300 watts
- 10 minutes at 300 watts
- 5 minutes above 300 watts
A true self-deprecating Australian, Sam is quick to note: “I might not be able to hold those numbers now though but in a few weeks I hopefully will.”
Sam Appleton’s running training is just as tough; he trains in seven lots of one kilometre stretches at half marathon pace. “After the bike it’s going to be pretty tricky,” says Sam. “But altitude training helps. Boulder is at 1600m elevation, so it’s enough to make a difference.”
Just listening to Sam chat about his training is exhausting, but the athlete’s energy and excitement for Bahrain is palpable.