January 3rd, 2014
Last year we identified neo-pro Nick Baldwin as one of our ‘one’s to watch’ as be entered the pro ranks of long distance triathlon after a very accomplished career in the age group ranks. As one of the youngest on the circuit, and an intelligent, considered and ambitious man, we were all very excited about what he will achieve in his career and what kind of impact he will make competing with the top level of pro athletes.
Nick didn’t disappoint. Despite talking down his chances in several interviews with us, speaking wisely that this would be a learning year for him, he still managed to get in some top results which continue to indicate his talent. Some of these standout results included 4th at Ironman Copenhagen and shaving 52 minutes from his PB.
I caught up with Nick to get his thoughts as a first year pro.
Hi Nick, how would you sum up your 2013 season?
2013 was definitely a busy year and one that I’ll always remember with it being my debut season as a pro. I always viewed the year as an opportunity to gain experience and see how the pro race evolves. The tactics of racing are more important than I realised and there are definitely differences from the age-group race. For example, if you want to stay with the group – whether it’s in the swim, the bike or run – you have to be able to respond to surges and be alert when they come. It becomes less of a steady effort and more stochastic and you’re training has to account for that.
Overall I’m pleased with 2013′s results, but more importantly my progression throughout the year. A year ago my Ironman PB was 9:10, so going 8:18 this year was a big step forward. What’s great is that I feel there are many areas that I can improve upon, which is really exciting moving into 2014 and beyond.
What has been the biggest highlight?
Ironman Copenhagen was without a doubt the biggest result of the year, running a 2:49:57 marathon and finishing 4th in 8:18. The race panned out exactly as I hoped, staying with the chase group on the bike and making up places on the run. I stepped up the run training this year, progressing up to 70 miles per week, including a number of quality run sessions each week. I’ve never previously considered myself a runner and its always been the main area I’ve strived to improve, so it felt great to come through with a breakthrough run and get the elusive “sub-3” for the first time.
The biggest change I made for Copenhagen was to my nutrition plan on the day. After laboratory testing with High5 Nutrition, we realised I could successfully ingest almost 50% more calories at race intensity than I had previously taken. Although this was a big change, we were confident that it would pay off and it was key to running well.
Ironman Arizona was the only race where I came away genuinely disappointed. Not because of the result or time (16th in 8:29:57), but because I gave up on myself during the run. After recovering from a terrible swim start, I had to work really hard to stay with the chase group on the bike. The guys were just too strong for me and after 17 miles I dropped off the back and rode the remaining 95 miles solo. My running legs just weren’t with me on the day.
A disappointing result is hard to take when you’ve spent months preparing for one race, but that’s the nature of long distance racing. I’ll chalk it down to good racing experience and move on.
What are your targets and ambitions for 2014?
Later this month I’ll return to Arizona where my coach Brian Stover (Accelerate 3 Coaching) is based. I think it’s a hugely underrated location with fantastic facilities and infrastructure that lend itself perfectly to training. I’ll compete at a few local events in March and April, but everything in the early season will be geared towards Ironman Australia in May. I have good memories of racing Ironman Western Australia back in 2011, so I’m excited to head back there and I’ll be targeting a good result.
After Ironman Australia I’ll return to the UK and race a few sprint, olympic and middle distance events in June and July. This summer will be a new challenge, as I’ll attempt to race two full distance events in two weeks. I’ve never raced back-to-back full distance events before, so it will be interesting to see how I respond. Although the events are not yet confirmed, one of them will be in the UK!
With the new KPR system in place for 2014, I’ll see how other athletes go about the qualification process this year and consider chasing points for qualification in 2015. In terms of ambitions in 2014, I know that a well executed race will put me in contention for the podium. Whereas in the past I’ve perhaps talked myself down, 2013 has given me the confidence that I can be competitive at the big races. To win a big race will take a special performance with everything falling perfectly into place, but that’s exactly what I’ll aspire to achieve in 2014.