September 29, 2015

Road to Kona... with John Flood

I was fortunate enough to have a sit down with ‘Floody’ a few days before he flies out for Hawaii, where we talked all things Ironman. Floody’s Ironman ‘journey’ is a little different to most, only getting into the sport in his 40’s. Floody comes from a professional cycling background; He spent his late teens and early 20’s cutting his teeth in the world of professional cycling in Spain and Europe. He lived and teamed up with the great Miguel Indurain, who won the Tour De France 5 times in a row from 1991-1995. It was even widely considered that rooming with Floody helped him win those 5 Tour de Frances (well that’s what Floody tells me). Floody soon decided living in Spain where he had only just grasped the language, had no English speaking TV channels to watch, no real phone access and the only way he could communicate with his family was via the monthly letter his mum would send him, that is just wasn’t for him. So he packed up his life of climbing Spanish mountains and headed back home, where he raced more traditional Australian cycling seasons, successfully racing many years in the Herald Sun Tour, the Tour of Tassie, the Melbourne to Warnambool and every major race in the country. Johns list of cycling achievements are too great to list and John was too humble to name them, but John is most certainly one of Bendigo’s (and Australia’s) great cyclists. Moving on with his life, he took on a family ran business and went onto have a family of his own, with many sporting achievements accomplished along the way, he then turned his hand to triathlon.


John dove into Ironman not long after trying his first short course Triathlon, in which he admits to almost drowning in the St Kilda Bay, turning over to do some back stroke after the first 200m and wondering what he’d gotten himself into (I was glad to hear that this happens to everyone!!!) But once he finished that first race, he was hooked. And for those that know John, they knew it only ended one way, with him not stopping till he raced on the biggest stage of all – The Hawaii Ironman.


Floody soon got the Ironman bug and did the unthinkable, in 2014 he raced all 4 of the Australian Ironman events (Melbourne in March, Port Macquarie in May, Cairns in June and Busselton in December) – with this feat gaining him an amazing amount of respect from Ironman athletes all over the country. Johns times quickly came down as he learned better ways to train and race and he soon realised that a Kona qualifying spot might be in his grasp if he could put it all together. John fronted up to Melbourne Ironman in March this year with one intention, qualifying for the Hawaii Ironman, he left it all out there and although he admits he expected to blow up in the run, he kept pushing till he realised he was closing in on a very fast time. It was in the last 2kms he spied another person in his age group in front of him and with no real idea of where he was in the race, he pushed hard for the last 2km and only passed that competitor in the finishers chute. He finished 8th in his age group and then he found out that this year they were awarding 8 spots to Hawaii in his age group, he had qualified by only 3 single seconds – After 9hours and 45mins of torture, it all came down to 3 single seconds!!! Word had reached the Flood family members in no time and by the time he had gotten back to Bendigo he already had 10 family members commit to coming over to Hawaii to watch him race (how nice of them).


John then went to Port Macquarie Ironman & raced, braving it out with an illness and then took 4 weeks off all exercise (you read that right.) He then went about taking a non-traditional training schedule where he started off training for 2 hours a week and increasing that by 2 hours each week, where he finally ended up in his biggest weeks pushing himself through 40 hours of training, which he did for the last 2 weeks. He was swimming 90mins, riding 3-4hours and running 2 hours every single day for 2 weeks – and he tells me he felt amazing throughout the whole training (im not so sure that’s totally accurateJ). He admits his family and his team at work helped him do this and he couldn’t speak more highly of them for their efforts & patience whilst he got into “Kona shape”.  John feels like he’s in great shape to have a strong race & can’t wait to hit the sandy beaches of KONA and show off his “Kona rig”. Floody is hopeful of a good race, but knows the weather and conditions will be the telling factor in his day out in the lava fields of Kona.


Moving forward Floody is looking forward to some shorter racing after Hawaii, with some half ironman races scheduled over summer, as he tries to qualify for the 70.3 world championships in Sunshine coast next year, he’s most looking forward to turning 50 next year so he gets “out of Meady’s age group” and no longer has to race against Dave Meade for a few years.


We wish Floody all the best, he has put some serious hard work into his Kona preparation. And for those really interested in the beast that is John Flood, feel free to follow him on STRAVA, simply looking at his daily training will make you sore and tired J