That Brendon Vesty is an elite athlete is a given but that doesn't mean the former professional cyclist is averse to embracing outside expertise in his quest to become a top triathlete.
Consequently Vesty started consulting Christchurch coach Jina Crawford three months ago and the returns are resounding for someone who spent two decades in cycling and just two years in multisport.
The 46-year-old from Hastings was crowned the 45-49 age-group Indofood Ironman Bintan 70.3 champion in Indonesia on Sunday.
"Part of her idea was for me to get used to the heat because over there is hotter than Kona because of the humidity," said Vesty who has already booked his flights to the Kona Ironman Championship in Hawaii on October 13.
The temperature at Bintan Island peaked at 32C and the humidity was hovering around the 80 per cent mark in his maiden half ironman event overseas.
However, the co-director of Stortford Auto Sales in Hastings tamed the half ironman course, clocking 32m 31s in the 1.9km swim leg, 2h 17m 40s in the 90km bike ride and crossing the finish line in 4h 42m 39s after covering the 21km run in 1:46:31.
"It was a good test for me just to see how I handled the heat."
Crawford has competed in 37 long-distance races and is a former professional who has competed in the Kona Ironman event in the female category.
"She's done Hawaii a few times so she reckons the run isn't as hard because on a cloudy day you can get more cover, even though it's twice as long but it's more dry heat so I'm hoping my body will respond better," he said, revealing the Kona course heads down Alii Drive, then along the Queen Kaahumanu Highway to the Energy Lab and back.
"The Energy Lab can be into a head wind and tough."
Vesty was happy with his swim coach Reece Kennedy, of Napier, for honing his skills. He was fifth out of the water in Bintan, which was a vast improvement from when he competed at the Santa Rosa Ironman in California, United States, on May 12 for age-group silver.
He found the bike ride tough. While it wasn't overly hilly the up-and-down terrain, coupled with wind, made it a demanding course.
"It had a few corners and a few obstacles as well as the scooters and what not," he said with a grin before revealing he was the fifth fastest rider overall, excluding the professionals, in the race.
The run, he felt, could have been better but the heat was a hindrance which saw him finish seventh fastest overall among non-professional competitors.
"When it clouded over a little your pace picked up a bit so heat was definitely a factor. I was a little bit disappointed because I wanted to go a little faster," he said, juxtaposing that with a 1:40 run in the Napier Port Harbour to Hills event on April 8.
Vesty's pathway of succession has been a methodical, calculated and concerted prescription.
His age-group triumphs include the Kinloch Triathlon-NZ National Sprint Championship in Taupo in February and the inaugural Kiwiman Xtreme Triathlon in New Plymouth late in March on the heels of the 70.3 ironman last December.
Consequently he has had to cherry pick events to avoid burnout so he will forgo the world championship 70.3 in South Africa next month as well as the Triathlon World Championship in Gold Coast, from September 12-16.
"It just takes too much out of your body to recover, especially in the heat so the half ironman becomes a good tester to pick up enough speed and for the [Kona full ironman] I will need to have more distance."
Having had two days off while travelling home from Indonesia, Vesty is bracing himself for a solid six weeks of training and the low-key Hawke's Bay Triathlon and Hawke's Bay Ramblers Cycling Club races on the odd weekends.
Nutrition is in the forefront of his mind, something Crawford has impressed.
"A big thing these days is getting enough salt in so we had a figure of 800 to 1000mg of salt intake so I had actually taken some salt tablets in my drink bottle."
It worked because Vesty didn't cramp up, especially in cycling. He is expecting some stiff tradewinds in Kona where the water is clearer but can be more choppy than Bintan.
He will be in Hawaii three days before the "Tour de France of triathlons" but has already booked accommodation about 50km away from the venue to avoid all the hype and the cost.
Vesty has qualified for the 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France, on September 7-8 next year but the jury's out on that one until he knows what his finances will be like.
He thanked Hoka One One shoe company for helping him and son Karsen with products.