The Inaugural Auckland Ironman 70.3 2013

I’m not a short course racer, in fact I am a long course plodder. So I watched from a far as some of my triathlete friends beat themselves up training for the ITU World Champs in Auckland, with much regret. Racing in the heart of Auckland with crowds watching would be fun.

But then I found out a rumor, while in Germany, from a NZ pro in the know, that a long course race was coming to Auckland, a 70.3 in fact and it was to go over the harbor bridge. Awesome thought I. I had signed up in my head that day and was just awaiting the entry form and details once I got back.

I was slightly disappointed to learn it was on the same weekend as Wanaka, though I didn’t have any plans at that stage to race Wanaka (though if I hadn’t signed up for Auckland the lure of Wanaka would have been impossible to resist). I admit there are some things I don’t like about the Ironman brand, or maybe I just like Challenge a lot more, but somehow a fan of Challenge turned her back on the beloved Wanaka and turned up in Auckland.

There are a few advantages to Auckland, it’s pretty cheap to fly there (If you book your ticket early enough), the race is in the center and close to lots of accommodation, so once again you can keep it pretty cheap. The only thing that shocked me a little was the entry fee, but it can’t be cheap to close a lane off the harbor bridge, a bus way and the entire Tamaki drive all the way to St Helliers. Actually, it might have been a bit of a bargain. I have never raced in a big main center before, so it was sure to be interesting.

I flew up on the Saturday, after watching the start of Wanaka over the internet and just wishing I was there. It was windy and rough on the swim, I would have been great! But Auckland bound I was. I managed to get sun burnt walking form the hotel to registration and back… yeh not only in Wanaka should you wear Sun screen.

It was a early start on Sunday morning. There is something odd leaving your hotel just before dawn and fellow hotel guests are just returning. And walking down to the start, the closer you got to transition, the more athletes joined a quite walk, no one was saying much. The odd whispered conversation. And then you walk past a bar that is still open and there is a burst of sound and a lot of people not looking that healthly. I wonder what they made of the quite procession of athletes past them.

For the swim, it started on the other side of the viaduct to the transition(which was behind the events center . You had to go through the Maritime Museum to the pontoon, so they lined us up in our wave starts before and walked us through. This meant we didn’t get to see the pro’s start or see the cannon go off. The over 35 Females was the 2nd Age Group wave to start, so didn’t have to hang around for long. The course was a little bizarre shape.  Kind of a square with a diagonal bit back. I had studied it the  map the night before. But as soon as I got in the water I completely forgot what the heck it looked like. I was looking at the next buoy and had no idea which direction I needed to go around it, or where to look for the next buoy, so I watching others quite a bit.  I came out of the water 6th in my age group, which seemed alright with me. But it took me 35min, which is slow for me, but everyone seem to have slow times, I think the tide must have been strong.

Garmin Data for Swim

The bike started of good. You get to go over the harbor bridge, how cool is that? It’s a bit of a climb but not to bad. And then you follow the bus way out around North Shore. Its smooth and pretty fast, though a good few climbs and fast descents thrown in. It started to get drizzly and I just couldn’t see very much, through the sunglasses.. and I kept on pondering the question where do I put the sunglasses, The aero helmet doesn’t allow you to stick them through the holes and the tri top pocket wasn’t really that big. So they ended up the end of my nose, and me peering over the top.  We went over the bridge again and then there was tight corning, and around the back of the Tanks and back past transition. This was a tricky part and slowed you down a lot, corners, tram tracks , some tram tracks on corners! and wet. Let’s just say I took it very easy through there, and we had to go through that part 3 times.

The final 40 odd K’s was 2 laps of Tamaki Drive to St Helliers and back. It was flat and smooth, and a tail wind on the way out and a grind back toward transition. But at this point my body was not happy, it was wanting OFF that F@#$ing bike. Pretty damn unusual, as I normally don’t want to get off, because that just means I have to run. I was getting shitty with the people around me as well. There was big bunches passing me, and the odd annoying bloke who like to play leap frog. I’m sorry guys, but if a chick (yes even a slightly overweight one) over takes you and is faster, let it go! So let’s just say I was not in a happy place at the end of the ride.

I got off in a time of Approx 2:45 which is OK, but I was hoping for sub 2:40 and I was still in 6th position in my age group. I think that shows the quality of the field that was there. Some of those girls were fast, I normally will finish a bike in top 2 or 3.

Garmin Data for Bike

I wasn’t thinking the run would be great, but I got off the bike and my legs felt fine. That just proves to me I can push the bike fairly hard and still be able to run OK. I know many people might think I go to hard on the bike and thus my run suffers. But truly, my run doesn’t suffer, it just sucks. So anyway I was biking well and truly within my means. And the first 3K on the run felt great. Then I got a little bit slower. My plan is normally to walk the aid stations, but I was just feeling so good, I said nope… I’ll run the aid stations for the first lap and I did.

The start and the end of the run lap was pretty awesome. Running around the viaduct past bars, was super cool. But once you got on to the long straight bits it was a bit of a drag. I had my Garmin on, which I use for pacing, but I had no extra speed in the legs and looking at it just would not have help my state of mind. So I ignored it and just ran. And I am glad I ignored it, because if I was watching it, I would have noticed the 21K mark tick by and be no way near the finish line.

Turns out the run course was 1.5K’s too long. How do you manage to screw up that much in a out and back course, I am not sure. That is just weird. So when I finally went over the finish line and look at my watch for the run time, I could not believe how slow I was. I have walked half, a half a marathon before, faster than that. Even then, taking the 21K mark time it was still fairly slow, but that’s OK. 2:23 for the run. Ending up 13th, which does mean only 7 people overtook me in the run. Yes, the run for me is limiting the losses. I was hoping for a top 10, and if it hadn’t been for the last 1.5K I might have been close in 11th.

Garmin Data for Run

Next Goal is to maintain that speed for the Full marathon in Taupo, if I can do that, than that will be a good time for me.

Next years Goal, sort out the running once and for all and be better!

Nutrition… Aka yummy, energy, health, well being, addiction and WTF

Recently I watched a you tube clip of tim Noakes talking about the problem with Carbohydrate… And his definition of what people who are “carbohydrate resistant” is. It struck a chord, this defined me.. In my laymen’s term, it means I can’t store carb as glycogen, so the body turns any that isn’t used immediately in the blood stream to fat straight away.

However, his solution was to strip carbohydrate from his life almost entirely… Which doesn’t work for me, I watched Nigella on Sunday the other week, and her approach to food is much more my style… Even her approach to her body and weight I can appreciate, but I am not that confident.

I have known for a while, that there is no scientific basis for societies current horror of Fat, especially Saturated Fat. We can blame one study, based on certain factors that said there might be correlation between saturated fat and heart attacks.. Time magazine used such info to give us nightmares about bacon and eggs… At the same time the food pyramid was making us eat in bizarre ways…

So what we (or I ) have been left with was a youth of cutting of the fat and eating carbohydrate… What I really liked about that Noakes video, is he says I am not like this because I am slovenly and Gluteness… I have told myself such things for many years, but didn’t truly believe it, or even if I tell myself that, I have always thought those around me have been judging me. It doesn’t help that for some reason I started a sport full of fit and skinny people..

“it’s as addictive as heroine” he says… That is why will power alone can’t get you to stop.

But where to go from here? I love my food, I love to cook, I love to eat… A life with little carbohydrate is a rather tasteless life, but also a rather planned and organized one, I am not prepared to go there, plus I am not 100% sold on its totally healthy ( don’t get me started on the “facts” out there… There is so much pseudo science, I am not sure how any body can truly believe anything, and the proper scientific research is all caught up in journals and peer reviews, and they can’t prove this because of that etc etc)

I am going back to what should be, turning things on there head ( you know a KFC double down might not be anywhere near as bad as a sugar filled hamburger bun), I am introducing the fat back into my life, cream and no cutting the fat of the steak… But also reducing the carb intake, and going low GI on that carb, as possible…

So far it isn’t working that well, glutted myself on ice cream twice this week…

I don’t like unfit

Yikes, this weekend I went for a “jog” up Rapaki… Heck it hurt! Turned into, “it’s such a lovely day, why not enjoy it at a walk”. Now that is not particularly concerning, I just want to enjoy myself at the moment, only got a week or two till I turn the serious back on. It’s a mental rest, not to have to push and endure that little bit more.

But heck feeling unfit, feels crappy… And it’s not wanting to feel like that which will keep me going, how did I get by with only a few hours a week training, for short tri’s? How can you ever stop training for long endurance, when this feeling of unfit happens? It’s worth the hours of training, early mornings, unsociable hours not to feel that.

Where did the positive go?

There has been a issue that has been nagging my my since Roth, almost 4 weeks ago now… I had a great day out there… except for being 50min slower than I wanted, but shit happens so I don’t really care… but there is one thing about the day that doesn’t sit well with me.

Now I generally think of myself as a optimistic person. But the more I roll Roth race day around in my head, the more I realise how absolutly negative my thoughts were about the run.

Let me take you to about the 160Km mark on the bike. Everything was hurting, but thankfully it was mostly a slight descent to T2. The neuroma on my left foot was screaming at me, and I was just generally tired and looking forward to being off the bike. I was feeling extremely disapointed in my bike time, though it did look like I’d sneak under 6hrs, but that was 20-30min off my intended time. I knew this meant the goal time wasn’t possible, but if I had pulled my head together, could I have managed at least 12hrs?

At this 160K mark all my thoughts were projected at the run, and a overwhelming thought I can’t run a marathon now. I had zip… zero… nudda confidence in my run ability (And while it was somewhat justified, I know I can complete these things, so why soooo negative?).

I came off the bike in, probably, a better condition than I had been in Taupo, while tired, I was still feeling pretty strong. But my mind wasn’t focused on the postive, all it could think about was I can’t do this marathon, totally and utterly negative. But I did self talk myself into it, I told myself to keep going and do 1 K at a time. The trouble with that, is you are counting the K’s and 42 is a lot count.

Its taken me a while to realise this is what I did. It isn’t obvious to you while you are in it, that you are being negative. You just think you are being realistic. And while the self talk helped me through, as soon as a stumbling block got introduced (“my knee hurts”) all that negative thought just piles on you, and the self talk turns into “see, I knew I couldn’t do this”.

So why so negative? Well that is easy, and had/have zero confidence in my running ability and the led up didn’t really do much to improve that confidence. I had a really bad half marathon 4 weeks out. Caused by a upset stomach, but the first 7K’s was really good, but the outcome sort of sits in the back of your sub-conscious swishing around.

But I was also too heavy, weight wise, and I knew that going in, knew the run was ging to hurt and I didn’t really do anything in preparation to deal with it. I just skirted the edges… and even though telling my live with it, and have another muffin… those muffins sat on my mind (as well as the hips) and contributed to the negative mind set.

So now at least I have identified and admitted, openly, that this is my problem. To be conquered and not to occur again.

Challenge Roth – Part 2, the run

So the ride wasn’t as good as expected, looked at my watch, just under 6hrs. I was thinking, for F sake I have to run a marathon now, how the heck will I do that? But now that I think about, not quite sure what my problem was, you don’t ride 180 k without it hurting, and while I was slow, I was feeling fine. Looking forward to getting my shoes off, my feet were killing me.

The ladies in the T2 were really helpful, they help take things off, and put things on. Though transitions tents were communal which was slightly weird, not that I get changed or anything… And quite frankly was in my own little world, so wasn’t paying any attention to what was around me.

So started on the run, and it was hard, after the 1k, there is a slight incline for over a k, I just thought, take it easy and keep going. After 3 k, you turn onto the Cannel track, which is a nice packed surface, and started to feel OK… Saying good would be a little far…. We then left the Cannel to run through a little village. It was slightly mad down there, there was also a lot of kiwi and Swiss flags lining the road. Then my knee started to hurt, exactly the same as Taupo, except 10k early.. Crap of F’ing crap… Never had it during training, so not sure how to get around that one.

I think the knee being sore along with just being tired just mentally did me in and the run-shuffle walk started. It was slow and painful going. We returned back to the Cannel. The run is a T shape with loop bits at either end. So you get to see people running the other way. Just before 30 k you get to the other village at the other side of the T, and it was completely bonkers. The crowd is everywhere and lots of music, smoke from BBQ and people lining the street with beer (ok this was a common occurrence across the course) There were lots of people walking by this stage, so made me feel a little better about myself.

So many of fellow competitors tried to be supportive, which was funny when speaking to me in German. I kinda got the gist though of what they were saying, some noticed the flag on my number and spoke in English. It was amazingly friendly the entires way. And so many people running along that Cannel, at some points you could just look along and see the number of people snaking their way through.

Finally got off the Cannel to make the final 6 odd k through the town. The “bier mile” is at about 2 k to go. You are running over cobbles… Not the easiest at this stage, and you have heaps of people lining the course, or sitting at the pubs etc. the last k, I swore to run the entire way, and I did… The finish line was unbelievable, so many people and noise. I had a stupid team just in front of me, considered running past them, but just decided to take it easy and get over the finish line and have some space.

Got a hug from Felix at the end🙂

Wasn’t my best race, I knew before it I was carrying too much weight to make a really good go of it, but the experience was unbelievable, and while disappointed in my time, can’t really give a rats arse, it was amazing, highly recommend it to anyone. I don’t think my description of it could possibly do it justice.

Challenge Roth 2012- part 1

How am I going to explain his one? This is no ordinary Iron distance race, this is a whole new experience… The crowds are phenomal, the atmosphere unbelievable… But I shall start at the beginning.

We had to get up at a stupid early time of 3am and left at 4am… We were still relatively early, so there wasn’t that many people around, but that quickly changed. It was amazing in transition, the music was awesome, and you could see the crowds gathering on the bridge. But it wasn’t long before the pro cannon went off, and it was a cannon and gave me quite a fright. Then it was the fast Men to go in the yellow caps. All the females got to follow next in the pink… We were let through the pen and into the Cannel, the water was fairly warm at 22 degrees. I got myself to front and centre, where I wanted to start and we were off!

There wasn’t much argy Bargy and was quickly into a nice rhythm, but I couldn’t find any one to draft off, so I pretty much did it by myself for the entire way. A couple of times my calf started to cramp, I hardly never get cramp! So I just didn’t kick very much. About 2.5 k in, I looked up and there was just a swarm of yellow caps in front. I couldn’t believe I had caught so many, they were supposed to be the very fast guys… So the rest of the way, it was just about making my way through the yellow caps.

The swim is a T swim up and down the Cannel, so it isn’t very hard to keep straight and you don’t have site very often.

Then I was out of the water, they had guys in the water pulling you up, I just let them pull me to I could touch the ground… Through transition and onto the bike, and off we go. Felt good to start with. The first aid station was a “ration point” manned by the army. It had guys saluting you before you got there, it was massively long as well, totally blew me away. The wind was blowing, not the horrible strong winds you get at home, but more wind than I have experienced in Germany the last 2 weeks. And it was tiring, apparently pros think it was 10min slower bike course than last year.

I just felt flat for most of the first lap, I couldn’t get up to a speed that I wanted. The climbs were a struggle, the course had more hills than I expected. Every little village we went through had crowds of people, and there are a lot of villages on the course, it actually makes the course fairly technical, lots of corners to navigate. At about 35 k’s was the biggest of the climbs, there was drums and crowds everywhere, you can’t really think with the noise. There were a few more climbs before we hit the solarberg… OMG I had seen the pictures, knew what to expect, but it was unbelievable, you had crawl your way up through the throng on spectators, and you just hoped they moved out of the way. Others talk about the noise, I didn’t really pay much attention to the noise just worried about getting though and to the top.

Than another 10k before we did the same lap again, almost landed in one of the army guys lap through the ration point… Not very coordinated at the best off times, and having to grab bottles with my right hand is difficult. I finally started to feel stronger on this lap, though just before the big climb, a bee got stuck in my helmet and stung me. It really hurt for the next 20min, even debated if needed to stop at next aid station to get it looked at, but kept going and pain went away.

The Solarberg the 2nd time had a few less people but was still massive, it truly a experience of a life time, to go up there. At least after that the course is mainly downhill for the 20k’s into Roth.

Run to come….

Imagine this

…..Going for a ride in approx 28 degrees, with no nor’easter blowing at you.Actually no wind
……Having a car stop behind you as you are going up a hill and around a corner, with no impatience given.
…..truck drivers giving you space on the road
…..coming across a 18 percent climb, in ironman week… I decided to not continue that climb
… paths in the middle of no where, that take you to the middle of nowhere…. And take you past a field of solar panels.
…. Swimming in a thunderstorm