The first foray to long distance tri

Why Auckland?

So why did I pick Auckland to do as my first Half Ironman? I think way back before I did Kepler, I was wondering what would go next, I had a mirco of a idea of prehaps doing Ironman instead of c2c, but quite frankly aiming for another big goal was tiring to me at the time. Around the same time, Mum mentioned to me that Olly had been making noises about when I would next be up to visit her. Thus the thought of Auckland half was born, I could join my need to have a small (but still decent) goal with a visit to my sister.

I didn’t consider the course or any other reasoning when I made this decision. The timing was good as well, I had 3 months to train for it, it was at the end of Summer, it gave me a time out from a pressure of going for something big. And when I was tossing the idea of Longest day around, I needed this.

The training

If you have been following my blog, you probably already know. But I started out a bit blah towards everything. The first few weeks back into training I could barely run longer than 30min. I was down on my training, and really trying to work out why I had decided to go back into tri’s. But I changed my training, decided to go with a coach, get a different perspective on things, and it started to work. Training got better, I started to feel better and was enjoying the training again, and understood why I was doing this. My running finally started too feel better and I was feeling really good leading up to the taper.

I had a couple of blah days during the taper, but not the normal lethargy I have had before, and I was getting really excited about the race. I didn’t have much nerves, just wanted to get out their and do it, and more importantly enjoy it.

I have some very stupid paranoia’s

I flew up to Auckland Thursday morning. What had been making me nervous for the last few weeks had been flying the bike up. I hired a hard case from Chain Reaction. I wasn’t all that concerned about the bike. Would have been quite happy if it got smashed and insurance paid for new bike, but only if that happened on the way home. If happened on the way up, then goodbye race… But case got on the plane and off it with out a hitch. I put the bike back together and all was good… I could relax about the bike.

I am not a details cook

So my sister and me are practically opposite, she’s and “neat” freak. I can just see her getting frustrated with me and stressed with me. I try to be on my best behavior, but I still feel the stress levels rising, as I carelessly put something here there or everywhere. I honestly do not know how we survived to live 16 or so years together in the same household. Only are few days together is all the 2 of us could handle together.

I consider myself a fairly good cook, I cook by feel and instinct, I don’t care about details… ie I cut up a pepper carelessly cut out the seeds but didn’t get all of them… much to my sisters horror.  Just made me laugh. I think I surprised her though, I was much more organised about the race than she thought. I just told her, I am organised on the focus, don’t care about the superfluous details.

Ok, so I don’t use a phone. I use txt, email and facebook to communicate with my family. Except Olly has a dislike of facebook, so lets just say, I don’t stay in contact much. Anyway, the last communca I had had with her on the subject, Olivia was going to do the half in a team, she’ll get someone to do the swim for her. But she couldn’t find the team mate and decided to do the whole thing herself.  Oh dear, my much more athletically gifted sister was going to kick my ass.

Race Day

You have to love Auckland, and the travel times required. Olly said it would be about 1hr to the start. I love that, it was 1 hour to the Canterbury tri, and that was a long distance to travel, in Auckland it isn’t far… So anyway we were up at 5am, slightly early for me and then on our way by 5.45. We picked up Olly’s friend, Sally, who was going to be support crew for the day. And headed on our way. We arrived at about 6:40, so it didn’t take quite a hour to get there. The plan was to get there at 7. So it was still rather dark, I had trouble getting the back wheel on my bike. Maybe I was getting nervous, as a rather simple task got difficult. As we were so early we managed to get a good spot at transition.

After getting ready, going to toilet, admiring the sun rise it wasn’t long to race briefing. Decided to get wet, and the water warm! Shock to the system really, after the coldness of the ocean down south. Practically tropical.

The change of course

They did send us a email, but I didn’t get it until about 30min ago. Because of this briefing was the first time I was informed what the change of course for the bike was. Basically, 11K had been cut out at about 60K, because of road works. This stretch of the course was going to the fast flat bit (where my strength lies). To make up for this, they added the extra 11K  of hills (my weakness) on to the start. So instead of turning left at transition, we were to turn right and start by climbing a bloody hill! Ahh well, I roll with the punches and shrug it off and concentrate on the swim.

Awesome swim

The swim was 2 laps of a triangle course. We had to get out of the water and run around the wharf after the 1st lap. (I hate that, why we can’t just swim around a buoy in the water is beyond me).

It wasn’t long before the honker went and we were off, there was the initial argy bargy at the start, I was going too hard, and kept on telling myself to calm down. It took me longer than planned to get into a calm state. It was hard spotting the bouys, they were white and black, and didn’t stand out that well. I just hoped that the person in front of the person in front, in front of the person in front etc, could see the buoy.

The first lap was over fairly quickly, and then on to the secound lap. I found my mind wandering at this time, thinking forward to the cycle. Kept on telling myself to concentrate on the now, and start adding some pressure to my swim and not drift my way through.

I was out of the water and off towards my bike. I hit the lap time on my watch here at 36min, I was really happy with that, I planned just under 40min, so was on a high as I headed out on to the bike.

Shite, what gear is my bike in!

When I set up my bike in transition, I didn’t know about the change of bike course and that the we would be heading straight up a hill. When I crossed the road and prepared to get on the bike, I just thought “Shite, what gear is my bike in”. I looked down and was awesomely happy that it was in a low gear. I pushed off and was off.

I spun my way up that first hill. I had people huffing and puffing past me, and I was wondering how far they were planning the ride to be. I had two things written on the inside of my lower arms in vivid. One said “Control”, the other “150”. This was done to remind me to keep my HR under 150. For first 11K, I failed miserably, the hills made it almost impossible. I completed that 11K, and looked at my watch and it was 25min. Was feeling happy with that.

The next 30K, was a fairly rolling fast stretch to Kawakawa bay. This is a fairly narrow stretch of road, and there was quite a bit of traffic on it. So it was at time hard to overtake, and some bunching and drafting occurred. I tried to avoid this as much as possible, I wanted to do this with out breaking the rules. I never saw any draft busters, but it was for my own self, rather than the rules.

So I am slow at climbing, I kick your ass on the flat though

I started to get really frustrated with some of the riders. I was not climbing the hills fast. I had “control” written on my arm. I didn’t want to push my HR up, so the hills were kept at a steady rate. But people kept on over taking me just as I crested the hill, only for me to over take them on the descent  flat bits (it really started to annoy me).

Oh I am about to go down? must be at the top

Just after Kawakawa bay is snake hill. It had been described to me like Gebbies pass but longer. I was expecting a much longer climb than it was. It wasn’t that steep, except in some place where the road took a corner. It wasn’t however something nice to have in the middle of a ironman course.

Olly, had organised to have Donna at the top of the hill with a extra water bottle (its the only point of the course external assistance allowed). I meet Donna the night before, so I would recognise her. I didn’t however, recognise that I was at the top of the hill. I honestly thought that this hill must be longer than it was (Oh did I mention, I never got around to driving the course). There was a fair number of supporters around, but none that seemed to be handing out water bottles, so was expecting something more. However, the road looked like it was going down… so I looked around and spotted Donna across the road, so put on the brakes… I didn’t want to miss that bottle, it was key to the nutrition plan.

She spotted me and I was off again. It was then a fast down hill from here to the coast… with a couple of climbs to break it up. I was feeling good, the legs was feeling good. I was ready for the ride to be over, it was just a formality, I was looking forward to the run. Thats where the key to the whole race lay.

The course continued along the coast, for what seemed like ages, I so was waiting for the turn around. Finally the turn around arrived. Here was a aid station and the plan was to pick up a water bottle. I yelled out water. The guy passed me a bottle (I was rather proud of my co-ordination at picking up bottle, and throwing out old). I was a few 100mts down the road when I took a sip of it, and it was leppin not water! Crap change in nutrition plan. I was on course for a 3:20 time, so the water wouldn’t be much required. I almost threw the bottle away, but decided, not to.  In case I needed it. This last 25K was the toughest. It was basically a long climb back up from the coast to snake hill. Snake hill wasn’t as hard from this side, but my legs were starting to hurt quite bad.

I was really happy to see the 9K to kawakawa bay sign, but most of that was up. I tried to take it as easy as possible, I needed to save the legs, but it was getting harder, and I was getting to the end of my ability to do that, the legs started to die slowly. I was glad of the down hill all the way down to Kawakawa and try and relax and get ready for the run.

Where the plan didn’t work

I got into transition, and my watch showed about 3.20 for the cycle. I was happy with that, I had budgeted 3.30 for it, but had the possibility that it could take me up to 4hrs. I stuffed my pockets with gel and headed out on the run.

I was very glad that there was a aid station just down the way, which gave me some water, my mouth was feeling sticky and just hadn’t had any water. The plan was to jog it off for 5 or so min, and then get into a harder pace. I had done this in training and was feeling really good. So thought my plan for 2-2.10 half marathon time wasn’t too outrageous. But I couldn’t get into that harder pace. I tried a few times, but the body didn’t want to get there.

So at this point I knew the time planned for the run wasn’t going to occur. Maybe that was when some of the motivation dropped off. Maybe it wasn’t a motivation issue, my body wasn’t capable of it.

The run course, started flat for the first 1 odd K then turned into a slightly rolling road for the next 2.5K, before returning the same way. It was 3 laps of this.

The first lap was ok, the hills didn’t seem to bad, and then it was a slight downhill on the way back. Just before the end of my first lap I saw Olly just starting out. I was a little amazed, I had expected her to catch me on the bike, if not catch me early on the run. But with that much distance between us, I just thought she couldn’t catch me. The 2nd lap, some walking occurred, I hadn’t planned on walking at all, but I walked fast for a few hundred meters and started again.

The last lap the screws came of… I kept on telling myself the Kepler was way harder than this and I managed to run most of the last 10k, and this was only 7. It didn’t work though, so run the down hill, and walk the up hills. Those hills that didn’t seem so bad in the first lap become unconquerable mountains on the the last lap. I eventually got to the finish and was incredibly happy about it.

I stopped my watch at 6.28. 28min longer on the run than planned, that was all there was to it.

So in conclusion

This race was never going to play to my strengths. Even though I played a good controlled game on the bike, the hills overcame my plan and took too much out of my legs. Was majorly surprised that I had beaten my sister. She didn’t have a great race, stomach cramps, and she didn’t train enough.

I had a seriously big blister on my secound little toe, on both feet. Haven’t a clue why, never had a blister there before.

Planned times

Swim : 40Min

T1 : 4 Min

Bike: 3:30

T2: 4min

Run: 2- 2:10

Total: 6:10 – 20

Times (as done by my watch, i wasn’t very accurate with my timing)

Swim : 36.11min

T1: 1:58min

Bike: 3:18

T2: 40 sec (I think I hit that a bit late)

Run: 2:31

Total: 6:28

I am such a bad packer!

The bag is packed… and I mean one bag, managed to fit everything into the bike suitcase… hopefully its not too much over the weight restriction though. Hopefully I have everything, well that’s what Friday for is fixing the mistakes. I have a tendancy to never pack the right stuff, but my tri list is completed. I seem to have lost my googles, got others but they were the preferred, I am sure that they have them in Auckland.

I’ll probably be connected to the internet a couple of times. Going to try and convince my sister what the joy of Facebook is 🙂 But will not probably get a race report up till Sunday evening at earliest, and who knows when I will be bothered.

Yahhhh… I am really rather excited, not a ounce of nerves though. The other night I went through the race plan and risk assessment, got me all excited, haven’t come down since. Had a slight breakdown last night when I couldn’t get the pedals off. But a quick dash to Geoff and he had them off in a jiffy (what is a jiffy?).

All I got to remember, take it easy on the bike and its just about the run…

Just because you are racing, it doesn’t mean your brain has fallen out of your skull!

Today was the last longish bike session, and grand old total of 90min and on the flat, but needed to spend 30min in A2 and 10min in A3. I find this really really hard to do on the flat, I need to be turning a massive gear fast to get my HR up this high on the flat, and sustaining that for 10min is blimin’ hard.

When I got up, the weather was looking like shite, I had cleaned my bike, and put new tires in preparation for the half next weekend, I wasn’t really thinking it would rain for this last major bike session. So I grumbled, grumbled and searched my cupboards for the wet weather gear and headed out.

I decided to head out on the good old faithful course, around mcleans Island. Its flat (except for that one stock bank bump), its boring, but it takes me exactly 90min most days to do, and I can get away from traffic and intersections rather quickly. It was rather drissly to start with, but cleared up considerably once I got out passed the airport. There did seem to be a fair amount of traffic heading down the road, made me wonder what was on. Not unusual for some event to being held down this way in the weekend.

I didn’t think it would be the Real Duathlon though. So I had to stop for a bit while the racers crossed the road on the bike. The Marshall jokingly told me I wasn’t allowed to draft. I have never done the real duathlon, so not sure what the rules are, but I assume it is a non-drafting race. It looked like individual athletes were separated by about 30 sec or so, so I was just going through, giving them lots of space, picking the racers off 1 by 1. When I got to the turn around the marshall was waving at me to slow down. I yelled “I’m not doing it” a few times, and the Marshall who had the stop/go sign turned it again to let the traffic through, so everyone was good (so I thought) and I just kept on going straight through.

About 20sec later, I got a fright, when this voice behind me “Aren’t you doing it?”. I was down on the aero bars, but at this question, I automatically turn around to say no, some other words were about to come out which probably would have included idiot and stupid, if my bike hadn’t swerved into the gravel on the side of the road. I was then more concerned about getting back on the road and not crashing then, wondering what happened to her. So she must have jumped on my tail when I overtook her, not sure if this was braking the rules or not. But how she miss that turn around, there was a sign out, and obviously the place to turn. Just because its a race, you don’t stop thinking for crying out loud… don’t follow the person in front blindly!!!

So rest of ride went pretty uneventfully, it got drizzly again once I got back into the city. Once I got home I dragged myself out for my 20min run. I don’t think I have ever really wanted to do any of my run of the bikes. I get home and much rather just crash. But no I always give myself a strong talking to and off I go. These runs have got much easier over the last few weeks and it doesn’t take me long to get into a rythmn and start to feel good and forget that I didn’t really want to go and do it.

At least the weather gods had waited to the run before they decided to open the heaven and release buckets of water. I got absolutely saturated on the run, but doesn’t bother me a bit to be running in the rain.

Could that really be the reason to train so much?

I think I might have discovered why I like training so much, especially when comes to the weekend.

Its a good excuse why the housework and garden don’t get done

Plus when slightly at a loose end I get this desire to go and buy something. I have nothing I need to buy, but I just want to buy something!

Maybe I just need a secondary hobby…. oh that could be blogging. It could be the reason I am sitting here writing a rather silly blog.

This morning, I had a 40min open water swim. The water was a little bit warmer than last week, or maybe my expectation of the water was colder than it actually was. I had come prepared and had 2 swimming caps on, unfortunalty I found this just gave me a headache.

Anyway after the swim, I was home by 10.30am, which is a little different to my normal arrival time on a Saturday of 1 or 2 pm, and then I am so tired I have to crash on the coach for the next couple of hours. But, no, today I am not tired, I have no excuses. I even have time to get my hair cut (but they couldn’t fit me in till tommorrow, so that’s tommorrows activity)

The first week of taper has actually been fairly hard. Oh but I have had plenty of time, but all of the sessions have been working in A2 and odd one into A3. So a lot of pushing myslef, I had a 70min run on Thursday ( my long run session for the week), I was stuffed at the end. But the important thing my legs felt fresh as a daisy.

Ok now I realise I sound like a rather boring lonely person, don’t worry I got coffee (or hot choclate in my case) with the girls this arvo.

Maybe, I should spend this time trying to work out the phemomen of twitter. I just don’t get it… did you know the tower of london twitters… or you can get a plant water feeder to twitter you to say it needs watering… Yes, I am way behind the 8 ball on this, known about it since it was launched, but can’t get enthused.

Double bugger

So here’s been my plan. Train over winter as if I was going to do Challenge Wanaka, if it comes to the end of winter, and where my training hours need to be ramped up and it turns out I don’t have enough time to do the training, I’ll re-focus and jsut do the wanaka half.

So I sent a email to the organisers asking if I enter the full now, if I’ll be able to transfer to the half later. But the answer is no, I can’t Entry is non refundable or transferable. I could transfer it to a team however. No sorry, I don’t do teams, I think I’d be a bit bored just going at one discipline

If I enter the full now I get to save a decent amount of money, compaed to entering in say October. But if I enter I loose the money, and can imagine that I’ll never be able to take it, so once I am entered, that’s it… i’ll have to do it.

Grrrr… bugger, bugger, bugger!

Not quite as magnificant

So yesterday morning, I went on my journey, of doing the Chch 1/2 course (plus 6K, to and from the course). I have to give full ups to Nades for doing that circuit twice. Man its a mind spinner. What I learnt is my body can run for hours over the ups and downs of hills but put it on a flat tarmac for a couple of hours and it starts to disintegrate. No injuries were incurred, but man did my legs hurt afterwards.

I went into it with the plan of seeing how my body coped on gels alone, firstly, I didn’t have them often enough and secoundly I think this contributed to my disintegration in the last 10K’s.

In total I managed about 24K, then hobbled home for the last 3k’s. Once I started to walk it was too hard to start up again, plus I reached the 2.5hrs that was intended for the session.

The problem with running through the city, is the lack of toilets, you can’t exactly duck into some ones garden to go can you. At arawa, I was hoping the club rooms would be open, but damn no one around, thankfully Nades lives on the course and she was home, so a quick stop and chat before continuing. Up until here, I was feeling fine, but once I got started again that when things started to hurt.

I got lost at the end of the river section, I have done the race twice, but obviously by that point of the race I have other things on my mind rather than where I actually going. I did a bit of back tracking and ended on Salisbury instead of Peterbrough, didn’t think it mattered that much as they run parell to each other. Thankfully, I got to the end of the course, after pushing my way through the hoards of Garden Show revelers and hobbled on home.

Now I just get to taper, and try not think too much about the half marathon at the end in a couple of weeks