The last of the local climbs conquered

Finally, I was feeling back to my normal self when I woke up this morning, and because of the predicted weather forecast (hot and Nor’westers) it was an early morning wake up.

The program called for a 5hr long hill ride, initial plan was figure 8, but that normally takes about 4hours so I had to find an extra hour to do. So I decided figure 8, with a detour to Purau.

Port levy, is a climb of legend. It’s a little too far away to attempt without fitness or planning. Whenever I have been over at Purau this season I have started the road to port levy, but turned back whenever it started to get really steep. Today I decided, what the heck, just keep going and see how steep it really is. When I was training for 5 passes, this was the climb recommended to train for Otira. This is the steepest climb in the region. But I have never had the confidence to give it a go.

Well I kept going and I never found it that steep that I was out of my comfort zone. I got to the top and turned around. The descent was somewhat scary so I was riding the brakes a little bit more than normal.

The wind started to pick up on the way over to Coopers, though unlike the forecast it was easterly so things were not getting too hot. But this meant that on my way up coopers I had a damn head wind to battle with. I was struggling near the top, but legs were still ticking over happily.

The legs finally gave up the ghost when I started the climb of Evans, they had nothing else to give, so I aborted the plan to finish back along the summit (or at least get to Mt Pleasant) and came back home via Sumner. That was the only place on the entire ride that I was riding flat and in the aero bars.

For those that are interested, heres the profile of todays ride.

The four highest bumps are: Dyers pass; Port Levy; Coopers; Evans. All combined there was 2,230m of climbing. It’s not very often I do a 5 hour ride and only do 102km.

The run off the bike was a complete sufferfest. The legs were suffering big time. Normally off the bike my legs come to quickly, but today those hills had taking it toll and they were not happy chappys.

 

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…And while I rest and recover

The mind has nothing better to do with itself than wander, and contemplate the “What next scenario”.

So what is the most likely scenario is:

Taking a bit of a break over winter, prehaps learn to Mountain Bike, maybe do some multisport race in spring. Then do half ironmans over NZ Summer, probabaly Ashburton, Rotarua, Wanaka. Then do a overseas Ironman at the start of Winter; Cairns, Roth or other. (In last 3 days I have talked to 2 people going to Roth this year. Brendan at swim squad won his entry by winning his age group at Wanaka and Geoff, boss at Strategy, our partner company,  is going to do it. I’m jealous)  That gives me over a year to start saving for it, and I can start researching the options.

Of course I could change the “doing half’s” to “Challenge Wanaka”. Though the idea of just doing halfs is appealing. They are more fun, they don’t require as much commitment and recovery is a hell of a lot faster.

A “hard” week bites the dust

… and then there was 2.

2 hard weeks, is all I got left, it’s rather depressing when I put it in those terms. This week has been rather depressing. There would be a worse time to be sick, but that’s not much consolation.

So my “weekend” of illness spread itself all the way to Wednesday. I got up Wednesday morning and tried to head out on the bike but was not feeling great, and where I could have kept on going, I decided to err(sp?) on the side of caution and called it off, so long bike ride bites the dust. Wednesday night, I did go to the surf n’ turf. I changed to the long swim option (I wasn’t going to be running anywhere).

I didn’t push the swim too hard, and felt OK on my way around. I managed to get 2nd in my age group, which isn’t too shabby for someone who was cruising it, I suppose.  Thursday, I got on the bike and headed to work. I came home via the summit, I was defiantly feeling better, but still lacking in energy. Today, I went to swim squad, but only got 60min done.

So I’ve decided to post pone the long ride this weekend to Sunday to get a bit more recovery in. Hopefully, all will be good by then (I’ve been saying that all week. “tomorrow I’ll be all good”), and salvage something out of this week.

It’s frustrating, but nothing I can do.. so I wait and recover and hope that I am good to go for at least next weeks hard sessions.

Crash diet weekend

I would highly not recommend the following for loosing weight.
Eat some cold chicken Friday lunch time (OK, it might not have been the chicken, but I am blamming it as the most likely suspect)
Go to bed with your Friday dinner sitting in the stomach… you know the feeling, its like your gut brain has closed down and nothing is getting past the stomach.
Try really hard not to throw up, the Gut brain will have opened access after a good night sleep.
Spend Saturday throwing up, and you spend as much effort as possible getting water and energy in. You don’t want recovery time to be that much.
Spend Sunday, starting to feel better, but not quite on solid food. Begin to recover and have a decent lunch. Start to feel worse at dinner, and not eat any dinner.
Try really hard to have the energy to get to swim squad on Monday, but fail. Go a little crazy on Breakfast.

Breath 4 CF Update – The Final Stretch

Last weekend, was the final warm up race before Taupo, Wanaka Half Ironman (full race report here). During the race I proved to myself that the bike at Ashburton wasn’t a fluke. I was able to push the bike reasonably hard and still be able to run of the bike well. I stayed strong mentally during the run, I never had any doubts in my ability to finish and finished strong.

The run was not as fast as I had been hoping, but considering the conditions I am fairly happy that I managed to take off 1 min off my half marathon time since Ashburton. The swim was choppy, and having to swim past a heap of the guys slowed me down. Wanaka is never a fast swim anyway so reasonably happy with the time I came out in.

I managed to get 6th in age group and 11th female overall. Really happy with that result, there were some really fast chicks out there (and four of them were in my age group).

This week it was an easy recovery week, in preparation for the final 4 weeks of hard training, followed by the easier 2 taper weeks. Jo just sent through the final program to Taupo, there’s 3 weeks of 18-20hrs training in there. Its going to be tough few weeks, though I have prepared for these weeks and have the next 4 Wednesdays as leave to fit in the training, and to get 2 long sessions in during the week.

Now that I am in the final straight, I can give better estimates/goals on what I think I am going to be able to manage at Taupo.

Swim: 60 min. Taupo always seem to have a fast swim, so as long as I get clean feet to sit on, I think I will be able to come under, or very close to the 1hr mark

Bike: 6hrs. This disciplines time prediction is always the one most effected by the weather, especially the wind. Though I’m pretty sure Taupo will not come up with a wind anything like what Wanaka can produce. I could probably come in faster, and will probably require a lot of discipline for me not to smash the bike, especially on the first lap. I find it a hard-line to judge: time on bike vs tiredness off legs. The longer you spend on the bike, the more tired you become, but if I was to go faster my legs will become smashed and tired for the run. This is going to be a line that I am going to be playing with in the final weeks of training, but really only race day can prove me right or wrong.

Run: 4:30hrs. This one is going to be non-negotiable in my brain, if I don’t make this I will be more disappointed than anything else that happens on the day. Mark Watson (MC at Wanaka) compares walking to heroin addiction. Once you start, it feels so good, you start to do it more and more. I am realistic, and know I will have to walk at times, but it will be managed and planned.

Add in 10-15 min for transitions, I am hoping I will be coming in under the 12hr mark.

I am aware that anything can happen on race day, things happen that are outside my control (ie mecahnicals, weather) .

So now its up to you  to judge how much time those contingency might take up. If I am being over optimistic on my predicted times… give me the challenge of a time to achieve, and help breath 4 CF at the same time.

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A tough day at the office – Wanaka Half Ironman 2011

Pre Race

I woke up to a wind battering the house. Can’t say I paid that much attention, and just thought  “Its always windier in Hawea”. And well its true, and as the first part of the day is focused on the swim, and all I am really focused on before the start of the race is seeing how much chop there is on the lake, you don’t necessarily think that you are going to have to be biking back through Hawea.

Anyway, me and Emma, made our ways to the start line. Emma, for her own reasons, was in a “will she won’t she” mind set, and I think the wind swung her seriously in the favour of “won’t she”.  So it was get the bottles on the bike and get ready, we were fairly early, as there is over a hour to the start after the Challenge Wanaka guys. So a bit of hanging around, Emma eventually decided to not do it, which is a bit of a bonus to me, I don’t often have a support person to hold my bags for me 🙂

The Swim

31:49 Age Group place: 5 Gender place: 11

Garmin Stats (surprisingly close to accurate considering I was wearing it on my wrist)

Yes the water was choppy, but it wasn’t white water. So I suppose I thought that’s all good, but I have to say I didn’t think it was going to be an enjoyable swim. The half guys have a deep water start 100m off shore. The men were starting first, so me and Karyn made our way out behind the guys. The hooter for the guys went, and me and Kayrn watched as women took off with them. There was no way we were going, it was explicit at the briefing, the girls start 3min later. I damn well hope Jeanette White who bet me but 2min wasn’t one of them…

Anyway, as I had predicted the 3min delay meant I was swimming through a wash of bodies. Add the chop and I was having a fun day. I ended up going up the inside of the small orange buoys most of the time, as that seemed to be the best way to get around. unfortunately, every time I came to a turning buoy, I seem to catch a big bunch of men, and had to fight my way around. The final leg back was clear however. That final large orange buoy seems to take forever to get to. Plus everyone seemed to be using a completely different line to me. But doubt myself not, and I just kept forging ahead. Because of all this, I don’t think I ever had a safe pair of feet to sit on the entire way around. I was doing it by myself.

I was glad to get out of the water.

T1

3:43

I was rather surprised at the number of women in the changing tent when I arrive, had I been that slow on the swim? (didn’t occur to me till later that some of them could have been full athletes). My time doesn’t seem to bad for the transition, but both of my transitions seem to have taken me forever… its just not so fast, when you have to get things out of a bag etc.

The Bike

2:55:50 Age Group Place: 5 Gender Place: 7

Garmin Stats

Thankfully the wind wasn’t too strong out to hospital flat, though I had a few decent tail winds coming back, once I was in my largest gear and peddling at max.

I knew there would be a head wind to Hawea, so I let of the gas, just a bit from Wanaka to the turn off. It wasn’t that bad wind wise the first part, but there are a couple of biggish climbs and then a nice false flat that the wind just gailed down on you. Crossing the damn at Hawea was scary as all F*%k. My aero helmet was pushing my head around and felt like my bike was  almost leaning over to the ground. At times like that I am glad I am not a light weight.

But then we got to turn, and a tail wind all the way along Hawea Flat, I was zooming and over taking a heap of guys, not sure why? I was actually cruising it. Then the little climb and another zoom all the way down the road to the red iron bridge. The big descent before the bridge was the next scary place. The wind whip around as you were going down. I decided to play it safe put the brakes on.

Then it was a head wind grind back into Wanaka, before that little detour around the back.

I span the legs out on the final descent, before beginning scared again when I turned into the road along the lake front and found myself being buffeted sideways. Finally I was off the bike.

T2

2:29

Felt like another slow transition… putting socks on (almost forgetting to put one sock on) then tying shoelaces…

The run

2:08:06 Age Group Place:16 Gender Place:39

Garmin Stats

Legs were feeling OK, not super duper but OKish. I set up a good pace on first couple of k’s but found on the track I wasn’t meeting my pace targets. I knew that there were points on this run I’d be slow and other points I’d make up time.  But after about 4K’s I decided to ignore the Garmin. I had worn it for 2 reasons, 1 to have the data to look at afterwards. 2 so I’d know my pace on the run. But I just felt happier if I didn’t look at it. Plus the wind in parts was like running into a brick wall, it was just tough.

The run was harder than I remembered, especially the last few k’s of the outlet track, when it goes into single track and has a lot of pinchy hills. I wasn’t going to be walking those hills! Anyway I was glad to come out of there and onto Gunn Rd. (why was I glad, I got to walk! ) Yes there was 3 points on the course I planned to walk. Gunn Rd was the first, I was the only one walking it! I was tut tutting the guy in front of me running and getting no further up then I was. Where is the sense in that. Some people were running it faster than I was walking, but how were they feeling at the top. I was feeling fine and was quite happy to be off on my way running once I hit the top.

Then it was the long slow descent of Aubrey rd, I had planned to make this a fast part but not sure how well I managed. Then it was a walk up Totare, then around Lismore park. They had changed the course this year, so rather than doing the little out and back you go all the way around Lismore and back down to where the people going out first join the trail. I am sure it is longer and harder with the new course. I was glad to be on that final straight and home.

Overall

5:41:59 Age Group Place: 6 Gender Place: 11

In comparison to Ashburton my swim and bike were both slower. I was expecting my bike to be aprox 10min slower, and it was. I was expecting the hills would slow me down. As much as I disliked the wind, it probably benefited me more as it would have had more effect on those weaker on the bike. The swim, no one was setting records out there in the chop…

My run was 1 minute faster than Ashburton, so happy with that, even though I was hoping for 2hrs. Especially if I compare it to others. Karyn had done a 1:44 run at Ashburton and did a 1:55 at Wanaka. Now she obviously had a different day to me, and different aspects would have affected that time, but as a comparison it makes me feel good. (FYI she still had a great day 4th in her age group)

I had only tapered 2days before so my legs were tired, but they took it fine and with stood the pressures well.

To the full challenge athletes my deepest respect. I was glad I wasn’t out there, but in some ways I wish I had been, so I could say I took part in one of the toughest Iron distance races ever. Us Half athletes had it easy, the wind was no way near as bad as it was for the full. The stretch from Cromwell to Tarras sounds heinous. Felix who runs the Challenge Brand said, he had never been following the top male pro in a car before, where the speed went under 20Km/h and kept dropping. He said it was the hardest Challenge Race ever undertaken.

Especially Congrats to: Graham for getting on the Podium, Brendan from swim squad for winning his age group. But also for those age groupers who were out there well into dark, awesome effort 🙂

Now I get a recovery week, and then the final stretch to Taupo begins. Bring it on!

 

 

 

The “Whats Next” Conundrum

As always, no matter what I tell myself, approx 2months before the big event, I start contemplating the whats next scenario in my brain. Do I need a next? Which is always answered with “yes” you do. I just need to write them down for now. They’ll keep on winging there way through my head for a while, but I doubt I’ll be making any fast decisions. I could even combine some of them.

  1. Do another irondistance. I’m just not sure, they are hard yaker thoughout the year. And I have put alot of effort into this year. If I was to do another one, I’d only want to do it better. But then there are options of what to do:
    • Wanaka – The early bird entry closes at the end of Feb, I am almost tempted to enter and see what. Though that is before Ironman, so who knows what I’ll be feeling afterward
    • Challenge Cairns, WA Ironman, Roth… the list goes on. Though I don’t think I can be affording that this year, but it is in the 5 year plan
  2. Do something fun. You know just for the hell of it. No great big event to slow you down
  3. Learn to mountain bike: This has some appeal. Its not that I “can’t” MTB, I am just crap and scared like a scared thing. The problem would be I’ll end up wanting to buy a nice fancy new bike… but learning to MTB would lead into the following
  4. Multisport adventures – Lake to Lighthouse (Jump on Kristy bandwagon), the Point 3 in Wanaka at the start of December looked fun… Big day at the office… Not Multisport adventures that require too much technical kayaking though, can’t be bothered with that at the moment.
  5. Kepler, Alpine loop the lake (unfinished business, but probably be sold out by the time I make a decision. I could just go run it one day). Routeburn (another unfinished business and one that entries is due end of Jan, do I just decide I will, or won’t I?)