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.
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.
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.
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!