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!

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Still the same – but so different

Today marked my 5th consecutive participation in the Christchurch Marathon Event(4 halves and 1 10K). It was different to the previous years, a completely new location in Lincoln. I admit to not really looking forward to the course, flat and long straight roads, it doesn’t really suit me at all. Actually the traditional Christchurch marathon course doesn’t suit me, and every single year I swear I will not do it again. Obviously something keeps me coming back.

So while I wasn’t looking forward to the course, I was looking forward to the event. To me it represents “stuff you mother nature we can just move some where else, you might have made a mess of almost the entire traditional course but it isn’t the course that’s important, it’s the event”.

Obviously, having to move a event in 3months was a big ask for the organisers. And problems of a new venue and lack of time in planning became obvious on my arrival in Lincoln. It was a traffic jam, of course if you have 3000 odd cars heading into one location and almost all want to head through 1 round a bout, theres going to be problems. Once I finally arrived at the start/finish area, they announced they were delaying the start by 15minutes, because of the traffic delays. So I decided to go to the toilet, I have never seen a line so long to the toilet, I spent 30min standing in the line. and just made it to my start position 5min before the start.

The atmosphere at the start seemed more relaxed that previous events, of course it wasn’t snowing or hailing on me, which has to make a difference. There was prehaps less buzz, is there something about standing next to the town hall that gives you more of a Buzz? Who knows… You didn’t have the occupants of the surrounding hotels standing at their windows wondering what the heck was going on. But of course, my own attitude to the race might be affecting my response to the atmosphere. My main goal this year was to pace myself well, a PB would be nice, but I wanted to get my pacing right this year.

Almost every half marathon I have done, I have gone way to hard at the start and suffered and shuffled the last half. So the first 5K’s were going to be slow. So maybe having this in my head I was more relaxed than normal.

The gun went off and we slowly made our way down to the start, it was a slower start to normal as we had to negotiate the first few corners, but this played into my plan and I just relaxed and took the pace in my stride.  At the 1K point I checked my watch and was surprised at my pace, I hadn’t thought I was going that fast, but was comfortable, so the plan was to basically keep an even pace for 5K. I was feeling quite comfortable and happy for the first 10K. The long straight rural roads weren’t really bothering me, like I thought they would, but then we turned into Shands road. I always thought this would be the hardest part mentally for me, and to make it worse there was a damn southerly head wind all the way up.

This eventually got to me and from the 14Km mark my pace started to drop off. The course then did a nasty little loop around the back of the university for the last 5K.  strangely, the last 10K to go I just ticked off the K’s against the spots on the old course “I’m at the top of peterbourgh st”, “Just starting the park”, “turning to home”, “about to exit the park”.

There wasn’t as many spectators as the old one, but I still found there was quite a few, and it was almost noisier at the intersections, where spectators had driven to, but there was long stretches of just you and fellow competitors.

Those last 5 K’s were hard, and walking kept on coming to mind, but I just told myself I hadn’t done all that work up to this point to give it all up now, so dug deeper and kept trucking on. There was a even nastier 300m of out and back, just before the finish, and then I was done.

1hr 59min 19sec. I originally thought was faster than last year, but having looked up the results from last year, it was actually 5sec slower.  Not quite sure how I feel about that. But the positives of the day, I paced myself a lot better than ever before, I didn’t get the negative split or even pace that I wanted, but I am going to blame Shands road and the southerly on that one 😉

Heres the Garmins view of my pacing

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 01:59:21 21.23 05:37
1 00:05:34 1.00 05:34
2 00:05:25 1.00 05:25
3 00:05:29 1.00 05:29
4 00:05:24 1.00 05:24
5 00:05:27 1.00 05:27
6 00:05:33 1.00 05:33
7 00:05:32 1.00 05:32
8 00:05:29 1.00 05:29
9 00:05:35 1.00 05:35
10 00:05:37 1.00 05:37
11 00:05:43 1.00 05:43
12 00:05:28 1.00 05:28
13 00:05:28 1.00 05:28
14 00:05:40 1.00 05:40
15 00:05:55 1.00 05:55
16 00:05:39 1.00 05:39
17 00:05:47 1.00 05:47
18 00:05:52 1.00 05:52
19 00:05:57 1.00 05:57
20 00:05:46 1.00 05:46
21 00:05:39 1.00 05:39
22 00:01:13 0.23 05:14

The day the earth cried – Taupo Ironman 2011

This is probably going to be a long one, so I hope you got a few spare moments….

Firstly… Taupo vs Wanaka

I know others will have differing opinions, but I didn’t find that much difference between the 2. Of course as it was so wet the number off supporters were not as big as they could be. But in terms on the organisation and pre-race stuff, it’s not that different. Taupo has a few more volunteers and a much larger Carbo party etc, but that all comes with numbers. But I never felt overwhelmed with “Iromaness” like I had expected.

Pre- race

Jeez I was jittery, I am not normally that bad. I think it’s probably a combination of the stress of the earthquake and what I was wanting to achieve in the race. Well, I did manage to get some sleep the night before and was up before 5. It was raining then, and I don’t think it stopped the entire day.

Olly dropped me off at transition and then off I went to put on bottles and food and check tyres. It was a bit of a hard process in the dark and wet trying to pump up the tyres and seeing what the pressure was. Anyways I was a little early and just getting wetter and wetter so headed back to the marquee to chill out for a bit. I ended up putting on the wetsuit while in there, best thing to wear when it’s pissing down like that.

On my way out I bumped into Nades and Pete and made way to the start. The one minute silence made me tear up a bit. I watched(well heard) the cannon go for the pros and then got in the water and made my way out to the start line.

Swim – 59:35 4th age group

I didn’t want to be right at the front, but neither did I want to be near the back. But somehow while waiting I drifted all the way to the start. I tried to drift back, but there was so many people it was hard, so I ended up being at the front.

Bumped into Kathyrn while floating there waiting to start. She was looking a little nervous.

Eventually the cannon went off and we were off. For the first few 100 meters it wasn’t too bad, I got into a good rhythm and had fairly clear water, but then the people who had been further left started to come across inline with the buoys and I got swam over and whacked around.

There was no let up for the entire first half. I, at times, almost felt like panicking. But just kept on swimming and kicking hard when people started to try to swim over me. I took the buoys wide at the turn around, I didn’t want to get caught up in the mess and probably saved myself energy in doing so.

The homeward leg was a bit better, I got onto a few feet to follow and was a lot calmer. But I was glad to be out of the water at the end. I did not enjoy that swim all that much.

T1 6:16

It’s a really long run to the transition area, and I was just jogging it and still felt quite hard. There was heaps of guys shoving their way past me… jeez a second or 2 isn’t going to hurt anyone is it? Well, I then walked up the steps and into the changing tent. The advantage of being one of the early females out of the water, is that there are heaps of volunteers to help you. One pulls of your wetsuit while the other dumps your gear on the floor.

While it was still bucketing down with rain, it wasn’t all that cold, so I opted to just wear my vest and not the arm warmers. I am glad I made that decision. The warmers would have just got sodden and annoying. As I got up to leave the tent I saw Kathyrn just arrive. I wasn’t quite sure how I beat her out of the water, she is much faster in the pool than me. But shes still young, she probably just needs experience bashing it out in the open water and getting aggressive.

Bike 5: 42 4th Age Group

It was pissing down. I took it easy through town, seriously worried about the bike slipping out from under me. I span my way up the Napier hill out of town and then put my head down and started to get a rthymn. There were so many cyclists around, some were blatantly drafting, sometimes it was impossible not to. But eventually I got on board a fairly decent bunch who were doing the legal distance and we hammered in out to Reporoa. It was slightly drier at Reporoa. There was one chick in this bunch who peeved me off. She over took and then moved directly in front of the person she was overtaking. Meaning that person had to drastically slow down.

I know she wasn’t breaking the rules, it is the person behinds responsibility to get out of the way and she was conserving energy, but that just seemed extreme. (I left her behind at the turn around and didn’t see her again). Then there was the guys that didn’t like a chick over taking them *sigh* there is always some, so you yoyo with them getting more and more frustrated.

One of my highlights for the day was overtaking a guy with a disk wheel. I probably over took numerous expensive TT bikes, but there was something extra satisfying overtaking a disk wheel.

On the way back, I found the hills that you climb up a little harder than I had expected. But came back through town in around 2:44. The rain was extra strong when I started descending into Taupo, once again I was cautious through town. There was a few tight corners and my brakes were barely working.

I got out of town and started the 2nd lap, the Napier Hill felt a little harder this time. I was a little dubious about the time I had done that first lap in, but I was still feeling comfortable on the bike, so I hadn’t over exerted myself, but I knew I had time in hand if I wanted to take it easier. On the way out to Reporoa the second time the rain just got worse and worse. At times the entire surface of the road was flooded, you just hoped that your bike would stay upright as you went through. It was truly scary in places.

A bunch of guys passed my about halfway out. They were all drafting and not even attempting to not. I couldn’t believe it. I was always seeing the technical official on the bike, but all I saw them do was give a warning if a person was too close, they never stopped anyone. I stuck on the back of this bunch (at draft legal distance) for a while.

About 15-10K from Reporoa the rain stopped and the wind came up. This became the hardest stretch of the day. The turn around was welcome and I was fanging it back to transition.

In the last year I have really tried, but I have never been able to pee on the bike. So I decided to make a tactical decision and stop at the next aid station and go to the toilet. It also allowed me to grab a gel and drink without too much issues. Just after that, 2 girls caught me and passed me.

The thing with wearing the Christchurch race number, you got lots of “way to got christchurh” etc etc. Both these girls were extremely nice as they passed me, wishing me the best and all that. The trouble being they were drafting each other and taking turns. I tried to stick on their wheel for a while, but didn’t stay on for long. A guy I had been leap frogging for the last 50K or so got very angry at those 2 girls and told them to stop. But they got away from us both.

We then saw the technical official go past them, when they were about 200m in front of us and did nothing. He turned around and looked at me and shook his head. Oh well, I was racing for myself, and at least I know I didn’t break the rules.

When I got back into town the rain started up again and just kept getting heavier. It was with some trepidation that I was getting closer to the transition. The main thought in my mind was, I’m going to have to f@#king run soon. But the end did come.   

T2 : 2:46

This was quite a fast transition for me. Helps that they just take you bike away, give you your bag and then you are in the tent, shoes off, shoes on and go.

Run: 5:08

Way to close to my cycle time for my liking. But then things happen and you just have to move on. Quite obviously my weakest discipline by far and unfortunately it has to come at the end of the day, when it means the most.

Lap 1

Just as I turned the corner out of transition on to the main course, the crowd started to go wild, I was trying to work out what was happening, and then Terenzo came screaming past me. oooh he had only done a lap, sweet I got to follow the pros race while I was out there. I almost said as I saw him come back down the turn around “Wait for me, I’m coming” but I kept my mouth shut and shook my head. I then saw his lead cyclist sign, 2nd male.. I could only assume he was chasing the legend, Cam Brown.

Well once I got that bit of excitement out of my head I concentrated on my rhythm and run. Phew it felt hard, I seriously had no idea how I was going to make this. But I checked my garmin, and it said my pace was 5:35, which is pretty good for how I was feeling. So just went with it and kept going. I went through rough patches but also had some good ones. I decided from the first hill to walk them, no point expending too much energy. My pace did start to fall off a bit but felt pretty good.

Then Sam Warriner ran past me, I went a bit hyper when I saw she was leading. She was looking very concentrated and didn’t even look my way. After that there was Kate Belivaqua(sp?), was rather surprised to see that, but shortly after there was Jo Lawn and finally Miranda Carfrae was running strong. She just looks awesome running, quite inspiring, that kept me going for a while.

Also on my first way out I saw Cam Brown coming back, so I had been correct he was leading and looking good. I went hyper at him as well. Terenzo came back past me again, coming up the final hill before the turn around while I was going down. I think thats probably 5-6K’s he had been able to out run me in that time…

Coming back got a little harder, but still had good spots. But on the final 2 K stretch back to the end of the first lap, the first mental doubts crept in and I think I might have been able to overcome them, except about this time, my knee started to twinge. Its an injury I used to get ages ago, I haven’t had it in training it ages. Basically when my ITB gets tight it pulls on the knee. I concentrated on make sure I worked the Gluts, as it takes pressure of the ITB. It worked for a while, but not long.

Lap 2

I knew I just had to keep moving. Especially when I walked too long and started to get cold. So I discovered that if I ran 2 cones/lamp posts and walked one it seemed to keep most of the pain away. I kept on thinking, I should be able to run through the pain, I was sure those that were running past me were not all fine, but I couldn’t.

Sam ran past me again, in the lead and going for the win, once again I went a little ape shit. Then Jo Lawn was a few minutes behind, but not far behind her was the World Champ, running like the legend she is. I knew at that point, Sam would hang on and Carfrae will overtake Lawn for 2nd. Its kind of cool to experience the pro race first hand 🙂 I suppose thats the advantage of the out and back of the course, unlike wanaka where you only see the pro’s once and then you know nothing.

So on this last lap I just kept on going with my, run 2, walk one, policy. It is actually slightly more effort to get the body running, rather than just continuing to run. I did at times try to keep going for longer at time, but didn’t last for that long.

On that last lap, I swore to myself, I am not doing another one of these until I can prove to myself I can hold together for the entire run. I have improved in the last year, holding together for half marathon, now I need to push that further.

I passed Mel about 4K from the finish. She said I had 30min to come under 12 hours. That was doable, but was going to be tough, so I just kept going as hard as I could. Was extremely happy to run up the final straight and then back through the finish line. As I was running down, I was giving the guy in front of me space, until I saw the clock, 11:59:15 or something. So I just fanged it, I wanted to get under the 12hrs. So I didn’t get to brake my own tape, and looks like the clocks were miss aligned, whats online was slightly different to the finish line clock.

I almost collapsed at the finish line. Though 2 support people grabbed me and took me to the medics. They weighed me, I had put on the kilo, given the rain I had taken on too much water. Its really hard to tell how much to drink in the rain. I seemed more stable to them, so they let me go. I got my finishers shirt, some soup. Wow, has soup ever tasted so good!

Total time :Online 12:00:12, Finish line clock 11:59:33 (I prefer the finish line version) 20 th Age Group

The volunteers and supporters were amazing. They stood out all day in that rain handing out drinks and cheering us on. Having the Christchurch race number got extra cheers out of them. At times I didn’t particularly want that attention, but others I took it on board. I became known as “Christchurch”, or “Go Cantabs”, or “Caaaantaabuury”. All I could think through out the day, in the rain, was, its crying for Christchurch. It didn’t necessarily get me home on the run but it did help me appreaciate the rain.

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!

 

 

 

Long bays of epic proportions… ohh and a race

I’ll start with the race, after all it came first.

HOT Triathlon

This is a festival of events, I was in the first race of the day, along with the majority of participants. It was 500m swim, 15K Bike, 5K run. So short and sharp, not really my speciality (if I have such a thing), I don’t like pushing the “x” limit. My body much better designed for the longer events. Well anyway, it’s probably the only short tri I will do this summer. It’s a new event held out at Pegasus.

And it was a great event, really well run. John did an awesome job, about 3 days ago we got an email with a complete race information document. Only the really serious events (ie Ironman) give you those. It was really great.

Back to the race…. As always, I arrived way early. I honestly planned to get there 7:30, ended up being there at 6:40. Go figure, I allow for contingency.

Rach captured, my “waiting moment”

I wasn’t nervous, but I don’t like hanging out around the hype of transition. I’ll always find a spot away from everyone to wait until its time to get ready to race.

Swim – didn’t go “great” I got stuck behind people at the start, I eventually got clear water and was able to breathe.

Bike – Also, wouldn’t put it in the “great” territory. The course has a lot of corners, which means a lot of acceleration. I find that hard, you just couldn’t get a good rhythm going… thus I couldn’t put my power into the pedals, like I like to

Run – Let me surprise you all, I will put this as my best leg of the day (well, I am comparing it to me and running). I got a nice pace going, the usual suspects eventually caught and past me.

I was in transition, just put my shoes on when the loud-speaker said Gail was on the run course, so she wasn’t far in front of me. I was about 1/2 way though my second lap when I heard she had finished… just to give you perspective.

But was extremely happy with my result, that had me doing about 5:10 pace around.

Epic Long Bays

I didn’t wait around and watch the rest of the races, or go to prize giving. That was because I still had a 4 hour ride to do, and I didn’t want to be getting home to late in the day.  I got home, had some food, chilled for an hour or so and headed out just before one.

The weather had turned to a nasty nor-east since the morning. It wasn’t cold, but it was windy and wet. I was fine heading out to Tai Tap, I had a bit of a tail wind. My legs were a bit sore from the morning, but they seemed to loosen up quite well.

But heading out towards the blue duck, the wind turned to a side wind and it was blowing! I ended up being scared shitless, I had abandoned the aero’s fairly early. But there were a couple of points the wind literally pushed me almost into the middle of the road. With the cars that go past down that road I was really worried. At one point if I hadn’t known that Eamon had an appointment, I probably would have stopped and begged for a pickup. As it was I was really close to just pulling over and sobbing. And was seriously considering turning around, but I would still have to deal with the side wind on the way back.

Anyway, I eventually got off that road, never so glad of anything. unfortunately, that meant I had turned into Gebbies Valley and right into the gullet of the wind. It was sole destroying, never have I groveled up that valley like I did today. Thankfully, once you make it on to the climb proper you get a bit of shelter.

Heading around the bays it was Ok, they are fairly sheltered. As soon as I crested Evans Summit, the storm seem to have completely cleared itself away. There was barely any wind (unfortunately, I had been looking forward to the tail wind home). I had planned to tack on a bit more at the end of long bays, to make up the 4hours, but I was so shattered, I just went straight home.

This is why I always do my long rides in the morning… I didn’t see another cyclist at anytime on my entire circumnavigation, so they obvious wiser than me

 

Additional thoughts – SI Half Ironman 2010

Heres the link to what my garmin collected http://connect.garmin.com/activity/57342852 on the run (I only wore it on the run leg).The first lap, was looking good for 2hrs, but unfortunately just couldn’t hold that pace. Plus it seems to think I ran 21.5 K, so that .3 K further than what the course was supposed to be. Not sure if that’s just because I run corners wide, maybe I need to work on that 😉

The run course WAS longer than last year

Last year, if I had smashed the bike like I did yesterday, I would not have survived the run. I would have ended up walking and my run time would have been longer. I have accepted, that while the run was not on target goal, I am quite impressed that my body managed to hold it together as well as it did and still managed to run throughout (walking aid stations the exception).

I will not be smashing the bike like that in Taupo.

My period arrived one day late (today.. aggh period pain and muscle soreness, not a great combination). I worked out it was due the day of the race 3 weeks ago. Nothing I could do about it but hope that it was going to be a month that I barely notice it. Considering I normally feel like crap the day before it arrives, I am rather surprised about yesterday. I suppose when you racing your body just reacts differently. If I had been mouching around home for the day, I probably would have felt crappy.

My body is not as sore as last year. Last year I was truly cursing the stairs when I got home. Yesterday, I walked up them with not to many problems. Today, slightly different story, it hurts a bit to go down, and a little bit to go up. My back aches a bit from muscle soreness. It started to hurt on the last lap of the bike, probably because I wasn’t using my gluts probably at that stage. But it didn’t bother me on the run. Need to work on making those gluts work better.

I still can’t work out how I bet Kathryn out of the swim. She goes to squad and she IS faster than me in the pool.

Do I really need a new wetsuit? It was the plan, but my 5 year old one is still chugging away nicely (and still fits snuggly *sigh*) and don’t see a new one making me that much faster.

Finally, Big thanks to my coach, Jo Knight. I really not have managed this without her steady input.

An improvement in all departments – SI Half Ironman 2010

With the biggest improvement coming from the bike. Which is rather surprising, I haven’t been working on my bike as much as the other 2, and lately I have been a little worried that my bike has been a bit slow. Well, I don’t think I am going to worry about that now. It won me the day, and by won, I mean it literally. Some how I won my age group.

That’s not supposed to happen to me, I don’t “win” things. I am just out there to do my best. I was quite shocked to be at the top. Of course, it does depend who’s entered your age group, and mine was a bit weak this year, but shite it probably not going to happen again, so I am going to be quite proud of my medal. I was 9th overall, out of about 37, so to say I am rather chuffed is an understatement.

But what has actually got me more chuffed, is the amount of time I took out of last year. 23min to be exact, I was hoping for it, but really did not expect to pull it off. It was in the “plan”, the way I enacted the plan, maybe not as I intended. But let me start at the beginning.

Pre- race

Me and Em headed up to Ashburton on Friday night, so it was quite a relaxing morning compared to last year. No headless chicken running around for me. When I first looked out the window in the morning, I saw blue sky, and was a little bit hopeful. But the grey clouds came over and it never got much warmer.

I really didn’t want to do another “cold” half like last year. I just didn’t wan to be there at the start. If someone said, let’s go home I probably would have jumped in the car.

I was indecisive about what I was going to wear on the bike, but I decided to learn from last year, and not just go with vest and arm warmers, I decided to put on my winter riding jacket, and now am really, really glad I did. But I had all the options laid out in transition “Just in case”.

Swim – 28:41, 3rd Female.

2009: 32:09, improved by 3min 19sec

Once you get racing, those negative thoughts just kind of disappear. I so didn’t know this course, I thought we’d have to go around the 5knot buoy at the start, but turns out you didn’t. I just gave up knowing where I was going and followed the person in front and hope they knew. I know, I know you should know the course, but I had trouble hearing at the briefing, so just assumed.

There wasn’t much biffo at the start, so I settled into work quite quickly. I struggled with breathing properly. It was like I couldn’t get a full breath, I finally burped at the on the 2nd lap and breathing came easier.  As I was going along, at times I thought I was by myself, but then I got to a bouy, and it turned out some people must have been drafting off me so they beat me around the bouy, bashing me a bit. I thought that was just rude, if they’d been sitting on me they ould show a little consideration. I then tried to sit on one guys hips, but he stopped every so often to do a breaststroke kick, and when he did he kicked me in the stomach, the 2nd time that happened, I decided probably best not to be on his hips.

Its tough up with the front group, there was biffo and no give way from anyone, I was quite over it by the time I got out. Well fell out, I fell over a couple of time trying to get out of the water.

T1 – 1:39

It was a mad dash through transition. I struggled to get the jacket on. And after that fluffling decided it was best not to waste more time putting gloves on.

Bike – 2:44:46, 2nd Female

2009: 3:01 (unofficial, the  official time included both transitions) improved by 16min

I just smashed it from the start, I span my legs to start with, than moved to a bigger gear. Probably took me half the first lap to get my breath back. I was cruising along quite happily on the first half of the lap, when a large bunch caught me about 10min before the turn around.  I found myself at the back of the bunch, trying to avoid drafting. But I wasn’t happy and I didn’t want to be caught in this bunch for the rest of the ride, so I put the hammer down and just smashed it, over taking all of them again. I didn’t see any of them again for the rest of the race.

Then I got into a leap froging situation with one guy,  and we pretty much stayed together for the rest of the ride. After the first lap, we were joined by 2 other guys. I now know what people mean when they say it’s easier when you stay in a pack, even if you are the legal distance away, you get a benefit. I decided to try to stick with them, though it was hard at times not to draft, the guy in front would slow down and you’d suddenly find yourself on his tail. So you’d pull out and wait for him to speed up, otherwise overtake. On the final stretch back to the end of the 2nd lap, we had bunched up a bit, I got caught behind one guy, who was blocking, so I couldn’t overtake. The guy next to me said stop drafting. It was like nothing much I could do other than slow down.

Anyway, that guy must have got his a bee in his bonnet and I reckon he didn’t like that I was keeping up with them (I can see no other explanation). He was normally in the lead, so quite frankly he probably see what I was doing most of the time, but some way down the out straight on the 3rd lap, he looks behind, slows down comes down beside me and tells me to stop drafting. I was gobbsmacked, I hate drafters as much ss the next person. I admit there was times when I was too close. But I was staying 2 bike lengths away most of the time.

He then went back up to the front, but kept on looking back at me. I was getting a bit paranoid, so let more space between us. And soon lost contack with the group. Didn’t really care that much, other than I could see that guy going “See you couldn’t keep up with us without drafting”.

I had decided early on, that I use the final back as a rest for my legs, as it had a slight tail wind. So lost them all together as I spun out the final stretch.

(I couldn’t get to sleep last night,as I was thinking about this drafting incident. Did I get too much advantage off them? I concluded no, I wasn’t constantly sitting on them, I was in front some of the time, and when I wasn’t I was the legal distance away (unless my perception of the legal distance is wrong).

T2 – 1:58

I didn’t sit down this year to get my socks and shoes on, but it was a close run thing 🙂

Run – 2:09:57, 24th Female

2009: 2:12:25

This is the most disappointing part of the day. I was aiming for 2hrs. But after smashing out the bike, I didn’t have enough gogo juice in the legs. Part of today was about trusting the legs to handle a smashing on the bike and to see how much of a smashing they could handle. Well I found out the bike was just a little bit too smashed.

My first lap went OK, I was keeping to the 2hr pace mainly, but on the 2nd lap I started getting 6min K’s and my legs well and truly felt it. So I just kept on saying to myself keep cadence up and hips forward. On the 2nd lap, the team runners started to pass me, and every single one of them seemed inclined to say “Looking good”, or “Your going well” or some such. Well yes thankyou, while I wasn’t hitting the pace I wanted I was actually feeling pretty good. I know each and every one of them meant well, but really you don’t need to say anything.

At the end of my 2nd lap, Graham past me at the start of the board walk, and as I was coming around I saw him finish. Zarnia and Rachel were there cheering me on, and for some unexplained reason  right at that point I wanted to cry, Graham had finished and I still had a lap to go. Rachel said “Keep it steady”. Thanks Rach, Thats got to be the most helpful thing anyone said to me. I got my head back together, concentrated on cadence and keeping hips forward. This year they had changed the course, so you had to go up the stairs at the end of the board walk. I thought that was just cruel.

Well, about 2K into that final lap I hit a wall of some description. It was a very hard point, going down that grassy verge all the way around the back off the lake, I was very glad to get to the aid station and have a drink of coke. Felt betteer after that and continued on, only about 3K to the finsh from there. I was glad to get to the little out and back, but coming back I saw Em (I was rather surprised she hadn’t passed me yet). I thought crap she’ll catch me, so picked up my pace a little bit and finished strong.

I was very surprised that the clock was under 5:30 and absolutely knackered.

Total time: 5:27:01, 9th Female

Nutrition went really well, Powergels didn’t bother my stomach and I was consistently drinking and taking them every 45min.

Tip of the day: Cut your toe nails before you race. I could feel my little toe nail digging in on the last lap