This race report starts as always with the trip down. This time I was lucky enough to have company for the ride with the boys of Three Coaching. Bryan, Karl and myself (all coached by Ben) and Andrew who is one of the boys. Grabbing the van from AvantiPlus Waitakere on Friday afternoon there was a bit of running around of my own before making the trip round the boys places. one of my stops was to Gavin Mills place to pick up he Waitakere Tri Club stuff for the weekend.
This turned out to be a very opportune stop as Gavin, who is the same build as me, happened to have a wetsuit he wasn’t using and I still haven’t managed to sort one out for myself. thanks to Gavin I was going to be able to start the race on Saturday.
We reached Taupo at 4.40pm, a couple of hours before the end of registration and it was time for me to test out the wetsuit and find out what it was like to swim in the fresh waters of a lake. You might think that swimming is the same anywhere you may go but the buoyancy in salt water creates a different feel to fresh water and the pool is different again. I have never swum in fresh water with a wetsuit so it was interesting to see that the fresh water felt heavier and by that I mean it felt tighter on the chest than swimming in salt water. For anyone that is going to experience it for the first time it is probably good to beware of this as I can imagine it would be quite scary for someone who isn’t very confident in open water. Saying this, it didn’t take long to get used to and the clarity in the lake far out weighs the feeling of tightness, WOW!! (And loads of golf balls on the bed of the lake)
After a quick dip checking out the swim course for the morning and getting my sighting points together it was time to register, get the the bike into transition and Burgerfuel. (Containing all the essential pre-race ingredients, meat, fat and bread;-) ) The rest of the night was spent setting up race gear and checking out the race schedule for the next day
Race morning the alarms were set for 4.30am but we were all up before they went off.
BOOM, TIME TO BE AWESOME!!
First thing we all do when we wake up is put the timing transponders on our ankle (thanks Andrew for this advice). Breakfast of porridge, peanut butter sandwiches and electrolyte drink before packing the room up and out the door to the start line. Once down at the start it was time to focus solely on the race. I like to get into transition early and run through this process
- Check tyre pressure and bike is in the right gear
- Attach shoes to bike (and elastic if necessary)
- Put helmet on the bike with glasses in the correct position
- Today I was cycling and running in my new AvantiPlus Waitakere Jersey so hung this on my bike with all my tools, spares and fuel in the pockets (all nutrition open if necessary ready to be inhaled in the bike)
- Set out my towel next to my bike with all run gear, shoes, socks (as its a longer race) more fuel
- Set up wet weather gear (mainly for the bike) behind the running stuff
- Set up my swimming gear in front of that. Goggles, cap, spare cap, ultra glide (anti chafe stick)
Once this is all set up, I run through my transitions again mentally picking everything up and visually spotting it as I do so, also visualising where I run in and out of transition. This not only helps me to double check I have everything but also sets my mind at ease as to how the day is going to go! Preparation is the key to a good race.
Wetsuit on, which always takes a while, then it was off to the start line. This was quite a casual walk for Bryan, Karl and I watching everyone ready themselves or hurry down to the water. I was quite glad to be so calm before the storm to be honest and after a quick briefing it was time to hit the cold blue liquid we were going to spend the next first thirty minutes of our race in.
After a short warm up swim I made my way to the invisible start line making sure I was close to the front as I like to have a bit of clear water in front of me. I was actually quite surprised to find so much space at the start with a couple of tight groups a few metres either side of me and again I was very relaxed even finding some amazement with one of the canoeing marshals struggling to get the large groups of athletes to stay behind the line for the start. There was no countdown today just the sound of a hooter that began the “washing machine of lake Taupo”. I jumped into a 200m TT effort straight away making sure I stayed clear of any others from the beginning, knowing that after the first 200m I would be able to settle into a group of similar speed swimmers. Doing exactly what I had planned 200m later I was surprised to feel a little uncomfortable and claustrophobic swimming in the pack, struggling to breathe properly and feeling a little tight chested. I had heard about this but had never experienced it before. Lucky I had heard about it because I knew what to do straight away, I swam out of the pack a little and found myself some clear water, still keeping my pace. Sure enough, 50m of clear water and I was fine again. Deciding to give the pack another go I slowly started to make my way back to the group of swimmers next to me. This time I knew what to expect and kept myself at the hip of the outside swimmer. I was really starting to enjoy this swim.
It was made even cooler at the turn around as there were some divers lurking under the buoys, looking up at us and waving. This I had definitely never seen before but a cool little touch! On our way back I started to get really comfortable, lengthening my stroke and putting more power in each time I started to leapfrog swimmers in the bunch. The comment I had made to Duane a few weeks earlier kept playing in my head “I am going to own the swim bro!!” Our last turn buoy saw us heading for the shore line with a crowd of over 100 strong watching the exit. Feeling good I started to put in a little extra kick. This wasn’t just for speed but also to get blood back to the legs ready for the running into transition. A minute later we were emerging from the water like sea creatures about to attack Tokyo from the old movies.
Swim cap off, wetsuit stripped down to the waist as the running started and then I heard something that got my little heart a flutter. “24, 25” I heard a little girl counting as the swimmers exited the water. Really? Had I heard correctly? I had actually exited the water 25th from a swim I thought I had messed up a little. Awesome!!!
It’s a long run to the bike at Taupo with a evil stare case up to the transition area and as I entered the area I heard the commentator mention Jo Lawn getting her bike and this got me even more excited. I am going to enjoy the swim at Ironman considering I felt pretty fresh at the end of this swim!!! The transition went exactly as expected except for trying to get into the shoes once on the bike. (I will need to work on this).
As Ben had said I let people go ahead of me at the beginning of the bike except on the hills (I got a little excited and tried to keep up with the fast boys) a few minutes later though I let them go as I was feeling the strain. Little did I know it was going to get a lot worse. 30 minutes later Andrew came up behind me, said a few words and left me as expected. What wasn’t expected was the pain that was to follow in my legs.
First they started to get numb then painful, I felt like I couldn’t get comfortable on the saddle. Every time I sat back down and tried to get in the aero position a new level of pain would start. I ended up alternating between sit up position to drops to aero position for the rest of the ride while I watched everyone pass ;-( Every hill or slight climb was welcome because I could get out of the saddle for a few minutes. I don’t actually think I had ever experience such a bad position on the bike ever.
So when it came to the run I was just happy to be off the saddle. I think that people must have been a little concerned with my sanity when they saw me running out of transition with the biggest smile on my face. The plan for the run was to ease into it then pick up as I felt stronger. Looking down at the Garmin I could see my pace was around 4min20 per km, which was a little quick but I felt really comfortable so kept it up. About 5km later I started to feel the effects of the quick start. I slowed a little but again, not too much that it would effect my time. It was also about this time that also that I started to really worry about Bryan passing me. I kept watching for him coming the other way when I was on my first lap coming back into town, hoping not to see him until I got close to the start finish but unfortunately I saw him just after the turn around. I must have kept my pace pretty well because he didn’t catch me until 1km into the second lap but I have to say, hearing those footsteps behind me was not the happiest part of my race.
By the end of the run my pace had slowed to 4.50/km but I still managed to finish the run in a respectable 1hr40.
The best piece of advice (that I actually followed) was to carry a straw with me for the aid stations, I managed to pick up all my drinks without stopping and drink them over the next 100m with my straw. I never had a problem with choking, spilling, dribbling or any of the other drink related issues, then I would tuck my straw back into the strap of the watch.
Looking back at the race there are a few words of wisdom
- DO NOT, under any circumstance, change bike set up 3 days before the race. I live buy the rule don’t try anything on race day but this time I had a brain fart.
- Get used to swimming in a pack and on feet. This will help with anxiety if it should appear in a race.
- Start the bike to heart rate stay in the zone. Use a combination of HR and feeling to keep the bike leg a fast and enjoyable one.
- Set a run pace before the race and stick to it. Knowing pace from training and setting it for the race will allow me to have more energy near the end.
- Beat Bryan next time!!! lol!