Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Big Day

Ironman Auckland 70.3. 6:39:18

Pre-race routine:

Out of bed at 4:30am for a breakfast of PB and honey toast, followed with a banana. On the road at 5am. Arrived at the viaduct about 5:30, sorted out shoes, nutrition for the ride etc. in transition, had a quick technical stop and then waited around for my wave to be called. 

Event warm up

We were not allowed in the water before our wave was called. So warm up limited to 5 minutes swim and treading water before the start. 

Swim 1900m, 40:44



Lined up the the side and back of the wave to avoid being swum over by the faster swimmers. Once the horn went I was immediately left behind by the bulk of the field. This was a new experience, as usually I tend to be in the mid pack out of the swim. 

Just before my wave start

By the first buoy, 300m from the start, I was close to swimming on my own. By the 2nd buoy, I was caught by the leaders of the next wave, so lost track of how I was going compared to the rest of my age group. I did however catch a glimpse of a green swim cap so knew I wasn't totally out the back door. And by the 3rd buoy I was catching the tail end of the wave that started 7 minutes before me, which was a nice boost. 


My navigation was pretty good, I felt that I stayed pretty much on course throughout the swim. And I felt that I kept my form reasonably well. At times in the 2nd half of the swim I felt my hips start to sink and begin to feel like I was thrashing around in the water, but slowing my stroke, and focusing on what I was doing, especially keeping a nice, long stroke, kept my form ok. (I think) 

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I expected to finish in around 35-40 minutes. So I'm happy with 40:44 (Including a few hundred meters run from swim exit to transition) I need to swim more to improve, but on my current fitness level I felt I got as good as I could expect. 

Transition 1  2:14

In the green swim cap, end of the swim


I felt I was taking my time. It's a long day and honestly, an extra minute catching my breath wasn't going to bother me. I was pleasantly surprised with my transition times. 

Wetsuit off, quick dry of my face, bike shoes on, sun glasses on, helmet on, then grab the bike and jog it out of transition.

What would you do differently?:

Had a bit of trouble getting the legs of my wetsuit off. Other than that all went ok. 

I'm sure I could save seconds here, maybe up to a minute. But considering the day I had, I was quite happy with how it went. 

Bike 90km, 3:17:13


1 40km northern lap, over the harbor bridge and through the hills of Albany. Then 2 25km laps on the flat from the viaduct to St Heliers and back.


End of the northern lap

I actually found the northern loop easier than I expected, I pushed when the going was easy (Dwonwind/Down hill etc.) And wasn't afraid to drop down to an easy gear and spin my way up the climbs, in an effort to save my legs for latter in the day. The wet conditions ate away at my confidence a little tho, and I spent alto more time off the aero bars, with my hands near the breaks than I would like. Especially on the descents. So I will have lost some time there. Eventually, after about 90 minutes I finished the northern loop with an average speed of 27km/hr.

The 'southern loop' was essentially an out and back along tamaki drive. The roads are nice and flat and smooth along here, so I had high hopes of picking up the pace. The SW winds we were dealing with however, had continued to build. This means that heading out would be nice and easy with the wind, but heading back would be cycling directly into it. 

Cycling past my friends and family

The first loop went well, 32-35km/hr on the way out, dropping coming back into the wind, but still doing high 20's. At the end of lap 1, I got a bottle of electrolytes. For the 2nd lap my speed dropped slightly on the way out, averaging around 30km/hr. But it was the final 10-15km back to transition into the wind where I began to suffer. A combination of increasing fatigue, and spending less time in the aero position (I was cramping up in my neck/shoulders) meant that my speed dropped substantially, down to 23-24km/hr. Eventually back to transition after 3 hours and 17 minutes of riding. Which was right within my expected finish time.  

What would you do differently?:

I'm not sure. But considering how the run went I must have done something wrong. I felt that I was riding within myself the whole time, I was good with my nutrition/hydration, 6 gels, 1 bottle of water and 1 of electrolytes. 

But with the blow up on the run, I must have pushed to hard. So if I had it over again, I would drop the effort level slightly, take an extra 5 minutes and hopefully make it back (and more) on the run. 

Transition 2  1:45


Jogged the bike most of the way from the dismount line to transition entry, until some slow moving traffic slowed me to a walk. 

Had to move a bike slightly to get mine racked, but other than that all went well. Bike racked, helmet off, bike shoes off, socks on, running shoes on, grab race belt and visor and put them on as jogging out of transiton

What would you do differently?:

finish earlier, when there are less bikes around would make it easier. But realistically, it went pretty well. Wouldn't change it. 

Run 21.1km, 2:37:22


2 loops out and back along tamaki drive. Nice flat course. 

This is where it started getting tough. 

My plan going in to the race was to run the first lap, other than walking the aid stations, and then go into a run/walk like I've done in training in the 2nd lap. 

It started out well, possibly too well. Whilst I was never moving fast the first 3km to the aid station was done at an average pace of 5:40/km, too fast with hindsight. By the 5km mark I was doing 6:10/km. Close to what I was expecting. My speed continued to drop on the return leg of the first lap until I was doing around 6:40/km at the turn around. 

At the turn around, I made the switch to a run/walk strategy. Initially 4:30 run 0:30 walk, which lasted less than 1 cycle, to 4:1 run:walk. I was able to keep this up until the first aid station, but when I tried to run after the walk break for what ever reason it just wasn't happening. 

Start of lap 2. 

I decided to walk a kilometer, to give myself a rest and then re-asses how I was going. This extended walk ended with a very slow jog into the next aid station, which again was followed with my legs refusal to run. So I went into another long walk break, about 6-7 minutes I think. At this stage I was negotiating with myself... 'you can run for 60 seconds can't you' Eventually I was able to get my legs moving again, for a short, slow, 60 sec jog. At this point I refused to let myself fall back into a long walk again, instead I began a 2min walk : 1 min run. Which was able to get me back to within 3km of the finish. As the finish got closer, I found more energy, and more motivation, gradually decreasing the walk breaks until by the last 2km I was back into a continuous jog. (my pace was down to 7min/km so not fast, but at least running again)

The final few hundred meters into the finish were very special, I actually started to become a bit emotional (which is a rare thing for me) as the fact that I was actually going to finish sunk in. I may be slow, and well behind most of my age group, but when I compare what I accomplished that day with the guy I was only a few years ago I think it is a fantastic achievement. Running up the finish chute, with the people cheering, family and friends watching on, a high 5 from my girlfriend as I went past, and another from Mike Reilly as I finished, is something that I'll never forget. 

What would you do differently?:

First up, I would have gone straight to a run/walk from the start. Probably 4:1. I'm sure I went out too fast, which was a factor in the wheels falling of. But mainly I would want to be mentally stronger, and not allow myself to stop running (other than scheduled walk breaks) The fact I was able to get back to running full time by the end of the race tells me that physically I was still able to run (slowly, but still running) I was just not tough enough to force myself to do it. 

And done. 

Post race

Warm down:


Some water, electrolytes and banana in recovery. 

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I think that overall I was just not as prepared as I thought I was for the distance. Other than falling apart on the run the day went as well as I had hoped. And honestly the biggest thing I need to do to fix the run, is train more. Much more. 


I am so glad I did this. Despite everything I finished, and that was the number one goal. And something I wasn't sure I could do. 

I will definitely be back at this distance. But not until I've improved/increased my training

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