Friday, May 31, 2013

Northern Crossing 2013

Build up:
I have been somewhat slack since the HIM in January. I have only been able to do 8 hour training weeks, rather than the 10+ which I should be for an event this long, so I went in a bit under prepared. On the plus side however I have now had over a year of consistent training. So that should count for a lot.

Pre-race routine:
We drove up the day before the race and spent the night in Opononi. The morning of the race didn't go great. Got up nice and early, and set up transition, but my stomach was feeling a bit upset, not something I usually experience  so all I was able to have for breakfast was a powerade and a bumper bar. I had no warm up to speak of, intending to use the first few km of the run to ease my way into the day...

Run 1 29/31 7.6km, 43:56 GPS here


There was a new run course this year, the run began at the top of flagstaff hill, as previously, but instead of going through a farm, up the vicious climb and along the beach, we stayed on the road the whole way, straight down the hill avoiding most of the climb to a transition 3km further up the road. 

This course was shorter, and easier than previous years. For the same fitness the new course was probably 15-20 minutes faster, at my speed. 

Run start

My plan for the run was to run at my easy training pace, about 5:45-6:00 min/km. And get to the bike feeling fresh and ready to go. Unfortunately, I got a bit carried away at the start of the race, blasting through the first 2km at 5:15/km average. I calmed myself down by the bottom of the hill and slowed things up a bit, running the rest of the run at a conservative pace, about 5:55/km. I finished the run feeling good, and ready to tackle the bike. Compared to most of the athletes, I was slow. But I was quite happy with how it went.

What would you do differently?:
I've been on a bot of a run focus in the month between Kai Iwi lakes and the northern crossing. and in that time my run has improved. It's still not where I want, but with my fitness on the day I felt it went well.

The only change I would make was to smooth out the average speeds, slower at the start, but faster through the middle stages. 

End of Run 1


Not the best, changed shoes and helmet on nice and quick, but the weather had cleared up substantially since I set up, so I changed the lenses in my sunglasses to the dark ones. That cost a bit of time.

What would you do differently?:
Have he right glasses ready and waiting.

Bike: 27/31, 80km, 3:31:04, GPS here.


The bike course had also changed since the previous years, as before there are 3 climbs of about 100m each in the first 20km, and as before the next 20-30km is spent in a long, steady climb across the country. Here, at the half way point the course changes to a fast descending section, followed by a final 100m climb to finish the course, in the last 10km of the ride. This new climb made sure that I finished the bike with nice ad tired legs. 


I started the bike feeling fantastic, spinning along in a relatively easy gear sitting just over 30km/hr until the start of the first climb. 

Unfortunately it went downhill from there. I'm not sure what caused it, I think it was a bad night on the hotel bed, but I developed a pain in my lower back, and neck, both on my right side. These made it quite painful to maintain an aero position, which in turn made the ride harder, and slower. 

At times I wanted to quit... This ride felt pretty aweful. But I soldiered on and completed the ride 15 minutes faster than before. (Yes it was a new course, but the climbing had increased from before, making the ride harder) During the ride I had several GUs, 2 bumper bars, 2 bananas, a bottle of powerade and in the last 15km a bottle of flat coke. 

What would you do differently?:
I didn't stay in aero nearly enough. Like I said above, I think that it was mainly due to the quality of bed at the hotel, but I will be spending a lot of time on the trainer, and on the roads over winter in aero to ensure that it isn't a fit problem. 

Also I need to learn to enter the pain cave... at times I know my body had more to give, but I stayed in an easier gear/lower cadence  Pushing a little harder could have been a big difference. 


Quick and easy, had a banana and off on my way. this year, unlike last I remembered to take my GU for the run with me. 

What would you do differently?:
Other than arriving at T2 earlier in the day, I was pretty happy with it. 

Run 2:  25/31, 7km, 54:10, GPS here


The 2nd run began with a run through a farm, for a few kms before entering the bush and running along the Kerikeri river. The course featured fences to be climbed and streams to be jumped, before reaching the trail along the river, at which point it became a trail run. Finally, just to mess with us, the finish had been moved to the other side of the reserve, making the run a few hundred meters longer than previously. 

I started off running a comfortable (well as comfortable as can be after an 80km ride) pace of around 6:20/km for the first 2kms. But once I had to stop to get over the first fence I found it increasingly difficult to continue running.

I fell into a similar run/walk technique that I used previously, jogging the flats and down hills, and walking up the small climbs. I would have liked to run the whole thing (even if it was at 7min/km) But was not able... clearly I need to work harder on my running. 

But, this was actually my best leg of the race (in terms of position) and I overtook a few people in the last 2km of the run (seeing someone else walking up ahead would give me a boost and keep me running) so I can't be too upset with how it went. 
What would you do differently?:
I need to develop the mental abilities to keep going when the body says quit. I need to not allow myself to walk when I should run... 

This is a common theme across my races this year. So really something I need to fix before my next big event.

Over all     25/31   5:09:12, 40 minutes faster than last year. 

Post Race:

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Well overall I'm just not as fit as I want to be. I can improve in every single aspect of endurance sports. So I guess the answer here is everything. But some specifics 

1. Weight
2. Run more 4-5 hours / week
3. More hard intervals on the bike
4. Higher intensity for long rides on the bike

Event comments:
Another good experience in this event. But still some unfinished business .. I lost my bet with Kris, whos previous time was 5:27, and said he expected 5-5:30 this time... but ended up with 4:35. It should have been close... And I still have a lot of work to do before I can beat him. 

But a great event. And I'm sure I'll be back next year.

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