Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Tauranga Half Ironman race report

The day started early - 4.15am I was up for toast with honey and a banana, plus mixing all the usual potions and gunk that goes with these longer events. I hadn't slept well at all, and for some reason was feeling very nervous. The expectation of setting a PB was pretty high with my new bike, and it just got me all tensed up. 

A reasonably heavy rain was falling as we drove to the race site, but it eased off by the time we arrived there. The bikes were sopping as they had been racked all night, but other than that the rain disappeared for the rest of the day thank goodness! The forecast was for a mainly cloudy day with light winds - PERFECT

The swim start was done in waves for the first time this year. Elite/pro first, followed 2mins later by age group men, followed another 2mins later by age group women. It was a full tide right at the start of the race, but it was pulling in one direction more than the other. Didn't notice it too much once we were swimming, so just got stuck into it. 

Starting without the men was great - there was none of that agressive behaviour in the swim start that normally goes hand in hand with them!!!!! BUT, we did start catching up with the slow ones by the end of the first 1200m loop. It was like hitting a wall that you just couldn't get around. Boy there were lots of slow men, they were EVERYWHERE! Very frustrating, but part of it I guess, so I just put my head down and tried to surge through them. The turns at the bouys were messy and hard work, and the second 800m loop had a few jellyfish lurking around which added some tension, but otherwise I was quite surprised to see a swim time of 36:51 - about what I would normally do, but it felt slower! Off to a good start anyway.

After a 3min transition (abit long, but ok really) I was off on the real test - MY NEW BIKE IRIS! I had decided to use a HR monitor for the ride and just make sure that I wasn't going too hard. May as well have not bothered, because I mostly ignored it. I was having sooooo much fun passing people for a change that about 30mins into the ride I decided I was going to see what I could do for the full 90kms, and bugger it if I destroyed myself for the run - It was going too well not to just go for it.

The race is one long loop of 55kms, and then 2 short loops of 17.5kms. The wind was light and really only picked up a slight cross wind on the 2 smaller loops, but I didn't notice it too much. It favoured one way more than the other, so it was at least nice about it!

I have NEVER loved riding my bike in a race so much as I did yesterday. It felt smooth, easy and fast. I enjoyed every minute of it. My main race goal had been not to walk in the run; well I switched it to riding the 90kms at an average that was above 30kms/hr. And I did it with an extra km/hr to boot. I ended the 90kms in a time of 2:53:06 - well and truly smashed my 3hour goal out of the park, and was soooooo pumped about it! Let me just say, that never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I could ever ride ANY race at 30kms/hr, let alone a half ironman!!! It is super unbelievable, and I am still stunned at what I did yesterday. It blows me away that changing my bike made such a difference. Now I can see why people spend so much money on their machines - it makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable. Best damn thing I have ever done for myself! I do of course have my wonderful Husband to thank for it - if he didn't work where he did I would never have got it - I LOVE IT AND HIS JOB!!!!!!

Anyway, after a 2:49 transition that included me trying to calm myself after such a buzzed out ride, and then having to struggle into my straight jacket bra top, I was off on what I KNEW was going to be a very tough run after that bike ride. It had got so humid, and every now and then the sun would come out and just burn! 

The first lap went ok really. I wasn't wearing a watch as I didn't want the extra pressure of time. I just needed to finish it in the best way I could. I was still hoping for a "non-walk" run, but I was struggling with this right through the 1st lap. I walked long enough at the aid stations to drink, and then carried on running. The Mount base track, which I had run piles of times in the last few weeks, felt like a mountain range. It was damn hard!

At the start of the 2nd lap I saw the time clock and knew that I COULD beat 6 hours if I could get through the rest of the run without needing to stop. Unfortunately I also knew in the back of my mind that this was highly unlikely. The road was black tarmac and you could feel the heat of it under your feet. I was absolutely dripping wet with sweat, I got chaffed badly under my arm, and I was struggling to stand tall. My neck just ached, my shoulders were stiff from riding aero for 90kms, and I just wanted to stop for a nap. I had made a pact with myself that I wasn't going to drink any cola until the last 6kms, and I stuck to it. I have got into a bad habit of drinking it all the way through the run, but this time I stuck to gels, water and electrolyte until that point. The cola was damn nice when I did start though!!!!

I stopped for some vaseline as my underarm was killing me, and I did stop for some unscheduled quick walk breaks in the last 6kms. I just had to. When I was about to start the Mount base track for the last time, Paul told me I had 30mins to beat 6 hours. I knew I wasn't going to do it, but I still wanted to get as close to 6 hours as possible. I was feeling abit light headed so I walked the first hill and then tried my very best to run the rest. It probably looked nothing like running, but it wasn't walking either, so I'm counting it. I walked the last big hill and then ran all the way home as fast as I possibly could. The kids joined me for the last 700metres which was great. The crowd really got into them and they ran quite fast too, so I had to keep up with them.

My final time was 6hrs 3mins and 44seconds - 18mins off my personal best time!!!!!!!!! Pretty much ALL of that time was from the bike - I was soooo happy to be finished, sooooo stoked with my overall time, and sooooooooooo amazed at my bike split!!!! And I did all of that only 4 weeks after my last half ironman race. It was the best feeling EVER (apart from finishing Ironman of course). I also did end up running more of the run than I ever have before - my run time is not my best for a half ironman run, but it feels like a better achievement! So, I still figure it was a success.

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