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IMNZ 2012

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05/03/2012 at 03:48
The alarm went off at 5 am, with a groan, we got up and went through the process of breakfast and loading the bikes into the car.  We found a car park space easily, headed through the tent for body marking then off to transition to re-rack the bikes.  I've never seen so many disc wheels and pecker helmets in one space, it was really intimidating and not for the first time I wondered what the hell I was doing here. With a couple of hours to chill we found chairs in the marking tent and watched everyone faff around us while we tried to keep warm. Wetsuits were donned with just under an hour to go.  We made our way down to the lake side to dump the pre-swim bags and watch the elites go off at 7.45am.  The temperature of the water was a balmy 15 degrees.  Cold but actually much warmer than the air temperature!  I put my feet in the water to warm them up which it did, until they turned back to blocks of ice.  It was the last I would feel of my feet until the run.

The elites were off with the sound of a canon.  Watching the age group men head off to the start I waded in and had a quick wee before breast stroking my way to the start.  The lake had looked flat and serene from the bank.  Once in, it was a decidedly different matter.  The swell was substantial and made it difficult to see the bhoys at the turnaround.  Not being the strongest swimmer in the world it freaked me out.  But moreso I felt for Toucs knowing that he gets seasick in much calmer waters than this.  Trying to put it out of my mind I watched the men waiting for the off.  Expecting another cannon fire, there was confusion when a horn went off.  About five seconds later someone figured that was that and started swimming.  He must have had a ten second head start before everyone followed.

We lined up ready to go, the swell making me more and more nervous until the hooter sounded and off we went.  The plan had been to start with the leaders and hang onto someone's feet but since there were so few of us, they headed off before I could get myself into gear and very soon I found myself on my own once again.  It was terrible.  I couldn't see where we were supposed to be headed, the swell was making me feel sick.  Once or twice I nearly got bowled over onto my back by the waves.  It was such hard work to make any progress.I stopped to see if I could find a landmark to sight to.  The was a hill behind what looked like the first turnaround marker so heading for that I resolved together my head in the water and try and ignore everything going of around me.  About a hundred yards away from the turnarounds saw a motorboat head out to a canoe and wondered if they were pulling Toucs out of the water.  Hoping he was still ok I ploughed on and reached the half way point with relief.

Coming back was even worse.  I got more and more fatigued and freaked out until I hoped beyond hope I'd missed the swim cutoff of 1.10 and could retire gracefully.Turning for shore meant the swell was finally with us.  I kind of surfed back to shore with some arbitrary strokes until I could get my feet down and stagger out.  The time on the clock registered 1.17 but was started when the elites went off 15 minutes before us.  1.03 damn it.  I'd have to continue.  The run to transition was a long one along the harbour road before climbing a steep set of stairs.  All along people were congratulating and encouraging.  It was to set the trend for the day.  I barely had the energy left to thank them.A helper was waiting with my bag at the top of the stairs and ushered me into the change tent.  She was amazing, helping me get the wetsuit off, put my clothes on and applied sunscreen.  I left the change tent with Toucs on my mind.  Hoping he would be ok.
05/03/2012 at 04:01
 There'd were very few bikes left in transition and as I made my way to mine I heard the tannoy announce the swim cut off.  There were three people behind me who made the cutoff.  It turns out that 11 people were pulled out of the water in distress of some kind.Two rows down from Piri Toucs bike languished lonely on her own.  He would have made it out of the swim comfortably in front of me so I knew he must be in trouble.  I asked a marshal what would happened to those pulled out of the swim.  She didn't know, so I carried on asking until I found someone who would make enquiries.  

Eventually, after two laps of transition we found a small tent, looking in I recognised Toucs lying in the recovery position on a pallet with a blanket over him.  I asked him if he was ok, he replied that he was and he just needed to sleep.  Satisfied that he wasn't at deaths door I asked him if it was ok for me to carry on then left him to it to reclaim Piri.  The commentator enthusiastically kept informing people that I had lost my bike and reminding us the was a bike cut off in force.  He seemed delighted when I eventually turned up at the mount line with Piri.  With only a handful of bikes left in transition he must have thought I was a right old doozy. T1 17.50

So onto Piri and off on what is normally my strongest leg.  I love being on the bike.  I love the sense of freedom, of feeling strong and light and fast.  And the fact the swim is behind me.  But today I had nothing.  I dunno if it was the stress of the many bike mechanicals, the credit card, the swim, worry about Toucs or what but it was as if my legs just hadn't come to the party.

 Oh goodness, now what to do.  I just kept repeating don't panic, keep calm and tried to get some fluid in.  After about a mile we hit the hill up to Broadlands Road.  It's not that bad and I'd ridden it about five times in the last two weeks but the urge to get off was overwhelming.  I had an insatiable thirst and felt really sick.  Up ahead I saw someone dismount and start walking and that spurred me on to keep going.  Dropping it into granny ring I pedalled with a goal to catch her which I did very soon.The road eventually flattened out enough for me to put some nutrition in.  I opted for a caffeine GU gel.  It was disgusting.  Eventually forcing it down with Nuun I mouth vomited for about the next 20 miles.  I must have eaten that gel about five times in the end.  I then turned to my stash of peanut M&Ms, much more palatable.  

After about five miles I hit a downhill bit and started to feel better.  On my jOGLE ride about 10 years ago I learned that no matter how bad things got it was always possible to keep pedalling and took strength from that.  Toucs had said days before that it was a course to really ride my strengths and knowing that the winds often strengthened into a headwind on the way back my only hope was to gain as much time as possible on the out leg and hope it was enough get me back to town under the cut off.I pedalled as hard as I could.  I was pretty much last out of T1 but soon started picking off people.  I was excited to see the elites coming back to town but couldn't make out who was who.  Huge swathes of cyclists followed them.  So much for no drafting.  Groups of up to 100 at a time whooshed past making no effort to spread out.  No wonder some of them looked so bloody cheerful.Head down, arse up the time passed quickly.  The speedo had died again so I had no idea what speed I was doing.  It felt over 20mph but all I could do was make as much progress as possible and keep take on nutrition.  
05/03/2012 at 05:48
 Just ahead I knew Trogs would be somewhere.  I wasn't sure if I could catch her but knew when I saw her that the turnaround wouldn't be too far away.  Eventually she came into view.  We attempted a dodgy high five and a whoop of cheer grateful the turnaround loomed ahead.  My shoulders and hip had really started to get sore.  I promised myself a quick stop for a stretch at the turnaround.  It was lovely.  

Clipping back in I pedalled off back to Taupo.  We'd had the occasional headwind heading on the road out and my hope for a tailwind back was soon dashed.  It was like cycling with someone holding onto the bike.  Oh my goodness.  I geared down to the little ring and spun out.  Although the road looked like it was heading down hill it was a false down.  The slight ups and headwind reduced speed to around 8-10 mph.  It was going to be a long ride back.  I eventually caught Trogs at the aid station.  A quick Hi to check she was ok and I pedalled off, afraid to stop in case I couldn't get going again.  

It was a long hard slog.  I passed the time overtaking and being taken by a guy called Tony.  It was nice to have the company.  On the hill back up to town he was reduced to zigzagging to get up.  The bloke in front of him unclipped and opted to walk.  It wasn't even steep.  Pride stopped me from getting off and joining him.  I knew the was a sweet descent into town from the top and strengthening the resolve I ground up eventually getting to the top.By this time I was so knackered I couldn't take my hands off the handlebars to eat or drink.  Goodness only knows how the hell I was going to do the run.

Whizzing back to town, drained and depleted I have never been so happy to get off a bloody bike.  Toucs was stood outside of transition waving, so happy to see him back on his feet I headed to the change tent to get ready Cycle 3:47:40, T2 6 minutes and change.Heading out onto the run with my new friend Tony we tried to work out if we had enough time to make the cutoff.  Cheers and encouragement were abundant from the marshals and prolific crowds.  I mixed walking and a slow painful shuffle to try and get the legs moving.  Setting myself the target of getting to the half way point with enough time to walk the last lap if I needed to I set off along lake terrace.

 Having  seen Trogs enter T2 just behind me I wasn't surprised when she quickly caught me.  Looking strong and following a run/walk programme she soon headed off into the distance.  It gave me strength to see her and I tried to keep her in view for as long as possible. Everyone was so positive and cheery.  They were serving flat coke at the feed stations, it was fabulous.  Finally, the nausea started to go away and the shuffling turned more into a run.

 I made good progress, high fives with Trogs and was soon heading back to town.  A mental tally at the half way point revealed just under two hours to cut off.  With just over 10k left I had a comfortable amount of time left.  Finally, relief flooding my body and a smile (the first of the day) lit up my face I set off back to lake terrace for the second leg.  People eveywhere we beeping their horns and cheering from upstairs windows.  Nowhere in a race have I ever felt such goodwill from people.  

Cries of 'you've nailed it girl' and 'good on ya' followed up the road.  It was all so genuine and gratefully received.  Back to Rainbow Drive and the turnaround.  Trogs and I had a minute to catch up before carrying on.  On the home straight I'd finally had it.  I was spent.  One foot in front of the other until I could see the finish shoot.  Dragging myself into a run for the finish line with Toucs stood behind it I lifted my arms for the tape and then collapsed into Toucs arms.
05/03/2012 at 05:51
Run 2:58:58

It wasn't an Ironman but to me, it felt like it had been.  It was the hardest race I have ever done.  I felt so much for the 500 or so first timers for who IMNZ would have been their first.  But for me, I was so underprepared that halving the distance was the only way I would have completed it.  Reflecting back, I was really proud of what I achieved.  So many times it would have been easy to stop but that's not the pirate way.  Wearing the colours meant JFDI and I did, all the way to the finish line.
05/03/2012 at 06:35

The course is a hard one.  It's not like Lanza, or some of the other 'killer' courses in that there's nothing really about it to pin it to, but the strong headwind on the return bike (normally), the long long false flat, and the rough road surface all make it hard.  And that's before the run with no discernable flat on the entire thing. 

 Add in the mental issue from the delay / change of distance, worry over weather conditions (note to readers, we were warned it would be 5 degrees on the course, then turned out to be pretty warm) and what to eat / drink then you did good.  The worry over Toucs would have seen most people call it a day in T1.

And you were smiling whenever I saw you.  So to me, as it's a hobby, supposed to be enjoyable, shows you had a successful day.

05/03/2012 at 06:53
Hope    pirate
05/03/2012 at 07:13

What a lovely race report HC.

I can't believe the amount of bad luck you had leading up to the race, and with the race itself being changed too not to mention your worries over Toucs!!! Talk about a mental toughness test!

Well done on finishing what sounds like a real tough day at the office!

Dubai Dave    pirate
05/03/2012 at 07:41
HC: Great report, well done for seeing it out.
Cheerful Dave    pirate
05/03/2012 at 08:43
Epic report for an epic race.  18 minutes in T1 is epic on its own, even if it was for the best reasons!  Glad to see Toucs is OK - I'd have been tempted to not get in at all from the sounds of things.
05/03/2012 at 08:44
Bliddy well done HC! Top effort!
05/03/2012 at 09:36
Great report. Thanks for an inspiring read, HC. Well done to you, Trogs & Dunc. Sounds like it was a perfect nightmare for Toucs. Top effort all round!
Edited: 05/03/2012 at 09:36
05/03/2012 at 09:51

Great report and well done. Smoky in here...

Sounds like the organisers and volunteers deserve a big pat on the back too for putting a race on at all in the circumstances.

Edited: 05/03/2012 at 09:51
05/03/2012 at 10:19
nice one guys - well toughed out HC and Trogs and bad luck to Toucs....

05/03/2012 at 12:04
Whew - what a hard time you guys had. Many congrats to HC and Trogs, commiserations to Toucs, another race day will come. I think I would probably not have made it through the swim, swells make me sick too.
05/03/2012 at 13:14
Excellent report HC, well raced.  Commiserations to Toucs.  Where's Trog's report then...?
The Silent Assassin    pirate
05/03/2012 at 13:29

Cracking report HC, well done on toughing it out.

Edited: 05/03/2012 at 13:29
05/03/2012 at 14:00

What a great report.  Getting the start line was a such a mental test in itself you all did brilliantly to start,  Glad Toucs is OK even though he didn't finish the swim.

 I've been on the speed boat on lake Taupo and I'm struggling to imagine conditions like you had .

Lee the Pea    pirate
05/03/2012 at 16:13
Aw what a fabulous report HC.  Awesome display of stamina and determination overcoming disappointment, stress, worry, exhaustion, everything!!!  For sure I think I would have been a crying heap in T1, never to make it on to the bike.  So glad Toucs is okay too!!  Very well done to all of you for giving it your best, and I hope you can enjoy the rest of your holiday and just relax a bit   can't wait to see you all at the Outlaw xxx 
meface    pirate
05/03/2012 at 21:45

Toucs is a big girls blouson and he knows it (although don't ask me to climb anything high or I will cry)

Well done Nicky, sounds a tough trip with too many things going on to make for a mentally smooth race. Too many things in your head make it harder to race well. Finishing is all that is asked.

Don't rush back, work beckons.

Rotura for a mud bath? If still in Taupo head south along lake towards Ruapehuand there is a municpal outdoor baths. Also have private baths. Basic but good value, nice and warm and no swell.

Well Done


Trogs    pirate
05/03/2012 at 21:55
< Ferret wrote: Excellent report HC, well raced.  Commiserations to Toucs.  Where's Trog's report then...?>

Should have access to pc later today so report to follow soonish
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