Countdown to IMNZ 09
Hello all, I have written my report and will post in installments, hopefully without the copy and paste problems Jaggy had.
After Saturday I'm hanging up my Ironman boots for a while, though 2012 sounds like a good year to plan my next jaunt - hopefully I'll have improved in that time.
Before I post the epic I'd like to say how much I enjoyed being with other pirates, looking for the yellow and black along the course was great (and listening out for Jaggy too who decided the pirate kit wasn't very flattering on him!).
Breakfast on Sunday was fab (the best bacon and eggs I've had for a long time!) and Aanders pirate hats and presentation was great. The minisnog is really the cutest supporter anyone could have and she wouldn't let Mr ABB leave the campsite this morning (he was the awards dinner childminder it seemed!).
And yay Sally and Dave for plucking up the courage to make that jump - bet it was worth every minute.
I don’t know why I was so keen on doing another Ironman, maybe it was last year’s terrible weather and my goal times going out the window. I knew I could do better and the fire in my belly was still burning.
My preparation for the race had been somewhat disjointed. Over our winter (June to September) I came down with three colds, a post-viral infection and endured a bout of food poisoning (when I wasn’t struck down with cold). Then in November I got the news my Grandpa had died so I left the warmth of NZ, and some good training, for the cold of the UK (and subsequently no training was done).
I had a pretty bad half ironman (by my standards) in January. The race was the fastest course in NZ yet I was slower by 30 seconds than last season’s hilly half IM.
I kept knuckling down but my heart just wasn’t in it. The shorter sessions were great but when it came to six hour bike rides I couldn’t cope with the solitude and long ks.
Waitangi weekend (a holiday weekend in February) was the best training for me. There was a group of us so it made going for a 180km ride all the more bearable (even though we rode at different paces).
So I headed into this race not really knowing what my time would be. I was hoping for a 14hr something but that went out the window as soon as I hit the run.
My swim was a shocker. My goggles fogged up and I had trouble sighting the first stretch. I swam too far left and almost went straight into the golf hole in one pontoon instead of being at least 20m clear on its right. Then I tried to join a group but somehow ended up swimming diagonally through them and ended up at the buoys on the return leg of the swim! Finally found my bearings and reached the turning buoy. At this stage though I had a repeat of last year when I lost my cap, so I ended up swimming just over half of the swim with no cap. Sighting was better as I got a bit of water in my goggles (thanks to an elbow to the eye) and my fringe didn’t get in the way this year (got it cut just in case).
I got cramp in my left calf as I neared the final buoy, which sucked but I managed to get it straightened out before I reached the shore. I was gutted to see my swim time as 1:40 and that put me in a bad place before I’d even reached transition. I knew my time goals had already gone out of the window.
T1 was okay and then it was out to the bike. As I came through the T1 exit the clock said 1:36, then I realised they hadn’t reset the clock for age groupers at the swim exit. I was in a better place by then.
The bike was as I expected – a long slog up the Napier turnoff and spinning in a low gear until I got out of town. I can’t remember much about the ride other than there were several times I wanted to throw in the towel and then there were moments where I was cruising and feeling quite good.
I don’t think I drank enough and I definitely didn’t eat as much as I should have and I would rue that decision on the run.
The last 45kms were hell, the wind kept changing. One minute I would be speeding along, then I would be fighting the wind. I contemplated walking the last hills but I knew deep down I could ride them, and I did. The wind had definitely picked up by the time I reached the downhill section on the way back to town. I was only going 36kmh downhill and pedalling, the previous time I had raced down at 49kmh.
I made it back to town just as Gina Ferguson crossed the line and started the run/walk.
I almost burst into tears several times at the start of the run, I guess I was just so happy to have made it that far. I had a plan to count 100 running steps then 100 walking steps but the cheering crowds made me lose my place in my head! I managed to run a lot sooner than last year and settled into a rhythm. I decided to run all the downhills and some of the flats and walk the uphills. The weather was calm but about 6km in there was an almighty storm overhead which dumped bucket loads of water on us. There were rivers flowing down the road and my feet got soaked.
I knew Aanders was ahead of me and that Jaggy and Trogs were behind as I’d seen them on the bike course. Jaggy caught up with me just over half way through the run and we shuffled along together before going our separate ways. He was looking pretty good for someone who was almost pulled out of the swim. I was suffering in a space cadet kind of way, my head was spinning for the first half and I just wanted to crawl into a corner and go to sleep, but I knew I had to carry on – coke for 28kms of the run sorted me out).
The pirate kit drew lots of cheers and one guy said something about it not being crochet, so I corrected him there!
The run goes out of town and can get lonely but there were small pockets of supporters, some of them in fancy dress, some of them very drunk, but they all helped to keep your spirits high. I still managed to shuffle with 10km to go but by then I was restricted to running for just 60 steps as my knees were giving up on me.
I power walked the last 5km but still managed to break into a little run every so often. Rounding the last corner was awesome. I have no idea what music they were playing and I don’t know what Mike Reilly said as I crossed the line but I have never been so pleased to finish.
My feet are very sore, particularly at the top of my instep, I have a couple of blisters, a bit of sunburn and chafing and I can barely walk but I have a smile so wide you could probably see it from space.
I won’t be coming back to Ironman though, at least not for a couple of years. Next year I’m going to do two half ironmen races (Rotorua in December and Wanaka in January) which are both hilly and in spectacular settings. I’ll be back to support though.
Thanks for all your words of encouragement on here, and thanks to the pirates who competed, it was good to see the yellow and black.
Ally, your tale, like Jaggy's before you is incredible.
How you guys dig that deep when the going is so tough, and push on after such an endurance, I can't imagine, the title "Ironman" (and woman, of course) is well deserved.
We watched the progress of "The Pirates" on the video link, when the transmission, poor camera work and pretty poor interviewing would allow, and it was an amazing spectacle, a very emotional journey to observe, let alone attempt! You guys are an inspiration.
All credit to you, a fantastic achievement.
Thank you for sharing.
Well done Ally.
I'm impressed you did back to back IM, it's way too hard mentally for me, hence taking a year or so out between them. So next years plan sounds great, lets you work on some speed and qualify for the worlds if you want. Really, once you get past sub10 hour finishes then it's all about the journey and not the time. So glad you enjoyed it (well afterwards at least!), and make sure you enjoy a decent bit of down time before you start training for next year. You'll be all the better for a months total break.
I AM AN IRONMAN
Safely back in Auckland now and have just read back through the thread.
Thanks for all your support. The thought of you all 'watching' plus the support from Aanders, Ally, Jaggy, Jellybabe and Dave and almost the entire population of Taupo on the course certainly helped keep me going when it got tough. Not forgetting my own personal support team who went above and beyond normal sherpa duties.
It was an amazing if long day.
I'll post a full report tomorrow but for now suffice to say I enjoyed the swim, the run and 5/8 of the bike.
Wine's run out; time for bed
Great reports Jaggy and Ally - you really brought it all back for me. I do believe I'd like to do New Zealand one day...
Looking forward to your report too Trog.
great reports guys - hi Ally, good to see you're still going strong.
well done all of you - and lol again at your knitting comment to the doc, Jaggy! It's my mantra when I'm out training and things are getting tough.
YOU ARE ALL IRONMEN/WOMEN!
So here’s the promised report. I’ll apologise and warn you in advance, it’s a bit rambling and far too long. Writing has never been a strong point and this is more of a self-indulgent reflection on the whole experience than a straight report, so you may want to get the kettle on or open a bottle of wine/beer before settling down to read on or just skip straight to part 4 for the actual race bit.
First a little preamble. I’d toyed with the idea of attempting an Ironman off and on for a couple of years, mostly fired up by the annual Pirate outing and subsequent reports, but had always wimped out not believing I had the discipline to actually do the required training. However, personal matters in late 2007/08 gave me the need of a challenge to provide purpose and focus and, if I’m honest, distraction from other issues.
The choice of IMNZ was a relatively easy one. Both of my oldest friends and their families now live in NZ so a good excuse to visit them but also, with just one try-a-tri event to my name, I could spend the 08 tri season building up to a middle distance to assess the likelihood of success at the full distance before committing. Not the true Pirate way maybe but better for me. As it happens, I got overtaken by enthusiasm fairly early in the year and actually entered and made my travel arrangements in about June so there could be no going back.
I arrived in NZ knowing that the bike was going to be the most challenging part of the day for me. My longest ride had only been about 70 miles and 6.5hrs. However, a couple of rides in the warm NZ sunshine boosted my confidence – it’s so much easier to ride without needing multiple layers to keep you warm.
We went down to Taupo on the Tuesday and since the course profile suggested the worst of the hills were on the loop around the town, I took the time to ride that on arrival and found them quite tame by comparison to some of the Surrey Hills – a further boost to confidence. I also had a little swim in the lake which is crystal clear and warmer than any OW swim I’ve done at home.
This bit I was confident about. Plan was to start at the back to keep away from the rough stuff, tuck in behind a group or individual and follow them keeping to a steady pace. And it all went pretty much according to plan. Passed a few even slower starters early on and quickly settled into a steady rhythm.
The clarity of the water is such that you could easily see the bottom and after a few hundred metres I started noticing what looked like white marbles scattered on the lake floor. I couldn’t work out what they might be and, at the time, thought they must be eggs of some sort. It wasn’t until mentioning them at Pirate breakfast on Sunday I realized they were actually golf balls from the ‘hole in one’range. It hadn’t occurred to me that the apparent small size was actually due to the depth of the water; it was so clear it felt like it was only a few feet deep. Anyway, wondering about them occupied my mind for sufficiently long for me to have vered towards the shoreline so got mind back on the job and headed back towards the nearest group on the proper line and stuck with them.
Next distraction was shortly after the first turn where there were a pair of divers floating on the bottom watching race progress from below. Still feeling good, the return leg was steady and uneventful. A third diver appeared below me and waved so I waved back and grinned which was a mistake cos it broke the seal on my goggles so I had to pause briefly to empty them out. When the ‘eggs’ started to reappear I knew there wasn’t far to go. Round the final buoy and 200m to the shore feeling really good. I didn’t notice the clock at the exit cos I was distracted by my friends yelling at me – I was dead impressed they’d recognized me before I’d even got the hat and goggles off. ‘Dead on time’one of them shouted which was good to hear. Gentle jog to the steps (very antisocial) and into T1. Pleased to see quite a few bikes still in place as I headed for the changing tent.
My priority was to make sure I was completely comfortable before setting out on the bike so took time for a complete change into dry kit with the help of the excellent support crew. They decided I wouldn’t need the waterproof jacket I’d put in the bag just in case so the only decision I had to make was whether to wear the gilet. Decided cycle top and armies would be quite sufficient and I was ready to go.
Actual swim time -1:29:33 T1 – 13:35
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