Setting my sights Tri

Countdown to IMNZ 09

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Ally Bally Bee    pirate
09/03/2009 at 02:21

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.

09/03/2009 at 02:49

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.

D74
09/03/2009 at 06:33

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. 

Trogs    pirate
09/03/2009 at 11:02

Evening/morning all.

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

PSC    pirate
09/03/2009 at 11:12
Well done everyone - particulary you Trog (as I actually know you in the real world)!!!  A fantastic achievement - lifelong bragging rights hey?    I look forward to your report, and will now read back to catch up on those already posted. 
IronMelissa    pirate
09/03/2009 at 11:31

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.

Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:32
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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.

Edited: 10/03/2009 at 07:33
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:35
Oh pooh.  Looks like I've got the same problem Jaggy had with his cut and paste.
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:36
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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.

It was great to meet up with Jaggy on the Wednesday evening for a meal and Aanders and Ally and their sherpas at the carbo party on Thursday.  I’ve already reported on how long it took me to decide my bags were ready to hand in on Friday so no need to repeat that detail.  After check in I made a late decision to drive the rural out and back bit of  the bike course and I’m very glad I did.  It’s about 35k to the turnaround at Reperoa; mostly long straight stretches with some gentle undulations, so nothing really demanding.  When I drove past a large sign saying “Welcome to Reperoa” I thought, ‘that’s not to too bad then’.  However, it wasn’t till I’d traveled several miles further on and came across another sign “Reperora Dairy 5k” (dairy being kiwi for a small general store) that I realized that the first one must have been for the district.  I think I would’ve found that quite demoralizing on the day had I been unaware
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:40
The weather forecast for Saturday suggested a damp start, brightening later.  I slept better than expected and woke at about 03.45.  A bit early but I was definitely awake so thought I might as well get up.  Was surprised to find a little black Siamese type cat had found it’s way into the house overnight which I took as a good omen.  Outside to check the weather – dry, warm, slight breeze and 5/8 cloud cover, so looking good.  Forced down breakfast, (not easy at that time in the morning!) then faffed about making up energy drinks bottles before waking my driver to take me down to the start.  Did all the normal stuff like checking the bike, loading drinks bottles etc and still had loads of time to spare.  Wandered around a bit, bumped into Jaggy and Aanders then decided I might as well join the portaloo queue more to pass the time than actual need.  There were only 6-8 people in front of me but I don’t know what they were all doing, it took about 20 minutes before it was my turn!  By this time it was 0620 so, business done I donned the wettie and headed for the start.   Got to the beach just as the elite field set off and almost immediately met Ally and Aanders.  Last minute good wishes then into the water to await the off.  I was actually feeling strangely calm – I think my brain may have gone into survival mode and just shutdown all unnecessary functions including emotion
Edited: 10/03/2009 at 07:41
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:44
The swim – predicted time 1:30

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. 

Edited: 10/03/2009 at 07:45
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:48
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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

Edited: 10/03/2009 at 07:50
seren nos    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:52
great reading so far.................got to go our for my run.............will eagerely await the next instalment for when I return.
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:55
The bike – predicted time 8:00
The bike started well.  Nice 3k along the main drag to the bottom of first climb.  Saw some of my team plus Mrs and Minisnog half way up, comfortably to the top and onto the long first out leg.  Was quite pleased to find slight headwind as it meant a following wind home, I just hoped that it wouldn’t shift or strengthen.  Not a lot remarkable about the first lap; my supporters kept driving by then stopping – until they got turned around at the ‘residents only’ block.  My glutes were complaining intermittently which they’ve never done before but it was easy enough to stretch them out and after a while they seemed to settle down.  The leaders flashed by coming the other way, followed at various intervals by Aanders and Ally both looking good.  Was surprised not to see Jaggy and thought I must’ve missed him.  Even more surprised when he hailed me from behind before cruising by explaining about his ’mare of a swim.  The odd shower kept temperatures down saw the others again as I headed back towards town; also got passed by the race leaders on their way to T2.  The last 5 miles or so of the lap was the best bit – long swooping downhills most of the way, sweeping you into town and back along the main drag again.  At the half way point I reckon I was pretty much dead on schedule, possibly even slightly ahead, so back out of town feeling good.

Slightly different route out onto road to Reperoa included an extra little hill.  The sun came out so when I got back on the flat I tried to take my armies off without first removing my gloves.  Not a good idea!  I only narrowly avoided ending up in the ditch.  Got that sorted and on I went.  I was carrying a concentrated gloop of High 5 drink to add to aerobottle with water as I went.  Somehow I managed to put in about twice as much gloop as needed so couldn’t dilute it enough to make it drinkable and had to resort to a sip from the profile bottle, washed down with water from frame bottle which broke my rhythm somewhat.  I was so focused on the plan to take only water from the feed stations that it didn’t occur to me to just switch to the on course energy drink which I’d tried earlier in the week and found quite palatable.
Edited: 10/03/2009 at 07:59
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 07:58
Ah, problem solved.  Report saved as text document and copied from that instead
D74
10/03/2009 at 08:01
Ah yes, the 'false' district sign - caught me out on lap two  Also hated beyond  belief that extra loop thing, really demoralising being with a few top agegroupers on teh way to the finish of the bike only to have to peel off and climb up the hill I'd just cycled down.
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 08:02

At about 80 miles the balls of my feet started to really hurt.  Loosening my shoes helped briefly as did unclipping and circling ankles but it kept coming back making pedaling quite uncomfortable.  People I’d been shuttling with started to pass and stay ahead and by the time I reached the turnaround I was starting to feel pretty negative.  I thought I was still pretty much on schedule though until the wind picked up a bit, blowing right into my face.  To top it all off, my neck/shoulders were tightening up and I couldn’t get comfy on my bars – though that may have been psychological.  A heavy rain shower didn’t improve my mindset and thoughts of giving up did start to creep in, so the rest of the ride back towards town was pretty miserable.  I think I stopped at all of the support stations on the way back to give me an excuse to get off the bike briefly.  Just kept plugging away thinking of support at home and I hoping I wasn’t going to slow any further and miss the cut off. 

Finally getting back onto the largely downhill stretch towards town was a huge relief and I then knew I’d make it.  One final short sharp shower was unwelcome but T2 was within reach and I knew once I was off the bike I’d be ok again.


There were only about 6 bags left in T2 so I had about 3 people helping me prepare for the run.  They were most concerned that I was too cold and even after complete change of kit, insisted I set off for the run wearing a poncho.  Nice.


Actual bike time – 8:25:22   T2 – 13:37

Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 08:07
The run – predicted time 6:00
The run I was never worried about.  As long as I made the bike cut off I knew I could finish in time.  The ramp and bridge over the road was an interesting way to start and got the legs back into action. I started jogging fairly shortly thereafter.  The run starts off heading back towards the finish area so I was surrounded by people either approaching the finish or the end of their first lap which was a bit demoralizing.  However, shortly before reaching the end zone I spotted an unfamiliar  pirate clad spectator which I knew had to be Jellybabe, so stopped briefly for a quick chat which helped get my mindset back on track again.

My plan for the run had always been, run 1 mile, walk 1 minute and walk the aid stations and that’s certainly how it went for most of the first lap.  The run was only about 12m/m pace but it was good to be on my feet again – and they’d stopped hurting as soon as I took my bike shoes off.  I was feeling pretty strong and focused.  Saw Aanders heading for home quite early on and Ally and Jaggy on the return leg of their first laps a while thereafter.  My friends had by this time been organized into teams by Capt T, (formerly REME, now NZ Army) and directed to various places in the first 5k to cheer me on my way before they disappeared for food while he and Jnr T (12) took over and pedaled a pair of borrowed mountain bikes along the road pretty much level with me again causing slight concern about the definition of outside assistance.  But mostly I just stayed focused on keeping a steady pace, admiring the glorious view across the lake and acknowledging the support of locals who’d obviously been partying a very long time.  I’d started drinking flat pepsi and water at the feed stations and by about 8k it became clear that I was drinking more than enough and stops at each feed station became a necessity.  I regretted choosing not to wear a bottle belt so I could sip when I wanted rather than have to wait for the aid stations.  The turnaround eventually arrived on schedule and it was back towards town again.
Trogs    pirate
10/03/2009 at 08:14

At around 15k Mr B appeared and I insisted Capt T took Jnr T  home for food cos he was obviously getting tired and fed up. So off they went with a promise to send reinforcements asap.  Huge local support all the way back into town, with me apologizing that I was only on first lap and would be back again later.  ‘No worries’ they all said, ‘we’ll be here for you for as long as it takes’.  Awesome. 

Still on schedule and heading back out of town again I reassessed how I was feeling and decided that the second lap would be march up the hills and through the aid stations and jog the rest.  Out on the lake front again I picked up a personal escort comprising Mrs T, Master T (my 15yo godson) and young Miss B (11) and at least one or other of them stuck with me for the entire rest of the run.  Just quietly being there, willing me on.  I did say they’d gone above and beyond the normal sherpa duties.  

The remainder of the run was pretty unremarkable, except for the continued support from partying locals at various points out of town.  For much of it I suspect my running pace was not actually that much quicker than my marchinging pace but who cares - I did actually pass a few people.  As I headed back towards town for the final time ‘Go Pirates, it’s not a knitting club’ issued clearly from a passing car which made me smile.  The noise issuing from the bars which line the last 1k or so along the lake front gave me a final boost of energy which increased as I got closer to the finish.  Quick hug from Jellybabe at about 400m out, more from Aanders and Jaggy at 300m and then I was at the turn into the finish chute.  All I could see was the arc lights on the arches over the chute like runway lights and I was off.  Grinning ear to ear, I put on a final burst of speed – or at least I think I did – to get to that finish gantry as quickly as possible.  I remember the cheers of the crowd but such was my relief/exhaustion that I didn’t actually hear those famous words, or anything else come to that, but I’m assured they were actually said.


Actual run time – 6:13:39

ImRio    pirate
10/03/2009 at 08:22
Fab reports all of you.  Well done.  You have now all completely terrified but inspired me on my way to IMCH
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