Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Challenge Wanaka Race Report

Just reading through my last post on Challenge Wanaka eve I asked for a calm lake and a tail wind home - it now seems like someone up there was taking the piss out of me...
We got down to the lake at about 5.45 to a reasonable breeze which was blowing straight onto the lake causing a fair amount of chop.  And it was slightly chilly.
The good part about doing a race with only 450 individuals is that we got a park right outside the marquee with only 45mins until race start, and the other good part is that I didn't have to wait for a portaloo all morning.
Another good thing about doing a race with only 450 individuals is that the Pro's just get a 10m headstart instead of a 15minute head start which is not good for people who can't swim.

The swim was a 2 lap rectangle course and was choppy the whole way round with a slight reprieve for the shortest leg where the chop was behind us.  It was pretty easy to stay on course as it was well marked and I tried to choose feet who kept a good pace.
As I came around towards the end of the second lap I saw the Half people bobbing around about to start.  This gave me great excitement as I thought they were starting at 7.30am which meant that my swim time would be just over an hour - OMG! Turns out the Half actually started at 7.38 so guess what? Another sucky swim. Although looking at other peoples times it seems that the faster people were a couple of minutes off normal and harder conditions slow the slow down down even more which perhaps bring my time to around the 65min mark which I would be happy with.
Had a major muppet moment running into T1 and missing my bike bag - I'll blame it on the numbness spreading throughout my body coupled with the disappointment of learning from another swimmer that we actually swam 68mins not the 62 that I had thought.
Opps, got it.

T1 was very slow due to my numb hands and fingers and a bad choice of arm warmers which while nice and warm, were a little too tight to get on in a hurry while wet and frozen.
Onto RooRoo I went.

I shivered my way through the first 30km and then started to warm up a bit.  The first section of the bike was was pretty undulating and a bit more interesting with Half people sharing the road with us.  Once we split at Luggate at 70km us full people were on our own.

I had heard all the warnings about prevailing headwinds on the way back and the lonely roads so was preparing myself for the way back from Cromwell.  I made the turn and headed back every now and then passing someone who had passed me earlier but also having lots of "am I going the right way" moments as the roads were very empty.  I didn't get passed by a single individual athlete from about the 90km (only 2 team riders) onwards and came across many people who had passed me earlier who had obviously blown their foofoo valves on the first half.
Tailwind and fun times
Got to 120km and felt pretty good, figured I could average 30kph for the last 60km to come in just over 5hrs40 - considering I had averaged 32+ up to this point it seemed pretty achievable.  Hung a left hand turn just before the 140km and BOOM! Headwind! Sidewind! WIND! What a slog for the next 40km, I actually laughed at the 30kph average plan as I powered along at 23kph... Lucky there was a bit of downhill for the last 5km but I was already pooped and had been on the bike way longer than I ever thought I would.

The run course at Wanaka in about 75% offroad, about 20km of bush trails and a few nasty uphills, ie. not easy.  I started out aiming to hold 5min km's and this worked for a while but my speed slipped a bit through the bush section.  It's pretty isolated with aid stations every 3km and not many people around through the offroad sections and more than once I wondered how long it would take someone to find me if I keeled over and died.  I was also aware of the very fast moving river alongside some of the tracks which could carry my lifeless body about a km in two minutes.  Do other people have these thoughts during ironman?
Overenthusiastic supporters making things a bit more bearable

It was pretty windy but also hot in the sheltered sections.  My support crew popped up a few times and kept me amused and gave me updates on what else was happening in front and behind me.
I passed another pro girl after about 15km so I knew that I just had to finish to get some prize money, it's amazing how money can motivate you.
The second lap was very slow but amazingly I was passing people who were actually running slower than me.
Sammy the Seal - one person I was running faster than. I am sure it won't be long till he gets me though
 The good thing about doing a race where a lot of run is through the bush means that there are toilet opportunities everywhere.
My feet hurt from the gravel and stones underneath them and my legs hurt from my lack of run traning, it wasn't as painful as Ironman NZ where I had hip bursitis pain from the 8km mark, but it was still painful and I was oh so glad to finally reach the end.
Thank god that's over

The race director Victoria Murray-Orr was at the finish to welcome me with a hug - not just a polite little tapping on the back hug, but a real cuddle hug which was so nice and just highlights what the Challenge family are all about.

My finish time was 11hrs26 and I was 9th female overall (9th Pro), I was aiming for between 10.30 and 11hours so I was well out.
I really need to stop doing Ironmans off the back of an injury with only the minimum (or not even that) amount of time to train because it is really not working for me and I am getting slower.  I am embarrassed by the time I did and I don't want to do Ironman again until I can go faster.

So time to take stock, do some proper planning and training and get fast.  You are only as good as your last race so things can only improve from here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Challenge Wanaka eve...

Oh my goodness how slack am I... Oops.
The last few weeks have been mostly biking and running, a bit of swimming, some work and a lot of pissing around.
Hen's games

The Hen in all her glory
 The weather in Auckland had been a bit iffy so I did a couple of long rides in some not so nice weather and I did my longest run for Wanaka down in Tauranga while watching the Port of Tauranga bunch riding champs, I mean Half Ironman...
Wanaka training has gone pretty well, I haven't had as much time to build up my running as I would like so my 25km run long will hopefully get me through.
Swimming was going well until I got abducted by the aliens at Pilot Bay as a team swimmer for Tauranga Half so now I am really unsure how the swim at Wanaka will go.
Guess what word starting with F is coming out of my mouth...

So I have now been in Wanaka for 3 days and had 2 days in Queenstown on the way through where I learnt how to play frisbee golf.  It has gotten pretty windy down here and yesterday morning I had genuine concerns for my life while I was swimming in the lake but fortunately it has settled down a bit.  The forecast for tomorrow is ok - a bit of a chilly start but should end up being fine and maybe a bit breezy.  I am being uber cautious about not getting cold on the bike (as is my trademark) so will be taking a bit of time in T1 to put a few extra items on.

J-rad's new office
We have a little crew down here with Sammy the Seal doing the full and Jess the Hammer doing the Half, J-Rad and Nick will be heading the support crew after Nick made the tough decision to DNS after an unpleasant last couple of days making friends with the toilet.

So now the bags are all packed and RooRoo is ready to go.  Fingers crossed for a calm lake and a tailwind home...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Big Jo training - the rest of December...


Following my swim of redemption at Taupo I have been feeling a bit better about my swimming and figured to keep going with the long swims.  The whole Christamas/New Year thing is always a bit of a pain so I have only managed one long swim of 6km and the rest 3-4km.  I had a seemingly trivial sunburnt lip from the half which got infected and ruled my life for a week or so and I had to miss 2 swims in order to keep it dry.  Thank god that has cleared up now and I don't look like I am walking around a dead fly on my bottom lip.


I took the week followed Taupo pretty easy and got back into it by the weekend with some efforts and a 4hr ride.  Christmas Day (being a Sunday) was a long ride day so got in a 4hr+ ride with not too much traffic which was nice.
We went down to Cook's Beach in the Coromandel after Christmas and a friend from swimming was staying around the corner and was keen to ride the K2 course.  I have ridden both halves of the course and the Tairua/Whitianga section many times but never the whole thing so after a bit of convincing I was pretty keen.  We decided to do it in reverse to get the Tairua-Thames section out of the way because that would be the busiest, I wasn't sure if that made it harder or easier than the usual way.  Since it is about 15km each way from Cook's Beach to SH25 we actually missed the Whitanga-Cook's Beach section on the way back and caught the ferry back otherwise it would have been about 220km which is just ridiculous.
We were going well until the 120km mark a bit before Coromandel town which my riding buddy experienced a nuclear meltdown.  We stopped for some lunch in Coromandel to refuel with only 40km to go to get to Whitianga.  Unfortunately this was the toughest section with some very nasty hills and headwinds, I actually felt pretty good considering it was the longest I had been on my bike for in a very long time however my companion was not in quite as good spirits and ended up having to walk up one of the last big hills and probably didn't really appreciate me standing at the top laughing.  Anyhoo we made it back to Cook's Beach with 184km on the Taptap - so there is my Wanaka training done in one hit.
View from some hill before Coromandel - looked a lot nicer in the flesh

Trying to squeeze some long runs in without hurting myself so I have been doing only one or two runs during the week then 90mins+ in the weekend.  Managed 1hr45 today in about 1000% humidity - my eyeballs felt like they were overheating just having sunglasses on.  I think I will be slightly underdone in the running department for Wanaka but it is going to be hard either way.

What's everyone waiting for?

One for you Coach Lawson