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.

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