Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Samoa Half Ironman Race Report

I got a bit slack leading up to our little trip to Samoa and neglected my blog a bit... But the couple of weeks leading up to Samoa were pretty boring, I pretty much just swam, biked and ran and worked.  Biking was still a bit mojo-less and running was starting to feel a bit tight in the leggie department.

The trip to Samoa was about being able to practice racing in Kona race kit and do a race somewhere hot.  I was racing Pro even though I made a statement a while ago about sticking to Age Group but the whole thing came about because Gina Crawford enticed me into doing the race so I figured if she thought I could race Pro then why not...

We got to Samoa two days before the race so spent most of our time lying around exclaiming how hot it was.  This was a first time event for Samoa and they really tried hard to put on a good event which was pretty impressive considering most people in Samoa probably didn't even know what a triathlon was.  All the competitors (about 40 of us...) did a little march from the race hotel to the transition accompanied by the police marching band and then the Prime Minister gave a speech (admitting he didn't know what we were going to be doing and why we were only doing half), so it was all a pretty big deal.

Like the Parade of Nations at Kona.  No undies run though

Samoa Police Brass Band

Swim course reccie

The Pros got a 2 minute head start but with such a small field I had a feeling I would be swimming by myself and after about the first 150m I was all alone.  Being a non-wetsuit swim it was a good chance to test out my Blue 70 swimskin which sadly didn't give me any amazing ability to swim but was pretty comfy.  I got passed by about 3 people from the group behind and came out in front of one other Pro - woo!
It was later commented that I took a long time in T1 and it may not have been the speediest transition but it flowed nicely and I didn't forget anything.

Onto the bike which was 3 laps adding up to about 14km through the city and then the rest of the way out and back with a big hill at the turn around.  The roads through town were pretty smooth but at the first bump I hit at the end of the first lap my rear bottle came flying out.  It was a full bottle of Replace and I knew that I needed it for nutrition so I started to stop to pick it up but the little policeman on a scooter waved me on and said he'd get it so I carried on.  I was starting to get concerned by the time I was on the 3rd lap but then I saw him come up next to me and handing me my bottle - what service!  He then scootered next to me for about the next 50km beeping his horn to anyone who looked like they were going to pull out or cross in front of me.  The road was so, so bumpy, I was weaving all over the road avoiding the potholes.  There were potholes on top of potholes... Jared broke a spoke when he hit a rock avoiding a pothole and so many people had multiple punctures.  Because the roads were so rough I found it really hard to get into a rhythm and I think all the jarring really took a toll on my legs.
Bumps upon bumps upon potholes
I could tell my rear bottle wasn't go to stay in the bottle cage for long so I drank as much of it as I could and started to feel rather bloated and icky after about 50 minutes.  The bottle ejected itself a second time but only had about a quarter left so I wasn't concerned but my little police escort picked it up for me and handed it back to me - bless him.
We rode through a lots of little villages who had gone to heaps of trouble to support the different countries represented in the race.  I'm sure they had never seen anything like it with our aero bikes and alien looking helmets but they all got really into it.  It was a bit nerve racking riding past kids who looked like they were about to jump in front of me and getting buckets of water thrown (and I mean thrown with enough force that I almost came off my bike) over me by large Samoan woman.
Team NZ supporters

Village people getting into it
It was not a fast course and while I admittedly rode a bit conservatively it took a little bit over 3 hours - I can't even remember the last time I took over about 2hrs50 on any 90km course.

Another slow but efficient transition and I was onto the run.  It wasn't the most exciting run course being 4 laps out and back through town with about 20m of shade per length but plenty of aid stations with water and ice which helped to prevent overheating.  The first couple of km's were a bit quick but then settled down to a good trot pace.  One direction was faster but hotter with a tail wind and the other way was slower but cooler with the head wind.  When I say cooler it was over 30 degrees so not really cool at all.
The benefit of the multiple out and backs was being about to see fellow competitors so I crossed paths with Kezzle and J-Rad several times and was very excited to see them in 2nd and 4th.  Jared was most concerned about the fact that I wasn't wearing a hat and being the gentleman that he is offered me his hat when we crossed on my second lap.
My hip and quad started to tighten up after about 15km but I managed to maintain my tootle pace to the finish.  At the finish I was treated to an ice sponge bath which was rather intense but a good way to cool down until I got an ice cream headache and thought my brain was about to explode.

So overall it was a good hit out - certainly not a fast course or a fast time for me but a good chance to practice with the gear I plan to use at Kona and to practice racing in the heat.  And a good day for Kezzle especially who came in 2nd and J-rad in 4th - both of them taking maybe their only chance to beat the legendary Cam Brown who punctured 3 times but still managed to run his way up to 5th.  On the girls side Sam Warriner and Gina had amazing races to come 2nd and 3rd overall beating all the men except Graham O'Grady so a good day for NZ.
Feeling a bit giddy after two sips of alcohol coconut juice

Making up numbers on the Women's podium
Go Kezzle and J-Rad 
The race organiser Seti really put his heart and soul into this race and really did a great job - it was much better organised than some races I have done in NZ! We were so well looked after and everyone was so friendly and happy to help, hopefully I will be back next year!

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