Yesterday, I was 2% below my best. Why do I say that?? Well an ironman is so long that if you are just 1% below your best, that is around 5 minutes (for my race length of time), and I was 10 minutes slower than last year, so I was at 98%. I don't like to lose, but when I have won I don't often take anything away from a race, when I lose I do, and I believe I have learnt a lot, and hopefully that will serve me well in the future. Besides Jo Lawn raced incredibly well. The conditions were tough, it was windy on the bike and the run, but she broke her course record and even if I had been at 100% I don't know if I would have beaten her yesterday.
So here is a quick recap of my race. I had a really good swim. The last few days the lake has been choppy, so I was very pleased to see a nice, calm lake for race morning. I swam well, I made a break just before the turn around and got away from my pack and then I had an enjoyable return journey, apart from when 2 members from my pack caught me back up, but instead of just going past me they kept hitting my foot. Why does this annoy me so much?? Well I think it is rude. I don't mind doing the work in the front, when you sit behind though you save a significant part of your energy and so you shouldn't be rude. I have sat behind people before, and I have been grateful to them, if I have accidentally tapped their foot, I move back slightly so as not to keep doing it and annoy them. But the man behind me just wouldn't get the message when I would kick water in his face. If I am going too slow, then go in front!! Anyway, he tried to race me to the finish, but he lost. I came out 4th person, and only 30 sec behind Cam Brown (my best swim ever).I think my new blueseventy suit really helped me. The arms are only 1 mm thick and it allows me a really good catch. I was very pleased but running up the mats to the transition (quite a decent run) I did not feel good, I felt tired and that was not a good sign.
Onto the bike and I noticed that all my muscles in my legs were cramped and sore. I tried to go as fast as I could to make the most of the 30 seconds or so I had on Jo, but at around 30km I think she caught me. We then rode together until 100km, keeping the legal distance between us and swapping the lead. Boy it really does make a difference to ride 10m behind. You definitely still feel the drafting effect, I think they should change the rules to 15m. But anyway that is the rules, and it is what I have to do in Hawaii if I want to do well, so it was very good practice for me as it's not a style of racing that I particularly feel comfortable with. At 100km Melisa Holt came past us. I needed to grab water from the aid station, and Jo picked up her pace, and I was unable to. So I lost 2.5 minutes to her, and 3 to Melisa Holt who is an incredible bike rider (New Zealand time trial champion). She comes past me in a flash, I really wish I could learn to ride like that!! I didn't feel flash on the bike. Going up hill felt much more of a battle than usual.
So onto the run and I believed I was in with a good shot to chase Jo down. I noticed I didn't feel very light and springy, but very, very heavy. I tried to go as fast as I could go. I pulled back 30 seconds very quickly, but that was as close as I could get, she just ran away from me, and I just could not go any faster. At 12km to go I got that horrible stitch/cramp in my stomach muscles. I had to stop a few times to try and get rid of it, and my pace was slowing. I started worrying about Kim Loeffler passing me, as she is a great runner and she was eating a lot of time into me. I managed to hold on however for 2nd.
So what did I learn?? Well a lot about my training. I was desperate to race well at Ironman NZ, it was an important race for me and I wanted to win. So, I became a little obsessed with how could I reach the next level. Well everyone seems to train a lot more, and a lot harder than me. My week typically being 25-30 hours. Chrissie Wellington apparently does 6 hours a day, 7 days a week. Team TBB is known to have huge work load and all those girls make massive improvements, so why wouldn't it work for me?? I should have known better from my time as a young swimmer. I was always naturally good at swimming. I would break course records and win races, training 4 hours a week, when all the other kids were doing 3 times as much. When I got to 15 and could drive to the pool, I did the norm, 9 sessions of 2-2.5 hours, plus music, plus school. I went backwards fast, and ended up quitting not soon after. I should have known that more for me is not good. But I guess if you don't try these things, how will you ever know if you can be better than you are. So after Ironman WA back in December I took a week off and then did 4 weeks of 35 hours training, and then a week of a little less and raced Challenge Wanaka. I then took one easy week and did another 4 weeks of around 40 hours training, and I did a lot of high intensity stuff as well. I was barely functioning as an individual. It was train and then do nothing. I had to start drinking Coke just to get through the day. Really it was one week too many, I was doing well in training, just not functioning well out of it, but I then damaged my middle toe. Who cares about a toe!! You would never have thought that a middle toe is very important, but it was an intense pain, sort of like a tooth ache but in your toe, and I thought it was from having my shoes too tight or something, but when I took my shoes off the pain would not stop. I couldn't even walk without the pain. I was too scared to go to the Doctor, which probably sounds strange, but I just didn't want to hear what they would say, perhaps they would tell me I couldn't race in 2 weeks. So I had to swim and aqua-jog only 2.5 weeks out from the race, no running and I had to stop cycling too, as although it didn't hurt so much from cycling, afterwards it was always worse and Brett said if I was to have any chance of racing, then I had to rest it. So it was incredibly frustrating, but the plus side was that my swim which had been going really badly, improved dramatically!! But of course my run and bike went down hill. I actually thought that it would be a positive thing. 2.5 weeks of taper was something I had never done before, so maybe it would leave me fresh and full of beans for the race, but it just led to me feeling tired and heavy in the race, I guess at 98%.
So, I learnt a valuable lesson. Training harder for me does not lead to success. So I am not sure what I need to do to get myself to the next level, but perhaps I should have been content at where I was, it was not a bad place to be, and hopefully a good start would be to get back there again.
Finally, I'd just like to say that running at Ironman NZ was an unforgettable experience. The support out there was fantastic, better than anywhere I will ever race in the world. So many people kept telling me I could still do it, and not to give up. I never did give up trying, I kept believing that I would catch her, but I just didn't have that extra gear and that was as fast as I could go.