Monday, March 16, 2015

Ironman New Zealand

Last weekend I took to the start line at Ironman New Zealand for the 8th time. This year, as the date for Challenge Wanaka had been moved back to February it meant that the races were only 13 days apart. I struggled with making a decision on what to do. Both races mean so much to me, and both races are of an amazing quality which is a joy to be a part of. In the end I felt that the only decision I could make was to be a part of both of them. Was it the right decision? Yes I think so. I enjoyed being at both races and as they are both in beautiful parts of the world, Benny can really enjoy being a part of it too. Both super family friendly places with plenty of activities for children. I always feel guilty uprooting Benji when we take off for a race, so it is always so, so important to me, that he has a great time. And if I feel one of my races is in a place where he won't enjoy the trip, be it the travel or the destination then I go it alone. But I oh so prefer to be able to stick together as a family. Will I do the double again? The answer is, I don't know. I'm not sure I was able to athletically give the performance I wanted to at Taupo and I may have to pick between these races next year. As Wanaka as a course suits me so much better, this years race in Taupo may have been my last.

I felt I recovered really well from Wanaka both physically and mentally, and I was excited about having another shot. The swim went fairly well. In previous years I have had a deficit of around 5 minutes out of the swim to Meredith. 2 years ago I finished the race only 2 minutes a drift by the end of the run, and last year it was 6 minutes, so in past years you can say that I have lost the race in the swim. This year I came out of the swim around 2 minutes behind so it was a much better place to start the bike from.

On race morning before the swim I had all sorts of difficulties with my bike. My bike had been in perfect condition going into the transition the day before, but as we had a big amount of rain and were unable to cover our bikes, when I arrived in transition I found my back brake was hard up against one side of my wheel. Brett was not with me, as we do not like to wake Benji so early in the morning so I go to the race alone. He tells me that if I had of just pumped my brakes several times it would have unlocked, and that it was likely that some rain had gotten into my cables and stuck my brake. Unfortunately, I went straight for the allen key and started playing around with what I thought was my brake, trying to loosen the cable. However, unknown to me I was actually loosening the brake pad. I was not having much luck moving the brake from the one side of the wheel. I tried moving my wheel, and eventually I just sort of grabbed my brake and gave it a big whack which seemed to do the trick. But I felt a bit dubious about it. I really wanted to just grab some scissors and cut the cable and go without a back brake. I wanted to ask the technical helpers, but there was a big line of people waiting and also I felt that if they saw me do that they would not allow me to start the race. I felt quite sick to my stomach. I didn't feel that things were right with my bike, but there wasn't really anyone to ask for help and I had to get to the swim start. After the race, Brett told me that what had happened was while I was trying to loosen the cable and was pulling on it, I had straightened it out so that the pedal hit the cable for each pedal stroke (which was the annoying noise I heard throughout the race), and that my brake pad was loose as I had undone this by accident and it was onto the rim. He says that I was lucky it was not a bit further hanging out, or it would have been on the tyre and I would have had an explosion at some point. So this was an unfortunate chain of events really. But having said that, it was my 34th iron distance race and this really is one of the only races where I have ever had any real technical issues, so I think I have been extremely lucky over the years, but of course my husband is to thank for that, always getting my Ceepo into perfect working order, and if he had been able to be there pre race he would have told me what to do!! Really though I should be able to fix these simple problems myself.

So as I jumped onto my bike, immediately I could hear this scraping of the cable and the pedal every stroke, but I didn't know what it was. Eventually, at some point on the course the cable was chopped off. When I saw Brett about 3km into the race I wanted to stop and say I can't do this for 180k, I'm done. But I had to stick it out. It was a bit difficult to get myself into the race but eventually I just succumbed to it, that this was the way it was going to be, and got on with it, and I was able to ignore what was going on, and eventually I didn't even hear it at all. I was losing a lot of time to Meredith at every turn around, but I managed to stay positive and do the best ride I could on the day. My end split was about 10 minutes slower than what I have ridden in previous years and I ended up the ride 14-15 minutes behind Meredith, but it is impossible to know whether my mechanical difficulties had any real effect on my time, or if I was not recovered from racing in Wanaka, or if my biking was simply not up to scratch for Wanaka and Taupo.

Off the bike I have never been so sore in an ironman in all my life. I wondered how on earth I was to run a marathon. I felt absolutely awful the first few kilometres, and then I came right. I ran as hard as I could all the way, obviously Meredith was far too far in the distance but I worried about being caught by the girls behind me. It is always lovely running in Taupo with the spectator support, this really makes the race for me. In the end I stayed in 2nd position. Meredith was outstanding, not only winning by a huge margin, but breaking her course record, and well done to fellow Kiwi Melanie Burke for rounding out the podium.

Thanks to my sponsors for their support over this Kiwi Summer season. Ceepo, Powerbar, Rolf Prima, Asics, SOAS, Rudy Project, Roka, Cobb, Keywin, Sweet Cheeks.

I have decided to part ways with Matt Dixon and Purplepatch. This is in no way reflective of any of my results, my results on paper are as consistent as ever. I really enjoyed working with Matt, and learning a completely different way of training, and I really thank him for taking an athlete like myself on. I have learnt many technical aspects on the bike and the run that I could never have learnt coaching myself. But I have also learnt that the overall plan is not the right path for me. Although I can see how the training could fit with so many other types of athletes, I am not one of them. I was 100% committed to his coaching for the 16 months that we worked together, but I can no longer give 100% commitment to his philosophy, and if you can't do that, if you can't have that belief, then there is no point in having an athlete/coaching relationship. I am however, incredibly grateful for the time he gave me and the journey that we briefly took together.

I have taken a good break since racing in Taupo. It was good to be able to travel back to my home town of Christchurch and spend time with family. I loved being back in Christchurch. It has been a long time since I have been able to be there and just relax and not worry about an earthquake hitting. I felt I could do that this time. I didn't feel anxious, and I really enjoyed being home. I have recovered well from my double. The day after the race I went for quite a long walk with Benji around the "Craters of the Moon" and then afterwards my foot swelled up and was very painful. I thought I had caused myself a serious injury, but after a few days when the swelling went down somewhat, the lump on my foot was much more on the surface of the skin than if it was a muscle injury, so I feel perhaps I was bitten by something. It is perfect now. I am going to take a few more days off and then get back into things.