Sunday, January 22, 2012

Challenge Wanaka half-iron race report

So after 1 week of hobbling around post-bike crash, I decided to give the Challenge Wanaka half-iron a go. "I have to at least try to race" was my thought. I spoke with my doctor about minimizing the risk of infection, I did nothing but rest and recover for that week, and... I showed up on the start line ready to go. 

Last year at Challenge Wanaka, we had epic gale force winds that had me complete my first iron-distance race in a slow, but incredibly proud race. This year, we had rather light winds in spring and summer, and all of us were rather hopeful that we wouldn't have to battle the conditions as we did previously. Well, in the days leading up to Saturday's race, it just got windier and windier. The previous day, Friday, had a gale warning and Saturday didn't look too pretty either.

Indeed, when I woke up, I was surprised by how windy it already was. It would end up being a gusty day, with winds revving up the water, creating massive waves, and on the bike and run pushing us all over the place. The Wanaka airport clocked the winds at 70km/hr, and that's not even the windiest part of the course!!

Swim: Lake Wanaka half-iron females started at 7:38am, 3' behind the Lake Wanaka half male racers (7:35am). We'd quickly catch up with the slower swimmers and at times this was frustrating but everyone stayed pretty civil. We were swimming into the wind and waves on the way out, across them for one leg, with the wind for a section, and then across the waves and into the sun for that last leg. My time was 34:34. One, that's slow. That is a sloooooow swim for what I am capable of. Yes, it was windy, yes I hadn't trained properly for 2ish weeks, and yes I'd strained my arm and back muscles in the crash... but I should have had a 29:xx swim and I'm frustrated that I didn't. Fuel for the fire, eh?

Women in white caps start at 7:38am, 3 minutes behind the
men in blue caps. 

Coming out of the water. 

Bike: I had not been on my bike since the crash and at first I thought I'd be nervous to be on it, but nope, there was no post-bike crash fear. I know this course like the back of my hand, and I got on the bike, pulled up the bike shorts to expose the road rash to the air, and started to ride. I had adjusted my power goals because of the forced down-time from training due to the anemia and the bike crash, and I hit those goals right on the dot for the first 1h30, but it was hard. The effort wasn't hard, not really, very sustainable for a 90k bike course... but everything hurt. I was using some muscles more than I normally would because I just could not, for the life of me, use my glutes or quads properly. The road rash itself didn't hurt too much, but the deeper tissue trauma was really forcing me to rethink "hard efforts". Then, in the last 1h30, shit hit the fan. I was on top of my nutrition and hydration, I had stayed within my abilities, but my body totally revolted. My ankles ached, my shins ached, my knees were screaming, my quads and glutes were powerless. No joke, I was kiiiiiilling myself in a massive headwind only to push out 100-110W. That is EMBARRASSING. That is my "easy spin, kind of coasting, doing nothing" wattage. That is less than zone 1 wattage. What the fuck!!! So I ended the bike unhappy (3:16:04, 941m or 3087 ft elevation gain). I was already considering the possibility of dropping out; it was very unlikely that my body would suddenly magically improve on the run, what with all the extra pounding on my legs. That would cause even further damage to my injury. I got off the bike, whizzed through transition, and onto the run course.

Start of the bike. 
TrainingPeaks' .tcx file of the bike course. Note the slow
deterioration in both HR and wattage. You can look at the
TP workout of my 90k bike here. Would love to hear what
you think!! My goal was 140-145 watts, I was lapping every
15k, winds seriously picked up in the last 1h30 and I was
anemic and recovering from a crash on race day.
Hydration was 1 bottle/hr of nuun, and nutrition was
180cal/hr. Thoughts???

Run: I did not start running. I started jogging. Well, more like limp-running. My upper body was incredibly tight from trying to swim hard on strained muscles, and my lower body was totally not having a good time. I was using my right leg minimally, I still couldn't run from my quads or glutes, and by the 5k mark my left leg (the now-favoured leg) went numb. Full-out, lack-of-control numb. I must have been pinching a nerve with the awkward gait I'd been using to compensate for all the pain I was experience in my right leg. I was a wreck, and for the first time I willingly pulled myself out of a race. I'm glad I tried, I rocked up to race and tried my best, but when I knew all I was doing was damaging my body, I stopped, re-assessed, and knew it was time to focus on something else other than covering 21.1km as stupidly as I was doing at that very moment. 

There are other races I am going to focus on in the next few months, obviously with the biggie being IM 70.3 Hawaii, and I'm excited for them. I'm excited to heal myself in the next week or two and get back to proper, full-on training. I miss it. I can only fake being an athlete for so much longer!!!! Eating lots of steak and venison, now, so hopefully my iron levels are on the rise. Anemia's no fun!! 

1 comment:

  1. We were traveling through NZ this past December/January and saw the posters in Wanaka for this race... we were so sad we hadn't know about it! We probably would have changed travel plans!!!
    LOVED Wanaka, one of my favorite places we've traveled to date!