Finally, the summer season has officially begun!! In the last few weeks, under the guidance of Andi Ramer (a phenomenal ultra-endurance athlete herself), I'd been putting in some serious training time. 17-20 hour weeks, and this race would be at the back end of a 20-hr week. I was tired, and had very low expectations. This was compounded by the fact that I was riding to the race (56kms) and riding back (56kms).
The ride down was pleasant, light tailwind, but I felt fatigued. If I put in any big efforts, I was puffed within a minute or two. Does not bode well!!! We made it down there in good time (easy spin effort, 29kph avg).
The race itself is incredibly well organized, if not a bit odd. It is set within the Wooing Tree vineyard in Cromwell. The swim is 4 1/2 circular laps around a pond, the bike is an out and back on our classically rough NZ roads and the run is 2 laps on grass all within the vineyard. Quite odd, each race segment different and intriguing.
|Being a bit of a creeper...|
I knew, to make it out of this alive and not come dead last (which I thought was a high possibility), I needed a high dose of caffeine injected into my veins! Har, no joke, I took a 2x caffeine gel 15' before race start, a 2x caff gel once on the bike, and a 1x caff gel at the end of the bike.
Swim: Onto the swim, I recognized 2 of the girls as super-swimmers; I'd seen them swimming at the pool a couple days ago while I worked there. Sure enough, right at the start, they pulled away instantly. Within 50m, they had 10m on me. What amazed me, though, is that I was the leader of the rest of the entire girl's swim! And I held it throughout. I remember thinking to myself: "WOAH HOW COOL IS THIS!!! This is going to be the highlight of my day, for sure... it's all downhill from here, no doubt".
Bike: Onto the bike, and I quickly saw girls pass me. I was fucked, my legs were tired, but I so wanted to push hard. Didn't really manage it (143W avg for the ride, about a very hard half ironman up to Olympic effort). Jo Williams passed me, and would go on to take the win, a massive girl that big gear mashed passed me like I was standing still. I told myself I would get her on the run. A girl all decked out in sponsored K-Swiss gear passed me, and a woman with a tiger-striped tri suit passed me. I passed some people, but I'm pretty sure they were doing a different race (duathlon, super sprint, etc). I did finally pass a girl just before the end of the bike course, and she stuck with me onto the run.
Run: I'll confess, I'm a shitty short-course athlete. Throughout a sprint or even an Olympic, I am constantly telling myself that I hate this burning feeling, this super hard effort, I back off, it still hurts. I'm mentally not tough enough for sprints, is what I thought. Here's where I got a bit of a confidence booster. I was so fatigued going into the race, and now so high on caffeine and adrenaline, that I had completely turned off my brain by the time the race started. Once on the run, with a girl right up my butt breathing hard, I built up a "tough girl" mental approach of telling myself I'd break her and drop her. Indeed, the elastic snapped by the end of the first lap, and she was long gone behind me on the second lap.
|Start of the 2nd lap|
It was on the second lap that I passed big gear mashing girl, other ladies as well, and -- to my sheer delight -- the K-Swiss girl that looked all pro. Crushed her!! Later did I find out that she was in the duathlon (and won it).
In the end, I came in 3rd, behind Jo Williams (who I cycled to Cromwell with, and would cycle back with). She's a phenomenal multisport athlete and adventure racer. I admire her greatly. Second place lady was the tiger-striped suit, and then I showed up: 1:14:53 minutes after I started, hissing and grunting and panting hysterically, to take third place.
|I'm fucked -- and the clock is from the start of the kids tri/du.|
|Some of the Wanaka gang, representin'!|
|The girls riding back, yes I took off those arm warmers.|
|The boys I swim with: Simon (5th today!) and my partner Christian.|
Onto the next one: This Saturday, there is a 1/3 Ironman in Gore (1500m swim, 60k bike, 15k run). Redneck central, but good lead up to Challenge Wanaka half-iron in January.