Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ironman New Zealand race report

Ayeee, how are the months flying by so quickly? We're nearing the end of summer in beautiful Wanaka. Soon I'll be doing my Ironman training in chilly autumn, bundled in all the clothes I own. However, summer stuck around long enough and I think Taupo was blessed with the nicest weather on IMNZ weekend in the history of the race: sunny blue skies, light winds, and warm (25-26C). Perrrrfect.

I wasn't sure what to expect, other than I technically had the fitness for 11 hours. I did 11:45:54. I gave my 100% on the day, I hate giving anything less than 100% on race days.

I was the epitome of calm and collected leading into the race. I didn't even really realize I was doing an ironman. I ate a lot, I rested, I did those silly taper-week workouts... I avoided the crowds. Other than that little squeal I gave in the Taupo waters with under 1 minute to go 'til race start, I'd say I was at peace.

Swim: 1:02:21, as in... yes! A swim that finally reflected my fitness. Boom! I remember thinking, about 1/3 of the way through, oh snap, I can do sub-1hr if I work a bit harder. I restrained myself, going strictly at what my body told me was ironman pace. There will be next time!
Everyone has crazy eyes coming out of the swim!
 Bike: 6:18:21. Ah yes, cycling. For skinny little me, cycling has always presented a challenge. I was on target with watts for the first 90k, at a couple minutes under 3 hours for the first half. Onto the 2nd lap, and my body just started screaming. I've never been in aero position for that long. Other than one sustained climb at the beginning of each loop, the course is "aerobar party time". I did not enjoy the party!!!!!! All sorts of pains cropped up: right foot, right hip, left knee, lower back. Everything was screaming at me, and my muscles were feeling it too, and so all I had left was "turn the legs over". Those last 2 hours were the worst of the entire race. I had an incredibly sore throat from whatever was in the air out there (very dusty farmland). Blah blah, all this complaining, all to say that I couldn't stick to my race watts. There are a couple solutions to my problem:
- I need to develop actual leg strength/muscle/power. Look at those skinny legs, they're not getting me anywhere!!
- Remove the spacer under my left cleat. It was placed there about 8 months back after I had trouble activating my left glute while cycling, but now I think it's just causing imbalances and pain.

 Yes, my wheels don't match. I had to borrow a friend's front race wheel after the discovery of a huge crack in the rim of my own. Thanks Ailsa for letting me borrow your wheel! 

Run: 4:17:52... as in, I managed the break down far better than I ever have, but still 30' slower than what my current IM marathon fitness is. That's alright... I got onto the run and after the disastrous experience of the last 2 hrs of the bike, I was surprised to feel so good on the run. The first lap (of 3) felt cruisey. I was happy. I snacked on on-course Powerbar gels (green apple, yuuuuum). At the very end of the lap, I developed tummy troubles. I knew that if I tried to hold anything in, for any length of time, I'd really have GI upset. Holding things in does not help! IMKY 2011 taught me that. So I waited in the portaloo queue (this drove me crazy!). Once running again, I felt better but still not 100%. I nursed myself on cola and water, and the moment I felt okay again, I took more gel. As I knew would happen, I also developed mean side stitches. My diaphragm and abdomen, for whatever reason, contract and spasm quite badly when running for any significant length of time on road or on steep downhills, and it hurts like fuck! I don't experience this while trail running, though. If anyone has any clues, please share! Anyway, for the life of me I tried to problem-solve this as quickly as possible. Only when I passed Gina Crawford (2nd pro female, also lives in Wanaka) did I think of changing things. I had been trying to maintain really proper run form, long legs, running out the back, etc etc. She looked like she was doing the classic ironman shuffle: quick feet, barely any knee lift, high high high cadence. She always runs like this, and she moves fast! For some reason, I thought that this might help, and so I shifted to that kind of running style: holy batman, that truly lessened the strain on my core and tummy and I once again was motoring along quite nicely. This took me to the beginning of the 3rd loop, once again I started to develop tummy troubles. I was running with another F25-29 girlie, and it gave me great pain to let her run off from me, but another visit to the portaloo was required. Waiting (again!) for one of them to be free was the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced. Once out, I cajoled myself into running faster and faster, and once I saw the last few turns, I started to tear up a bit. No one makes you suffer out there other than yourself. I could have taken longer for every single discipline and had a much easier time of it, but I really really really wanted to meet my targets and feel a lot of pain. I wanted to put together the best race I could.

I apologize if this race report is really robotic, but that is how I felt. On race day, I don't let emotions affect me much at all, I try to hit targets and if I encounter problems, I try to troubleshoot them. Repeatedly. For 11 hours and 45 minutes, I encountered issues and tried to resolve them. It gives me deep, great satisfaction to say that I did so to the absolute best of my ability on race day.

So, yes, 8th age group in F25-29, 36th amateur female. And there's still a loooong ways to go.
What's that really catchy song my a cheesy young popstar that has the lyrics: "Onto the next one, onto the next one"???
That's how I feel!!!

((As a sidenote, it drives me crazy that most race photography companies don't understand basic microeconomics. They'd do so much better if they simply charged 5-7$ per photo. Rather than limiting your buyers by jacking up the price far higher than what most value it at (100$ for a race photo package!!), they should lower the price and allow more of the market to actually buy it at what they actually value it for: a couple bucks here and there. They'd make shitloads more money. Drives me nuts!))


  1. Great job out there - you got the work done efficiently. Rest up!

    1. Thanks Molly, I'm napping and eating cookies as we speak ;)