It’s been a long time between post…

My second Ironman is now done and dusted. I’d planned to write regular posts leading up to the event, but training and work got in the way.

Last Saturday was my second Ironman New Zealand. Although it didn’t have quite the buzz of the first (There’s only every ONE first!) it was memorable and I will be going back for more.  My accident three weeks prior to the event, did not seem to have any impact on the day.

Like last year, there were few nerves the morning of the race. However, one mistake I will not make again is writing my race plan so close to the event. Coach Louise sent me the detailed blank template two weeks prior. I printed it off and filed it away. On the Tuesday before the event, I finished preparing all of the relief lessons for my classes and found time to sit down and write my race plan. This didn’t take long, but the mistake was writing it just before going to bed on the night before heading down to Taupo. I swam, biked and ran the course at least seven times that night, at regular intervals. The result was tiredness, a stiff neck and tension headaches for the next two days. Fortunately I was able to get a massage on the Friday morning, which relieved some of the pain and gave me some more movement in my neck.  It wasn’t fixed by IM morning, but it was good enough.

The weather was perfect on race morning. There wasn’t the usual glare from the sun, which makes sighting difficult. the lake was warm and calm. I positioned myself in much the same place as last year; in deep water out near the yellow buoy, but at the back. As much as I don’t enjoy swimming, I have no fear of deep water or being kicked or swum over.  The swim felt fine, but long and slow, which it was. I only cramped once and managed to shake it off. Coming out of the swim I saw my time of 1 hour 45, realised it was ten minutes slower than last year, but was just happy to have my most challenging part of the day over.

Once on the bike I was in my element. Like last year, there weren’t a huge number of bikes left in transition by the time I got there. The one plus about being slow in the swim is that you experience the joy of passing many people on the bike. This began with passing training buddy Lou, just going at the top of Miro Street, at about the spot where I came off my bike three weeks earlier. There was less wind on Broadlands Road than during any of my rides over the past few months and I was out at the 45 km mark at Reporoa, a little quicker than I should have been and back into town in just over 3 hours; a PB for 90km. I knew this was too fast, but was enjoying myself and just hoped that my legs wouldn’t be stuffed for the run.  As expected, the second 90km was a bit slower, but I felt strong and was enjoying passing people of all ages and sizes. I did notice a little strain in my left leg, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. I was still passing people on the final hill coming up to the raceway and caught training buddy and friend Shirley just as we came into town.



I was looking forward to the run and determined to keep the pace nice and slow for first three kms, then gradually pick up the pace for each of the 14km loops.  The cloud had cleared and it felt like 26 degrees plus. As always the crowd support was amazing. People had their sprinklers and hoses out on the foot path and grass verges, ready to spray dehydrating runners. At every aid station I took ice to put down my front and drank water or Nuun.   It was all going to plan, up to 21 km, except that I was running just a few seconds/km faster than I intended. I stopped at the ‘Special Needs Station’ on the run course and when I went to resume running I had knee pain which I had not noticed earlier. I tried to run/walk, but running was too painful and slow, so I resorted to walking the last 21km. There were some dark moments in there over the last few kms and I was feeling ill from the sweet food and my mouth was incredibly dry, even though I had been drinking.  At those times, I contemplated why I do Ironman. The answers were easy to find; it’s primarily the friendships and camaraderie and the love of training and feeling healthy.  I saved my last run for Tongariro Street and the finish chute.


There is no Ironman like your first, but this came pretty close. The enjoyment of the whole event was as good or better than last year.  I know that I smiled and thanked volunteers and supporters all the way on the bike and most of the run, until it got really tough. Coming down the red carpet this year was less of a blur than last and I was able to enjoy a hug from my ever-supportive husband Andy and Fit as a Fiddle trainer, Charlotte.

This year I attribute my 42 minute improvement to my consistent and focused training (thanks to Coach Louise), to the learning I have had through listening to Fitter Radio podcasts, my LCHF diet which I began immediately after last year’s IronmanNZ and many training session on course (particularly Broadlands Road), with Andy in the support vehicle.

I’m excited about the year ahead, when my plan is to improve in all three disciplines, complete some events (for fun, rather than time), enjoy training with my IM buddies and prepare for Challenge Roth in July 2017.



First event of the season

In early December, almost a month ago now, I took part in the first Taupo Ironman 70.3. Having done very little swimming over winter I was feeling nervous about both the water temperature and my ability to make what I thought was a one hour cut off. On the day my time was 58 minutes; 8 minutes slower than my swim over this distance s year ago. What was worse was the cramp I experienced from the half way mark. I managed to shake off the first three, but coming around the last buoy my whol leg cramped. I managed to hobble into shore and then slowly run to transition. 

I didn’t give the cramp another thought until I came out of transition after the ride. My ride went well and I did a PB of 3:08 for the 90km.

As soon as I began running I became aware of both calf muscles being very tight. They remained that way for the whole run, getting more painful as the run progressed. Walking was more painful than running, so I had little choice but to keep running. My time of 2: 32 was not bad, considering that my best Half Marathon run time is 2:16. It could however, have been a lot more pleasant and a few minutes faster without the rock-like calves. 

Despite it feeling like a really hard day, I did manage a small PB. 

Post race there were the usual celebrations and commiserations with fellow athletes. After a year of doing triathlon I have made some awesome friends. 


Broken bikes and new bikes

I had intended writing this blog post five weeks ago, on completion of Training Camp in Taupo, but a lot has happened and time has flown by. Here it is, the beginning of December and the ‘summer’ events have already begun.

Road Bike Trouble

In late October,  eleven keen triathletes converged on Taupo for a training weekend with coach, Louise. We couldn’t have had better accommodation; the downstairs room became the ‘Rotorua ladies room’ with five Rotorua-ins, plus Rachel, who has just moved to Rotorua for work and is training for her first half ironman in January.

Saturday morning saw a 7 a.m. start with a ride around the western (hilly) side of Lake Taupo as preparation for the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge on 28th November. All was going well until, at 28 km into the ride, my bike locked up. It turned out that that the gear cable had snapped inside the shifter, so there was no chance of continuing with the ride. Fortunately we had two support vehicles on the road, and husband Andy picked me up and we went back to Taupo to find a bike mechanic who could fix my bike, ready for Sunday’s ride.  There were major issues with my road bike and after working on it for about four hours, the bike mechanic replaced both the derailer and the right gear shifter. Although costly, I was pleased that this happened on a training ride, rather than during the Taupo Cycle Challenge.

The next day, was a race simulation on the Taupo Ironman course; a 90km out and back. It was a relatively good ride which I complete in just over 3 1/2 hours. This was followed with a 14km lap of the IM course.

About to head off around Lake Taupo

About to head off around Lake Taupo


New TT Bike

A few days later, we made the trip over to Cambridge to have my new bike fitted. On the advise of the expert, I chose the Cervelo P3.  I’ve so far completed just three rides on her.  They have all been 90km rides;  the first on the Port of Tauranga Half IM course and the second two on the Broadlands Road course. I had already been warned that a TT Bike takes a bit of handling, especially in the wind. This has proven to be the case, especially on my two rides in Taupo. It is certainly quicker than the road bike. Yesterday’s ride on the Taupo course was 28 minute quicker than two weeks earlier. Both rides were in very windy conditions, and although difficult and not exactly enjoyable, they have taught me to handle the bike and have prepared me for whatever the Taupo 70.3 (this Saturday) brings.









Taupo Cycle Challenge

This was going to a good test of my improvement. I’ve learned a lot since November 2014, when I did this ride for the first time. Last year I didn’t eat or drink enough and although I had done plenty of bunch riding and hill riding, I  didn’t have the strength or skill to push up the hills well.  The weather was better than expected. The heavy rain did not eventuate and the only real headwind was the last 10 km back into Taupo. I experienced my first puncture around 90km into the ride, and was able to do the change in about fifteen minutes. A four minute aid station stop was my only other delay. With those stops I completed the 154km in 6 hours 10, 31 minutes faster than last year. Without the puncture it would have been a 46 minute improvement. Recovery from this event was almost instant. I was up early the next morning and headed across to Mount Maunganui to support friends in the Tauranga Tinman.

Taupo 70.3 jitters

It’s four days from this event, and Lake Taupo has not warmed much. Today it was sitting at just 16 degrees.  It’s little comfort knowing that that everyone else will need to deal with the same conditions. My concern is with getting cramp in the cold water and not getting as far as the bike leg.


Moving on to the next training phase

At the time of my last post, I’d had an easy training week. Since then I’ve moved into a new phase of training. These past two weeks have been relatively light Monday to Friday, but Saturday and Sunday have been pretty intense. Both weekends I have had a ‘double run’ day. Last week it was Sunday, after having ridden 65km of hills on Saturday (including my first experience of Waikete Hill) with a run off the bike. I felt good at the end of the ride, so really pushed my 30 minute run and did a 5km PB.  The buzz of the PB continued through to Sunday; my double run day. The first run was 70 minutes at 1/4 pace. I finished that run (legs feeling good) with a 10km PB. The afternoon run was a whole different story, but I know that running on tired legs is part of the plan, so saw it through.

This weekend has been similar to the last, but the double run day was yesterday and the double Wind trainer day is today. During yesterday’s morning run, on fresh legs compared to last weekend, I managed another 10k PB and am now within reach of a goal wondered if I could ever reach; 10 km in 1 hour. The afternoon run was hard, but not as difficult as last week.

Today saw a 4 a.m., start to watch the All Black vs Springboks World Cup semifinal. By the time I got up, fed and watered after my post match nap, I didn’t get on the wind trainer until 10.30 a.m. The 2 hour 50 min steady state session was hard and having a four hour minimum rest between my two wind trainer sessions, is going to make it a long day.

Exciting news on the bike front; my TT bike is ordered and should be here within a couple of weeks.

I’ve listened to some excellent podcasts this week. I can totally recommend the Fitter Radio podcast # 81. There is an interview with Dr Stacy Sims from Osmo Nutriton. Her interview is well worth a listen as she explains the reasons for having a nutrition range, especially designed for women.   The same podcast also has a ‘Workout of the Week’ which focuses on cycling strength and endurance training. The two wind trainer sessions outlined can be used to build strength and endurance for riding hill as well as for steady state cycling. The athlete interviews are with Susie Cheetham and Dan Plews.

The other podcast is the IM Talk podcast #485 where several Kona 2015 athletes are interviewed, including an ‘older’ women who qualified for Kona as one of the’ Kona Legends’.  Before listening to the podcast, I had no idea that this group of athletes existed.

Hopefully, by the time I write my next blog post, I will have my new baby.  Also I will give a report back on the training camp in Taupo, which I will be attending next weekend.

Rest and Recovery Really Work

I’ve had a rare ‘easy’ week and the rest has paid off. This must be the first weeks in a couple of months that I haven’t had a heavy cycling programme. Instead I swam twice, did two runs of an hour or less and three Gravity sessions. I felt sluggish on my runs, especially the first one, after having spent a weekend in Auckland with some later-than-usual nights. My current bed time is 8 – 8.3o p.m., so the 11.30 bedtime did not do me any favours. However, it was worth it to have the chance to attend my daughter’s engagement party, which was actually a post-wedding party.

The short Fartlek run on Thursday must have paid off. Today I took part in my first Ekiden Relay, where a team of three to six run the 42 km around Lake Rotorua. This is the iconic Rotorua Marathon course. For those who don’t know what an Ekiden Relay is, read here. The Rotorua Ekiden is New Zealand’s only Ekiden event and this was its 13th year.  My leg was the fourth in the Rotorua Lakes High School ‘Hogwarts’ team. Usually, at this stage of the Rotorua Marathon (23 km), the Mourea Hill is a bit of a slog. On fresh legs today, it was a breeze. My ‘easy’ week paid off and having only previously run a couple of sub six minute kms, I managed to go sub 6minutes for six  of the 8.2 km.  This gave me personal records on a number of distances from 5 km to 2 miles. Suffice to say, I’m thrilled.  But.. I have missed my bike. I haven’t ridden for over a week.

The bike is a whole other story.  I’ve been contemplating getting a TT Bike, on and off, for the past few weeks. It’s a big investment. To me, it’s only worth purchasing a TT bike if you intend doing several distance events. I’m enjoying the training so much that I feel as though I will continue with half and full Ironman events until my body can’t manage them any more. After researching, talking to friends and getting advice from my coach and David Bowden from Speedtheory, I have ‘almost’ made a decision to buy an Cervelo P3. We’re running out of room in our garage and I’m beginning to think that our spare room may become a’bike bedroom’ before too long.  I’m hoping to have the TT bike by mid to late November, so that I can learn to ride it in time for Taupo 70.3 in December. Meanwhile, I will need to continue riding my faithful Giant road bike in preparation for the Taupo Cycle Challenge and to build strength for the 70.3 and Ironman 2016.

Holidays are a time for ….

School holidays began on Friday. Along with celebrating a friend and colleague’s  birthday, I started my holidays with a two hour Windtrainer session. There was a time not so long ago, when ANY Friday afternoon training was daunting. Now it has become a part of my normal routine. In the past, coffee at Capers Epicurian was my Friday afternoon reward. How things have changed. 

This week I downloaded an e-book; one which I had intended buying in hard copy. Joe Friel’s ‘Fast After Fifty’ has been the subject of podcasts on both Fitter Radio and IM Talk. Friel identifies the three main changes which take place with aging athletes: a fall in VO2 Max, increase in body fat and decrease in muscles mass. Friel’s answer to the drop in VO2 max is high intensity interval training.  Part of my programme, designed by Coach Louise, is focused around getting my heart rate up.  Slowly but surely it is creeping up. Each power session I am able to lift that max, just a little. Knowing that my programme is backed by the science, makes completing those difficult sessions a little easier. 

It has been another big cycling weekend. I discovered, when I began my wind trainer session on Friday afternoon,  that my Garmin 910 XT is suddenly recording km/ hr and total mileage. This did not happen during a stationary session in the past.  As a result,  I can see that since Friday night I have cycled over 200 km. Knowing this is quite satisfying and explains my ‘heavy feeling’ this evening. I topped my weekend training off with a one hour run. It wasn’t easy, but I could comfortably run at my marathon pace. 

Rest day tomorrow! I plan to spend the day on school work and give my body a chance to recover. Since I’m going to be away next weekend, I have more intense training this week. Being on holiday is going to make training so much easier. 

Revisiting Broadlands Road

This Saturday, my scheduled long ride was a flat ride (3 /12 hours),  to be done in a big gear. Finding a ‘flat’ place to ride, near Rotorua, is impossible unless you plan on doing multiple repeats of the same circuit. I decided that the best solution was to drive down to Reporoa and ride up and down Broadlands Road.

My number one supporter, husband Andy, drove me down and waited by the shop for the duration, filling in his time reading. The plan was to ride at between 25 and 27 kph, in a big gear. Going out towards Taupo the first time, I was flying, but of course I encountered the inevitable head wind (reminiscent of Ironman day) on the way back. I ended up riding for around 3 hours 40 mins and complete 93km. I felt satisfied that I was able to average 25.5 kph without aero bars, which was close to my Ironman pace. I concluded that I like riding Broadlands Road, except for the road surface which can be pretty rough in places. My sitting bones got mighty sore, as I wasn’t able to move between upright and aeros. since my aerobars have been removed from my bike until after the Taupo Cycle Challenge.

This has got me thinking about the pros and cons of getting a TT bike for Ironman, while still using my current road bike for our hilly terrain around Rotorua. I’ve already quizzed my Ironbuddy, Shirley, and will need to talk with Coach Louise. It’s a big expense. In order to make it worthwhile, I need to be sure that I will continue with the long distance events for a few years.

On the nutrition front, I’m still using the Nuun electrolyte tablets, Chia seeds in water, nuts and the odd Emms Power Bar for long rides. So far, this combination is working.

This has been a big cycling weekend. I’ve spent 8 hours on the bike (road or wind trainer) since I finished work on Friday, and followed that up with a 1 hour run this evening. I’m ready for the day off tomorrow, but my body seems to be coping well. Even so, roll on school holidays when I can have a break from the ‘go to work, eat, sleep and train’ routine.