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.