Friday, 30 November 2012

Karen writes: Penguin suit

The wind was gusting 40km per hour, every time I looked outside the office today it seemed to get worse, so much for the planned bike ride this evening.  Anyway, driving home it was clear that going out on two wheels was just plain stupid, so a run and spin were the substitute.

I got home and changed into the new penguin suit...otherwise known as a sleeveless 'tri-suit', 'onesie' or the "you cant POSSIBLY be wearing that outside can you?".  It consists of lightly padded tri-pants and a form fitting singlet stuck together, sort of like long legged togs, and it was a super bargain from the $20 bin at a bike shop in Cambridge last weekend. I couldn't leave it there, it was the right size, Orca brand which is really good, and down from $180 so it seemed like an excellent way to try out something novel without massive investment.  The first time I wore it was on Wednesday for the Stroke and Stride, it went on under the wetsuit and had the advantage of not threatening to come off like ordinary tri-pants do when you yank the wetsuit down.  The disadvantage of course is needing to be Houdini to get to the toilet but other people seem to manage, I was sure I could too. I wasn't brave enough to wear it by itself though and dragged on a t'shirt for the run to maintain some pride, but it turned out to be so comfortable, no constrictions round the waist, no top riding up, no chafing, a dream.

Today I still wasn't brave enough to wear the penguin suit solo, my jacket got tied around my waist and the fuel-belt over the top helped break up the uninterrupted shoulder to thigh clinging black and white lycra.  I scuttled the few km up the main road before I got onto the bush trails hoping no-one I knew would notice the rather...insubstantial... nature of my attire and that my top and bottom were suspiciously streamlined...but again, it was soooo comfortable.  What a dilemma, supreme comfort versus not wanting to inspire terror in the local populace by wearing something definitely more suited to the young of body rather than young at heart?

Karen writes: Stroke and Stride

With a bit of complicated organisation Kate and me managed to get in to Mission Bay after work on Wednesday to try out one of the long running 'Stroke and Stride' series.  These are regular events through summer, with differing length swim and run distances.  This week we got the 750m swim straight out into the harbour, and a 4km run along the waterfront towards St Helliers.  We had looked at the times for previous events and decided they were all far too fast, pessimistically setting our own targets to be right at the back of the pack.  We also wondered what to wear?  Was it the sort of place you turned up letting it all hang out in a tri-suit, could you strip down to bra and tri-pants getting out of your wetsuit, or were conservative togs/shorts/t-shirt the norm?  Turned out it was all of those, lots of people wonderfully confident in their bodies of all shapes and sizes but as a friend who observed the event did comment afterwards (referring to a popular TV icecream ad)...there were some "togs...togs... undies" moments.

Anyway, we clustered on the beach with a lot of people in wetsuits and red hats for girls and blue hats for boys, and there was an atmosphere of twitchy anticipation waiting for the gun. I put on my favourite purple goggles and recalled belatedly that as was often the case they had been used earlier in the week in the shower by the kids, unfortunately this time it was for treatment of nits with some insecticide which smelled bad enough to destroy entire rainforest insect populations, I observed that it seemed to have made the lenses slightly opaque...sigh.

The swim was very pleasant, I never hurry to get in the water preferring to avoid the washing machine effect of all those bodies, and when I struck out at a steady pace it was in my own nice space, mostly, there was one woman who was a fraction faster but as she tended to veer to the left into me as she passed she then had to re-correct by striking off right and then then she would do it all again, she must have swum a lot longer distance than I did, never quite getting ahead.  I couldn't see the buoys on the way out what with the goggles and all the heads in the way, but it wasn't a problem on the way back with much the field already out of the water by the time I turned around and there were huge orange buoys and a bright light on the beach to aim for.  Got to the beach, Kate was ahead of me and I trotted to the transition area and what do you know, the new wetsuit lubricant I had sneakily put round my ankles and wrists made getting out of the wetsuit a breeze and I was off and running leaving Kate still battling the neoprene...any advantage will do!

The speed of the run was high, as expected.  What wasn't expected was my desire to run fast too, I just don't do that sort of thing.  Everyone was running hard out, you could see the strain on their faces (and the inability to smile) and it was quite amazingly infectious. The Nike sportband gave up tracking the pace reliably as is often the case (I'm out of love with it) so it didn't tell me much, but I could feel the pace was up, and ended up doing the 4km with an average of just off 5 minutes/km which is unheard of for me.

Hot chips with fish and sand with the whanau afterwards on a lovely Auckland evening, didn't win any of the very tempting spot prizes but it was an impressive array for a relatively small event, and I would be keen to have another go and try to beat my 41 minutes sometime soon.  Thoroughly recommend Stroke and Stride for a pleasant summer challenge, if you normally just cruise along like me you might need to be prepared to work though.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Karen writes: Things that go bump in the water

Went for a swim this evening to test out the shoulder before the planned swim/run session in the city on Wednesday night.  No point in turning up I figured if I couldn't manage the 750m so I estimated a half hour session in the sea would be a good trial, Kate has already beaten me soundly in one discipline in the last few days, I would rather minimise the margin by which she does it if I can.

I squeeeezed into the wetsuit, and headed over the road and set off at a good pace in a quiet sea.  As usual it took a little while to find some sort of rhythm, feeling ok, breathing good, no particular pressure on the problem shoulder and then THUNK.

YES, thunk (cue theme from jaws here).  I'd impacted something solid and when I had finished yelling and sinking and came up to see what I  had hit I became aware of two things.  One was the bemused looking shag staring back at me with little beady eyes, his long beak inches from my face... I quickly filtered through my brain to remember if these things were known for devouring swimmers but he didn't seem inclined....the second thing was the laughter from the beach.  Lots of laughter.  This is getting kind-of old getting laughed at while swimming.

I splashed some water at the belligerent bird and he moved away a little, and feeling somewhat paranoid I got back into my swim, jumping at every bit of seaweed I hit or every time the zip ribbon came loose on my wetsuit and swished against exposed skin.

I got 50 metres down the beach, cleared my goggles and looked back, and found myself looking at a shag bobbing along a little way behind me.  Cant be the same bird can it?  The absence of fishing shags on the return swim suggested that it very well might have been.

If I didn't hate the swimming pool so much I might be tempted to get back to indoor training, that sort of unexpected interaction with the local wildlife isn't good for my stress levels.

Kate Writes: to all the men!

Well what a title! I dreamt this one up as I was cycling around lake Taupo. There were just so many men to thank for helping me along. There was John, Paul, Eric, Mathew, Evan, Morris, John so many Johns I can not remember them all. It might seem a bit strange, a bit like a song... 'to all the men I have loved and lost' but it seems like that in a way. Riding around the lake you need friends, drafting helps so much. But you have to pick the person that you are going to draft carefully. They have to know what they are doing, not stopping for a drink or just because they could.

I met Evan just outside Taupo. He had a bronze number on, which meant he had completed 10 + rides. I followed him for some time and then noticed his bottle of gel was leaking down his backside and down his leg. Sticky. I rode up close to him to let him know. I kept seeing him over the next few hours. He was Welsh and had the welsh dragon on his water bottles. You learn alot from looking. He came in a few minutes after me :) .

 John I met about half way round. He was from Manukau, not far from me. It was his first, or as he said a virgin at the race and was struggling. Thought it was a lot harder than expected. I said eat and drink and you will be OK. He drafted in with me at the finish and thanked me for my support. Another John I met had a wonderful shirt on. He belonged to the Fat Bas...d club. They were an eating club with a cycling disorder. That made me laugh. I asked if I could join and he said no, because I was not fat! He made my day.

About half way around I met Morris. I heard this voice behind me, 'Kate you can go faster and catch the next rider up' and so I did. The next 10k went really fast as we drafted off each other with about 4 of us in the group. Morris did most of the work and when we got to the next turn off I asked him how far he was going? he had a C on his bib which meant he could be doing 40k or 80k. He was doing 80k so I thanked him for his help and he said lets do more but you lead. Well I'm not that strong, but these riders were my speed and so off we went and yes I could do it and I could lead the pack. Did have to think about keeping some reserve though. The big hill was to come.

I know this blog is to thank the men but there was one woman that gave me a smile. Her name was Lisa. I met her half way up Hatape Hill. Her team name was 'Impure thoughts'. I asked the sensible question? what impure thoughts do you have? well we talked about all the nice bottoms that we were admiring up the hill. It made us both laugh and helped us up the hill.

At the top of the Hill with 20k to go I looked at my watch to see I had been riding 6 hours and 6 minutes. I could get home in under 7 hours, but how long had I had at Turangi getting coke and chocolate? Could I do this? Yes I could! All I need now was a new man. My prayers were answered and two cyclists came by, I think father and son as the boy was much younger. I slipped into the space behind them and off we went. Wow it was fast, but I had a mission. I took my turn at the front and turned to look for them to find I had lost them for a short time and then they were back. Also John was there from Manukau. 30k an hour we were going fast! Was I going to make it? The clock was ticking. I rode as hard as I could and over the finish line with legs shaking. An iceblock and pineapple were on offer. My bike timer said 6:45 but how long was that stop? My daughter Sophie TXT me to say she had just had a txt to say I had finished. What time I asked 6 Hours 57 minutes and 31sec. Yes I had done it. I would say its the first time I have really pushed myself to get a time I wanted and what a feeling of success.

There were two other great success this weekend. Firstly I bought my first pair of size 12 trousers in probably 20 years (dropped 2 dress sizes since training for Ironman). Secondly I got a B+ for my pharmacology practicum at Auckland University. Highest mark ever. Nurse prescribing here I come.

Karen writes: Another Taupo Cycle down

We only have one more big event before Ironman having on Saturday knocked off the Taupo cycle challenge for another year.  Kate...mutter mutter competition predicted, thrashed me, coming in with an amazing under 7 hour performance of 6 hours 57.  I managed a respectable 7 hours 13, knocking half an hour off last years time.  These times might not sound great to some people, but remember our first effort in 2007 took nearly 10 hours and we have gotten progressively faster and faster each time.

It was an interesting experience in more ways than one.  The anxiety in the week before about the likely impact of the volcanic activity came to nothing, the only real reported impact seemed to be in one of the enduro riders (multiple laps of the lake) pulling out on Thursday night because of ash in the eyes, but otherwise we saw no evidence that something big was going on.  That was in spite of looking hard at the peaks in the distance hoping to see a plume of smoke or something heading skywards (preferably away) to add a bit of drama.

the bikes didnt mind the accommodation
Probably the most dramatic aspect of the event was our accommodation which was memorable for all the wrong reasons.  You know we had an excellent stay at a backpackers last year, well this year we stayed in a different backpacker right in town.  The first sign of trouble was having to leave the car in a distant carpark which was a bit of a downer, hoping that it wasn't going to be subject to vandalism or theft or over zealous parking inspector type people...never mind, we parked in easy view of McDonalds and hoped it would work out did.  The next thing was actually going into the building which was old and dirty and depressing, unlike last years which was old and clean and cheerful...some of that was dealt with with the trusty disinfectant spray, the wearing of jandals in the shower and spending as much time as possible elsewhere.  The last most significant, and least solvable problem, was the proximity of an enormous kitchen air vent outside the window which made airplane noises until 11pm each night. You couldn't just block your ears because then you felt it in your bones, and when it finally went off we could then hear the band playing really cool rock songs...for hours more.  We were actually thankful we got the fan noise and weren't in the rooms directly over the bar with the band.   It wasn't all bad though, there was a huge deck overlooking the main street and we got to watch the criterium cyclists while eating our snacks on Friday night, and cheer the cyclists coming in after us on Saturday afternoon.
Inaugural armed forces criterium from the deck 

The ride itself, we got down earlier than the 9am start time and pretending ignorance ended up in a faster start group which had the advantage of putting us with better cyclists.  It makes such a difference when people are experienced and skilled enough to not pop out in front of you without looking, actively inviting you into a faster moving line of bikes, pointing out hazards or calling out if cars are coming.  It started out cool but the temperature rose quite quickly and there were patches where you could feel the heat from the tarseal but nowhere near like it was a few years ago when the tar was actually melting and sticking to the bike tyres.  I ate pretty much as planned, just not in the right order, for example I had thought to eat my banana early on as they turn to warm slush tucked into the back pocket of a cycle shirt for too long, I paid for that by having to practically drink the thing 5 hours into the ride...yum...warm brown banana soup...but I enjoyed the marmite sandwiches and especially the vanilla coke I treated myself to at Turangi which gave me legs to get up the big hill, Hatepe, and finish the last dash home.  I made a mistake by not taking some sort of electrolyte drink along as my legs threatened to cramp in the later stages, the powerbar sold gels just don't seem to have enough kick to them for me even if I do like the taste.

Hatepe Hill
The most memorable things for me though, I wore a pair of fluorescent (I mean REALLY fluoro!) compression calf sleeves and through the whole ride there was a continuous stream of comments, "go pink socks", "love your legs sock girl", "my wife wanted those", and I even heard kids commenting from the roadside as I rode past.  Every so often someone would wolf whistle and eventually a guy overtook me and said "it was me whistling all the time" and I said back to him "oh no, just you, I thought it was lots of people" which got a laugh.

 Finally, the pain from the shoulder bursitis was manageable, but I had taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatories before on the instruction of the physio which I dont normally do, and being paranoid about these things I stopped regularly for extra water to avoid dehydration which meant more toilet stops too. I couldn't find a comfortable position towards the end except for arm across my chest but today it isn't any worse than it was before the ride so swimming starts tomorrow again.  It was a good weekend away, but it's good to be home with the whanau again too, roll on the half Ironman in 3 weeks!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Kate writes: Sharks

I put a few pictures of the ocean swim on face book.
Summer Swim Series #2. Kohimarama Beach. 15.11.2012 Image © Copyright 2012 HBayard.Photography All Rights Reserved
It seems as I have got lost. But a friend of mine, well is she a friend! did this to them!
I mean to say.......
I'm back swimming tonight! we will have to watch out!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Karen writes: Best laid plans...volcanoes and things

You know how we were worrying about that minor thing...a volcanic eruption...interrupting the planned weekend bike-ride (of ourselves and 10,000 others) around lake Taupo?  Well, apparently the Te Maari crater on Mt Tongariro has just erupted and is busy chucking clouds of ash at the sky just next door to the lake.

The question is...when will the one we were actually expecting, Mt Ruapehu, follow suit?
Photo of Tongariro, today, November 21. 1.30pm
We do keep finding novel ways of sabotaging our endurance careers don't we?  All is not lost however, last report was that the wind was blowing the ash clouds away from Taupo, long may that continue.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Karen writes: All will be well...

If I had been a bit more worried, and obviously acted on the worry, a month ago, would I feel better prepared for Saturday's ride?  It is a bit like preparing for an exam, you know (have always been told?) that if you do a little bit every day in a planned way things WILL GO WELL.  Actually, I'm not sure that is always how things work, the best laid plans have a habit of turning custard-like regardless of the amount of preparation but you do OK on the day anyway.

As I am sure will be the case on Saturday.  The PLAN is...everything packed on Thursday... pleasant trip to Taupo on Friday stopping at Cambridge for a light and nutritious snack...check in to the accommodation, unpack and organise everything...have a leisurely and sensible dinner...check equipment, and retire for an early night.  In the morning have a leisurely breakfast...ensure the carefully calculated type and amount of food for energy is packed in line with the well thought out plan for eating and drinking... head down to the startline and off into the yonder for a fabulous day on the road...all will be well.

The REALITY is more likely to be...cant find what I want on Thursday... struggle to get out the door on Friday morning dealing with last minute things at home... wonder half way up the road if have packed cycle shoes (stop the car and unpack boot to check)... miscellaneous aches and pains mysteriously escalate the further from home you get...traffic jams and road works increase the stress levels...cant resist the croissant with ham and egg at afternoon tea so don't feel like that sensible dinner... when unpacking the bike 'ping' a bungee cord against the rear derailer and worry that it might be damaged... feel sick after the less than sensible dinner which was eaten because the experts say you have to... go up to the shops because forgot the sunscreen... go to bed early and listen to the celebrations at the pub next door to the backpackers and wake up at 3am feeling sure there is a smell sulphur from imminent volcanic eruption.  At breakfast realise that there isn't access to a microwave to make the ritual rice porridge which has been practiced obsessively with before exercise at home...finally notice the black marks on the water bottles arent chain grease but mold... feel traumatised making sandwiches with vegemite because sanitarium still not producing marmite and be sure it wont work anywhere near as well... stand around at the startline getting more and more twitchy and hotter and hotter because we booked into a timing group behind a much bigger group and when we finally get going realise an hour into the race that it is 3 hours since last had anything to eat and all the careful planning is completely out the proverbial window...but you know what...ALL WILL BE WELL!

Roll on Saturday.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Karen writes: Ruapehu

Bike ride on Friday evening, did the hard hills around Whitford, out to Takanini for those long wind blown straights, off to Clevedon then finally out to Kawakawa bay and back. Thinking all the while...the plan says 100km...should I do that or should I do what my body says...go home now.  My shoulder hurt, a bursitis problem from earlier in the year which never really went away, but it was possible to ignore the occasional twinge while I wasn't attempting to strength train or doing much in the way of swimming...hello...triathletes normally what?  Why, the usual, stretch, avoid doing the things that hurt (like sleeping on my favourite side or sitting on a bike for hours at a time), panadol, cold and/or heatpacks, and eventually when I get a bit more worried off to the physio.  On the plus side, the bike is going really well, I'm getting used to it's idiosyncratic but now relatively reliable gear changes, and there are no new strange noises or bits threatening to fall off.

So home after the 97 slow km on the bike I checked the news and read that Mt Ruapehu is poised for an eruption in the near future.  I thought about Kate and me being headed to Taupo on Friday for the round the lake cycle challenge and imagined 20km high ash plumes as there were in 1995...wondering if it is possible to cycle in a mask? Ruapehu makes itself known at several points on the course as you sweat your way to the top a hill and look across at its spectacular snow covered peaks.  Surely...surely we wont be unlucky enough to have another event cancelled...this time for a misbehaving volcano!  On the other hand, if it was cancelled I could hopefully get the shoulder in better shape in the 5 weeks left to the Rotorua half Ironman, and I have to selfishly say that if there is going to be a risk of a volcano I would much rather it now than in March next year at Ironman time.
Ruapehu crater lake
Last weeks training consisted of - Monday off, Tuesday 60min light spin, Wednesday 40km cycle, Thursday 60min light spin, Friday 97km cycle, Saturday off, Sunday 15km run.  The question is not whether I can ride 160km next Saturday, as much as how difficult is it going to be given I haven't put as much effort in as I should have.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Kate writes: ocean swim

One of my fears last year at Ironman was the swim. When asked what the problem was I said I was afraid of the snakes and sharks!  But really I was afraid of swimming on my own. So the plan is to do some ocean swims. Wednesday I was looking at the summer swim series at Kohimarama Beach in Auckland on the web site. Pressed the enter button and that was that, I was entered. 

I turned up on Thursday night, got my hat with my number on and sat and waited for the start. My friend Barbara turned up and it was nice to see a friendly face. The gun went and off we went into the sea. My fears came running back, all the other swimmers were better than me, I was left behind, I could not breathe. Breast stroke and catch my breath, talk my self into being OK. I can swim to the first buoy, its only 250m, I can swim to the next 500m, I can swim to the 750m. OK I'm going to be OK. I looked around and there was no-one behind me so I thought I better turn around. 1500 m I swam in 41 minutes. Not bad, not good. I need to do more ocean swims. Will be back next week.

The funny thing was that I decided to change out of my wet suit next to the car. No problem, I slipped the swim suit off my shoulders and then tried to get my thermal top on, but i was not dry and the top just rolled up. The bottom half was just as hard. I was waiting for a call from the police to say there was a lady indecently exposing herself in the street. Next week i will go to thetoilet block and change.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Karen writes: Tick tick

I drove home after work last night in the extraordinary thunder and lightning (and some hail) and pondered the fact that I had an iron-cast excuse for not getting outside on the lighting-rod with wheels otherwise known as a bicycle.  The weather was so scary that even running or swimming weren't a viable option. You only have these sorts of genuine, impossible to ignore excuses when you actually really really want to be training...when you are aware time is ticking away...its nearly time to taper...and you haven't done anywhere near enough work.

I got home and got on the spin bike and pedaled to nowhere for an hour and read my book.  Backlit e-readers are just great when you are out on the covered deck, the light is fading, and unlike real books you can balance them nicely on the handlebars and adjust the font size depending on whether you are sitting up or leaning forward.  Having decided to try to train myself into the 'spinning' rather than 'grinding' style of pedaling, the bonus is that reading is so much easier, I just set the resistance low, and remind myself to pedal fast and read to my hearts content.  It is still however one of my least favourite training activities, perhaps equal with pool-swimming, and oh, hang on, strength training.

Today we had another novel natural event, a rare solar eclipse, last seen in 1965.  I don't however think this counts as an excuse not to go for a proper ride tonight, neither does the current light rain which was not predicted by the weatherman.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Karen writes: 2 weeks to Taupo

Less than 2 weeks to the Taupo cycle challenge.  The big bikeride with Kate on Friday did lots for my confidence though, 5 really enjoyable hours on the road, circumnavigating the whole of the Hunua ranges and covering 105 spectacular km.  This was the course followed for the SRAM Tour de ranges held in January of each year, or pretty close to it, I forgot the map and relied on the "I'm sure we just keep turning left" style of navigating.

It is so much more enjoyable to do these things in company, picture us starting out by climbing the hills out the back of Clevedon until we were way above the tallest power pylons, stopping for a snack and to take in the view. Then plunging along the rollercoaster roads past Hunua, stopping for a snack and to take in a view.  Next racing along the beautiful coastal road at Kaiaua looking towards the Coromandal, stopping for a snack and to take in the view. At last, grinding up winding (hilly) roads through gorgeous bush before Kawakawa bay, stopping for a snack and to take in the view, then finally racing back to Clevedon again.  I snagged an icecream on the way home (seeing any themes here?), more than happy with the day's efforts, but reflecting that it looks like my time for the 160 km Taupo ride isn't likely to improve any this year.  This ride turned out to have an average of 21km/hour, and it was only that high because Kate had a rush of blood to the head (legs) and set a tough pace for the last 20 or so km.

I was grumpy on Friday afternoon, I apologised to the kids (AFTER they had tidied their bedrooms, picked up their junk in the lounge, got fermenting lunchboxes out of school bags and put dirty uniforms in the wash), they seem to understand that it's part of having a mum in the intensive 'building up' phase of her fitness. Experience says it will pass as I spend more hours on the road and my body and mind get used to the extreme effort again.  Saturday I swam up and down Maraetai beach for half an hour, the water was gorgeous, obviously people from town have come to the same conclusion because the beach was crowded with visitors and there were plenty of heads bobbing up and down in the water for me to practice defensive swimming around.

The Sunday run with the Te Puru runners started out with a sluggish heavy-legged trot from home to Te Puru park, then I ended up running in the bush at a faster than usual pace for me, and felt sensational by the time I came home 2 hours later.  Not so tired (or grumpy) after this effort, nothing hurt, there is hope.

Now, a day after a hard 3 days of effort, I am furiously and unreasonably hungry, so what else is new?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Kate writes:Helping hand

Saturday I helped out at our local clubs annual event: Steel man Iron lady. Now I belong to a Multi-sport club and I think most of them are mad! They road bike, mountain bike, kayak, and run off-road. They really are mad people, but the kindest lot of friends I could have wished for. I've been going through a rough patch and they are just there encouraging me and supporting me. I might be the slowest runner and slowest biker in the club but they will always come back and check that I'm OK. So when they asked me to join the committee I did not hesitate, well I did a little but otherwise it would have looked as if I was too keen.

So yesterday was the big event. loads of bikes, runners and boats. I was helping to run the kids event. We only had 36 kids come but those who did had so much fun. They ran around a field, then had a bikeride and then an obstacle course. There were goody bags to win, shirts, and the top prize a freestyle bike!  Not sure what that was but the kids liked it.

At the end of the day we had prize giving for the adults and I looked around and saw loads of people having fun, after all the work it was worth while doing.

We some times wonder why we do things and its often to help others. Giving back is a good thing, I would like to thank all the volunteers that help out on all the events that I participate in. No event could take place without the volunteers.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Kate writes: Two get lost in Hunua

Well the question is did we get lost or just have fun? Karen and I went off for a long ride today, we followed the route of the SRAM tour de ranges going around the Hunua hills. Well I think we actually went over them, there were some very long and big hills. But at one stage we had a T intersection in the road, one way was to Auckland the other to Tauranga. We could not work out where we were. Luckily there was a shop and help was on hand. A new bottle of water was bought and new directions and off we went. It was a beautiful day and when we came to the top of one hill we were treated to a lovely sight of the sea and the Coramandel hills. We are very lucky to see such amazing sights.

My friend Mark died this week. He had been ill for a short time and we had time to say goodbye. On days like this we are so lucky to be alive and enjoy life. He always commented about my running thing and bike thingy, he said I was the only one he knew that came in from a run and if offered water or wine I always went for the wine. Well I did deserve it!  He was a great friend and will be missed.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Kate Writes: New York Marathon

I was very sad to see that the New York Marathon had been cancelled following on from the big storm they had. It brought back sad memories of our Ironman cancellation. The emotions go away and you have to move on and plan the next event. Its hard but safety has to be the most important thing.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Karen writes: Gears at last

It has been a year since the gears on my bike worked properly.  I have over time developed a habit of avoiding changing from high to low on the big cogs at the front because going back from low to high was barely possible, involving lots of clicking of levers and muttered curses and frustrating slow downs and wobbles.  I thought it was me and had gotten embarrassed about complaining at the bike shop...visualise the mechanic looking superior and saying "I took it for a ride and it was fine...and click... it changes perfectly up on the stand...nothing wrong with it".  When I took the trusty scott in for a pre-taupo service I decided to try my luck and have a grizzle to the new people who have taken over the bike shop.  I hoped that they might see something the last lot didn't. This time it was "oh look, see how these bits are worn out" and what do you know, a slightly depressing amount of money later and I have a bike which has nearly double the number of usable gears!  I just have to remember to use them now as I am well out of the habit.  The bikeshop guys even CLEANED the poor thing, turns out it is still white underneath the accumulated dirt and I am told it is fighting fit to take on Taupo.

I just need to work on me now.

And my triathlon times from yesterday are in too, 3 hours 15, fourth out of four in my age/gender group for all three disciplines, but not completely last in the whole field...I take a small amount of comfort in the fact that I was 5 minutes faster than the last time I did this distance a couple of years ago.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Kate writes: Another busy week

Its been another busy week, but quite fun, It started on Tuesday when I said to Karen that I was riding on my own as the bike group was going mountain biking. She said lets go on a 50 k ride from Maraetai, Clevedon and back. It was hard work and I was late for my meeting but a good feeling. The next ride on Thursday I went out with the boys. They are so much faster than me but kept coming back for me and checking that I was OK another 33k and fast, well for me anyway.

Friday I was off to Wellington for work. I worry about flying so I thought why not train in Wellington. So I arrived at 10am and it was cold and wet! Not a good start, but that was what I was there for. I ran along the water front to the pool and then swam for 2k and then ran back to the hotel. It was great I could then get on with work and having done my training there was no worries.

Karen writes: Just another Sunday...not

I've just been online to check my results from this morning's Panasonic standard triathlon and how upsetting, my name isn't on the list!  I hope it is a clerical error, not a case of the transponder not registering.  Anyway, I've just sent off a plaintive email to the organisers...please find me.

So the day started with being up at 6am for breakfast, admittedly feeling a little sluggish after an unplanned buffet dinner last night which was absolutely not my usual idea of a good pre-race meal...but it was seriously nice.  Time to pack the plastic box with all the essential things for a things, run things, anti-chafe...water... handkerchief.  Decisions...what top will I wear, just bra under the wetsuit and the singlet to ride and run in, or is the weather poor enough to put the whole lot on after the swim...singlet, bike shirt, and jacket?  Do I need my neoprene bonnet...or just the yellow swimcap?  What food...not enough time between bike and run to eat solid food, but the plan was to be on the road for over 3 hours so gels were the sensible option.

Over the road for a 9am start, I was wedged into my wetsuit before leaving home.  It is impossible for me to do the thing up by myself and with Kate not doing this event, I wasn't going to rely on there being someone else available to wrestle the zip to hold that recalcitrant rubber together and successfully seal me away inside.

Swimming...yesterday the water was rough but today there was no sign of that.  The fast ones went off, I quickly ended up at the back of the field in a clear space, that's an excellent place to be with no face kicking or flailing arms or risk of beard burn as someone gets over enthusiastic about occupying the exact space you happen to be in, until you get lapped of course.  1500 meters consisting of three trips round the buoys then back to the beach and then out of the water and onto the bike which by this stage stood rather forlornly almost by itself in the transition field.

The ride, everyone races off without apparent effort on their bikes, I felt like I had a good hard ride but I was still at the back, I told myself that these Panasonic races must attract extra-speedy people but the truth is I'm just slow.  Anyway, into the wind on the way to the log cabin before Clevedon, the wind across and behind on the way back, 2 laps for a total of 40km,

And finally running the last leg of 10km along the coast towards Omana. I got a bit grumpy with some sort of dog club, the dogs were more like bears actually and could (and repeatedly did) completely block the path with a swing of a mighty, fluffy black hip, but what got me on the first lap was a woman in the water screaming "help help" and waving her arms.  I looked and looked, no-one else seemed to be paying her any attention, and I stopped worrying too when I finally figured out she wasn't drowning but trying to attract one of the behemoth dogs into the water for some reason.   On the second lap I was feeling hot and bothered with one full lap to go, I'd played doggy dodgems and the solitary water station was a long way off and I rather maliciously wondered what the dog owners would think if I snatched up one of the very tempting bowls of water conveniently left on the side of the track.  Now that was obviously a fleeting thought for my amusement rather than an actual intention, quite unlike on the final lap when they had a barbecue right by the path.  As I salivated my plodding way past, I decided that the aggressive pumping of the divine smell of cooked sausage into the air should be BANNED.

So it was a pretty good day, but I would love to know how long I actually took.  What the day did remind me of though was just how tough triathlons are and that there is an awful lot of work to do for the next triathlon which is roughly twice as long.