Monday, 17 December 2012

Karen writes: Surviving the 2012 Rotorua Ironman

Home, washing machine churning, suitcases being unpacked a piece at a time, sports gear box still unopened until I feel much braver.

The event, wow that was so HARD!  The new course turned out to have a few more hills, great big ones and the run was a nice bush track which was also noticeably more...um...challenging (read 'hilly')...than previously, and throw in the wonderful sunshine especially down in the still gullys it was a kinda warm, enervating experience.

We stayed in a neat old two story house in the heart of Rotorua as we have in previous years, it has lots of rooms and the kids enjoy the freedom of all that space after living in a shoebox sized house (less housework I always say) for the rest of the year.  Is it my imagination or does Rotorua have a lot of cockroaches? I've been evicting them from various boxes and there was even one which traveled to work with me on the car bonnet this morning.  Anyway, the night before the event we had a lovely Thai dinner, early night, early start, bikes were dismantled and wedged in the back of Kate's tiny car and we headed off into a spectacular misty morning before the rest of the sane world woke up.

Swimming in lake Tikitapu was a dream, how was I ever so nervous last year that I had panic attacks when I put my head in the water?  The 2km went very quickly, I felt like I could have kept on going which is very reassuring since I have done barely any training in this discipline this year because of the shoulder problems.  I struggled to see the marker buoys and probably covered more distance than I needed to, but was pretty happy with a 47 minute swim, better than last year.

Then we get to the bike leg.  Got out of the water, smooth transition, the weather was so nice there was none of the usual worrying about what clothes to wear so it was shirt/hat/arm covers/gloves/socks and shoes/helmet on and off straight into the first big hill.  Then I got down the bottom of the hill to the main road where there is a roundabout and the marshal said "right round the roundabout", I wasn't sure what she was saying so I made a circle gesture and said "RIGHT round the whole thing?" and she said yes.  I thought perhaps I had gotten some sort of penalty (why?) so instead of getting off onto the road to the airport I went completely round till I was going back the way I came and by this time Kate came along and the marshals were yelling at me but eventually I got back to where I was meant to be swearing at myself and muttering about being too early to be thinking straight.

The rest of the ride was lots of grinding, part of the cycle route had changed so we had an out and back along part of the Rotorua marathon route, when you are running up those hills they don't seem nearly as big but cycling them, wow.  Also there was an add-on once we got back to the start, we had to keep on going for another 5km and that took us through more BIG hills. It also got a bit tricky trying to maintain a 10 metre space between you and the next rider when some people slow right down to a crawl on the hills, so you end up really taxing the legs overtaking to maintain that gap otherwise you risk going so slow you fall off. I took 4 hours 4 on the bike ride, nearly 12 minutes slower than last year.  I felt a bit sorry for some of the people who were doing the shorter distance Contact triathlons, you usually expect the courses to be relatively conservative for those, I cant imagine people training for a 20km ride would be doing it in that sort of terrain and I saw some people really struggling.

The run, another quick transition, off on wobbly legs and I was joined by B who we know from work.  It was a challenge that run. I could feel my energy leeching out as I went along and my heart was thudding in my ears and when I let myself have the traditional drink of coke in the last half hour it gave me a pep-up but also made me feel too sick to keep drinking water. B and I talked much of the way and he kindly pretended he needed to slow down too when I gave up on pretty much every rise of more than a few metres long, so it was as social and enjoyable 21km as I have had in a long time. The impressive thing was that B had only decided to do his first half IM a few days previously but you wouldn't be able to tell that, amazing effort and thanks heaps B, the company made a tough half marathon much less onerous!

It is a bit hard to tell if you have done better or worse when a course has changed radically, I am trying to convince myself that the 12 minutes slower than last time was due to the more difficult terrain and the heat, but who can really tell.  I was very happy with the swim, the rest was ok, and I feel a little tired today but nothing hurts so life goes on as normal.  Ironman here we come!