Monday, 16 December 2013

Kate writes: Rotorua and big hills

I was totally under trained but had a great day. 

Swim was good but got caught behind some non swimmers with flippers on, thought I was going to drown but got over myself by the first marker. 49 mins good swim for me.

Bike was great got all the food right, not enough to drink, need to work on that. Big Big hills, saw a friend  twice, I was no help to her at all, but gave a wave. Not sure why I was so slow... maybe down to lack of training. 4hrs 26 slow

Run/walk was glorious lovely views and all off road, well almost. Had a huge argument with an official as he wanted to close the run 1k short down a long path, he should have known better than to argue with a nurse. I was prepared with water. He let me go through haha. 2 hrs 57mins, about right.

Sunburned on areas that do not usually see the sun. Feel very sore today, but determined to do better next time 

Karen writes: Ideal leadup to a half ironman

Number 4 Rotorua half Ironman finished.  Tick. The event this year, I have to say, is right up there among the hardest physical (mental?) challenges I have ever completed, and it showed up in the result of 8 hours 19. I really wanted to give up on more than one occasion, I was on that hot road for nearly a whole hour longer than last year and was a full 70 minutes slower than my best time a couple of years ago. What happened? After a good swim I bombed out on the ride, I felt unwell and most importantly gave up on eating properly fairly early on which probably contributed to the thigh and hamstring cramps threatening whenever my legs had to work harder. I tried to take my electrolyte capsules early in the ride but in wrenching the cap off the container with my teeth I spread the precious little things all over the road...oops. Sometimes cramps hit you with force and you don't have time to do anything, these were more insidious, they showed up as a deep groove across my thigh and would subside to a twingey ache if I took the pressure off, a tough ask on a hilly course. At one point I was thinking about how I could get home if I stopped, then I rode past a bright red poppy growing by itself in the dust on the side of the road, I figured if it could survive, so could I. An equipment failure in the form of a stone in the front brake apparatus on the way up one of the big hills didn't help. Fortunately I had enough tools to fix it but then I had to walk uphill a way to find a driveway where I could get a bit of a run-up so I could get back on the bike.  Walking up a hill is murder on the legs when wearing cycle shoes, I would normally say do anything at all rather than walk, unfortunately you cant pedal far with a stone jamming the brakes on.

Off the bike and onto the run I did a a funny sort of hobble. I was in a state of anxiety as I watched everyone heading off on their second lap when I was just starting my first, I was thinking that I might get pulled off the course if the aid stations shut down before I got to them, so I grabbed a bottle of water to carry just in case. Just as well I did, way out on an isolated bush track a man on a bike came along and said there was a km to go to turnaround and the station had shut so I should go back now.  I said I wanted to do the whole distance, he was quite insistent that I should turn back because there was no water there but I was sure I was ok as I had at least 500mls. He took my name and rode off and I thought now I've done it, blacklisted. So I ran on and saw Kate and another runner, they had been to the aid station and were on their way back. I got to the now deserted aid station thinking that even if I was too late for my time to be recorded (no medal!) I could at least say I had really finished the whole distance. Then the long hobble back. I guess the advantage of being forced to take it easy is you can really appreciate your environment, and that bush run by the lakes surely has to be one of the most beautiful around.  In total it took me nearly 3 hours for the 21km, but on the final 5km I even managed to pass a few people so I wasn't completely last. The whanau was waiting when I came out of the bush, oldest daughter ran over the line with me and Kate was standing under the finish banner with a beer and my medal. I even got my t'shirt too, thank goodness for that.

I was worried about this event beforehand, I knew that I had had the worst possible preparation.  The seeds of the problem were sown not just in the days leading up to it though, but in the two months before. So here is how you have the ideal leadup to a half Ironman...not...

In the two months before a half Ironman
  • put on 3kg in weight
  • radically change your diet a month out
  • have a late finish to marathon training leaving barely any time for cycle training 
  • put another couple of kg of weight on
  • pay no attention to muscles, ie, massage/rolling/stretching
  • stop even pretending to do any strength training or injury prevention exercises
In the two weeks before the half Ironman
  • do a hard 160km hill cycle event in the wind
  • only get professional help for a sore back when you are unable to move 
  • develop a gastro prob and do NO training at all for the whole two weeks, in fact, stay in bed and not eat for the weekend before
  • ignore the fact that your running shoes have done 6 months training and two marathons
In the few days before
  • still have residual gastro effects...
  • sleep poorly
  • the bike still doesn't have a computer that works
  • ignore fact that the last bike service was for Ironman which was in March
  • decide to go into caffeine withdrawal
  • notice that one of the children has a sniffle
The T'shirt says it all!
The biggest danger of having a bad showing in an event is what it does to your head. There is that nasty little wormy thought in my brain that because I did so poorly this time, I cant possibly be good enough for Ironman in 10 weeks. But the more I think about it, this event didn't turn out to actually be about fitness, it was about keeping going when things went to custard.  I am a work in progress telling myself that I should chalk this one up as a success, starting with tomorrow, when I shall wear the new t'shirt to work with pride. Then I need to sit down and do some serious planning because while I might deserve to be a little proud of the fact that I finished at all, I most definitely don't want to go through that experience again (the pain not the race!), and absolutely not for double the distance.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Karen writes: Goliath

Some situations are just plain surreal.  Straddling my bike at the side of the road at an intersection I waited for a break in the traffic so I could safely go. A massive truck and trailer unit with much noise and air movement wedged itself in beside me. I mean, this was shoe-horn finesse going on here.  I was in a something of a state of disbelief  as I stood next to this hulking great monster while it wheezed heat and fumes into my breathing space.  Wow it was big.  Oh, and I was small.

What a mean thing to do, talk about intimidation! I looked quickly around, no-one watching, I reached over (it was THAT close) and drew a quick and tiny happy face on a dusty, mirrored, wheel center.

Got you I thought rather madly, then I hopped my bike sideways into the gravel as far away from the beast as I could get. As soon as I could I continued on my way, take that Goliath!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Karen writes: Taupo cycle challenge - number 7

Sunday evening, home tired and satisfied after yet another challenging Taupo experience. The Taupo round the lake cycle  weekend always starts with a rush to organise everything at home so I can have a couple of days away from the whanau, thank goodness for Grandma and Grandad who could step in to help out. Every item of cycle gear packed to cover (hopefully) every weather or condition eventuality, and of course FOOD.  Pick up Kate, onto the motorway south, play spot the other bikes on the trip, eat and eat all the way.

We stayed in a cute little bach looking out over the water, had a nice dinner on Friday night at a Restaurant we visit most years where we watched the trees rock'n roll in the wind and the waves thrash the top of the lake. Saturday morning up, a bit of a breeze but not too bad, overcast, on with a mixture of clothes to cope with weather predicted to range from hot to cold/wet/windy then out the door with fingers crossed.

On the road, I was planning on about 8 hours because I  was so under-trained, and with a half Ironman in two weeks I couldn't afford to tire myself out so much that I put myself into recovery for that time.

Musings on the bike

  • wouldn't you know it, I got a new cycle computer, but it was sitting on the bench at home because I was worried that if I connected it up in a hurry it might not work right, so of course the old one decided it didn't want to work AT ALL.  I missed knowing my speed and how far I had traveled and hung out for the road-signs indicating distance.
  • how come everyone rides faster than me?
  • why did I choose to make a snack out of a chewy bap rather than soft bread?
  • at 30km I had had enough and I wanted to go home.  What stopped me...big hills behind me that I didn't want to go up again, what would I say to people if I didn't finish without a good reason (at the very least a broken leg), and when I did an impromptu stocktake as to why I felt like like giving up...nothing hurt, legs turning ok, bike fine, weather not too bad, so it was just lazy head syndrome which always goes away if you ignore it.
  • how come everyone rides faster than me?
The wind got stronger and stronger but being a headwind I thought at least I could look forward to a tailwind for the last half of the ride. Not to be, the wind changed direction and it was a head or cross wind on the other side of the lake too.  I didn't talk to many people this year, perhaps because people were working hard dealing with the tricky conditions and staying upright.  Nothing puts a dampener on being sociable like wind and rain on a bike, it almost made me wonder if I was meant to be there to work hard?

The only real conversation I had was with a young man at the foot of Hatepe Hill by which time I had been riding for over six hours.  He was stopped on the side of the road and as I pedaled past he called out "do you know how to change a tyre?".  I said "not well" and kept going, I mean it was Hatepe Hill after all.  I felt guilty a few meters up the road and turned round and coasted back.  "Have you got any tools?" I asked, looking at this fresh faced young thing with his flash red bike.  "No".  "Pump?"  "No".  My guilt at not helping a struggling fellow human-being evaporated at this point and I now felt cross. What kind of idiot gets on their bike to ride 160 km with nothing?  I handed him a tyre lever, my pump, and pointed at the bits you undo and then I got back on my bike and started slogging uphill again, he could flag down one of the following mechanics as far as I was concerned.  Of course I was then in a state of anxiety that I would end up with a flat tyre myself in that last 40km having given away my pump, but fortunately that wasn't the case.

Sea of umbrellas
I finally came in to Taupo in a time of 7 hours 51 with about 8% of the field behind me.  Kate had been waiting for over quarter of an hour, she had made good time in the tough conditions as expected (well, I'd expected, Kate never does!). Shortly after I arrived at the finish the rain got really heavy, whew, good timing. As we drove back to the bach for a steak recovery dinner cooked by Kate's wonderful whanau we felt sorry for those still coming in with their heads down, shoulders hunched into the wind, pedaling hard.

Am I as fit as last year? I dont think so, I have spent very little time out on the bike and some of that is to do with having run a late season marathon, but my feeling is that the hard-out spin sessions have helped pull me through. Rotorua half-Ironman will tell me more, then I will have 10 weeks in which to get ready for the full Ironman in early March. 10 weeks, next thing I know it will be down to single figures!