Sunday, 8 March 2015

Karen writes: Ironman 2015

After a troubled lead-up and in spite of being drastically under-trained, my 2015 Ironman actually went fine on the day.  15 hours, 16 minutes, this was half an hour slower than last year, but not my slowest, and most important of all, I felt fine afterwards and had no problems the next day.  Most memorable for me though was not the event itself, but the experience of going without the usual support. I learned a few things.  1) Iron people are helpful, I had no trouble finding a lift early on Saturday morning down to the startline.  2) I should always ask if the hotel room has a fridge, I didn't even consider that it might not and had 2 days trying to feed myself out of a small chilly bin. At least the hotel let me refresh my freezer pads, but my nutrition was, shall we say, restricted. 3) Being by yourself, while it has the advantage of not having to look after anyone else, is also not as much fun. Crossing that finish line after all of that effort, with a sea of unknowns yelling your name, doesn't quite have the same impact when there is no-one there who really knows you. There is also the practicality of not having anyone to stand in the over-long queue at McDonalds instead of you when you are wet and cold and tired but desperate for a pie, or help you out if you are a bit incapacitated and trying to get into tight compression leggings afterwards!

So the race itself. Saturday dawned cool, the lake was flat and the swim was uneventful.  I say uneventful, but oh there was that extremely annoying man in the green cap who seemed to aim for my space when he had a whole lake to move about in. He criss-crossed, swum out into the deep, came back (through me), went inshore, came back (again through me) and this went on for most of the return leg. He must have covered an extra kilometer with shooting about like an unguided missile, so I suppose he created his own punishment. I got out of the water feeling good, got through transition and then made the mistake (again) of cutting under the now empty bike racks to get to my bike instead of going round the end of the row where the sunscreen people were. Just as well it wasn't particularly sunny or I would have gotten more sun-burned than I did.  The ride went reasonably well, there was a headwind on the downhill leg to Reporoa, this is usually the fast stretch of the ride but not on this occasion.  For the second trip round I picked up a lacewing moth on my leg-warmer, it stayed there the whole trip, even when the wind picked up on the trip back from Reporoa (headwind in this direction now) and I finally offloaded it back in Taupo where it's trip started, now a well traveled moth.   The run... it rained. I had taken my thermal wrapped around my waist, so my usual paranoia about not getting cold worked out this time. I got to avoid the dreaded rustly plastic ponchos that everyone else was issued to survive the rain which was accompanied by a bitterly cold wind on much of the run course. The rain didn't seem to disrupt the revelers particularly around Rainbow point, there were a couple of road-side parties, they had just moved their activities into gazebos. Other runners were less inclined to talk though, it was head down and concentrate on one foot in front of the other.  The only things that made the run unique were a cheeseburger someone had dropped at the 30 km mark, I'm sure I wasn't the only person fantasizing about that, and a near miss with a car pulling out way too fast from a side road and going into a slide, me and another runner could only watch as the thing slid towards us.  It stopped inches away and then he fish-tailed off up the road leaving us with our hearts beating fast and shaking our heads at how close we had come to disaster.

So 2015 Ironman is done and dusted, got the t-shirt and the medal, but my favourite thing...

Monday, 2 March 2015

Karen writes: 5 days to go to Ironman 2015.

I went for a final run, left while it was still dark on the most beautiful, mild Sunday morning you can imagine to plod out 18 km. That may be the last exercise I do until I get to Taupo.  The sun started to come up, I kept stopping because I thought 'this is it', but then ran a bit more, a bit more, a bit more until suddenly it was there. A run like that reminds you that it isn't just about the events, or the fitness, or the sanity restoration, being outside can be just plain glorious. I had to laugh, it might have been early in the morning but there seemed to be an awful lot of other people out too, taking photos, eating breakfast on various points looking towards the sunrise, or walking.

So there is nothing more to do, no more fitness to be gained, no new equipment or nutrition can be tested. There are just the finishing touches to be made to the packing and organising.  Right now there is what seems like a huge heap of clothing and equipment on the floor of my bedroom, things are on the line hung in places of prominence so I cant miss them and leave them behind, and the bike goes in for a service on Monday morning to make sure than nothing important is going to fall off on that long ride. Am I ready? Mentally yes I am ready, Saturday cant come soon enough now. Physically I am underdone having taken such a minimalist approach to training (average 9.5 hours/week over the last 10 weeks) but I will not be the only person in the field feeling that.  Am I excited? I am getting that way, the joy of Facebook is that pictures come around updating what is happening at the venue, for example there was a series showing the buoys being set up in the swim, that sort of thing absolutely builds up the anticipation.

And Kate has said she is doing Ironman again next year, way to go Kate!