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...