Friday, December 26, 2008

Need for speed..

On 23 December I ran my first 5k in aaages, in pretty damn perfect conditions. I'm disappointed with my time- 23:19- so I'm going to spend the next few weeks doing a specific 5k run plan (I'll do some swimming, cycling and weight training on the top), with the goal of taking 2 minutes off over the next year.

My speedy boy ran 18:15, for a PB of 1:43, and he hasn't even been running!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Phil's Rotorua Half race report (also long...) (photos should be viewed from the bottom up)

While Kate and I have gotten fairly used to early (often 5 am) starts for morning workouts, I thought a 4 am (after a night of fairly little sleep) start might be a little harder. However, once the alarm went, I woke up fairly easily, and didn’t feel the need to lie around in bed (I presume this is a pre-race anticipation). I had a good breakfast, finished getting my stuff together, packed the car, and headed off to the race.

We got to transition at about 5:20, and found a nice empty spot to set up (there is no shortage of transition space for this race). Went and lined up for the toilet (while there were no lines in the adjacent women's toilet, which was novel), then ran back up to transition and got my wetsuit on. After heading down to the lake, someone asked me if I was in a team - when I said no, they said I should get in the water because the men were starting in about a minute! Turns out it is an in water start (I had no idea), so I wished Kate luck and headed into the water. I placed myself about halfway in the field - I think this was about right. I passed a few men, I got passed by a few men, but I certainly didn’t have a pack of people coming over the top of me.

I got into a reasonably good rhythm on the first leg (900 metres) and managed to draft off different people for a fair amount of it. Although the buoy was a long way away, and you had to rely on the people in front of you (and the people in front of them) I took a fairly direct route, and wouldn't have wandered off course too much. At the first buoy I was feeling relaxed, and my suit wasn't feeling as restrictive as it some times can (on the right in particular - is that normal?). On the way back, sighting was a bit harder, but I still think I took a reasonably good route. I lost some of my drafting buddies, although comfortably picked up my effort, and found some people to follow some of the time. The last 200 was good - it just felt great to know that I was nearly at the end of a 2 km swim! I didn’t nail myself, but did increase the tempo slightly. I saw a lot of people getting up and walking early, but I swam for as long as I could - and when out of the water, I ran to transition, and passed quite a few people. I'm not sure how long the swim took (I think 35/36ish) because my race time includes transition (39.37) - I'm happy with this, because my fasted 1 km in the pool is about 18:30! The normal transition stuff was quick (my wetsuit removal has been very fast recently), but I had to put compression socks on, so transition took a little longer than it might have otherwise.

My heartrate was elevated when I started the first climb on the bike, but it settled fairly quickly, and I steadily passed quite a few people heading up the first climb. I then pushed it on the first downhill, then passed quite a few people again heading down Tarawera. The way out was great, with a nice tailwind. I passed a lot of people, but I don’t think I paced myself very well. I started fading a bit towards the end of the first half, although I did the 45 k in 1:15. The way back was much harder - 2 killer climbs, head winds and rough roads. I got passed by a few people, but more than that I lost touch with quite a few people I'd been 'riding' with (I'd see them again on the run, however…) The Hell's Gate climb was very hard, and although I made up time on a few people, just couldn’t push as hard as normal. The road back into Rotorua was the least fun part of the race - rough and with a headwind. I was just not able to push as hard as I would have liked, even though my heartrate was fairly low. I did a lot of structured training, which I think gave me real gains, but I only did one ride over 90 km, and I wonder whether I just didn’t quite have the bike endurance I needed. The long climb up Tarawera was fun. Slow. But fun. I passed a lot of people and felt good (although once I got to the top, could not push hard on the down hills). I pushed a bit on the last downhill, but then basically rolled into transition. Total bike time 2:54:56 (so second half a lot slower). This includes T2, which was about a minute (quick, given the distances I had to travel to get into and out of transition. Got my running shoes and headband on, grabbed the 2 gels I had waiting, and off I went.

The start of the run was off-road, and after 5 or so minutes, with a few short, sharp, climbs. I was feeling good, and, again, passed a few people. I was not pushing too hard, but got into a good rhythm. After about 4 km or so, I started feeling fairly average. I was getting sharpish stitch type feeling, but a bit higher up, and I needed to take a pee. I eventually stopped heading up to the gun club for a quick bathroom break, and immediately felt a bit better. I kept running through the stitch, and it eventually went away. Once I got to the Tarawera lookout turnaround I was feeling good. I had a couple of people to hunt down, and started picking up the pace. I passed one guy (from Wellington, don’t really know him, but have seen him at lots of races) who I'd had a bit of a back and forward with on the bike (he was one of the people I lost touch with thought) about a km or so later - he commented that I was looking strong, which was nice. I then started hunting down my other target, and I was picking up the pace. Once I got to the downhill I pushed the pace even more, and managed to pass my target just on the start of the single track. I kept pushing the pace, knowing the finish was nearing (although the sharp climbs were hard - the bike meant my butt and hammies were sore!). I then pushed it and kept passing people all the way to the finish. 1:43:47 - really happy (given my first half marathon!), and I think I could have pushed harder. The finish line was a comedy of errors - I heard people sprinting after me, so I started bolting (and easily out-ran them), but I turned too early, and hard to jump the fence to get to the finishing chute - but I had to go back 15 or so metres, because the timing mat was at the start of the chute, not the end (the finish line photos are a funny sequence, although unfortunately there's no picture of my bounding over the fence... Most people got 1 photo, I got 5)! So glad my calves played nice - I really do think the compressions socks helped (and they matched the white sunnies and headband well…)

Total time, 5:18:31. Absolutely stoked with this. I enjoyed the race immensely. The course (apart from a few bits on the bike) is absolutely stunning, and a real challenge. I'll be back next year, and I'll be going sub 5. I'm still not sure that Olympic distance isn’t a better distance for me - but either way this is a great race for me to keep doing.

A few points:

I think I can go faster in the swim - not only because I'll have been swimming for more than a year, but because I can push harder than I am.

I think I needed some longer rides - I was lacking cycle endurance, and although I don’t think this hampered my running that much, I did flag on the bike.

I was again surprised at how good my running was given I haven't been able to finish a half marathon, and injuries also meant my longest training runs were about 1:15 long. With a good (and hopefully injury free!) running season behind me I think I'll be flying.

Having a coach was invaluable. While not everything I did was perfect, it was great not to have to worry about the planning, and to have a real variety to my workouts, and to have them structured to take account of injuries, strengths and weaknesses. And Gene rocked.

Nutrition was ok - I think I maybe took a bit too much in on the bike, but I'm not sure. During the run I had a headache - I thought it was my sunglasses pressing into my temples, but it wasn't. I wonder whether I didn’t drink enough to take in enough electrolytes - particularly given it got to 25 degrees on the run. Coke is magic - absolutely magic. The gels I took on the run didn’t upset me, but I'm not sure whether my tummy/stitch issues early in the run were a consequence of anything I ate on the bike.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Swim: 39ish?
Bike: 3:24
Run: 2:13

Total: 6:26 (not great, but not bad for a bloody hard course)

Feeling: Good, neither stoked nor disappointed.

Giant monkeys: Rotorua Half Ironman Race Report

At 6:34 on Saturday morning, I was treading water in Lake Tikitapu, waiting for the sound of the starting whistle. Six hours and twenty six minutes later, I finished my first half-ironman.

There were no fanfares, no tears, and no butterflies of pride and emotion dancing inside me. But there were new bloggy friends (and the Saint, who lived up to his name by delivering a bag of melted nutrition I'd thrown at him -so I wouldn't have bulging hips in my finishing pictures- to my helmet) and cold Heinekens (I went back for seconds). And there was a shiny finishers medal, a fiance bursting with enthusiasm over his own finish and full of pride at mine, a superb support crew, and a cool clear lake to chill out in, beer in hand.

...And then there were another two and a half days of bloody brilliant weekend!

I'm not sure yet how much I have to say about this race. I trained, I raced, I finished, I'm pleased enough with my performance, and I'm ready to look to the future. But once I get typing, we'll see how much I can really prattle on...


After a hellish week at work, we headed to Rotorua on Thursday evening. We left a little later than intended, and arrived around 11, only to find that our late check in hadn't been recorded, and we had to wake the nice lady from the campground up to let us in. D'oh! The upside of the lateish night was that we had a fantastic sleep- I didn't wake up until 7:30 on Friday morning (unheard of) and managed to get back to sleep until 9:30 (more unheard of). We headed out to Rotorua in search of Nuun and Gu Roctane (Phil), coffee (me) and breakfast food (mmm... blueberries, strawberries and yoghurt... Oh my!) and discovered that the Rotorua Pak n Save is the best ever. After a late breakfast at the table outside what later became Kathy and Paul's log cabin, we headed out to the lake for a quick s/b/r brick (water: lovely, bike: lovely, run: lovely), then headed out to drive the course, which didn't seem too scary. The scariest part was not so much the hills, but the Mob convoy hanging around the turn-off!

We went back to the cabin to chill and de-hairify ourselves before heading back to the lake to meet the other bloggers. I thought I recognised Mike's wife, Jo, then looked out to the lake to see his kids, and then spotted Mike himself. Then Phil realised Kathy and Paul had driven in right beside us, making the meetup much more straight forward. It was nice to meet everyone, although we didn't have much time. Next time let's do dinner guys! (we actually did end up eating with Kathy and Paul in the camp kitchen, which was great)


A typically rough pre-race night's sleep. Ialways lie awake stressing about not being able to sleep, and trying to figure out what's worrying me. Logically, finishing slowly doesn't scare me. Been there, done that. Neither does a DNF- if it happens, it's going to be for a reason, and that reason's unlikely to be something I could or should have predicted or prevented. But lying in our log cabin listening to my fiance breathing and my future-brother-in-law shifting in the bottom bunk he's sharing with my sister, I'm nervous and right on edge.

Woke up at 4:00am (plenty early for me- Mike, you're mad!), ate bircher muesli, drank coffee, and made several trips over to the loos, before piling into the car and heading on our merry way. We arrived a little later than anticipated, couldn't see our teammates, so just picked an emptyish spot and started setting up (turns out we were only about a rack away from the team). We were both a bit snippy, and I'm really glad we had J and D with us to calm us down and work as packhorses- getting from the car to transition in one trip was a pleasant change!


An "in the water" start, which was cool but a bit disconcerting. I was worried about seeing the buoy in the distance (900m away!!), and couldn't hear very well through my swim cap. Finally the whistle went and we were off. I had a nice rhythm and felt like I was keeping a good line, and was somewhat surprised to see 16:33 when I got to the 900m turn, as I felt like I was going better. Then it got worse- I struggled to figure out where the 1800m buoy was, and sort of drifted towards it, reaching it in 33:33 or so (I think). The last 200m went on forever, and I think it took me a good 5 minutes. WTF????? I don't know WHY I can't translate my pool gains to race situations. Training or racing in the pool, I can beat P convincingly (except over 25m sprints, when we're about equal). Training in open water it's less convincing, but I still take the lead. Racing in open water? The b*stard beats me!


I felt good up Tarawera Rd. I eased into a good rhythm, and Eric was great to climb with. I passed people on the way up, and was sad to see our friend Shanon on the side of the road with his bike in bits. The passing ended when we hit the downhill, and although I wasn't riding conservatively, people blew past me like I was riding my brakes. It didn't help that there were TONS of cars on the course- it might be worth restricting traffic until the last athletes are off Tarawera Road. Kept feeling good (and passing) along the flats out of town, and felt great when I reached the SH30 turnoff. The course is great along here, and I have one piece of advice for Pip. BUY AEROBARS. With it's two big mother climbs and tough run, Rotorua can look like a climber's course, but it's definitely a power course. I just couldn't keep up with bigger dudes with aerobars on the descents and the flats, and any time I made up on the hills was lost quickly. My average speed stayed around 30kph, and I reached the turnaround in 1:33 or so, with an average HR of 166.

I kept up a decent pace after the turnaround, at first, but I soon drifted into alien territory. First my butt hurt, then my legs. I found myself getting out of the saddle to stretch more and more frequently, and I cursed myself for not building more cycle endurance. I struggled up Hell's Gate, and hoped that it would get better. It didn't- nasty wind and awful road. I tried to remember to HTFU (written on my hand under my cycling glove), but I couldn't. I'm not so much annoyed by my slow speed (it turns out Phil, Paul, Mike and I ALL rode the second half in times roughly equivalent to our times on the much harder contact course), but with the fact that I faded, and completely lost *it*. No more passing men and 20-something chicks. Nope- now I was being passed by women 30 years my senior who must outweigh me by 20kg.

Tarawera was hard. My knees screamed, but at least I was passing people again. Only to be passed again on the way down, as I pedalled into the headwind, struggling to get over 20kph. GRR! The ride down seemed much longer than I imagined, and I watched 3:15 and 3:20 come and go. Finally, 3:24 later I was turning into T2, cursing myself. J and D told me that P was about 40 minutes ahead of me, which was something of a relief- I knew he was riding well, and that the second half must have been harder for everyone than I gave it credit for...


I was looking forward to running, as I knew that unless something was very wrong, I'd be passing people. I took off at what felt like a good clip, but my pace slowed in the bush (especially up the big climb, which just went on and on), and when I finally emerged and hit the 4k marker I was stunned to see over 26 minutes. My garmin had me around 10min/mile pace, so I decided to focus on keeping the garmin pace down under 10 and not to worry about much else. I was feeling ok, apart from VERY sore legs, and I wasn't capable of moving fast enough to blow the rest of the run, so I just kept pushing on and trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Because the course has lots of bits of out and back, there was a chance to seem some people again. Phil was already too far on for me to see him, but I saw Shanon blasting along on his way back and gave him a quick cheer. Then I noticed Mike hobbling along on the other side of the road. His dodgy calf had "gone", and he was on his way back. I gave him a quick wave, but he seemed OK so I went on my merry way. The gun club out and back was great- I saw that my arch rival (she doesn't know it…) was a decent way ahead, but not impossibly far, and I saw the guy who organises our local races not far in front of me, and knew I could catch him. By the time I got to 9k (in about 51 minutes), my pace was well under 6 minute ks (yes, I just drift between miles and ks as it suits me) and I was feeling good. The view at the lookout was lovely, and I wished I could stop for a proper look.

There was a big climb between the lookout and the gun club on the way back. It hurt. I was leapfrogging with a nice lady named Claire who seemed to be running at about my pace (I ended up losing her on the second loop).

I decided to grab a coke and a water at the gun club station on the way back. The coke was too fizzy and I gave up. Water was great, and I was happy with my decision to pause/walk the aid stations. I usually caught back up with my "friends" afterwards, and it was worth it to stay hydrated (I had a camelbak on the bike, but didn't want to run with it, especially given the several aid stations). I also decided I should eat around here somewhere. I had no idea what to expect in a half-IM- would I want "marathon food" or ironman food? I had a bag of pretzels, some mini snickers and some gummis in my pocket, but everything was melty and gross, and the lollies were revolting. Next time I'm definitely bringing some jelly bellys!

Cruising past the gun club and back to the lake the first time was strange. It was great to have more people around me but disconcerting to know that most of them were on their way to finishing! Also, it's a little depressing looking at the 19k marker when you're at 14k. Despite that, it was great coming past the finish, seeing Phil (who just looked SO happy), Paul, J and D and knowing I only had one loop left. The second loop of the lake was pretty lonely- déjà vu!- but eventually I found some people to catch up to. The lads manning the gun club drink station were very efficient, and took our drink orders as we climbed the stairs to nowhere. Tried to pick it up on the way back, and had fun passing some of the people who still had a loop to go, but couldn't really get the pace below about 9:30s. As I rounded the last corner and ran back along the lake, I saw Kathy and my arch-rival-who-doesn't-know-it. I knew I had enough in the tank to catch the rival, but I slowed down quickly to say hi to Kathy, throw lollies at Paul (I didn't want chipmunk hips in my finish shots again!) and give my supporters a wave, and by the time we got to the finish chute, I realised I didn't have the heart to wreck someone else's picture with an ambush attack, all for a measly 3 seconds. Some killer instinct…

I went straight for the Heinekens when I finished- I'd been holding out since about 10ks- and then walked stiffly down to the lake with my man and my supporters.


I kept pushing my expected time out during the race, and so I found the 6:26 quite disappointing. I'm also quite disappointed with each of the three disciplines- even the run. But looking back at the race, my training and the race-predictor, I'm reminded that I did what I set out to do.

I conquered my bike issues- maybe this wasn't the best ride ever, but given that in September I was too scared to ride change lanes, turn right, climb hills or let go of my brakes, an average speed of 26.something kph is nothing to be sneezed at.

I lost 10 lbs (exactly), and I look better than I did when I ran the Rotorua marathon last year, and smoking hot in the long white dress!

I said I'd be STOKED with sub 6:30, and I finished in sub 6:30. So I should be stoked. So I will be.

I also think I've found my distance, and I think I can get a LOT better. I have improved my pool swimming considerably over the last year, taking a good 2 mins off my 1k time trials, and 10-15 seconds off my 100s. So, I just need to translate those gains into open water. I have improved my cycling immeasurably, and with Eric and some aerobars, it's only going to get better. My running's stayed solid enough- I always pass people on the run- but I need to get back to where I was in 2005 (1:42 half pb, and a 22:04 5k…) So, we're looking for some coaches who can help us do it.... in the Akl/Waikato/BoP area, as we're moving, in Feb/March!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The countdown is well and truly on!

As P and I sat eating Pasta Masta (new takeaway, disappointing) in the sun at Kilbirnie park after an early evening recovery run, I realised that one week from now we'll be sitting in our log cabin, eating our pre-race pasta, and stressing about the next day. Then it'll be early to bed, early up and over to the lake to rack our bikes in the Bloggers at Rotorua 08 team pozzy.

As Kathy's mentioned tonight as well, our Buckeye outdoors team has been fantastic! It's been a great support network, a huge motivation (I'm sure I've done at LEAST an extra 10% knowing I have someone to report to...) and since I can access it at work, it's instant blogging and a wonderful time-waster ;)

I'm looking forward to meeting those I haven't already met next weekend, seeing everyone out on the course (and meeting Mike's famous race gear in person ;)) and enjoying hot pools, bubbly and Heinekens with the team after the RACE!

The past week has been lots of fun, as we enjoy the shorter more intense workouts (Sunday's hot intervals off the bike, Monday's 10 x 100 in the pool, Wednesday's early morning hill reps and blustery aquathon...) After so many months of trudging up hills in Xterra races, and struggling up Mt Vic on the carbonless beast, it was amazing to go fast again! (and frightening to see how fast that boy of mine can run!!!!)

I'm feeling fitter too (duh!) I had a fantastic recovery run this evening, and was pleased to be running VERY easy 5:35/ks on the flat. Most gratifying though, I think, is that I'm recovering well, looking forward to (almost) every session and not getting too burnt out. I think this is due to a few things: a reasonably manageable workload, the variety of workouts, and basing my training around P's workout plans. His experience with Gene has definitely convinced me to get a coach next time round!

I put some figures into this and it spat out 6:24. I tweaked it a little and got 6:02, and I don't think I can tweak it enough to make it go sub-6 (also, there's no way I'll be out of the water in 33 minutes, or round the run course in 1:52)! I'd be stoked with somewhere between 6:10 and 6:30, and I truly will be happy to finish!

Tomorrow we're sea swimming with friends, and I'm testing Eric's compact cranks with a wee climb up Prison Hill (PS- have I told you how much I love Eric's wheels? No? I love Eric). On Sunday we're doing the Xmas Scorcher sprint distance race, and I'll practice using Garmin and Camelbak (eww) in race conditions. I don't know what taper week will bring, but I hope I can get through the week unscathed as the pre-Xmas rush has well and truly started, and I don't want a repeat of my Auckland marathon taper!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Meet Eric....

Eric The Strada:

..who will be joining me in Rotorua provided my compact crankset arrives next week.*

(And not to be confused with Eric Estrada.

....Although they're both smooooooth)

*Not quite the same bike- to get ultegra, I had to get blue instead of zippy lime green.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Some progress...

At the Red Rocks Xterra, late September. The picture that made me contact my nutritionist.

8.6lb down (on average)

At the Contact Race, late November.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Contact Cup Rotorua: Race report

Another epic post. For this one, I recommend chocolate biscuits and coffee. Clearly by the time I get to the half-IM I'm going to need to break it down….

Pre- prelude- tiki tour, pasta and geeking out:

P had been up North since Thursday evening, but I flew up to Rotorua on Saturday afternoon. I was shocked when I got out of the car and felt winds as strong as those I'd left in Welly. That wasn't part of the deal! We stayed with P's friend Chris and his partner, and took a brief tiki-tour of the course before heading home to get ourselves sorted out for registration and a bike-course recon mission. I'd met Chris before but hadn't realised he was a bit of a cyclist/du/triathlete as well- it as great to have his feedback on bits of Tarawera Rd and the Okareka loop. Lucky bugger can pop over to Blue Lake on his bike for an after-work swim. Having said that, the dairy around the corner has an agg-rob every month, so I'm not sure how far my jealousy really goes…

After buying some post-race, we headed back out to the lake to register, pop into the water and do a loop of the course (which by this time had reached epic propostions in my overactive imagination). Kathy's Saint told us we were mad for adding more torture to the weekend, but I wanted to be sure I could do it. We arrived at the venue about 20 minutes before registration opened, and, as we unloaded our beasts (which probably weight more than they're worth!), P amused himself by mentally calculating the value of the U19s bikes. I amused myself thinking rude and judgmental thoughts about the U19s parents.

We headed out onto the loop. As usual, P waited for me to start, so I was ahead of him. Unusually, he didn't overtake me in the first twenty seconds. Then about halfway up Tarawera Rd (from the lake) he yelled out at me to slow down- turns out that in my desperate bid for survival on the hills, I was nailing the thing, and poor old sensible P was spinning away behind me wondering what on earth I was doing (I'll return to this theme later). The loop was gorgeous, but hard. And the descents were a real treat to a bitter Wellingtonian. The Rotorua definition of "pretty windy" is basically the Wellington definition of "lovely big corners and no need to brake!" The chip wasn't too bad either (last year it was fresh, which contributed to the slower bike times). Tarawera Rd was easier than expected, but the climb out of Okareka was much harder. I was prepared for it to go on and on, but I wasn't quite prepared for how difficult the first bit would be- it looked gradual enough, but the speeds I was doing were more like "a bit steep, but not too hideous."

We decided not to bother swimming, and went to registration instead. Definitely disappointed with the schwag. Although I no longer wish to support Orca for personal reasons, I love my tri-top from my first Contact race, and I'm quite disappointed that 2XU didn't come to the party (perhaps because the announcer couldn't stop saying "two ex-ell"). Also- a latex swim cap? And no treats?! Not even a shoe clinic voucher (although to be fair, I'm always happy to get a copy of Multisport in a race pack). Pretty sad for $80, Contact!

Gelato in town (P's lemon mascarpone was amazing), then we headed back to Chris and Nicki's for showers, piles of pasta, glasses of sav, and games of buzz. I had a sudden thought about transition times, given the three quite different races, and luckily I checked the race info, and discovered that transition closed at 6:50am. Just over 3 hours before our race. Goodbye sleep in and leisurely breakfast!

Prelude- how to arrive 3 hours early and still be running late:

We set our alarm for 5, and got up to try to quietly make porridge. I lost my hair-tie, didn't have any spare, and spent about 15 minutes unpacking and repacking my bag, shaking everything out, then scrunching it all back up again, but to no avail. So after forcing down porridge, getting ourselves together in typically disorganised fashion, we headed out to find somewhere that would sell hair bobbles at 6:00am. Fortunately Countdown was open, but they seemed to be out of hairties! Just as I was about to go for a packet of rubber bands, I noticed the one pack of hairties they had left- lime green, proper bobbles (probably that's a word for the weetbix kids out there) with wee plastic dolls on them. Charming. And so practical for 3 hours of movement and shifting headgear.

Got to the course, and bustled down to transition only to find it empty. It seems most people know that "Transition closes at 6:50am. Limited access afterwards" is code for "pop in whenever and rack your bike- there'll be heaps of time." D'oh! And we didn't even get an early riser's advantage- transition spots were organised by race number. So we had three hours to kill, and nothing much to do but wander, read in the car and swim in the lake. And before we knew it, we'd done it. And that was without any reading in the car, or any warming up. Just trips between the car and transition (lets see how many things we can forget …), watching the U19s race (a smooth T1 is clearly something that comes with age/experience…), trying to find Kathy and Paul among the other spectators (Kathy found us minutes before our race started), catching up with friends from Welly and beyond, and generally killing time in the way that only seems to be possible at events.

Then all of a sudden, we were struggling into wetsuits, discarding baggage, and lining up for our briefing, without having been in the water at all. Oops. We managed about 5 minutes after briefing- long enough to discover that the water was lovely and the bottom was rocky and then pop out, in time to squeeze the excess water from our suits, and await the starting gun.

Swim- a comedy of errors

The boys were off, and I tried to decide where to start. I was in place, and ready to go when the airhorn went off behind me, and we rushed in. I started swimming as soon as I could, to get my feet off the rocks, and felt the cool, clear lake water rush over my cap, onto my face and into my eyes.

Into my eyes?

Wait- that's not what's supposed to happen. Oops. Goggles down!

Oh no! Pushing your goggles down while you're UNDER WATER doesn't help. Bugger! Right, stand up on the rocks. Goggles empty. Goggles down. Time to swim.

Hmm- where'd everyone go????

After the goggle debacle, it took awhile to sort my breathing and get into a rhythm. Checked my time at the first buoy and was a bit disappointed to see 4:40 (I think it was around 250m). Turned the buoy, and swallowed a whole lotta lakewater, and headed to the next one. I seem to have trouble navigating the straight edge of a triangle swim- wherever I headed, I didn't feel quite on course, and I couldn't find a safe pair of feet to hang with. Made it to the next buoy at 7:35, and realised that the triangle was not equilateral. Then I headed back in. I knew I was aiming for a sight buoy, and that we’d run around a cone on the beach, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out where to go, so I blundered along in the general direction of the beach, until I got blown out of the way by the lead men on lap 2, and thrown completely off track. Bugger again. I kept on my merry way, pausing to search for the ellusive buoy and cone. A couple of times my pauses turned into actual stops. On the second or third one of these, I saw it. The Big Giant Yellow Buoy on the beach- strangely enough right in the direction that people seemed to be swimming in. I headed into the beach, not wanting to check my watch at the turnaround. Feet on rocks, running gammy, round the buoy and back in. Time was 12:12, for what was supposed to be 750m, but I was feeling marooned at the back of the pack and convinced that the swim was short again, so a super split was no consolation.

Lap 2 was less eventful, but not much fun. I couldn't find a good person to draft off, and couldn't find anyone to attack, so it just made in around at my own wee pace. They must have moved the beach on the way back, because that ruddy yellow buoy just never got any closer. My watch read 25:53 on the way out of the water, but that was little consolation given the deserted bike racks!

Bike- up and down and up again… and again… and again...:
T1 - no comment. Wetsuit off. Lap splits on watch. Glasses on. Helmet on. Race belt on. Socks on, shoes on, and we're off. Oh- bugger. Again! Buttons on my waterproof watch are different to the buttons on my garmin. "Lap" on the Garmin is "stop" on the swimming watch. OK- no time to deal with this- I'll use the bike computer for the bike, then reset the watch in T2 and start the run fresh, and just guesstimate total time.

The bike was great- most of the time. If you have to get passed, and then lapped, it might as well be by the best in the business. I've described bits of the loop a few times now, so I won't go into detail. Basically, my mind went like this:

Lap 1: Right we're up the hill. Not bad. Probably won’t be much fun the 5th time round. Oops, brake for the silly right turn. Where is everyone? Am I dead last? There were some bikes- but maybe they were leftovers from the 3-9-3? Cadence is good! Nice! Speed- well, not to worry. There's always the downhill. WHEEEEE! Holy crap- that guy blew past me like… like.. something really fast! Why can't I go 70km/h downhill? Better get into a low gear so I don't get caught out on that uphill. Where is the climb? Hmm- probably should have been pushing a slightly higher gear along there. Ah- here's the climb. And a line of people as far as the eye can see. And it gets nasty steep just up that corner. And there's some fast men zipping up it. Right- lets look at distance, not speed. Only 1k to go on the first loop. And only 4 more to go! Dooooooown we go again.

Lap 2: Hm. This was easier the first time. Why can't I push up hills like P does? Ah, there's the speedies again. No girls yet though. Hmm- this little extra bonus uphill will be boring by the 5th time round. OK- time to capitalise on the downhill. COME ON! Just go over 50 for one measly second! Oops- this corner's always just a tad sharper than expected. Hang on- better drink. Ick. Oh- there's everyone climbing the hill again! Let's see if I can pass anyone. I can?! Woo! Am I at the top yet? Passed again. No wait- you have your name on your bum. You can pass.

Lap 3: Average speed. No- don’t want to see that. How about distance then? This sucks. I suck. Bike sucks. Two and a half more laps. Only half way. What? How is she passing me? Can I get her back? Naw. Damn downhills. Wow- Brett's passed me already- legend! I wonder where P is?

Hey- no fair filming me from the lead motorbike while I puff away behind the leaders! Leave me alone!

Lap 4: Oh, hi honey. Yes, I'm delighted that you're zipping past me between laps. Simply delighted (actually, in all seriousness, I was glad it took P til the 4th lap to lap me, it was lovely to see him and I was happy that he seemed happy, and was riding his own race). Oh look! A girl for me to chase. Hm. She's not going so fast up these hills. I can do it. I CAN DO IT! I DID IT! Oh.. barely 200m down the hill, and there she goes. Ah well, I'll catch her on the next hill (I did. But she beat me overall) Hang about- how I do I get back to transition. Fuck it- I knew I should have listened to the briefing! Oh- oops, DRINKING. I need to do more of that.

Lap 5: Last time. Boy- I need to change down earlier each time! Lucky this is it. Boy, that headwind picks up each lap- bloody speedsters got out before the weather started to turn. Last time! I'll catch her- I really will. Right- lets nail it along here. What do you mean, NO?? Oh come on- did you have to tell the angry dude in the SUV there were only a handful of us left right in front of me? Oh- and thanks, I KNOW I'm nearly there, I'm sure I'm NOT looking strong, and just because a lot of others have gone before doesn't mean I'm some charity case in need of your pity eyes!

DONE! Boy- lots of bikes here. And all these people finishing. Maybe I'll just do one lap?

Nutrition: 1/2- 3/4 bag sports beans; about 250ml SIS drink (BAD Kate)

And because Mike needs proof, here's me coming through between laps- possibly laps 3 and 4?

Run- all alone in the big bad woods:
I hadn't realised how much it sucks to be at the back of the pack. Especially as a woman- no-one feels anywhere near as sorry for last man as they do for last overall. People pack up, and marshalls leave as you run past. People meander around the beach, forgetting that some poor suckers still have another lap to go.

When they cheer, it has a slightly patronising edge. No "woohoo!! looking goood!" for us at the rear- it's "keep it up! you're nearly there! you can do it!"

Well, DUH. I've just come off a course that's nearly half uphill, and I'm running 5:45 minute ks. I know I can frikkin do it! Just because I'm last out of the superstars doesn't mean I'm a charity case. And if I were- I'd still prefer an honest "WOOO!" to this crap.

This sounds awfully bitter, but I actually had a fantastic time in the run. It's just a gorgeous course! I am perfectly fine with my pace (5:48/k overall) given the hills, the beachy bits and the fact that I was pretty much alone with no-one feasible to chase. I saw P, and he didn't quite streak off in the distance (he was pretty quick, but he stayed within eye shot for at least a couple of minutes). I felt good, my pace felt steady and I thought I might be able to come in under an hour (I was wrong...) Although I struggled to kick it up a notch, I felt like I could hold the pace for a long time (another 10k?), and every k I ran I felt a bit better. On the second loop, I chased a lady down. I didn't quite beat her, but I gained a lot of ground, and she thanked me for keeping her honest.

Finally, it was out of the woods and along the beach (ick) to the finish line and to P (who had a fantastic race, and beat me on the swim, which is one for the books!). I was happy to see that I'd come in under 3:25, which sounds pretty abysmally slow, but it's a bloody hard course, and a quick google shows that those who finished around me are all capable of sub-3 standard distances, mid 1:40s half-marathons (etc etc)...

Run nutrition: one yucky gel, water at all drink stations

To come:
- recovery
- why I need to be slapped
- some lessons

Friday, November 21, 2008


I'm really looking forward to this weekend, and to the few remaining weeks of training before the race. While I'm not quite where I want to be, I'm starting to feel like it's all falling into place- from Monday's time trial and Tuesday's hill reps to Wednesdays tempo run (averaging just over 5 min ks, which is faster than I've been for awhile) and Thursday's good, solid climbs (Mt Crawford, and back home the steep way). Plus, I've been focussed on my food for the last few weeks and I'm down 7.5lb. Maybe not where I thought I'd be, but I'm starting to feel more like ME again.

I don't want to "taper", but don't want to waste my legs either, so I didn't run on Thursday evening. I've been a bit under the weather and snuffly in the mornings so I slept in a little and did Flexible Warrior yoga at home this morning. I had a few drinks to celebrate my amazing boss this evening, and now I'm home watching Gilmore Girls and baking nutritionist-approved banana bread, and looking forward to jumping on a plane, seeing my boy again, scoping out the course, meeting some new peeps, and going for a good hard training session.

Of course, as the half approaches, I'm thinking ahead. We've been planning to do the Ocean Swim in Wellington the weekend before the BIG DAY, and thinking about doing Tauranga too. I'm planning to do a "test" 5k in February sometime, and deciding then whether I have a shot at 3:50 at Rotorua. After that focus on endurance, I'm planning a good, fast 1/2 m in Wellington (or somewhere else....depending on a whole lotta other stuff), then starting the half-iron training again for Tauranga. Or maybe the South Island Half which looks speedy and above all is CHEAP! (obviously well ahead of myself- don't worry, I don't take myself too seriously!)

Anyhoo, we're getting to the home stretch now... I'll be back with a torture report next week, and counting down to the big un!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ups and downs

I've had a couple of good days after Sunday's race. I'm really pleased with my recovery. After a recovery run on Monday morning I did a solid 1k time trial in the pool after work (17:35- which isn't actually as fast as last time, BUT this time I know it was 1k not 950m, and I was nowhere near as stuffed).

This morning was back to hill repeats up Mt Vic. I was feeling grumpy after last week's session, as I didn't improve at all, and P improved heaps AGAIN (to be fair I was incredibly congested and spent the rest of the day snuffling and feeling pathetic...) My man agreed to stick with me for one rep so I could push myself a little better, and I was happy to come under 9 mins for the first time, and even happier when I took a minute off my descent time!

After the hill reps (I really do need to work on attacking the hills- my second rep I just couldn't get my HR up again), we went down Alexandra Rd which I haven't done since my stupid wee crash two years ago! The ride down wasn't great fun- bumpy as heck, but I got to the bottom and round the awful corner at the bottom a lot more happily than last time (I'm having trouble linking to the post, but it was October 2006...) That's a demon conquered anyway!

I've also rather rashly signed up for the Contact Energy Event this weekend. It will be entirely a recon race (its in the same area as the half)- or else I won't be able to handle the very real possibility of being DFL! I had a looksie at the times from last year, and the TOP female bike times for the 40k ride are in the mid 1:20s (incl T2) and the top male time was 1:10. The course is 5 loops of an 8k circuit, which includes a sharp 1k climb with up to about a 14% grade. All up, there's 150ish metres of ascent per loop. EEK!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What the f**K do you think you're playing at....???

Signing up for a HALF ironman! In ONE MONTH???

This thought entered my head, as I took off on loop one of the 3-loop (7.5k) run, ran smack bang into a gust of wind, and promptly got passed by a muscly backed lady in red.

"What the hell are you doing thinking you can run a half marathon off a NINETY k bike???"

But, I'll start at the beginning....

Today was our first tri of the season. My longest tri do by 250m, 10k and 2.5k) and P's first ever. Possibly the only "practice race" I'll do before December 13. It was windy yesterday, and the wind was forecast to stay strong. I was more philosophical about this than I usually would be- despite my nervy post last night and stressed sounding buckeye and facebook posts (poor old Mike must have been well fed up), I recognised that the conditions would help me treat the race as a good, solid, practice, rather than a major event. Plus, I rode yesterday, so I knew I could stay on the bike- I'd just be slow!

We were up earlyish, but pissed around a bit, and by the time we got to Scorching Bay we were in a bit of a hurry. Luckily, the race start was delayed, so we had time to pop into the water, go to the loo and check out the flow for transition.

Swim: 1k
The men started the swim two minutes before the women. It was a 2 lap course, and the water was quite deep. I started off strong, and feeling good, but soon lost track of the fast ladies, and started to wonder how far back I was. The water wasn't that choppy, but I found navigation very difficult- on minute I was heading well to the left of the buoy, the next minute I was face to face with bright orange and churning water. The worst bit was the distance between the first two buoys- it looked like we should be making a right angle turn, but it was actually quite diagonal. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I ended up further off course. I was concerned when I rounded the buoy closest to the shore at 11:25, as I figured it should be about 500m , but I was passing women and slow men, so I just pressed on. The second loop wasn't much better than the first, and my mood certainly didn't help- I had high hopes for this swim, after a solid training season and hugely improved times at all distances in the pool. By the time I reached the shore (possibly it was when I got to transition-I can't remember when I changed laps!) my watch read 23:39, for the slowest 1k I've swum in a very, VERY long time.

I made my way up to T1 and was surprised to see P there. It was great to see him, as it gave me a bit more confidence. Of course, I'd rather he'd had the swim of his life and had dashed with the leaders out on the bike, but it was nice to see him (and nice to see a fair few bikes still racked). T1 wasn't too bad, I don't think I have my exact split, but it could have been worse!

Bike: 30k
We had a magnificent tailwind for the "out" part of the bike. In hindsight, I should have nailed it a bit more- after all, it was free speed. But zooming around corners at 35+ kph seemed good enough for me, and I was concerned about blowing up on the big hill, or in the headwinds. I was shocked to see the male leaders at Lyall Bay- blimey!! I was glad we'd practiced the hill, as I knew it would be best for me to change into my baby chain ring as soon as I could, as although the hill starts off gentle, it gets steep quickly, and just keeps getting steeper for 2k. Fun!!

Rather than being depressing, I found watching the people ahead of me speeding down invigorating. First, because they all looked like the sort of hardcore people who SHOULD be beating me, and secondly because I knew that after ten or so minutes of climbing (yup- my speed up that hill got down to 9-10 kph!), I'd be flying down too, and on the way home. I was glad to see P zoom past (it was great to see so much of him in the race), and just kept slowly moving up. My goal for the next couple of weeks is to start attacking the hills a bit more- right now, I'm really just surviving them!

The way down the hill was a bit of a let down. First, the chicky in front of me stopped on the turn around. I think she might have messed it up, but it seemed at the time like she was just having a break. On the tight turnaround. Made the turn, and headed off down the hill, only to have to BRAKE on the best bit of road in the course, for a dickhead in a 4wheel drive. After the nice bit of smooth, fast descent, it gets bumpy (the carbonless wonder does not like bumpy!) and windy, and generally less fun, and I got passed. Twice. Bullfrogs!

The way home was not so fun- apart from being the way home, which was good! And, for ONCE, having a tail wind alongside the airport. For once I made good use of free speed, and pushed up to 45k for ahwile. Fun! But then the headwinds hit again, and the sidewinds started sending me all over the place. Luckily, we also met the short and medium course folks at this point- it was nice to pass a few people for a change. I tried to keep a good high cadence, so as not to fry my legs, but I think I could/should have pushed harder- my competitive instincts just aren't up to much on the bike.

Total ride time: 1:12:15 (incl T2), which is slooooow, but I'll take it.

Run 7.5k

I was a bit disoriented in T2, and decided I probably hadn't had enough water. Nevermind, I'll grab some at the drink station at the turnaround, I didn't see the water there until the last lap, so I was pretty dehydrated during the whole run. Unfortunately Headed along the path by the beach, my legs seemed pretty stiff, but could have been worse. I decided I was going to stay ahead of Grey Girl, and also hoped to catch up to a woman I recognised from running a tri events. We turned the corner, smack bang into the wind, and I started cursing myself. After a terrible swim and a slow bike, I was going to be caned on the run. I couldn't fathom riding 60k more and then doing a half-IM.

I saw P partway into the first lap, and gave him a smile. He wasn't that far ahead- but he was a whole lap in front of me! Ah well. He wasn't running hard, so ended up waiting at the next turnaround for me, so we ran his last lap together, which was lovely.

My legs felt better with every 1.25k segment, and I was OK with a 27ish minute 5k split. My aim was to finish the run in about 40 minutes, so I set off to push the last 2.5k hard. I didn't quite succeed- although my leg turnover picked up, I don't think the rest of my quite caught up, and I finished in 40:28. I'm actually quite pleased with 5:20ks off the bike.

All in all, today was good. I was reminded how hard triathlon is, and why I enjoy it. When my legs turned themselves on at 5 or so ks in, I remembered that I'm training for a half- not a fast olympic distance. And I know I can keep it up on the bike- I just have to commit! I'd love to make it up to Rotorua for another practice run next week, but not sure I can manage it. And maybe another round of hill reps would be better for me!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Number One

Number one for the season is tomorrow. 1k swim, 30k bike (including a 2k bitch of a hill, and 7.5k run). Exposed, coastal course. Forecast for strong winds.

Well- it'll be an adventure, anyway!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Adventures in rain, more rain, and mud, and popping the Makara cherry again

Right- grab a coffee, some chocolate and a cuddly blanket, cos it's time for another mammoth update from the girl with no concept of focus...

Well- what a fantastic weekend! Only a nutty triathlete can enjoy a weekend of ice cold rain, southerlies and odd patches of sun. The fact that it's a long weekend, so I have tomorrow to recover before 1:45 of hill repeats (bike) on Tuesday. Eeek...

Not much to report, but it fit in chronologically.. Went for our first sea swim of the season- P's first wetsuit swim ever! It was salty and lovely and cold. Did two trips around the fountain- about 1500m in total. No watch, so no idea how long it took.

Only got one bike in this week- we were supposed to head out on Thursday morning, but the weather was awful, so made it Thursday evening, then P remembered he had a beer tasting, and I couldn't face hill reps up busy Mt Vic alone. Also couldn't face the evil trainer, so ended up running hills by myself, and decided to give the poor legs a rest on Friday when P got up for his ride. Instead, I had a gorgeous sleep- and don't regret it a bit, as the legs were in for a big weekend.

We headed out for our ride on Saturday afternoon (about 12:30). P had some big gear reps on a false flat, so we decided to do them on the Makara loop. I was a little nervous- I've run Makara a few times, and I knew the descent was steep and windy (when I've run it, it's been a climb), and that the climb up the other side was steepish (turns out it's not bad at all, but I didn't know that).

It was relatively clear when we left, but we knew it was likely to rain later in the day. We headed around the bays from home, and stayed on the road along the quays, up Bowen and then up Glenmore. I was a little nervous about Glenmore- not because it's hard, but it's longish, and there's plenty of climbing after it, and even though I'm losing weight and gaining leg strength, I'm still sturdy, and my legs are weaker than my lungs. Sailed up fine, and found the ride up through Karori a lot easier and funner than expected. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the ride up Makara Road which was, quite frankly, a bitch of a climb. Short, but just steep enough to be a bloody pain! I really will have to start doing P's hill reps with him!

I was pretty nervous about the Makara descent, and it wasn't my best work, but it was not too bad at all. I don't think I'll be climbing it any time soon, but it's in the future somewhere! There were a couple of nasty corners, and quite a few cars out, but made it to the bottom unscathed, and exhilarated. The next bit, notsomuch. My poor old 100% aluminium bike really does not like rough roads, so lovely country roads are more of a chore than they should be (Whitemans too....) That led to slacking off, which led to shouting at P (for people who like each other a lot, we shout plenty on the bike....), which led to working hard, which led to frustration and deflation. Climbing up the J'ville side was just what I needed- as I mentioned earlier, it feels harder when you run down than when you ride up, and included some lovely respites to really hammer. I love hammering :)

P warned me that the descent down Ironside would be tough, so I readied myself and prepared to brake. As we cruised over the top of the hill, the heavens opened, and we spent the entire descent being absolutely pummelled by rain. You'd think this would bother me- anyone who's ever read this blog knows what a moaner I am when it comes to cycling- but it was abso-freakin-lutely brilliant. Just mad fun!

From J'ville, it was back through Ngaio again. The rain eased until we hit the descent (the one I was so proud of a couple of weeks ago). I rode down sensibly, but not too overcautiously, loving the rain and the riding, and whooped when I met P at the bottom. Back round the quays and the bays in the bouncing rain. We had another hour or so to get in, and some 85% efforts, so we headed for the safety of the bays. We started our first 85% effort after the pedestrian crossings along Oriental Parade, and it just went on and on and on. 15 minutes is a bloody long time! It was at this point that I discovered my biggest problem on the bike- my legs! I was pushing the poor wee things as hard as they could go, but my HR was stubbornly stable... P was in sight for the first few minutes, until the headwinds got the better of me, and I lost him. It seemed like forever before I saw him again, spinning along towards Shelley Bay. The second effort (Scorching to,depressingly, not far past Breaker Bay) was beastly. Headwinds the whole way, going all out to hit 26-29 kph. To give some context to the wind- I was pedalling in my big ring down the Pass of Branda, and getting absolutely smashed by the wind- I'm not sure I even got over 30. Then cruised home, the tail wind pushing us through Kilbirnie at 29-30kph. Total of 70-something ks, a pathetically slow average speed, and a lot of confidence.

Two runs of note this week. The first was on Thursday,after I decided I wasn't going to do Mt Vic reps alone and I sure as heck wasn't going to be hanging with Coach Troy. I planned a route through some unexplored hills, and was raring to go (it's a little sad that I get so excited about unexplored hills). It was one of those fantastic runs- just me and my ipod, and a good, strong, solid pace. One of those days when you get to an intersection and think "Hmm. Up, or down? Why- UP of course!" I even added a super extra hill at the end. Nothing super flash, but after a decent week (I'd done 2 gym sessions, a hilly run, and 2 swims before it), and before a decent weekend, I was happy with how strong I felt.

The other run was Xterra race 3. This was the last of the series (boo!) and might just have been my favourite- if only because of the sheer madness of it all. The course can be divided into two parts- the first up 4wd trails over some farmland. Great fun terrain- not a hard hill by Xterra standards, but hard enough. I started off running with my sister's fiance (as of last weekend!!)- with me reining him in, and him spurring me on. I loved being able to power up it "in my big gear", rather than huffing and puffing up with tiny goat steps. And, of course, I loved having a 9 at the front of my (mile) pace instead of a 17!! I even loved the ice cold run, though I wasn't such a fan of the brisk, strong southerly headwind that seemed to meet us every time the climbing eased off. After a decent slog (20 minutes?), we reached the top and turned into the forest. By this point D was a good bit ahead of me, and I'd given up any hope of catching him. It stayed reasonably easy- undulating with some decent enough climbs, and some fun downhills, plenty of mud, puddles and water flowing along the trails. It was GREAT seeing 6s and 7s on the Garmin during a trail run- the other two had such awful downhills that even those were in the teens.

Then, after 1:20, it was into the bush for the dreaded technical section. I had a bit of a *moment* here, as the time suggested for "leisurely" runners was 1:45, and the technical section was supposed to take a good half hour. Feeling slower than "leisurely" did nothing for my confidence, and having no idea how much was left threw me a bit. The sharpish rocky uphill didn't help, as my legs had had a hard week, and a particularly hard Saturday. Plus, I'd failed to heed the RD's warning, and I'd left way too much out there on the easy bit of the course. Luckily, I had the foresight to preserve some shred of confidence by starting a new lap, so that the nasty roots and rivers wouldn't mess up my lovely 9:29 average.

The first part of the single track (after the beastly rocks) was great fun. BIG puddles of goopy mud, river crossings (for "ankle deep" read "upper calf"), and a complete wild goose chase trying to keep to the track. I was drenched, my feet hadn't been dry for 90 minutes, and I was having a ball. Unfortunately, I was getting hungry, my glasses were spotted with raindrops, I'd dropped my last jelly bean in the mud, and the sunlight glinting through the canopy was messing with my vision and depth perception. People started passing me again. The worst moment was seeing the way out and running past it to complete an extra loop (*as it turned out, lots of people thought this was so unfair that they just skipped the extra loop, and some people couldn't find their way out at all, so the "official" times will be a complete mess). Finally, I was out, and I could see my sister's fiance across the river. I shouted out, and splashed my way across, then realised he was walking. I caught up and found out that both his calves had cramped up (while he's a natural athlete, he hasn't run over 10k for years, and this was about 18...) Luckily, he could manage a jog, and we didn't have far to go.

One more river, with Jenn and P cheering from the other side, up the bank and we were done. I was irritated to see a colleague of P's finishing in front of me as I'd passed her early on and hadn't seen her again, but it turned out she'd made a couple of mistakes with the course, and no-one thought she'd actually beaten me (yes-I'm a bit sad, but I worked HARD to beat her!!)

I can't praise the Xterra events enough- great race shwag for series entrants, great courses, great tunes and GREAT post race food. For anyone who has a chance to enter next year- DO IT!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy thoughts distract me from Day 2 rumbly tummy. invites! nearly done!

...Wellington on some good days:

Sunset, from Mt Vic lookout during our Thursday night run

Oriental Bay on Sunday afternoon

Phil up the stairs on the Eastern Walkway (I kicked myself after resolving to run each set of stairs on the way back...)

View of Breaker Bay from Eastern Walkway

And, in the distance, on the right, those white blurry bits aren't clouds, they're snow topped mountains on the South Island. Trust me- spectacular in real life

Happy, Mr Scott? ;)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Retrospective blue

I'm off sick today (trying to shake off a cough and a bit of a chest- I'm absurdly paranoid about bronchitis as a few colleagues have been sick), and what better to do than reading my archives.

Not a good idea. It feels like I haven't improved anything. Same old issues, only I'm 15lb heavier and a minute/mile slower. Whoopeee. My fellow beginners from back then are running 45 minute 10ks, and sub-5:30 half-IMs, and here I am, wondering if I'll ever go sub-50 again, and just hoping to get round the damn course.

Also got my nutrition plan from the nutritionist today. It's depressing how little I get to eat, and I'm feeling very glum about the shape I'm in, and lettng myself get this way. I'm sad to say goodbye to chocolate, PB and cheese.

Oh, and I'm sad that I'm not working out today. And that I can't do anything to undo the leftover panang gai (homemade, at least). And that I'm back to adding (/wanting to add) workouts to remedy calorie splurges.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blue mountains

Following last week's successes on the bike, I was looking forward to the mission of the week. In fact, I spent Tuesday planning adventures on the bike for every weekend until the Half IM. This week, P's coach had set him a time trial up the blue mountains and through Whiteman's Valley out to Wallaceville Hill, so we decided to adventure out together (though I planned to ride the "TT" at a much easier pace).

We set off a little later than planned (about 9am), and cruised around the bays. There was a headwind, but it wasn't too bad (though it did stick with us for a good 2 hours...) We rode along the waterfront rather than along the quays- the quays are fine for the way home, but there isn't much room for bikes on the way out. Not as many pedestrians to dodge (last time, although the weather was average at best, it was around midday and the waterfront was pretty packed).

Our speed along Thorndon Quay and SH2 was nothing to write home about. Spinning, easy gears, headwind. I felt much more comfortable in the traffic (a few lane changes getting onto the motorway). I ate a piece of Clif Bar (mmm- choc mint is my favourite!!!) every half hour, and drank a lot more frequently than usual (I'm starting to get the hang of this thing).

Stopped in Silverstream to take off the arm warmers and have a bit of a stretch and regroup before the TT. Pilfered some water from P, and he gave me some directions. Cyclists everywhere- it's a popular route. There was a race out there this afternoon, so we wanted to be well out of the way before we started.

Then it was time to climb. Here's the "TT" section of the ride:

So, not crazy nasty, but not easy either (note- numbers are miles, not ks). I am not used to climbing (and sadly, my power to weight ratio is not best suited to it), so the next few weeks are all about becoming better acquainted with my triple. Fun times. This climb taught me that I can keep moving up, even when I don't want to. I even caught people. I later saw that they were both relatively husky, so not surprising that they weren't the strongest climbing.

I thoroughly recommend this ride. The climb's a challenge, and the descent isn't really long enough to make up much speed, but it's lovely. Views out over the Hutt and towards the Rimutakas, surrounded by bush, changing to farmland. The roads are narrow, but drivers seemed used to cyclists and were mostly very polite. Apart from one SUV filled with very cool kids, who clearly enjoyed cyclist heckling. I'm not sure what they shouted at me, though it ended in bitch. P got "nice pink jersey, faggot!" (fair point, the jersey's pretty gay...) Just realised that they must have had at least some familiarity with cycling- would a non-cyclist say "jersey"?

I cruised down the hill, and for a good part of the next few ks. The descent, as you can see, is punctuated by tiny ups, and with the wind, it felt like a false flat to both of us. The husky dudes passed me, and I debated joining the back of their back, but couldn't really be bothered- the sun was shining, the chip was pretty rough and there was a slight headwind, so I decided to take it easy. Met P coming back from Wallaceville hill. He said I wasn't too far behind him, but I was. I was a bit worried about the next climb, until I discovered it wasn't really a climb at all- it's just the wee lump at the end of the picture (though I swear it was bigger than that). The descent was OK- not easy, but not too bad. A bit windy (as in corners, not as in wind), and a bit lumpy, but not bad. Still not great on the descents, but getting better.

We headed back to Silverstream the back way- past Rimutaka prison, and through the burbs. It was 12:30ish, we'd done 60k, and we had 35ish to go, so we paused for lunch from the world famous Silverstream bakery. Best chelsea bun ever!

Then back along the motorway. The first bit's quite nice- a big wide verge, and the road's OK. We had a tail wind, but stayed in medium gears and cruised at 30km/h instead of pushing the big cog. Not as satisfying, but I think the right decision.

We rode through Frank Kitts again on the way back. It was a gorgeous day, and the wind had pretty much died down, so unsurprisingly it was completely jam packed. I am much more confident riding slowly than I was a few weeks ago.

Home at 97.23 km. I couldn't be bothered pottering around to add the extra, not least because we live on a hill (like everyone else in Wellington), but I have to say the legs felt fine. It seems food is a very good idea!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ahh, Thursday!

Thursday is swiftly becoming my favourite day of the (working) week.

At 5am the alarm goes off, and we turn to each other. There's no debating about whether or not to get up. We just do it. Fruit toast, coffee if I'm quick, on with knee and arm warmers, bike shorts, hi-liter vests. Water bottles filled, bento boxes packed.

By 5:30 we're on our way. Bright lights flashing, cruising to Cobham Drive, and spinning it out to Miramar. Around the loop, up and down over and over again, until it gets light enough to head out round the bays.

Past the Interislander as the sun rises, pushing the pace around Shelley Bay, and laughing over the speed bumps. Powering over the Pass of Branda, coming over the crest, looking out to the lighthouse. Cruising down the other side, and pushing along Breaker Bay, before rounding the corner, straight into the Kaikouras in the distance.

Through Lyall Bay, watching the buses waking up, and gritting teeth as the bike vibrates. Savouring the small stretches of smooth road!

A wave to our reception venue on the way up the hill ("hill" in the loosest sense of the word), then letting go of the brakes on the way down.

A quick stretch in Island Bay, then back we go. Finishing strong, dodging buses. Up the hill, and then we're home.

Seriously- what a way to start the day!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A confidence booster

Today we finally got round to having the bike adventure I've been planning for weeks. It was thwarted by Xterra races, wind and travel, and I'm actually glad we waited til today- partly because I was feeling a little more confident after Thursday's morning ride, and partly because it meant we got to ride with our friends D and A.

We headed out to ride the long way to Freyberg (to avoid the Cescent, which was my undoing last week). We were running a bit late, and it was fun pushing a slightly faster pace in a bigger gear for a change. Met D&A and headed around the waterfront (hate that part- blimmin pedestrians everywhere). I was a bit nervy about the lights, but they were fine- thanks to P, who now knows how to guide me through traffic.

We rode along Thorndon Quay, then onto the Hutt motorway. I hadn't ridden the motorway before, but it was fine. About 20k or so along, we turned up to go over the Haywards. A tough climb, made tougher by my bike's reluctance to shift down into my triple (thank god for the triple!) Stopped briefly part way up, so P could fiddle my gears. The descent was pretty fun-I'm getting much better at letting go of the brakes, and P said he was surprised by how soon after the boys I arrived. The seal wasn't the greatest, but at least it was consistent.

Next we headed around Whitby. I was a bit stuffed by this point (only 40 or so ks in!) and took some time to enjoy the view of the Pauatahanui inlet, which looked lovely, even on a grey day. P was too far ahead, so I was pulling D&A (both of whom I'm sure were cursing being stuck behind me), and my legs were fading fast. I wonder if running 1:50 on the road yday had anything to do with that??

Then it was out to Porirua, and round towards Tawa. I called another stop in Tawa- bought a Mizone rapid to fill my water bottle, and stretched my shoulders out a bit. I felt like a bit of a wimp, but I knew there was another climb to J'Ville, and also some nasty roundabouts. I realised on Thursday just how much being hungry affects me on the bike, so I'm going to work MUCH harder on nutrition. The J'Ville hill was one of those nasties that shouldn't be so bad, but because it's on the way home, it really is. I made full use of my triple, and made plans for lots and lots of leg strengthening work.

After J'ville, we headed through to Ngaio. The rollers seemed more like mountains to me, but around this time, the calories I'd ingested in Tawa kicked in, and I felt much better. Finally, we were at the top of Kenya St and ready to head down. I was crapping myself at the thought of riding down Ngaio, which I've only ever run up before (one of my favourite running hills). But it was fine- some of the switchbacks threw me a bit, and I had a few moments of screechy brake action, as I overestimated my cornering skillz ;)

P congratulated me at the bottom, as I was nowhere NEAR as gammy on the descent as usual. I was buzzing! It had started to rain, and the day was feeling pretty long, so we decided to skip coffee at La Cloche, and to just head home. D&A turned off, and P and I headed round the Quays back to Oriental Bay. The rain started in earnest, my tummy rumbled, and I suggested a number of far-fetched shortcuts to avoid the headwinds on the way home. Sadly, the only way to avoid the headwind is to Go Straight Up. No thanks! So we trudged back around the bays, me trying to stay tucked in behind P's wheel. The only thing that kept me going was the distance reading edging up to 80!

The last couple of ks, up Wellington Rd and through Hataitai, were uneventful. I usually power up the hills, but today I "practiced spinning". Finally got home, 82k's later. It took a good wee while, but I'm really pleased with today's effort- especially as we're about to head out to Masters now!

Last learning- crunchy peanut butter on fresh grainy bread is a damn good recovery snack.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Yet another update.

I never manage to blog when things happen, so I think we're going to be continuing in this vein for awhile. Using buckeye is partly to blame- now my wee rants and observations go straight up there, and then get lost to all but my remarkable team members :)

So, here we go again...

1- Swim

Nothing to report. Not swimming enough (it's been twice a week if I'm lucky, though this week'll be three). P will be smashing me in the pool before too long if this keeps up! Enjoying Masters and Monday Squad, in quite different ways. Also discovered, which is a bit limited but gave me a far funner workout than the standard ones at the pools!

2- Bike

All going well(ish), apart from the effin gusty northerlies that greet us every Saturday. Last week they got the better of me and we ended up grumpy at home on beastly trainer; this week I joined A for 2 hours of her 2nd to last long run, and, well, running was bad enough! Knock wood and fingers crossed for tomorrow to be a better day (rain clearing, southerly change).

Luckily our morning rides have been going well (if not, I'd be even more bitter about the cr*p hands we've been handed in the weekends). We've been doing 1-2 hours, 1-2 mornings a week, with some rollers, and some glorious coastal flats. Next week I'm planning to graduate to some actual climbing. Am feeling very VERY scared about Rotorua, but finally feel like I'm getting there on the bike, however slowly. I didn't even cry when rotten P took me through the manic roundabout by the airport at 7 in the morning.

3: Run

Run's fine. I did another of the Xterra races last weekend. It wasn't quite as hard a course as the first time, and the "long" course was disappointingly short (*not even remotely disappointing at the time!

The morning of the race was freezing, but the southerly passed, and last Sunday was a simply beautiful day (perfect for re-doing Saturday's aborted ride, but I had a baby shower to attend). This was lucky- because running up the tip track (which looks like this)

(Thanks Scottish!)

for THIRTY FIVE minutes (OK, OK- I ran slower than everyone else walked, at roughly the speed of an elderly tortoise) was worth it for views something like this:

(Thanks Phil C's flickr for the nicked pic)

.. only thousands of times more magnificent.

I've been doing a bit more running during the week too, and am happyish with my times- they're slow, but I feel strong, and ready for the nasty Rotorua run. That's if I make it there before 7 hours.....

I took some pictures of Wellington on a Good Day. More than that- an absolutely MINT day (Pip- I'm sure you remember Thursday...) After I strolled home along the waterfront (surrounded by smiling happy Welly people) and P rode home, we ran up to the Mt Vic lookout (from our place, which is halfway there) and jostled with half of Wellington and a bus load of tourists for a piece of the view. The Rimutakas were amazing! It reminded me of my old bootcamp route at Mt Vic, and we've decided to start doing it some mornings- we'll need the stair training! I'd love to make you all jealous, but my camera is flat,and I'm on P's laptop. Plus, today's a real stinker, so I'd feel like a bit of a fraud!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another update...

Since I'm short on time and stories, I'll follow the same ol' format:

Oh- but first, BIG congrats to Bodyworks members and paralympian medallists Kate Horan and Paula Tesoriero!!!

Great Master's workout squished into Saturday morning. A bit of a shock to our systems after training with Sarah's squad- in Sarah's lane I'm in the fast lane (yup, still exciting...) and P is comfortably in the medium lane. At Masters, I was (second) slowest in the slow lane (though we only had two) and was left gasping as we churned out 100m in 1:32. ONE THIRTY TWO?! I convinced P to stick it out, and we had a blast. Because the lane was crowded we did short sets anyway, so we weren't too lashed.

Another good workout on Monday, though somehow I got stuck leading on the -ve split 200s. Well, leading the slowpokes in our lane anyway. My personal goal was to make sure I didn't get lapped by the speedies! Finished cooling down, and noticed I was at 2900m, so squeaked out another 100 for my first 3k swim in yonks.


Here I am (haven't decided whether to spend the $10 yet...) with my new ride :) I haven't ridden it yet, as we had a frantic weekend.

We went out for a wee jaunt around the bays together on Sunday. Simply Perfect. Saturday had been mad, weatherwise, with a bitterly cold southerly in the morning, clearing to a perfect Wellington winter day by afternoon. We had a fantastic view of the snow on the Orongorongo's from home, and brilliant views of the Kaikouras out on our ride. Just spectacular! We rode pretty easy on Sunday, just having a nice time, and I felt better on the wee hills than I had last Saturday.

We also went for our first pre-work ride this week (yesterday). I had a blast! We did a 20ishk loop out to Miramar, round some rolling suburban hills, and back via the airport. The rain and wind came back as we reached Kilbirnie, so the last couple of ks wasn't much fun. Anyway, am feeling MUCH better about riding now, and looking forward to some serious training!


Not much to report. Has been a mad week work, wedding and lifewise,so one workout a day is all I can do. I ran to the gym this morning, and did some wee intervals for my cardio break, but haven't been doing enough.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

So. Totally. Amped!

So, I am totally amped about training. And even about racing (kinda). More about training. About running, riding and swimming. And about a whole heck of a lot of running, riding and swimming in Rotorua in 3 (eeeeeek!) months!

1: Swim

As I may have mentioned, P and I have joined a local training squad. Lower key (and more expensive!) than Masters with more emphasis on coaching and development. It's a bit dear for the long term, but we'll do a 20-week session, and now that we've moved back into town, we might go back to Masters again. I definitely think it'll be easier for me if P's going too (if just because I'll have a chauffeur). So far, we're loving it, it's always heaps of fun, and I don't feel like a complete goob if I'm having an off week. Plus, my stroke has improved immeasurably since we started.

We had our first squad time trial on Monday. I was absolutely shattered, and seriously missing the pool. We'd been swimming every day in Thailand and we arrived home on a Monday (squad day), but there was no pool at my course so I hadn't been for nearly two weeks. Plus, I'd just got back from the course, moved house, and was still recovering from a late night/hangover.
Felt a bit blah on the warm up, and hung in the medium lane. Generally, I warm up much faster than the other mediums, but this time I was barely keeping up. Not an auspicious start, and I seriously thought about joining the "drills team" and flagging the TT. But in the end my ego won out!
We did a few 50s, with some pick ups, to get our arms ready, and then we were off, on 5 second intervals. One of the dudes in our lane is a serious speedy. While I celebrate getting my 100s below 1:40, he's aiming to get sub-1:20. So he's really in a league of his own. He was off like a rocket, and the rest of us trailed after him. I started a little fast, and passed yellow cap too early, only to feel her nipping at my heels for the next 100 or so. The first 250 flew by, and I was finally getting a rhythm, though I wasn't exactly looking forward to 3 more sets of the same. I had no idea how my pace or time was, but I was feeling good, if a little spluttery. Had a few donks on the head. It's hard enough to deal with lane sharing and turning around in a TT, let alone adding in Mr Michael Phelps! We'd often end up with 3 or 4 trying to make it around, and it got a bit messy. I also lost count a few times, and ended up basing myself on the people around me. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm 50m out. Got to the end, spluttering and red-faced, and coach said 17:19. With 15s deducted to reflect my starting position, 17:04. Which means that even if I was 50m out, I'd be safely in at sub-18 (I know my pace at the end, and there's no WAY it'd have taken me 56s for the last 50).

And then, during the cool down, I was asked along with Mr Phelps, and the other speedy dude in our lane, to do some demo lengths so some guy could check out our recoveries.

2: Bike

Where we left off, I'd had my new-old bike fitted, and was looking forward to some real riding. Wet weather, our holiday in Thailand, and a bikeless week in Christchurch put an end to that notion. But last week was bike every day week, and although I only got outside once, I think we can call it a success.

On Saturday, I took the bike (which needs a name.. and I think it's a boy bike) out for a quick jaunt around the bays, and doubled back to meet P at the Lyall Bay Warehouse. My first time riding from our new place, and it wasn't too bad. I had to spend some time reminding myself that I CAN ride through traffic. I can stop. I can brake. I can unclip. I can do roundabouts. Such elementary things, but the thought of riding through certain intersections can fill me with a deep pit of panic. I took it very easy, just focussing on confidence, on getting a feel for the bike and on keeping my technique in check. I kept my cadence at a moderate-high rate, and flicked the gears down whenever I felt my legs slowing (none of this working harder business for me). The bike is carbon-less and I really felt some of the dodgy seals! All in all, I did around 35k, which is pretty pathetic, but I'm feeling better and more confident, and I'm looking forward to a longer ride with P next weekend. (Incidentally, Pip- I believe I may have seen you whooshing past somewhere between Island Bay and Owhiro Bay?)

Oh, and in other biking news, I've just won a swish new Avanti mountain bike (the 2008 Hammer)! It was the major spot prize for the Xterra trail running series- SO glad I entered the whole series now!

I'm not the greatest mountain biker. That much should be obvious to anyone who's read about my road biking nerves. But I do love it- when I'm doing the bits I love. So it's great that we'll just be able to pack up and go out. No need to faff around hiring bikes, and no need to scour trademe and the local bike shops for a decent cheapie. The other reason I'd been wanting a mountain bike is that I'm (as mentioned) a nervy rider, and a mountain bike's just so much more stable. So I'll be using the packhorse of my stable for the odd commute/trip to the pool- building up some sneaky miles without having to face the scary road bike.

3: Run

Really, the run's just the run at the moment. I feel strong, but not particularly fast. I'm relishing the offroad stuff, but if I'm going to go sub-2 after 90k of horrid Rotorua hills, I'm going to need some targeted training. Back to what we were doing earlier this year. Hills, hard hills and more hills. Speedwork. More hills. I was having a ball, so I'm looking forward to moving on from 40-minute sojourns and 70-minute expeditions and back into some real work.

On the upside, I'm strong. My legs are strong, from hills and endless squats at the gym. My climbing's pretty solid, and as I combine weights (a vanity project as much as a strength one), cycling and swimming with my run, I know it can only get better. Knock wood.

Gave the old run legs a bit of a test in the first Xterra trail race of the Wellington season yesterday. The idea was not too go too hard, but to run assertively, not be afraid to work it, and to have fun. I hoped to come in under the suggested "leisurely" time of 1:50. Due to strong winds and slips, the medium course was changed. Instead or running along the ridge, we headed straight up, then straight down, then did a loop in the bush on the other side.

The whole field started together (one of the few "thumbs down" the course gets from me) and as soon as we hit the hill, the walking started. Since this was a "training race" for me, my (starting) goal was to run as much as possible, and not to walk unless I was dying. Sadly, this was not to be the case. The track was narrow to begin with, but not too narrow, and I darted in and out around people. But as we got higher, passing became harder, and more and more people walked. No-one seemed to understand "Excuse me please" or "on the right". So I walked. And ran occasionally. And then walked again. But it's bloody hard to start running again when you're travelling up a vertical slope, when your legs are burning, chest's heaving and your HR's in the 180s! I lost a bit of ground here, as some of the dudes (mostly) who'd been stuck behind early on zapped past. I may have gone out too hard- I think I'd underestimated just how bloody hard a 20-30 minute climb is! Once we'd climbed for a good while, we climbed some more (It'll be depressing, no doubt, to put the data on the garmin and see how truly pathetic the climbs really were). I felt like I pulled ahead a little on the flats, and I was happy to see "skinny headband girl" and "hot pink lady" not too far in front of me. The climb took us up the forestry tracks to the top of the hill, from which we enjoyed around 20 seconds of fantastic panoramic views of Wellington Harbour. Then the pain really started, as we weaved our way down the firebreak, rocks rolling out beneath us with every step. I'm getting stronger downhill, but my butt was well and truly whipped by some of the other ladies out there. The descent seemed neverending. Slipped and staggered and swore. Then it was over, and we were on the bridle path. I breathed a sigh of relief, and took off in front of the two girls who had crushed me downhill (we'll call them Blondie and Turquoise). I caught up to Mr Hash, who I think was keeping a friend company (kept whizzing past, then hanging back). We rounded the corner, and then saw a sign pointing us over a cliff. I swore aloud, and wondered quietly whether this was really some sort of group suicide. I looked down, and crept stealthily over the edge. Below me, Hotpink was going for the bottom/hands/squatting slide, and others were following suit. I decided it was better than tumbling, crouched and skidded. I kept it up, pausing occasionally to wipe my face with my filthy hands, until I became rather more intimate with a sharp rock than I had anticipated. Got up again, staggered a little, made it a few paces, and was back where I started (but this time with a thistle underneath!) Finally, the worst of the downhill was over. I'd passed Hotpink, but Skinny Headband was miles off, and Blondie and Turquoise (and a new friend, White Top) were galloping away ahead of me. The rest was only mildly insane, and no contact between bottom and ground was necessary, though I came pretty close at times to grabbing hold of the gorse bushes along the fire break to keep my balance. When I reached the bottom, ready to head over the ridge I snuck a peak at the ol' Garmin and saw that my average pace was an impressively slow 16.33min/mile! Brillo. Plus, Garmin was telling me I'd been out for around 50 minutes, meaning I had an hour to go.

The next bit was over the grassy campground and through the river. I ploughed through the river (ankle deep? Bah!) and came out close to White Top. I may have passed her here, but if I did, she passed me back. My pace was better now, in the 9:00-10:00/mile area, though as we went into the bush the garmin readings got screwy and I went back to running by HR. I made a couple of goals at this point- first, not to walk again for the rest of the race and secondly, to pass that White Top. Running through the bush was great- I'm sure every trail runner knows it- when you can bound over roots, and fly down the leafy, muddy paths. When you can reach the top of a rolling hill, feeling your legs just start to burn, and roll down the other side, resisting the temptation to scream "WHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" I kept a decent pace behind White Top, and before we knew it, we were emerging into a clearing, across from the starting area. I waved in the general direction of the carpark, hoping that P (poor boy- injured and couldn't run) would be in the vicinity and would glimpse me. Then I looked ahead, to where P was sitting. Laughing at the idiot waving at the cars. Fair cop. White Top was still ahead, and I wasn't sure what would happen, but I'd figured out I was probably the stronger on the hills. I saw that we'd covered 4.2-ish miles, and groaned at the thought that we were barely halfway through.

The second half of an offroad race is always weird, at least in my experience. With no real idea of where you are, how long the race will take or when you'll finish, you don't know whether to go hard, or whether to store energy for the big finish. Every turn could be your last, but then you see another teasing green marker, and you know you're not done yet. Before too long, White Top and I had caught up with Turquoise, who had lost Blondie, and also with Hash's friend (who he'd deserted by this point) Both were walking, which was fair enough, given that we were still doing 1-2 minute long steep climbs. White Top edged ahead of me as we crossed a boardwalk and some bridges, but I caught her when she stopped for a walk on the next set of hills. I had a new target- Blondie. I met Blondie again as we puzzled over the signs pointing home. And also not home. A bunch of medium runners emerged from "not home" and told us we lucky medium-ers got to run a special little extra out and back. As you can imagine, I was chuffed. Home was one way, and there I was going the other way. And the other way was UP! The good thing about the extra out and back is it gave us an idea of where we were in the pack. Headband, Hotpink and P's fit friend weren't as far in front of me as I might have imagined, and the gap between Blondie and me wasn't growing any bigger. Every turn I'd wonder whether it was the last, and I'd be disappointed. Finally the returning runners started saying "not long to go", and there we were, with one last excruciating climb before the turn around. Blondie outran me on the downhills (which were a blast) and I was concerned to see White Top getting perilously close again (I know, not a race, not a race, but once I've set myself a little goal….) I knew we weren't far to go now, and hoped that the 1.5k to carpark (and then the 800m to car park) weren't too wrong. Then at last, we were coming out back onto the Orongorongo track (a nice, well kept gravel track) which led us back to the finish area. I hoofed it down the track, enjoying watching Garmin move back into more familiar race territory (7.02.. 6.59.. Yes! That's more like it!), with Blondie in front of me. As we neared the finish line, Blondie maintained her pace. I had no real desire to pip her pointlessly at the post, but if she wasn't going to finish strong I was darned if that was going to stop me. Plus, I was famous (the spot prize was announced at Registration, and I'd had people asking about the bike all day) and people were telling me to "run for the biiiiiiiike!!" So run I did. I hoofed it past Blondie and over the finish line, and stopped my watch. 1:43, for an average pace of 14:13.

Results aren't up yet, so I have no idea what that means. But I know I ran well for the second half, and that my climbing legs were not the worst. The gaps between the fasties and me were smaller by the end than they were when I passed P, and that's good enough for me, for now.