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.
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!
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.
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!