Sunday, January 09, 2011

Port of Tauranga Half Ironman: Hotpotato Smashes Sub-6 at last (Part II: The Swim)

(Part I)

(Please excuse the absurdly detailed post- I want to cover everything, for Coach Paul (who doesn't have to read it all) future-Kate, and for any readers who do this event in the future)

Before I get into recapping proper, I need to say a HUGE thank you to MIKE, the best unofficial** race supporter and paparazzo of all time. Unless otherwise credited, the photos in my recaps have been cheekily pinched from his facebook album. Check out his blog- both because he is neat, and for a link to the rest of his great photos!


The swim was two triangles- a small (700m) one first, followed by a big (1300m) one.

The water was choppy, and I was worried about pretty much everything- getting the tides right, not panicking if I saw a jelly or stingray, not being eaten by a shark*, not swallowing too much salt water, not getting bashed in the face, not crashing into a boat, not getting run over by a cruise ship. You get the picture. It was a much bigger swim than I've done before, but surprisingly not too violent. Or else I'm just getting used to it! I stayed with a huge group for the first loop, and got a few kicks, but nothing too hard. Of course we caught the slowest men pretty quickly, which is always annoying, but probably not as annoying as being swum over by two hundred women is for them, so no hard feelings!

I was supposed to go wide to the first red buoy, so I started towards the left of the group, and headed towards the left of the boat that was blocking our line of vision. I probably should have been a little further over. Most people seemed to take another line, but I think Coach Paul's advice was spot on- even though I was aiming wide, I seemed to take a fairly direct line. I was a trifle TOO close, and ended up in the fray a bit when I reached the buoy.

The trip from the red buoy to the yellow buoy was choice. I finally understood what people were talking about when they referred to "being sucked along". It was just a mess of frothy water and waving limbs, and the vague hope of a yellow buoy ahead. Before I knew it I was being slammed up against the buoy again, and turning back to the white turning buoy.

Yellow to white was hard. I was supposed to swim narrow, as the tide was dragging out, and the shoreline makes swimming in a straight line difficult. I couldn't see the white buoy, and couldn't keep my line, so I kept drifting into the shallows. Again, Coach Paul's advice was priceless, as I knew what to expect and how to combat it. We had to swim around the white buoy then run up to the beach and around a turnaround gantry. I have a love/hate relationship with these sorts of swims- the opportunity to adjust goggles and check timing is great, but having to jump around on shells and rocks an extra time is not so great. Also notsogreat is the tendency people have to stand and walk as soon as remotely possible. It was ridiculous!

I was pleased to see 12:21 on my swim watch. Since the second lap followed a similar pattern to the first, just bigger, I felt pretty good. I actually reminded myself "don't get complacent- any extra minutes on the swim are minutes you don't have to shave off the bike and run." Cocky much?!

Sadly, the second lap was harder. Not sure why- I think actually the first lap was possibly a little short and the second a little long, as others' (ok, Phil's) impression was similar. I had a pretty good trip out to the first big yellow buoy and across to the next one, but the tide must have been moving with a vengeance by the time I got to the second buoy, and the trip back seemed to take FOREVER. It certainly didn't help that at the first yellow buoy (see above) we met some of the slower team swimmers. That was all kinds of fun. Not.

I finally crawled out in 39:21, and crossed the timing mat up the beach in 39:50. So, still "acceptable", but barely, and not a lot of leeway for the bike and run.

Next up- the bike!

(As you can see, I am real stoked at the various teamies around me).

*apparently, and this is very much rumour, there WAS a shark!
**my official supporters are also amazing, but I don't have their photos yet :)


Tri Saint said...

I'll confirm that there was a shark sighting during the race.

I was part of the Tri NZ Technical Official team & we will confirm that a shark was sighted during the race by a surf lifesaver.

Kate , I was the person cheering you on at the Oceanbeach Rd turn-around then again riding the MTB around the run course.

Well done out there.

Kate said...


How did you get to become a tech official? Very cool, and great job- what a well run race!

Thanks for the cheers too! Thought it was you on the bike :)

Mike said...

I think I should have entered that picture of you at the top of the post. I think every triathlete can imagine what's going through your mind as you ponder the race ahead.