Sunday, November 28, 2010

Race Report: Contact Tri Series- Blue Lake

(previous Blue Lake reports are here and here!)

One of our favourite races of every season is the first Contact Cup event at Blue Lake in Rotorua (THE best triathlon spot in the country). In previous years, it's been a good test of our fitness leading up to our A race- the Rotorua Half Ironman, which is held in the same location. But we love it so much- despite what appears from those race reports, that we decided we had to do it again this year (even though we're building up to Tauranga, and even though we had our first half ironman just two weeks ago!)

Pre-race For the first time, we live near enough to Blue Lake to save on accommodation and sleep at home. Woop! Of course, this DID mean getting up at 5:30am. Not my favourite start to a Sunday. Usually I'm a box of fluffy ducks pre-race, but this morning I was tired and irritable and my tum was uneasy- instead of wolfing my breakfast down, I packed it up in an empty yoghurt pottle and waited until we were driving to eat it. I finally confessed to Phil that I'd started feeling off the previous afternoon. He'd felt unwell in the morning, so he'd skipped our cruisy day of training (2k swim, 1 hour bike), but I'd felt fine, and had a pretty good training session. It was only after a long lunch in the sun that my fatigue started to catch up with me.

Swim By the time we got to Blue Lake, I was feeling a bit more chipper. Although I wasn't 100% I decided I was well enough to train and, if I was well enough to train, I'd be well enough to race. Good logic, yes? I wetsuited up, squeezed in a quick warm up, and then we were off! I lost the main bunch of ladies pretty early on, but I felt OK, if a little breathless, and I had company around me. After the first buoy (250m) I found some feet, and I stuck with them for the remaining 1250! I might have been able to go faster by myself, but it wasn't worth the extra for a training race. I wasn't wearing a watch, but the time on my Garmin was 9:49 (in theory, 31:00) by the time I raced up the hill to T1 and found my bike, so I'm thinking 29:xx swim time.

Bike They changed the bike course on us this year, but the first 8ks or so was the same- up Tarawera Rd out of transition and around the Okareka loop. I found the first climb much harder than usual- adrenaline, I guess, but usually I'm pounding up it. This time it was more of a crawl, but I was gaining on the ladies in front of me, so I wasn't too bothered up. I've obviously lost some descending skills since I've been out of Welly, as I was a bit timid this time. There had been a car accident at the bottom of the tricky bit, which slowed us down a little- the lady ahead of me slowed quite abruptly so I slammed on the brakes. I passed three ladies on the final climb, and was pretty stoked when they didn't immediately catch me on the descent.

From the bottom of Okareka, we headed out towards Green Lake instead of going back for another loop right away. It's basically biggish rollers all the way out- fun, but just tough enough to make it hard to get into a rhythm- especially after a spin around Okareka. I seemed to be going along OK- I was keeping ahead of my friends, anyway. There was a man standing by a bright orange barrel a little way past the lookout- I saw the lady in front of me whizz round it and start heading down the hill, so I started to follow. The man seemed to gesture that I should head between him and the barrel, and I assumed the turnaround was at the bottom of the hill to the right of the barrel. Then I saw the woman who had been in front of me walking her bike up the hill I was about to head down, accompanied by a marshall. The marshall seemed to have left her post, stopping people from going down the hill, and barrel man needed to work on his "head back UP" skills!

Unfortunately, it wasn't so simple just to turn around. We'd just been hammering down a big ol' hill, and I was in my biggest gear. Turning back up the steep old hill just wasn't going to happen- and by the time I figured out what was going on, I'd had to stop short and clip out. So I jumped off, played around, dropped my chain and finally got into a much better gear. By the time I took off back up the hill, I'd lost two minutes, and all of my new friends had passed me and blitzed off into the distance.

I was a little disheartened, and it was awhile before I felt like I could be awesome instead, but I decided to dig deep and to catch as many of the women as possible over the next loop. I knew I was a better climber than them, so it was at least plausible. Seeing people behind me on my way back (including two I'd identified as people to beat) definitely spurred me on, as did realising I'd only been lapped once (the benefit of a 2-lap, rather than 5 lap, course). I was slow up Tarawera again, but stronger on the downhills, and not bad up the other side either. I was gaining on one of the women, but couldn't quite catch her on the way up, so I chased her out to Green Lake (where I made sure to get the turn right...)

My legs were jelly when I rode into T2, but it was time to run, and I knew I'd be catching the others soon!

As usual, I started off well. The run starts downhill and on the road before heading up a couple of steepish climbs on a gravel verge, and then heading onto a rolling forest track. I met Phil about 1km in- the same place I met him in 2008! But by the end of the second hill, I was faltering. I couldn't put my finger on it- my legs were OK, my HR was fine, but I was feeling much more fatigued than I usually would be at this point in the race. I walked the drink station heading into the forest and seriously thought about turning around and walking back, before deciding to give it a shot. There was a woman in front of me walking, so I jogged past her, which made me feel momentarily better. But as soon as we hit the shade I went from hot and shaky to shivery and shaky, and I realised my wee lurgy was catching up with me. I stopped and hit my stop watch after walking the first two short hills, but decided to man up and carry on. This carried on for the next few ks- I could run slooowly downhill, but was pretty much wheezing on the uphills, and feeling like pants. I decided I would just hang on as best I could and make up my mind when I got to the end of the first loop. I knew I'd see Phil and that he could help me make the right decision.

After nearly 40 minutes (I think), I made it back to the lake. I heard Phil cheering for me, and I beckoned him over to me, but the ground was hot and he couldn't run. I paused at the beach drink station, and realised I needed to quit. I could have continued, but it is not like me to reconsider starting again, and I knew it was the sickness rather than just heat and fatigue. So instead of heading back up the hills, I headed into the lake, and slowly walked over to where Phil was standing. I handed in my timing chip, chatted to Phil about the race, and moped a little.

Aftermath This is a standard, patented Kate Head-Cold, and they're notoriously up and down. I felt OK immediately after pulling out, but could barely stomach my scone down at lunch. I napped in the car on the way home, and headed straight to bed when I got here. I'm still feeling a bit off, so I'm drinking a lemon and ginger drink and planning an early night. Luckily, I've recovered very quickly from the Kate Head-Cold every time it's reared its ugly head this year, so I'm confident that I'll be right as rain for Tinman!

I was feeling a bit glum, not about not finishing, but about my general my performance. I remembered this time last year, when I had a solid race at Blue Lake, followed up by a good Tinman. This year, I've been disappointed so far. But then I remembered that LAST year, we didn't do a half ironman (followed by a 100km bike the next weekend) before the Rotovegas/Tinman double. Hmm- that might have something to do with it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ride of Remembrance and Reflection

"We need to keep on cycling, and keep on meeting new and wonderful friends, just as Willy, Mark and Kay were, our wonderful friends." (Terry Semmens, Morrinsville Wheelers club president)

Phil and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the Morrinsville Wheelers Ride for Remembrance and Reflection on Tuesday night. The club arranged this ride, with the support of the Morrinsville community, police and fire service, after three of their members were killed in a horrible accident.

We hoped that other cyclists in the community would be behind the ride, but didn't really know what to expect. It wasn't until we got out of central Hamilton that we realised the ride was going to be big. The roads were peppered with people on bikes, travelling in groups ( single file, haterz, in single file), in club gear, shop kit or hi-vis, and they were all heading in the same direction.

We parked in a shopping centre carpark in central Morrinsville and prepared to ride to the starting point. The carpark was buzzing- the mood was subdued, but still somehow electric- with mountain bikers and roadies of all shapes, sizes and ages. We headed out to the start (about 2k away) in dribs and drabs, and soon found ourselves crowding into a paddock with hundreds of other people with bikes. I've been to cycle events before, so it's not the first time I've been around hundreds of people with bikes, but the sense of camaraderie mingled with sombreness made it something completely different. We were shepherded towards the back of the pack, where we found ourselves next to Bike Fit David (aka cyclenutnz). We identified jerseys from all around the Waikato- Te Awamutu, Hamilton, Kaimai Cycles, Tokoroa- and even some from Auckland. I think the youngest person-on-bike I saw was about 11 or 12, and the oldest was about as old as time.

The ride started with a short memorial ceremony, where we heard from the President of the Morrinsville Wheelers and the husband of Kay Wolfe (one of the people-on-bikes killed in the accident) and then a race briefing from the police and ride organisers. The memorial was incredibly moving, and incredibly optimistic. The quote above particularly resonated with me- and there's nothing quite like the sound of 1000 cycle gloves clapping!

We slowly filed out in our pairs. I'm not accustomed to bunch riding, but I'm comfortable enough with Eric now to handle a group, at least at snail's pace! The ride took us about 21km around a gorgeous country route. It was mid evening, and a perfect summer's day- just spectacular. Unfortunately, people will be people, and the ride was not always as orderly as it could be. I found myself very frustrated by people who insisted on passing, apparently just for the sake of gap filling (typical Waikato behaviour- exhibited frequently by people-in-cars too). Particularly frustrating were the bunch of local cyclists who passed us (we were just moseying along behind a much slower group), and proceeded to fill the road at about 15 km/h for the next good 20 minutes. We had to scream our heads off every time a car came up. I almost don't want to write about it- this should have been an opportunity to be BEYOND REPROACH.

But people are people, and people are dicks sometimes, whether they're on cars or bikes or neither

Finally we got past- we weren't in a hurry, but we were feeling a bit lonely right at the tail end of the long, long line, and there was empty space for miles in front. From then on, the ride went from momentous to awesome rad fun. We were pretty much alone for hundreds of metres at a time, so we could play around (safely... duh!) with random power intervals until we caught up with another pair. There's nothing quite like playing catch up to make you feel awesome!

Towards the end of the route, we moved back into lifestyle block territory. The locals were amazing! One woman stood at her gate and whooped and waved, and another sat in her car in her driveway- she had plenty of room to leave, but it seemed like she just decided to stay and show her support (that's what I'm believing, anyway). We passed a "Wheeler" counting people- we were 463 and 464, and we guessed there were 30 or so still behind us (we weren't far off- they counted 505 in total).

We'd left our front lights in the car, so we decided not to stick around for tea/coffee and chat (especially since we had to get back to Cambridge for dinner). We made our way back to the carpark, and headed home, giving all the people on bikes a wide berth and a wave.

I'm very grateful to the Morrinsville Wheelers for organising this ride. It was so painful for so many people, but so heartwarming, and so valuable for our riding community. We will keep riding. We will keep meeting wonderful friends and awesome people. And one day, we will see this wonderful country turn into a safe and wonderful place for all of its residents.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Adventure ride #3: a roller coaster of emotions

So much for regular adventure rides! With the rowing and racing and everything, today was my first long bike ride in a while!

Phil and I were without our best riding buddy and, since Phil is off to a gig tonight, we decided it would be best to keep our adventure ride local, and hunted around for a new route near Cambridge. This 100k loop looked perfect.

After a patchy start (crossing the dam, turning right on SH3...) we found ourselves on the most marvellous riding road ever created. A smooth, single lane country road. I think we saw 3 cars in 20km- literally. It was bliss! A few ks in, I noticed some "tourist arrows" (indicating which side of the road to drive on.... maybe I should call them "Kiwi driver arrows"??) and wondered why- then turned my head and realised we were riding past Hobbiton. It certainly looked like something out of a NZ Tourism guide- horses with their foals, lambs in paddocks full of flowers. The first 40ks or so were sheer perfection.

We knew the route, but we didn't really know where we were. We'd turned left onto a very slightly busier road, and ridden along for a few ks, when I noticed a bunch of odd black marks on the road, and I saw that Phil had stopped ahead.

I soon realised why. We didn't know we were heading to it, but we were there.

There were bunches of flowers tied to the fence, and a Swiss flag waving. It was an image I knew well from news reports over the past horrible week (but when I tried to find one to post, I couldn't, and the hunt became too distressing). We stopped and shared a moment of sadness. And then our curiosity got the better of us, and we looked back. And saw the corner, and started reconstructing things in our heads. We knew what had happened, but we could really SEE it now. It's a sharpish corner on a fairly quiet two lane road. There's a single yellow line on the right hand side. You can see why someone would be tempted to cut it, but it's also blindingly obvious that that would be a ridiculously bad idea. Because even if there wasn't a pack of f**king cyclists on the other side, there could be a car, which could be carrying a family of 5, or a pregnant woman, or a ridiculous sweet old couple on their way home from a picnic.

*Rant Begins*

And as we sat there, feeling blue, and torn between staying and paying our respects, and getting the holy fuck out of there, a black car screeched round the bend, cut the corner, sailed into the right lane, and didn't get back to the left until he'd nearly passed us. I was livid, and my goal of being friendly and smiley to even the worst of the motorists was out the window. I was SERIOUSLY pissed off. This accident has been all over the news, and people familiar with the area would have known right where it was, and would have seen the memorial themselves. And then, as we saddled up to move on our merry way, another car came lurching round. It too cut the corner. Slowing down and sticking to the left is overrated, it seems.

I'd like to think profound sadness and real anger would be enough emotion for one ride, but I was wrong. A few ks on we were riding up a hill on a narrowish road- not really enough room for traffic to move both ways. The sort of road where you really need to be mindful. We didn't make a hell of a lot of difference. I was scrunched up to the left and Phil was around 50-100m ahead of me (...ok, I have no idea. He was a wee way up though). A white car was coming down the road, and I could hear a truck rumbling away behind me. The road was straight at this point. All of a sudden, I heard a whooosh, and a crash of brakes, and my heart leapt right out of my chest. I felt the truck stop behind me, and I accelerated like a mad thing, my heart pounding and my eyes prickling. The white car went by, then the truck eased past me.* He went carefully and slowly past Phil, and he was gone. I was still shaking when I got to Phil- shaking, crying, and pissed.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that when you're driving on country roads, you need to look ahead. If you can't see ahead, you need to slow down. This isn't about cyclist protection, or the great cyclist/motorist "debate" the media insists on stirring up every time a person on a bike DIES. It's simple road safety. It's COMMON SENSE. I could have been or a horse, or a pedestrian, or some cows, or a tractor, or just a car driving at a sensible speed around the corner.

*Rant over*

But despite the anger, sadness and fear, the overwhelming feeling ending today's ride is gratitude. I always try to make sure I'm courteous to other road users. If someone passes me respectfully, I give them a wave. If someone is held up momentarily as a I ride past an intersection, I say "cheers." But today I aimed extra hard for a 100% courtesy rating- I was waving and thumbs-upping my little hands off (...and yes, keeping well and truly to the left while doing so...) And of the two hundred odd motorists I met today, a good 180 were great. Another 15 or so were super awesome, and only about 5 were cocks. We felt we were given more respect and more room than usual by a number of motorists, and we are VERY grateful for the respect and concern they showed us. We showed our respect, and I hope they could see how much we appreciated it.

(...then we rode another 50ks or so until we got home. The End.)

*No doubt the story will be re-told on yourviews one day. In that version, Phil and I will be riding two abreast, probably taking up the whole road. The truck will give me a polite toot and ask to go past, and I'll turn around, wiggle my bum in the air and shout "f**k YOU!!!!!!" (I'm good at multitasking while I climb, you see). Then instead of bursting into tears, I'll stop, throw a leppin gel and "roundly abuse" the poor guy. I won't be wearing any hi-vis gear, and it will be a busy high-speed road, instead of a virtually deserted country road.

** I am not a member of the Morrinsville Wheelers, and I did not know Mark Ferguson, Kaye Wolfe or Willie Muller. I am beyond thankful that I have not been involved in a cycle, car, or anything else crash. My thoughts and best wishes and prayers are with their friends and families.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The sunburn's fading, the blisters are clearing up, and I'm feeling pretty good. I was pretty sore and pretty tired on Saturday, but slept well, and was awake and alert by 7 on Sunday morning.

On Sunday, I was sore but full of beans. Phil and I needed to spring clean our house, but before we got stuck into the chores we took advantage of the day off and met Phil's Mum and some of her friends for brunch in Cambridge. Both of our appetites were a bit screwy- I ordered fruit toast (...I'd had first breakfast earlier...) but it wasn't enough, whereas Phil ordered a big breakfast and left a lot of it. We wandered around the Cambridge trash and treasure market, enjoying the busy streets and the variety of stalls.

We had vaguely contemplated a spa but, given our sunburns, the thought wasn't particularly attractive. When Phil suggested a quiet swim in the Cambridge pool, I was in like Finn. However, there was cleaning to do first. The housework took us a good few hours. Mopping and scrubbing and organising and listening to music was a great way to use some of my excess jumpy energy- I even did some weeding, though I can't say I enjoyed it much. Too much bending, too much sneezy grass, too many bugs, and too much sun on my back (even through my t-shirt).

I hit a bit of a wall at about 4, and had afternoon tea/ lunch before we headed off to our swim. The water felt fantastic- as always happens when there's no pressure/no time, I didn't want to stop! I cruised through a km (almost entirely avec pull buoy), then we headed to the supermarket.

Today I'm still sore in my quads and walking gingerly, but otherwise feeling good. Tonight's swim was lovely, and I'm no longer stuck to the pull buoy. I was actually craving a run on the way to work this morning, and the thought of getting back on the bike on Wednesday is exciting!

Knowing we have the toughest event of our season out of the way is pretty cool. Lake Okareka Loop? Pah!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Race report: Karapiro Half Ironman

A very prompt race report tonight- Phil is watching the Phoenix, so I'm sitting on the couch, with a newspaper between the hot laptop and my sunburned legs. I've been promised tea and toffee pops at half time.

Watch time: 39:53
Official time (includes run up the path to T1): 41:29

The swim course is a point to point- along the world rowing champs course. A straight 2k swim sounds like it should be fairly easy to navigate, but choosing a line is actually surprisingly difficult. The water was not too cold, but a bit choppy in the middle 1000 (which was actually a problem during the World Champs too). The start was a bit chaotic- even though there's not a big field there was a bit of a crush at the first buoy 100m or so away. Starting with Phil was really cool- I stuck to him like glue, then once we had some clear water, I took the lead so he could draft off me. I didn't know until later, but it turns out he stayed with me for about a k. I felt OK, not strong, but not totally pathetic either, and was relieved to come out in 39:53. Last year, I swam the same course (as part of a team) in 38:50ish- when I was trying to blat, and had been training hard and swimming really well... Guess that training never really paid off!

Watch time: 3:37:30
Official time (includes T1): 3:39:43
Nutrition: 1.5 1.75 bottles of Red-8 lemon lime, nearly 2 about 1 servings of Power Bar Energy Blasts (the raspberry ones are YUCK)

I knew the bike would be long and hard, and it was. It really was. There was some debate afterwards as to whether the course is really harder than Rotorua, but team Cornfield is united on this one- HELL YES! Rotorua is a big blat with a couple of horrible climbs, and reliable headwinds. Karapiro is 90k of pain- none of the climbs quite rival Hells Gate or Tarawera, but there are SO many, and there are ks and ks of false flats. The road varies between average and SHITE- at one point I was climbing a not-particularly steep hill, but the combo of big fat chip, massive holes and bumps and a pressing headwind made it feel like I was going nowhere. There are some fun bits- nothing quite like that fantastic descent down Tarawera Rd, but it's wrong of me to talk up the hard bits without acknowledging the 5 or 6 k of decent downhill (spread over 3 good wee blats)... Then again, some of those weren't so much fun INTO the wind.

I started off OK, but lost it a bit- unsurprising, since I was out there for nearly 3:40 (ridiculous!). I was quite grumpy and ratty- I think I actually said "fuck" out loud (in various combinations) 5 or more times!

My three big issues with the bike were:

- my ITB. I think it's partly a bike fit issue, as it's been fine recently, but it seized up the minute I went aero and never got better. At a couple of points, I felt like crying.. though that could just have been my supreme frustration, and a bit of a temper tantrum!
- comfort. My back and shoulders were sore pretty early on, and my Pearl Izumi chamois might not be the best for long distance. The constant vibration really didn't help matters- my arms were ruined!
- blisters. My feet are a mess- I should have worn socks with my zillion year old cycle shoes! Seriously- I was stupidly planning some sandal shopping tomorrow, but I think that'll be on hold.

Watch time: 2:04:44
Official time (includes T2): 2:06:53
Nutrition: 3 wee cups of water (plus lots over my head) 2 wee cokes

MAN, my run started off awesomely (hence the tweeting...) My first k was about 5:17, and I made it to the turnaround in 28ish minutes (if I'd kept it up, that would have led to a well sub-2 half). Even the hilly ks were around 5:45. I felt good- my HR was about what I thought it should be (mid 160s) and my legs were so happy to be off the bike that they were moving nicely! Unfortunately, it was hot and a bit humid, and it was lonely, and I was tired, and my pace started slowing. The hills are decent sized for a triathlon, and I remember one passing in 6:48. Blimey! My "normal pace" slowed to closer to 6:20, with the occasional 6:00 thrown in. It's not surprising that I slowed down, but usually in Rotorua, I'm a bit more consistent (always slow offroad, but not bad on) The first lap was fun, as there were people to see and wave to, but the second was pretty boring, as there was no-one out there (... I came something like seventh to last overall...) The highlight was being sprayed with a hose outside the fire station. Oh- and Phil coming to meet me at the warehouse to run the final 200m together. I guess that beats the hose!

I'm stoked with my final run time- the course might have been shortish by my Garmin (hard to tell as I had a couple of mozzers with it), but the Rotorua course is too, so even if it wasn't a great run, it was still a 2 minute Half IM run PB!

I am broken. Sunburnt, blistered and sore all over. A little downcast- even though I know this was a hard race and a training race, I feel like I could be and SHOULD be better at this triathlon lark than I am. WHY am I still letting 50 year olds pass me in the final ks of the ride? Why could I not keep it up for the rest of the half marathon?

But when I stop feeling like that, I'm pleased with my sore, solo ride around Maungatautari. I'm pleased that I can still go sub-40. We've both learned lots of lessons about our race clothing, nutrition (etc). And we can't wait to redeem ourselves in Tauranga! Please someone tell me it won't be THIS hard??

Friday, November 12, 2010

Karapiro: pre race thoughts

I don’t think this is going to be a fast race- the swim is easy, but also easy to screw up, the ride is bumpy and hilly and windy, and the run is un-flat and potentially hot. The times from last year make it look like a fast course- but that’s because the ride was around 5km short, and the run was another 1-2km off (…please feel free to correct those numbers Paul and Mike!), and this year they’ve added bits on to make sure we do our full 90 and our full 21.1.

It’s also likely to be a lonely race. Last year, there were 15 individual female entrants (and another 10-11 female teams). There were 144 entries in all, including teams. The slowest individual competitor did 6:31 and, as far as the ladies are concerned, there’s a massive gap between 12th place (5:42) and 13th (6:27). Basically, not a lot of depth full stop at the back of the field. This year there are about 150 entries, and I think it seems likely that the demographics will be about the same too (though I expect there will be fewer elite rower types!)

But it’s also going to be a fun race: swimming down the world rowing champs course to Lake Karapiro is something pretty damn neat. From the burning climbs to the familiar windy descents, the Maungatautari loop is undeniably a good ride. And finishing in central Cambridge on a Saturday afternoon will be fantastic (… even if it is a deserted ghost town by the time slow pokes like me are done…)

And it’s an opportunity to race a smart race- to practice swimming on feet, keeping a good consistent effort on the bike, staying aero for 3+ hours, and shutting up my CG on the run.

Since this is the beginning of my season, not the point of my season, I’m feeling less goal oriented than usual. My swimming has been rubbish, my cycling’s coming along, but I’m still useless, so all I can really count on is my run. Of course I’d love to smack my dream goals out of the water, and I’m hoping not to be too much slower than I was in my first Rotorua, but I’m not counting on anything. My guess is that I’ll be done somewhere between 6:20 to 6:30 (45ish swim + T1, 3:20-3:30 bike at 2:00-2:10ish run). Anything below that will be a bonus, and anything above that will hopefully be a lesson learned, or a challenge faced!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another mini tri; another mini race report

Swim: Crap again. I was all over the place. Caught up to Phil right at the end, again.

Awesome. Stayed a lot closer to the people who passed me (...and yes, they still did pass me) and felt fantastic. Rolled into T2 in 32:30- so close to the elusive 30km/h!- which is 2 mins faster than my good ride in the first race of the season and 4 mins faster than my shite ride two weeks ago. Average cadence ranged from 79 to 90 rpm (there are some good descents and some middle sized climbs).

OK. Felt great, but couldn't pick up the pace. Felt the same way I did last year in Tinman- like I couldn't go up a gear. In fact, I found myself actually doing shifting gestures with my right hand... Oops. Pace was between 4:50ish and 5:10ish (on the big hill at the end)- average probably just over 5:00. Poop! AHR for bike and run was 172- fairly consistent across the two disciplines.

I still came second to last, but this time I didn't feel like I deserved it. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, and have been reminded how much I enjoy swimming, biking and running- looking forward to Saturday (...well, with a grain of trepidation).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Race" report: Hotpotatokate's Karapiro "Tired Legs" 5k

I finished volunteering yesterday at 5:15pm (following a cheeky tipple while watching the Melbourne Cup), and knew EXACTLY how I'd use the unexpected spare time. Phil was at the Eastside 5k (...I should add that he ROCKED it in 18:38!!!), so I decided I would do my own, self supported 5k on the awesome Cambridge-Karapiro bike path.

I decided during the bike ride home that I'd jog the 2k to the path (big bottle of water in tow), then crank up some tunes and go hell for leather out for 2.5k, then turn around and come back. With the lack of competition and the general fatigue in the old legs, I decided to aim for sub 25, but to hope for sub 24. I knew it would be a bit of a miracle to see anything in the low 23:00s!

I got home a little before 6 and rested for a wee while (eating my- now customary- post volunteering cheerios), then headed out. I soon realised that my legs were even tireder than I'd realised- I just had NO lift in them at all, and the 2ish ks out to the path were a real chore, but I felt energetic and motivated, so I decided to stick with it.

My legs refused to loosen for the first k- I felt as if I'd taken off fast, but my pace sat around the 5:00 mark- usually more like half-m pace than 5k! I checked my HR and saw that it was in the low 150s, so more like E1-2 than race pace. That confirmed that the problem was my legs, so I decided just to keep going and to see what I could do. The first km passed in 5:03, with an AHR of 154. The second km wasn't much better, but I knew once it was done there would only be 500m before the turnaround. It was done in 5:02, with an AHR of 164 (the upper end of my aerobic zone). Even though I was looking at a "season's worst" 5k time, I felt pretty pleased to be running 5:00 ks with a broadly aerobic HR!

There must have been a slight headwind on the way out, because I picked up the pace pretty quickly as soon as I turned around. K 3 was 4:55, but still an AHR of 164 (... my usual HR at this point in a 5k race is in the high 170s!), and the legs finally felt like they were moving of their own accord! I kept it up OK for the fourth k, which was 4:48 (AHR 169... that's a bit more like it!), and all of a sudden it was time to grit my teeth and push the last km. I focussed on picking up the pace every 100m- it mostly worked- and finished it in 4:40, for a total time of 24:30.

The time may not be impressive, but I was pretty damn pleased with this non-race. First, I'm STOKED with the paces I was running at a lowish HR- finally, it's my legs letting me down instead of my heart ;) Secondly, I'm very pleased with the pure negative splits- every km faster than the last, and the second half around 40s faster than the first. Lastly, I was pleased with my ability to keep going on fatigued legs- after all, that's what triathlon is all about.

11 days to go!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Volunteer Duty

Most of you will know that I'm spending this week volunteering as a "Spectator Services Ambassador" at the World Rowing Champs at Lake Karapiro (which is also the home of the swim in my first half ironman of the season... 12 sleeps to go!)

It's going to be a full on week (plus two weekends), with 7:30 reporting times every morning, and finish times that will vary from 5ish to 7:30ish (with very little advance notice). I have to be honest- it's a bit more than I anticipated when I signed up (and, indeed, until last weekend!)

This, combined with (sometimes) long days on my feet, makes training hard, but I've figured out a few ways to manage it:

  • Bike commuting. The venue is about 9km away, so I've ridden there and back on my MTB every day so far. I won't have time for the commute (with headwinds, and some changing/bike storage time, it means leaving at around 6:30) if I want to swim, but it can be a great start and end to a long day, so I think I'll be able to keep it up.
  • (One way) run commuting: There's no showers at the race venue for volunteers, so a two-way run commute is out of the question, but if I pack VERY very carefully, I can catch the bus out and run back in. After a tough day, and a bit of a strop, today, I'm thinking of trying this out tomorrow.
  • Short'n' early swim: I was hoping to have time for a half hour swim in Cambridge every morning, but the bike commute takes a bit longer than I'd hoped, so I'll only be able to do it (a) with the love and support and company of Phil, and (b) if I catch the bus. A quick swim was the plan this morning, but someone who remains nameless and lives in the same bedroom as me was less than enthusiastic about getting up with me at 5:30, so a bike commute it was.
By taking care of myself, trying to stick with these workout solutions, and exercising a little self restraint at the volunteers' slice table, I think I should be OK. And even if I'm not, this is one of those neat "once in a lifetime" things- and this is a bloody good way to start the morning!