Self coached again through this with the aid of Training Peaks which was great for LCW but I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get a coach if I want to improve beyond where I am now.
Build went pretty well. I hit pretty much what I wanted to at LCW last year and was performing nicely in Oly and sprint distance. My bike has improved hugely according to my numbers from Taupo where I went in with an FTP of 219 and currently at 254 my swim was feeling great and my run has remained strong. I messed up training a bit in retrospect, my first week of the last four was spent in a hotel in Islamabad with a crap gym and a 10m pool. I decided to swap the recovery week from the end of the previous block which ended up me being overly fatigued and messing up two weeks rather than just one. Lesson learned.
This was my second full and I was planning on a 10:30 with a 5:40 bike, a 3:30 run and the swim being the swim. Ha!
My two big learnings from Taupo were to taper better and to drink more on the bike and run. The taper went exactly according to plan and I was feeling great in the weeks preceding the race.
We drove up to Port on the Thursday, leaving Sydney nice and early. The wonderful and ever patient wife was accompanying me again and we had two of our Sydney friends coming up late on the Friday too. I was well up for this race, really excited and looking forward to the day. The vibe around town was great and I couldn’t wait to have a crack.
We were staying in Beachcombers following advice from the wonderful folk on Transitions. It’s in a good spot, a 1.8km walk from the swim start but right on the run and bike course. It’s good accommodation but our room didn’t have any cooking facilities which wasn’t the end of the world but was unexpected.
Thursday night we headed into town for dinner to use our $30 voucher at the Drury Lane Eatery which was brilliant!
Friday morning I headed down to the swim start for a practice and met up with @Flanman. Lovely to meet @iFoz and say hi to @MissJess too. AP wandered past but I didn’t get the chance to say hello. Mick and I went out for a swim together and he showed me around the course for which I am extremely grateful :D. Turns out we were staying about 5m from each other in Beachcombers so I got a lift back with a little tour of the run course thrown in. Hurrah for Trannies!
For the rest of Friday we went to the koala hospital and then the rainforest walk where we got a tour for just the two of us (only because there was nobody else there, I didn't splash out on a private tour). Both of these were great and I would highly recommend although the koala hospital is a pretty short excursion!
There had been a lot of worry in the run up about weather but the day dawned beautifully with still water and not much wind. That was to change later!
My guts felt a bit funny from the moment I woke up but I managed to get some food into me, the usual preparation (a bit more focus on suncream this year after losing a lot of skin following Taupo) and started the walk down to the start. Transition was buzzing and I was getting properly excited.
Needed another visit to the loo so spent a good half an hour in the world’s longest queue.
I swam 1:12 in Taupo which was a straight out and back. The Port course is more complicated but with the salt water and a year of swimming in me I was hoping for a 1:08 or 1:09 so I joined the mid-back of the 1:07 to 1:12 group.
I loved the mass start in New Zealand but the rolling start added its own form of excitement. The walk down to the water was wonderful and I entered the water (a lovely 19 degrees) to the sound of Queen.
We set off to the first turn and after the buoy I had a glance down at my watch and was amazed to see I was swimming 1:35s!
Headed back past the start and out to the second turn towards the weir, pace dropped down a bit to the low 1:40s but I was feeling great. I had underestimated my swim massively though so was swimming through people constantly and couldn’t find a nice pair of feet to hang off.
We got to the weir for the first up and over and I was actually looking forward to the water on the other side which Trannies has informed me would be colder… I can categorically confirm that it is not, more likely a couple of degrees warmer, the difference was notable. A quick out, back and over again and we were into the back straight, feeling great.
Out the water and into transition with a 1:06:45. A very fast time for me in a day of fast swim times. Struggled to get my wetsuit off but managed in the end, looked up to see @Sebeesquatting next to me so I said a quick hello, had a small boast about the swim time (Seb knows how slowly I usually swim that distance from LCW) and it was out to the bike.
This was my first long course tri with a power meter and my plan was to hit a NP of between 65 and 75% of FTP which placed the upper end at 191, this was the range I had trained on and had run happily off the back of . I knew that the hills in and out of town would push me above that in the short term but the flats further out should let me settle into it and bring that back down.
Out through the rollers and NP was up at 202, I knew I had to calm down but I was also looking at my average speed which was obstinately nowhere near the 33kph I needed so I pushed too hard into the headwind. Lots of crosswind also in play making it a bit hairy with a disc on the back.
The headwind became a tailwind for a nice 15km section on the way back and average speed crept up again. MFD first time round was find and then the fun back into town is pleasant although the roads were still a little scary at times. I hit the turnaround for lap 2 bang on 2:50 so was feeling not too shabby knowing if I could replicate then I would still be on track for a time I was happy with.
Lap 2 was when I first started to think I was in a bit of trouble. I picked up my nutrition from special needs and put some of it in my bike bento bag and the rest (4 gels) without thinking properly I shoved in my back pocket on my tri top rather than into the back pocket of my shorts.
Rollers on the way out seemed to go on forever again and then settled into the headwind which, if anything, appeared to have picked up. Average speed had dropped down to 30.5kph and I was hoping to pick it back up again on the run back in with the tailwind but by the time we got to that bit the wind had dropped away or so it felt and my average speed was stubbornly sticking below 31kph and NP was too high.
As I got into the last 90 mins I reached back to get a gel and realised they had bounced out, this was the start of things going wrong properly. There was no way I could afford 90mins without nutrition so I had to grab a Ironman branded gel at the next aid station (disgusting) and the same again. I then got stuffed by a nearly empty water bottle hand up and the one after that I dropped and didn’t go back for so I was eating unfamiliar gels and not drinking enough.
Bike time of 5:54:47. 17 minutes faster than Taupo but not where I wanted it to be.
I was so happy to be off that bike. My head had gone down. I wanted this done in whatever way I could get it sorted, I knew that was easier on my two legs than my two beautiful wheels (still in love with my bike). But I cracked out of T2 with plenty of sunscreen and my carried water bottle feeling good again.
Jumped into a group and pootled off at 4:45s (aiming for 5:00s) and felt great… With my aid station stops the pace was creeping up but I was fine with that, we were still under the 5:00s I needed. Until 16km. I’ve heard the expression “the wheels fell off” but wow, never thought it would be like that. I literally thought I was going to die (exaggeration I know but it felt like that at the time). I couldn’t see properly, I felt extremely dizzy. I came very close indeed to pulling the plug and then I started bargaining and didn’t stop for the rest of the day. Ran to 20km (walked aid stations) and then to 25km and then started a 100m walk, 900m for the rest of the race.
I went past my crew twice more and couldn’t stop, I knew if I stopped at any point then I would be out of the race and wouldn’t be starting again.
At 3km to go I started to run again and found I had the legs (this then made me even more annoyed with myself because why hadn’t I run earlier?).
I can’t really remember the last KM or the finish chute. I crossed the line feeling nothing but relief, euphoria was a long way off.
Run time: 3:50.
Total time, 11:01:42.
Twenty mins faster than a year ago. Not what I had hoped for but better than 20 mins slower.
I wasn’t in a good way and so spent 10 minutes with the medics before grabbing some watermelon and then starting to shiver. I had a little cry with a stranger and then realised I didn’t want to be there so went to try and find Mrs Monkie who was waiting patiently outside. I immediately informed her that IM and me were done. Olys and sprints only from now on.
We walked back to the hotel and I got in the bath, struggling to get warm then struggling to get cold and then passed out shivering in the bed.
Next morning I woke up feeling ON TOP OF THE BLOODY WORLD!
Here’s to the next one.