After a year of planning and training, the Day finally arrived. A great program made by my Ironman Guru, Marie Higgison, and heaps of support from a myriad of training partners over the long build up, helped to set the scene. All looked good even if my race number had 13 in it!
The Wanaka course looked awesome (or fearsome depending on if you were a competitor or a spectator). Pristine lake with a backdrop of snowy mountain ranges, feeding crystal clear sub 14 degree waters… A Cycle course that was “undulating” taking in three of the South’s lakes, with breathtaking views (breathtaking hills more like) and a run course that was deceptively nice looking, running along side the lakes edge for the first half before returning up a small mountain back to Wanaka via the road.
The day dawned bright and clear, the lake dead flat and the new wetsuit booties protecting my little toes from the chilly waters. The swim went really well, minimum effort for maximum return.
The cycle went better than expected, a hot windy ride, over a long undulating course. I followed the advice (persistent Phil, I listened!) and started off drinking like I hadn’t drunk for a week, exchanging bottles of water and electrolyte at every aid station. Eating gels and bananas and a powerbar as well. I think I had got to double figures for the gels by the end. The aid station guys were fantastic, uplifting drinks and gels at 30km/hr with no worries. The three compulsory stops to try and refill the southern lakes were a little frustrating, though a good sign I had been drinking enough! The only other problem I had was not getting electrolyte drink in the last two aid stations. At the 140km mark, the girl just decided to stand there and hand me the bottle – result, bounce bounce down the road. Every other aid helper ran beside you and I managed 100% success with every pickup. Of course then the pressure was on to get the final aid station right, so of course what happens, I get water, not electrolytes! Ah well.. Still more toilet time at the next transition showed I wasn’t yet dehydrated by a long shot!
So to the run.. ah joyous. The first 19kms were all happy moments of frivolity, running well under the 2hr half marathon time I had targeted. But (there is always a but, right?), at the 19km mark aid station I took one gel too many, or so my body thought… and I rejected them in fine fashion! Game plan now in tatters (caffeine gels waiting at the special needs station only 3 kms away… life suddenly did the opposite of the course and went downhill. The next aid station was the finish chute, so was packed with spectators.. I didn’t feel like sharing my joy, so decided to run on with no intake… of course managing to get a whole 2kms further on before the inevitable.. yup the walk section! Arggh. (I had tried to promise myself no walking). A slow dawdle to the next aid station, and from there on after it was a matter of convincing myself to run from aid station to aid station, with a healthy rest at each one for a good sponge soaking and banana eating time.
I was feeling down in the dumps, until there was the moment of revelation.. it was the finish line, and the little numbers at the top were reading 11 hrs… Just like that, all the tiredness, the heavy legs, were swept away, and I ran… joyously through the finish line in a sub 12hr time! Yeehaa!
A real heartfelt thanks to all of you, who have supplied advice, training time and motivation or even simply the inspiration to compete. You know who you are and each and every one of you were with me on the day and made it all possible. THANKS!
Swim 50 1:11:25
T1 69 07:34
Bike 53 6:11:33
T2 87 08:03
Run 49 4:19:47
Overall 47 11:58:22
Age group 19