Thursday, 25 April 2019

Taupo Ironman 2019

I decided to enter Ironman a year before watching the event. After being a spectator for a few years it felt like the right time. Setting my mind to it early I knew I would have time to adequately prepare for such a big event. A consistent winter of training set me up to start doing the miles from October time before a block of racing from late Nov to mid December kicked off. This was one of the best periods of racing that I have had in my career which included 5 consistent races with 5 podiums across three sports.                                       

Firstly Kerikeri Half Marathon (3rd and a PB), Taupo Cycle Challenge (fastest female around lake in 4.16), Tinman Olympic Distance National Champs (2nd Female), Taupo 70.3 (3rd and 1st half ironman podium), and a win at Rotoura Half Ironman.

Post this period of racing it was back into training and some big miles banked over the Christmas-New Year Period when I had three weeks off work. This lead onto the first race of 2019 , Tauranga Half Ironman which was my best half to date with a PB of 4.16 and 3rd Elite Female. After recovering from this it was full steam ahead for Ironman NZ , with an Ironman camp and big weekends ahead. I knew I had a great level of fitness and form , and while training was important, keeping healthy and injury free was as well. As the day drew close Ironman was all I could think about and making sure I had everything prepared. It was awesome to have a great training group to train with (Foot Traffic) and train/see my coach, Rob Dallimore regularly to track my progress. My family, boyfriend and friend were also very supportive throughout this period while I spent it hungry, tired and sometimes grumpy. 

To the race itself, race morning I was relaxed, excited and ready to go! conditions looked very calm in Lake Taupo, I remember the commentators saying perfect swim conditions. In my warm up the lake was really calm and I felt strong. Waiting for the canon to go off was tense but exciting. I started close to the sighting buoys on the right side. I had Teresa Adam and Meredith Kessler starting beside me. I went out hard but within my limits, and found clear water pretty quickly but I knew I had company from the strong swimmers mentioned above. About 200 meters in, I was surprised to be fighting some chop that we were swimming straight into, and figured the wind must have picked up. I was looking forward to the swim turn buoy as it would be a faster swim back with the chop behind us. Me and Meredith swapped turns at the front, and I lead into the river to the swim exit. Coming out of the water first the crowd support was awesome and so loud! the run up the hill into transition always gets the heart rate up and I just tried to focus on the process of transition. It was my first experience of a change tent and I found myself move from first to third.

Onto the bike, the legs felt really good straight away and I pushed quite hard to the Napier hill to stay in touch with Meredith and Teresa. Going up the hill I passed Teresa and positioned myself in second. Heading out onto Broadlands Road, I heard that were had 4 minutes plus over the rest of the pro women. I knew there was a lot of cycling and running to come and needed to pace myself. I regularly checked my power to make sure I was near my target and kept telling myself to fuel. I alternative used pure gels (mixed into a drink bottle), cliff bars and tom&luke snack balls. Hydrating with Pure electrolyte as well. Turning at Reporoa , the three of us were still together and we could see Jocelyn not far away. At about 60 km we become a four, however not long after when Jocelyn was at the front I fell back (partly knowing I was too much above my power numbers for this part of the race & pushing too hard into the wind when I was leading). I still felt strong and it was good to settle into my own rhythm all the way back into town to start the second lap in third place. The wind really picked up on the second lap, and the strong crosswind made it a lot harder to get into a rhythm. I wondered where Teresa was as knew her strong riding ability, she came past me with about 40 km to go and I came off the bike in fourth place. In the last kms, I was really looking forward to getting on the bike but also felt nervous about the marathon to come, only having ever done one marathon about 8 years earlier!

Onto the run; after changing into fresh socks and sunblock on (thanks to the awesome volunteers!) I headed out onto the lake front with legs feeling much better than I thought they would! However a lot more kms were yet to be run and with the crowds cheering its so easy to go out too fast! seeing family and friends out on course gave me a real boost, and I reached rainbow point for the first time feeling in control of pacing, and nutrition. Not long after I start to really suffer from a bad stitch, one that felt like my right side was being squeezed and twisted! It got so bad I walked for a bit to hopefully ease it. For the rest of the lap I concentrated on breathing out more, and running more upright to stretch the chest out. Once this had passed, I then struggled to take on any gels, block shots without feeling a bit sick and stomach tightening up again. Following coach advice, I stuck mainly to water and coke at every aid station from the second lap onwards. Getting onto the third lap was great mentally, knowing it was the last time around the loop. By this stage my whole body was hurting but I knew I would get to the finish line. I walked each aid station to make sure I got enough water and coke on board. Seeing friendly faces especially out at Rainbow point pushed me as I made the final turn to run along the lake front to the finish. The foot traffic tent was less than 2 kms to the finish and I knew once I got there, I could enjoy the run to the finish ( in a somewhat painful, I just want to sit down state). Making the turn onto the Tongariro domain and down the red carpet towards the finish line was the best feeling! months of hard work, effort, sweat and sacrifice and I had accomplished my goal of finishing an Ironman , the outcome and placing the cheery on the top! First up were hugs with family and friends until I needed to get into the recovery tent for a lie down , I was exhausted!! Final time - 9.32 (swim 49.20, bike 5.10, run 3.27), 5th Pro Female

Overall I was very satisfied and pleased with my performance, I made some mistakes but it also validated to me I can be competitive at this distance against world class athletes. I am excited to race this distance again and gain more experience. I couldn't have prepared for this race and have a great result without the support of firstly coach Rob Dallimore (Foot Traffic), Foot traffic training partners, sponsors Blueseventy, Zeenya, Pure Sports Nutrition, regular physio from Sportslab, family, and friends:) thank you so much for the advice, support and encouragement!

Lastly but most importantly I raced with the memory and thoughts of my Mum who passed away in September last year. She inspired me constantly in training for this event with her strength in facing pain. She was such a big part of this journey and I know she would have be proud of my achievement. 💓

After some recovery weeks post Ironman it was back into some focused training for the next race. Next up is Busselton 70.3 on the 4th May, excited to race at this location for the first time!

Thanks for reading:)

Photo credit: Mark Robotham, Hamish Collie

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