Archive for February, 2010

Race Report Takapuna Sprint Tri 21/2/10

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

It didn’t matter that I came last. It didn’t even matter that by the time I finished the race organisers had finished up and I had to get my own souvenir towel and take my transponder off. What mattered to me is that I had a sensational race at Takapuna on Sunday for my second ever sprint triathlon!

I had been hoping for a much better race than at Kinloch two weeks previously. I know the Takapuna course well – I grew up in Takapuna, I learnt to swim at Takapuna Beach, I did the short distance there last year and the transition is even behind my old office building! As a result, I knew exactly what to expect, where the problem areas might be and how I would run the race. We even had a good trip up to Auckland on Thursday with the boys so I was in a really positive frame of mind.

That all changed, however, as I watched the Mens sprint distance race before mine. Firstly, most of them were wearing wetsuits, whereas I hadn’t even brought mine up from Rotorua. The sea water is so much warmer than the Rotorua lakes – and its even warmer than usual so I didn’t think anyone would be wearing a suit! And then I watched the men race around the very tight cycle course – with more than a few nasty spills. I had run the short distance last year, but I didn’t remember the course being so fast or so tight. I turned to Mike.

“I think I’m too slow for this event, I’m going to get in people’s way.”

“No you won’t,” he reassured me. “You’ve done the training, you’re really fit and you know the course. You’ll be fine once you’re on it.”

I then proceeded to work myself into a complete state – completely unnecessarily as it turns out.

I finally headed into the water – without my wetsuit – for a quick splash before the briefing.

Fantastic. The water felt amazing, my stroke felt amazing. Everything changed.

“Its going to be just fine,” I said to Mike before heading to the start line. And it was, right from the gun.

It was a very busy start, with people swimming all over and around me. But having done my open water swim course I was ready for that. I got to the first buoy in no time and feeling great. The second buoy down I was heading for the Shore. A great swim!

Exiting the water after the swim leg.

Exiting the water after the swim leg.

The walk/run from the beach to transition is nasty – up a very steep hill. I took my time, knowing I’d need my legs on the bike. I arrived in transition to find myself far from the end of the swim group – there were still plenty of bikes on the rack. I reached my bike to find someone sitting on my towel and gear while she changed shoes! Unbelievable, a few choice words were said under my breath!

I quickly pulled on my bike shoes and helmet, unracked the bike and headed for the mount line. I was about to face the bit I had been having nightmares about – clipping in on a slight rise. I have honestly been lying awake at night dreading this part of the race. After just one false start I was off and away and out on the main part of the course.

The bike/run course for Takapuna is a very tight 1.6km loop around the streets of Takapuna. Its also draft legal and it was a completely different experience watching people tuck in behind others as they made their way around the course. Counting your laps is vital in this race – some of the elite racers got into trouble last year and I was determined not to make the same mistake. I started my bike computer as soon as I got underway, and decided I wouldn’t even bother counting but measure the distance instead. Just as well I did, on one loop I asked Mike how many I’d done, and we both thought I had two to go. I was just finishing the second and realised I was still another 1.6km short – around I went again. I noticed quite a few people coming off the bike much earlier than I thought they should – I had passed quite a few people and I’m sure they should have been out there for a bit longer. At least I know my race was honest.

The other amazing thing about this course is that its fantastic for spectators because you loop the course so many times. I had a fantastic support crew which amazing everytime I came around. It really kept me going and I felt like I was whizzing along. Thanks everyone – and Mum for looking after the kids while we were out there too!

Came into transition – successfully getting out of my clips – and headed out on the run. I knew I’d passed quite a few people on the bike, but I knew they would pass me on the run. It was around 28 degrees and quite a difficult run course with lots of long uphills. I knew it would be hard work and it was. But I felt pretty good and knew I could sustain my steady, slow pace.

I finally came home in 1h33 and I was absolutely stoked. It was a sensational swim, great ride and acceptable run in intense heat. Very very happy.

Final times:

Swim +T1 14:16

Bike +T2 40:51

Run 38:00

Finish 1:33:07 (once again, if I hadn’t stopped for a toilet stop I would have gone under 1h30! A goal for next time!)


A break in the weather…

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The muggy humidity finally broke today. What a relief. I don’t mean that it was cold – it certainly wasn’t – but it was cool enough to go for a run without swimming in sweat. The drop in temperature, combined with a cool breeze and light drizzle, meant it was perfect redhead running weather!

Unfortunately I am a true redhead when it comes to getting hot and bothered! Yes I have a mighty red-hot temper (which my children have also inherited!), but I also turn as bright red as a tomato when I do the slightest bit of exercise. The Indian summer and recent muggy weather have meant every training session (including those in the pool) turn me into a beetroot for hours.

So after work I headed out with my fellow redheaded runner – Alison, triathlete, Ironwoman, journalist and friend. We both embraced the cooler weather as we left her house and ran into the forest. I was on a Level 3/4 heartrate zone run – slightly faster for me, and slightly slower for her. We ran the “flats” which lie behind Scion and adjacent to the forest. Its an area I know well as I used to take the dog there when I worked at Scion, and its a very pleasant run.

We ended up with a slightly longer run than I’d planned – 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes, but it was a great run – slightly cooler, slightly faster and I managed to talk most of the way around! That’s definitely a breakthrough for me – and an improvement! If I can talk while I run, I’ve come a long way!

Just one spin session tomorrow, one swim on Thursday, rest day Friday, short ride on Saturday – and then the Takapuna Triathlon! Cant wait!

The tools of the trade…

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

A busy triathlon season is almost coming to an end for me – although there are lots of events still planned to do and watch over the coming months. King of the Bays and the Rotorua Marathon are the two biggies that spring to mind!

But in training for these – and the ones that have been – there have been lots of things that have made life easier (or difficult!) for me this season. Here’s a snapshot of the gear I like and love:

1. My Reebok Running Shoes

Still the best running shoes I have ever had. The original pair is still going strong, and although my orthotic inserts squeak a bit until I get going, I know that’s just going to be a quick fix at the podiatrist. They are strong and supportive, but comfy and look groovy! I still love them and I still wear them wherever and whenever I can!

2. Bendon Sports Bra

A decent sports bra is an absolute priority for me and I’ve just invested in a new one. And I do mean invested, they don’t come cheap! But after I melted one of mine in the dryer I decided it was time to try a new one. I also decided to try a new brand this time, as I needed a high impact underwire, but one that had crossover straps to fit under my training and racing singlets. My new Bendon Max Out fits the bill perfectly – but can someone send me some instructions about how to get it on? I still get completely tied in knots everytime I wear it!

3. Compression Gear

After a year of training, I now wouldn’t be without my compression gear. I have Reebok branded compression gear and its fantastic. After a heavy training session I wear the leggings – sometimes even to sleep in – and by the next day I hardly know I’ve done any work. In winter I also run in them and they keep me warm and keep my legs moving! They are brilliant. I also have a shortsleeved and long sleeved top which are also great. Well worth the investment!

4. Dr Alice’s Bike

I am still borrowing my GP’s bike, which is a Specialised brand. Dr Alice was part of the inspiration for getting going on this challenge and I’ll always be grateful for that – and for continuing to loan me her bike! Its a great size for me and doesn’t swear back at me when I’m ranting and raving going up the hills!

5. Goggles

I’m onto my fourth type of Speedo goggles and I’ve settled on the Competition Racing Goggles for training and racing. I have a light purple pair which are great for swimming in the inside pool or in the wee hours of the morning when its still dark, but the best find has to be my black pair which completely blocks out the glare from the sun – both in the pool and in the open water. I love them and highly recommend the dark lenses for the summer season! My Speedo togs are also going the distance – despite the amount of chlorine I throw at them every week. I must admit I am being diligent about washing them out, but the colour hasn’t faded and the lycra hasn’t thinned so I’m happy about that!

And the gear I don’t like?

I’m not particularly fond of my very expensive cycle shoes unfortunately. Not very comfortable. But given I sacrificed a pair of knee high leather boots for them, I guess I’m stuck with them for a while yet!

And the second thing I don’t like, my cycle gloves. Every time I go out riding I remember that I was never going to ride with them again! But still haven’t got around to getting some new ones. The problem? A seam on the inside of my left thumb. It presses hard between the handlebars and my thumb and it gives me more grief on a ride than my legs and the hills combined! Must get around to getting some new ones!

Sprint distance – a whole new world!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The Kinloch Triathlon finally rolled around last weekend – it had felt like a long time between races…and more than a few gaps in the training programme! My 393 event at Kinloch last year had been a highlight – and my finish photo is the one gracing the home page of the Ironjack site.

I had been looking forward to Kinloch for a number of different reasons:

  • it was going to be my first sprint distance tri (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run)
  • it was in Kinloch, Lake Taupo, a stunning location
  • it was a fresh water swim
  • our wee family was going to make a weekend of it in Taupo

And finally, two of my training buddies were going to be staying with us for the event. Mary Ann, Nina and myself regularly make up the three musketeers as Coach calls us (actually he also calls us the three monkeys – as in see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil). I think he calls us a few other things under his breath as well but we choose to ignore that!

I was also feeling quite confident about it because I had a great swim at the Blue Lake Multisport Festival just two weeks before. But, doesn’t pride always come before a fall???

I hasten to add that I didn’t literally fall off the bike or down a hill, but my confidence quickly went out the window as soon as I took my first strokes in the swim. I felt like my arms were lead and that I was swimming through jelly. Whereas back at the Blue Lake I had felt strong and lean and that I was cutting the water like soft butter, this felt like I was just a large lump of lead. My strokes were heavy (and splashy) and my breathing was all over the show. Before I had even hit the first buoy, I had started to think about pulling out afer the swim.

Making my headspace even worse was the fact that I knew the bike was going to be very difficult and I was absolutely dreading it.

Somehow I made it around the course and out of the water – with only a few people behind me. I had hoped to finish the swim at least halfway through the group. I do believe I may be caught on video saying “well that was suck!” Charming!

I had a good transition though – wetsuit came off like a dream, I took on some water, got my bike shoes on and headed out of transition. I also managed to get my shoes into the clips onto the bike without falling off – that has been the cause of a number of nightmares in recent weeks so it was actually a huge relief to get through that okay!

The first quarter of the bike was lovely. Smooth roads around gorgeous new subdivisions with stunning views of Lake Taupo and its mountains. I finished that short loop and headed out of town. Back on a rough road and up a slight uphill I was already puffing badly. And I got passed by a “older” woman who was in the 60 – 65 age group! Ouch!

I turned onto Whangamata Rd and the challenge really began. I had planned on riding or driving the bike route so I knew exactly what I was in for. Unfortunately Oliver had become really unwell the day before and I had to take him into Taupo township to see an emergency doctor – a diagnosis of tonscillitis and some antibiotics later we were on our way back on to Kinloch, but I had missed my chance to see the route.

In hindsight, I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing, however, I was completely unprepared for the quantity and quality of the hills! It would be completely accurate to say that I absolutely slogged my way up and down those hills. At one point Mary Ann went whizzing the other way, yelling over her shoulder as she went:

“Flat course my arse!”

At that point I seemed to recall talking the girls into it by saying that it was a “relatively” flat course. And in the 393 event it is! Turns out the Sprint distance is quite different!

I finally reached the turn around and made the much quicker return. Another suburban loop and I was back at transition. Of course I had taken so long they thought I was in the next event and were directing me to do a second suburban loop. In no uncertain terms I indicated that I was indeed finished my bike and I was getting off!

Into transition and onto the run.

And…feeling GREAT! How did that happen?

By this stage it was nearly noon and it was extremely hot – baking hot actually. I kept taking cups of water at the drink stations – to pour over my head! I headed out onto the second lap and was still feeling surprisingly good. I wasn’t breaking any land speed records but I knew I was going to finish and that I was going to finish in good shape.

I scrambled up the bridge for the final stretch and turned the corner into the home run. There were people yelling for me from all directions and for the first time in an event, I nearly burst into tears. It was a very emotional finish.

Certainly it was an incredibly hard event – and a big step up from the baby tris I’ve been doing. But its under the belt now and I can move on to the next one – Takapuna in less than two weeks. And yes, it is a much flatter course!

Final times, Contact Trophy Race, Kinloch:

Swim +T1 21:13

Bike +T2 1:06:57

Run: 43:21

Total: 2:11:31

Unfortunately I’m still have problems loading photos into my blog posts, but you can check out some photos on our RATs Facebook page here:!/album.php?aid=184886&id=205232939327&ref=mf

The challenge of a stride session…

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Today’s training session was nearly not pretty. In fact, I nearly threw up – in the forest.

I’ve never done  a stride session before. In fact I wasn’t really sure what to do. Fortunately, in a conversation with Alison last week (another training buddy), she was up for a stride session today too – and she’d done them before. And even better, we both finished work around the same time – and, she doesn’t live very far from the forest, my favourite training playground.

We met at her house, got changed and did a warm-up jog to the forest – well I jogged, she ran. Eleven minutes later we arrived at the stride spot – me looking like a mashed tomato and already knackered. Did I mention it was about 28 degrees with a humidity level of nearly 100 per cent? Nice – NOT!

The stride session commenced. It was meant to be ten, 30 second sessions with pace and long strides. I’m a shocker for doing a small-step shuffling run so this was a big change for me. I nearly managed to keep up with her on the first one, and arrived at the stop point feeling pretty good about myself, puffed, but not too bad. I could definitely feel the change in running style.

The second and third sessions weren’t too bad either. However, by about the fourth and fifth I was feeling decidedly green and wobbly. And slow. And shameful. But everyone has to start somewhere right?

About this time I was very glad to be out on the session with Alison – I know if I’d been on my own I would have been looking for a way out. I know I was slow and puffed, but she was brilliant – keeping the times and keeping me going.

We finally finished the tenth lap and and I nearly collapsed on the ground in a heap. It was potentially one of the hardest things I’ve done yet in my training. After a few minutes breather, we jogged back to her place – me with two wee walks in two places.

Another session down. I don’t suppose I have to like them. I just have to do them!