Archive for the ‘Swim’ Category

Swimming like Nemo…

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Never have I felt less inclined to do an event. By 3pm yesterday afternoon, both our boys had come down with chicken pox and all I could see ahead was a very long week, where neither of them would be going back to work! The last thing I felt like doing was driving across town to the Blue Lake and struggling into my wetsuit.

The Blue Lake Multisport Festival is held every year during Auckland Anniversary Weekend. It’s a fantastic weekend of fun events, including a reverse aquathlon (run first, swim later!), 2km and 750m across the lake swims, fun run and sprint triathlon. It’s a fantastic weekend, run by volunteers who love the sport of triathlon and Rotorua, for others who also love the sport, regardless of whether they are beginners or experienced.

So yes it’s an amazing weekend – and we have the best weather ever at the moment – but I did not feel inspired at all to leave the house and the boys – all three of them, including Mike!

But a few things got me out the door: my old Ironman coach and amazing mother, wife and friend had just done a massive, nearly 200km bike ride, despite bike trouble; I needed to burn the calories to contribute to my strict eating plan; my friend Toni in Sydney had just done a five hour ride in the serving heat on her way to Ironman in March (like Kathy); and I got a firm but supportive telling off from a few people on Twitter – you know who you are, thank you! I also reminded myself (as I’ve been doing a bit lately) that there are many people out there who can’t swim, bike, run for a huge range of different reasons. Even though I’m seriously overweight, I can swim, bike, run so I really need to make the most of it.

So I toddled off in my mighty red Nissan to the other side of town. The Blue Lake or (Bleu as my swim coach calls it!) looked incredible – and the event organization looked fantastic, flags everywhere, professional, awesome, very proud to be a Rat!

I caught up with a few people before the race. Basically you register, get sorted with wetsuit on and everything you need, and pour into buses to get transported down to the other end of the lake. The open water swim attracts a lot of interest from swimming clubs, and this year was no different. Our bus was packed with bright, shiny young things who have never given birth or had a beer in their life. I felt like corrupting them or at least telling them that I was like them once…but then I got distracted by another six pack (not of the frothy beer kind!)

Heading down the steep stairs to the lake, a few of these bright young things had the misfortune to be following me.

“That’s a tattoo eh,” one teenage girl said to another, looking at my back.

“Yeah it’s awesome,” said the other. “What does it mean?”

“It means she’s done Ironman,” said the other.

“Wow!”

Hence followed a conversation about whether it should be Ironwoman but that part was irrelevant for me. I’ve been feeling incredibly ashamed of my Ironman tattoo given I look about as different from an Ironman athlete as you can get right now. But their little overheard conversation served as a firm and timely reminder that I AM AN IRONMAN! I had the strength and determination to do this once, and I will again.

We finally got to the beach and I headed in for a quick warmup. I felt really good and hoped this might be a great swim to end my season.

Not.

Tough, long, annoying, frustrating. About halfway over I actually contemplated pulling out! It took sheer, bullish, redhead stubborn-ness to keep going! Go I did, and eventually hit the beach in 49minutes – basically the same time I have been doing all season (ha, all season, I only started swimming again in mid-November so it serves me right! How I thought I could swim my PBs of two years ago with two months swimming I don’t know, but that’s probably a blog post for another day!)

There were a few positives to take from the swim.

1. I actually finished it!
2. I have maintained a consistent time all “season”
3. My technique and stroke is looking and feeling much better and will no doubt eventually have me swimmer much quicker times
4. I burnt the calories I needed to for my weight loss programme
5. I was reminded that I AM AN IRONMAN!
6. I have fantastic friends and whanau in the club who support me all the way

So another one to put in the bank. Onward and upwards. I may even attempt to go for a run today, you never know, wonders never cease!

And a huge good luck message to everyone doing the Sprint Tri this morning – and Mike who has headed off to do the Fun Run while I’m on chicken pox duty! Enjoy our Bleu Lake – our magnificent training playground.

Wet and wild – Whangamata Race Report!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

After a miserably wet Christmas and New Year, we headed up to “sunny” Whangamata in Coromandel for the second event in the Contact Tri Series. This is where my Ironjack journey first started, when I did my first 3:9:3 in January 2009. Back then I was only just able to squeeze into a wetsuit, did the bike on a mountain bike (and nearly died) and walked the run. I was hoping for a much better performance in the Sprint distance, in the sun, for my second time around!

 

It was still grey and gloomy when we arrived in Coromandel the day before, but the sun soon burned off the cloud and we had a fantastic day in the sun and surf at Tairua with my brother and his family. I went to sleep that night with the sound of the crashing surf in my ears, and looking forward to a beautiful, sunny race the next day.

 

About 3am I woke up with a start. It was absolutely pouring with rain. Not showers, not rain, but absolutely pouring rain. At first I thought it was the surf, but no, it was rain, and lots of it. I slept fitfully for the next few hours – how could I be so jinxed that every race I did was in the rain! By sunrise the weather wasn’t any brighter and I was actually texting down to those in Whangamata to check that the race was still on. It was. We bundled up the kids and me and drove down to Whangamata.

 

It was a slow trip in the wet and I was starting to cut it really fine. In fact, I have never cut it so fine! I collected my race pack from Ironman Mel, racked my bike, set up my gear, introduced myself to multiple Ironman winner Jo Lawn (who was racing in my age-group!) and literally ran down to the beach. I didn’t have time to pump my tyres, nor did I have time to make my customary loo stop! I also discovered that I had forgotten my race-specific swim cap and my GU! Things were not going well. I managed to grab some lovely person to zip up my wetsuit, I threw my bag at Coach Kathy’s husband, stole a cap from the technical official and hit the water.

 

In a big way. Boy did I hit the water – or did it hit me! I have never seen waves like them – and I grew up body surfing at Takapuna and Mt Maunganui! There were some terrible currents, and the surf just sucked you back into every wave. It was one of the worst swims I’ve ever done. All in all, it took 24m18 to swim just 750m – actually I think I probably swam a kilometre after being dragged in the opposite direction. Mike was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to finish the swim and it turned out Ironman Mel was getting a bit concerned because she hadn’t seen me enter the bike course and she knew the swim was my strength.

 

Phew - pleased that's over!

 

I finally staggered out of the water and up the beach into transition – leaving my race belt on the sand as I stripped off my wetsuit. Fortunately the race official found it and me and then I was on the bike. I was a bit nervous about the bike course because I had only ridden my beautiful new Specialized Ruby a handful of times, and never in the wet. Not only did I have to content with a wet road, it was still pouring with rain and I had to tackle a hilly course – for once the uphills didn’t worry me, but I was concerned about the downhill corners in slippery conditions.

 

But I shouldn’t have been worried. I had the ride of my life. Loved it. My enduring memory of my first Whangamata triathlon was of never ending hills that nearly killed me. I had been worried about the sprint distance ride because it was twice as long on twice as many of the same hills. But it was fantastic. Ruby went like a dream. I climbed well. I cornered well. The aero bars worked brilliantly. I had a blast. Who would have ever thought I would say that about a ride!

 

Literally before I knew it, I was back on the flat and heading into transition. Ironman Mel was going to run some of it with me and I think we were giggling and having each other on so much that it was a wonder we could still run! Ultimately it was a very comfortable two-lap course. I had been concerned about running half of each lap on the beach, but it was fine. I had lots of supporters around the course, including Mike and the kids, Coach Kathy and Gina, Mel and Aunty Hel. I was, in fact, having such a good time running in the rain that I only just realised that I might be able to get under two hours – unheard of for me on a hilly course. I put on a sprint and made it over the line in 1h58m27. I was absolutely stoked.

 

Having fun on the run!

 

It was wet, it was wild, but it was fun!

 

Swim

Bike

Run

Total

24m18s

51m56s

42m13s

1h58m27s

 

Taupo Half Ironman…DONE!

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

This is getting a bit back to front, with my race report for the Taupo Half Ironman done before the Tinman I did last weekend – but this is the most recent and of course, the most significant! I thought I’d get the race report done now, and try and write about how I’m feeling about it all later. Suffice to say, words nearly can’t describe how proud I am of my achievement – nor how sore I am today. I am proud and delighted with yesterday’s effort, and very very grateful for all my supporters everywhere – friends, family, colleagues, Facebook and Twitter friends – you have all played such an invaluable role in getting me to the finish line. Thank you. And now, the really hard work begins – the NZ Ironman is just 12 weeks away!

 Taupo Half Ironman Finish!

So, to the race report (its a bit long):

Set alarm for 4:15am in the end. Up and eating by 4:30am, was worried about getting my tummy sorted and getting the car packed and away on my own! Also had a sudden panic about whether I’d be able to get into the road by the Police Station. Just drove around cones. Sorted! Was in transition by 5:05am – very early but knew that I would have everything sorted in loads of time.

All went well. Laid everything out in order. Food packs with each set of gear. Pumped tyres to just over 100. Didn’t think it was going to be a stinking hot day but didn’t want to take any chances!

Left all my Leppin at transition! Realised I needed one for just before swim so had to go back. Pleased I had loads of time.

Found a Police colleague from Palmerston North by the Police Station so had a good, distracting chat while I got my wetsuit on. It was good!

 

Went into water and listened to briefing in water – didn’t put my head under just yet though – was a bit cold! After briefing, got into it, did some swimming. Was really happy with the way the wetsuit was feeling on my arms. Swam out to race start.

 

Start seemed to take a long time to come, I got quite cold. Was just waiting and waiting! Cracked up at the national anthem – didn’t quite feel like standing at attention to sing! Was happy with position.

Race started, started watch and got underway. Not too much like a washing machine, managed to hang onto loads of people’s feet! Realised very very quickly that there were lots of people at my level in the swim – or slower – was a nice feeling. Passed lots of people. Was feeling incredibly comfortable. Arms working well, breathing going well. Absolutely loving the swim. Got to the first buoy in no time, still feeling really comfortable, never needed to stop to breaststroke for a breather. Am really really happy with the swim. Room for improvement time-wise, but very happy.

Got out of water and started slow jogging along the carpet – and felt good! I passed people! Wasn’t a difficult run at all. Unzipped wetsuit along carpet, but didn’t pull out arms until going up the steps. I was ahead of time.

 

Got out of wetsuit, pulled up my change towel and very easily got out of my bikini bottoms and into cycle pants – didn’t take as long as I thought it would – I had been a bit worried because I hadn’t practised it! Even got the chafing cream on okay! Got my top on, shoved a peanut butter sandwich in my mouth while I carried on getting ready. Sort of dried feet, pulled on socks and shoes, sunglasses (put lens’ in my back pocket in case my contacts played up), put on my helmet. Put on my race number. Left. Walked out – rolled my ankle in a hole just before the bike mount! Grrr! Hoped that wouldn’t come back to bite me later!

 

First quarter of bike: Wow, feel GREAT on the bike. Very comfortable. Pants feel good. Was a bit worried about Napier-Taupo Highway. And it was absolutely fine – didn’t even need to stand to get up it! Couldn’t believe it! The slight uphill to the ETA seemed to take absolutely forever! Only a few people passed me at this point. Got onto ETA, slugged back some drink. Nice smooth road – loved it! Something metal pinged off my bike – WTF was that? Slight panic while I tried to make sure it wasn’t a wheel pin or something! Realised it was my CO2 canister which had flicked out of the rear bottle holder. Talk about a fright!

The rest of this first quarter went superbly well and exactly to plan. I ripped down the hills and was rocking on the flats. Way ahead of time. I was stoked. Had a Leppin in the first quarter. New Cyclezone cycle jersey is just awesome – first time I haven’t been constantly tugging a jersey down!

 

Second quarter also went superbly well – seemed to take forever to get to Reporoa – but it always does on this bit. Average of 27 – absolutely stoked. On the aero bars or drops most of the way. Fuelled and hydrated along the way. Still way ahead of time. Got to Reporoa (first time I’d seen Mike since Friday!) in under 1h45. Very very happy. Got off and went to the toilet. Bottom already very sore in the new spot.

A few people passed me, but I just kept thinking – I beat you in the swim! Started eating jet planes. I was very happy with this leg, and knew that I could push it over 90km – which admittedly, I don’t do in training.

 

Third quarter of the bike: Suck. Absolutely suck. The headwind was worse than any I have trained in, and I have trained in some bad wind. Constant head wind, right from the turn around. The goal was to maintain 22 to the bottom of the hills, but just couldn’t – could barely keep it above 12. It was just awful. I nearly got blown off my bike on one corner, and was going backwards in some places. It was just suck. I just hadn’t planned a contingency around wind – or that sort of wind. Had a peanut butter sandwich at some point. Also started on the protein bar. Replaced water at the aid station.

 

Fourth quarter of bike: Couldn’t wait to get to the hills! Who would have thought I would say that! And they were absolutely fine. I got out of the saddle for them, mainly to rest my bum. Actually enjoyed them! Had hoped they would give me a reprieve from the wind but sadly they didn’t. Focused on eating jet planes and protein bar and taking on fluid. Sped down the hills to get into town, but didn’t get as fast as I’d hoped due to the wind factor.

 

Completely gutted with the time. I’d done 3h55 on a bad bottom day previously and had been hoping for 3h45. Disappointed and a bit worried about how much the wind had taken out of my legs for the run. Ended up with an overall average speed of 22.5. Gutted.

 

Stuffed another sandwich down my mouth. Pulled out my change towel and managed to get out of bib shorts and into tri shorts pretty easy. Took off cycletop and put on fuel belt (which rocks by the way!) Was a bit worried about using it when I hadn’t trialled it in training but it was just awesome. Fluffed around a bit trying to decide what fuel to take. My tummy doesn’t like running very much so I was a bit worried about how that would go. In the end took a sandwich and another bag of jetplanes and protein bar squares and a Leppin. Can’t remember whether I jogged out of transition or not!

 

First quarter of run: Ouch. Left knee started hurting straight off the bike. Something I need to get sorted! I hurt absolutely everywhere! I absolutely didn’t think I could do it. Mike told me I could! Even though I was gutted about the wind on the bike, I was thankful for the conditions on the run because it wasn’t too hot – I actually felt cold at some points! Couldn’t go any faster than 130 heart rate – legs just dead. Focused on keeping moving, steady pace, taking on water. Walked hill up to turnaround.

 

Second quarter of run: Actually managed to get heart rate up into 140 for most of the rest of the run so was reasonably happy with that. Focused on taking on fluid. Realised I had only brought one Leppin with me which was a bit of a concern. At the first fuel stop they told me they had run out, but managed to grab a couple of extra gels on the way back. Still hurting but still moving which gave me a big boost! Had a Leppin at some point on the way back into town – and immediately my tummy starting getting upset. First time the whole day. I definitely need to fuel up on the bike because my system doesn’t like it on the run. With superb timing, my friend Nina appeared out of nowhere and gave me some Gastrosoothe – five minutes later problem gone. Fantastic and awesome learning for next time! Went to the toilet at the harbour. Walked the hill up to the transition area.

 

Third quarter of run: Mike was waiting opposite KFC on the lakefront with our friend Ben. I had run out of water by this stage so he ran off to get more. I was worried the fuel stations would run out by the time I got there – I already knew that the bike had set me back and my run was much slower than anticipated so I was worried about being allowed to finish. I also knew I wasn’t going to go under eight hours which was disappointing, but not a deal breaker. Just kept going. Mike and Ben then jumpfrogged the rest of the bike course, waiting for me every few kilometres and helping me keep going. They were awesome. Still running at this point! Couldn’t quite believe it! Very focused on taking on fluid because I knew I wasn’t going to try and eat anything else. Had Balance electrolytes at the aid station – fortunately that didn’t muck me up too much. Decided to walk the hills and run in between.

 

Fourth quarter of run: Man this was tough. Still running though which I just found unbelievable! Mike and Ben still there the whole way. Kept focusing on what Kathy had said – work out how to get through right now – what will get me through the next 100metres, 500 metres. Starting counting rubbish bins, flags and power poles!! More fluid at every stop. Walking up the hills. People in front of me had walked the whole of the second lap so was trying to catch them. Just got there and they started running! And then finally got to the boat harbour and on the last stretch. Walked up the hill and then ran around the corner and into the finish! Although I hurt everywhere, I still felt very okay about everything!

 

I was so stoked to finish. Everyone was so supportive and happy. I was so happy. And very proud. I hadn’t thought the Half Ironman would be the achievement it was, mainly because I knew it wasn’t the main goal, but I am so pleased to have done it. It was a huge achievement. If it hadn’t been for that wind on the return lap of the bike, my race plan would have gone nearly perfectly to plan. Everything else did, and in the end, the run wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be either.

Swim was sensational.

First part of bike was fantastic.

Second part of the bike sucked.

And the run just had to be done.

 

Taupo Half Ironman…DONE!

“Queen of the Bays”

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

I’m so far behind in my blog posts! I always think up these ‘amazing’ pieces of prose when I’m out running, and then as soon as I get back to reality, life, children, getting dinner on the table or work, they promptly go right out of my head!

So unfortunately its now a whole week since my2.8km swim for the King of the Bays event at Takapuna, Auckland.

This is an event I have literally been looking forward to for a whole year. I have been attempting to do this swim for five years, but for one reason and another, never quite made it. By the time last year’s event rolled around I had set my Ironman goal, but just in my head and Ironjack and this website certainly didn’t exist!

Probably just as well. I’d been watching the weather all week, and the forecast just started looking worse and worse. The day finally came and it was really lumpy and really cold. In fact, it got rougher and rougher the longer I was out there. The distance itself was also a huge shock to the system. I ended up breaststoking an doggy-paddling most of the way. But I did at least finish – 1hr35 minutes later – and that was more than most people. A lot of people pulled out along the way. At certain points I thought I would have to pull out too. But I learnt to swim at those beaches and even though it was really rough, I was still in my comfort zone. I was so proud to finish that event – it was a tough swim in tough conditions and I was pleased to get to the finish line.

But I knew I could do better. Conditions aside, I knew I should be able to (a) swim the whole way, and (b) do a better time. And I need to – the Ironman swim is 3.8km and I need to get out of that swim feeling refreshed enough to get on a bike for eight hours and then run a marathon. So while this year’s event was a personal, individual milestone – its also an important step along the way to the ultimate goal.

I have never spent so much time checking weather forecasts as I did the week leading up to the 2010 King of the Bays. I desperately wanted better conditons than last year. The day before was calm and still, and race day dawned even better. There was literally not a breath of wind around. The only problem? The race wasn’t starting until 2:30pm! Plenty of time for the wind to come up - and it did! Not too bad, and nowhere near as bad as last year, but not the still, lake-like conditions I was hoping for.

The start line early Saturday morning - was quite different by the afternoon!

The start line early Saturday morning - was quite different by the afternoon!

I caught a lift to the start line with my brother in law, and also met up with Mike’s boss from Rotorua. Nice to have friends around.

We suited up, sat through the briefing, and hit the beach. In my entry I had estimated my swim to take 1h15. This meant I started in the third wave of four. We started a minute apart. The final wave started before I was even half way to the buoy, and most passed me before that first buoy. I don’t know what they estimated but they were way faster than me.

It was very cold, but I was feeling very comfortable with my stroke. My wetsuit felt good and my breathing was settled. I felt good and knew it would be great. I also knew there would be no breaststroking or doggy-paddling.

The briefing was really comprehensive, and I knew there were nine buoys along the way. Its a great way to measure distance, and they seemed to pass really quickly! I resisted looking at my watch until the halfway point – 35min. I was on target to go under 1h15 – not only my time estimate, but also my goal for that race.

The buoys kept going past – and I just kept swimming. I finally rounded the Takapuna Boatramp an started heading for the final buoy. Once I turned the final buoy and could see the beach, I picked off a couple of people to pass. And I did.

I finally hit the beach and felt great! I literally sprinted up the beach – Oli tried to give me my glasses on the way but we ended up dropping them in the sand! I was on a roll and I didn’t want to stop.

Final time: 1:10:49

Sprinting up the Beach!

Sprinting up the Beach!

I knocked 25 minutes off my time from last year. I was absolutely stoked! I think I could allow ten minutes of that saving to the improvement in conditions, but I’m happy to claim 15 minutes as solid improvement.

Its not nearly fast enough for Ironman. But it gives me a boost for winter – and a base to work from.

PS: Congrats to my Mum who entered the 750m event just two days before! Am very proud.

PPS: Thanks to everyone at the finish line! Awesome to have the support.

Mike and I after the race - Oli took the pic!

Mike and I after the race - Oli took the pic!

Rocking the Bayfair Tri!

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I will try and constrain my use of superlatives, however, the Bayfair Triathlon at Mt Maunganui yesterday was absolutely sensational! I could also say fantastic, brilliant, rocking, outstanding and bloody awesome! Loved it, absolutely loved it, from start to finish.

We arrived at the Mt about 7:30am after leaving Rotorua bright and early at 6:30am. I’d been craning my neck the whole way waiting for that first glimpse of Mt Maunganui on the Tauranga Direct Road. The Tauranga Half Ironman in January at the height of summer had been windy and brutally cold. I was hoping that wasn’t the swim I was about to be in for.

When we crossed the harbour it looked like absolute glass. Sweet.

We arrived in the race area, found a park and made our way to transition. Bugger. Not so glass-like after all. In fact, quite lumpy, breezy and building.

Transition was busy, and cramped. I found a spot to squeeze into and set up. I’m definitely not one to muck around in transition – why prolong the suspense? Once you’ve double checked everything its just best to get out!

We found Mike’s swimmer, listened to the briefing, and then it was time to get into the wetsuit and head down the beach.

I was determined to have a bit more of a swim before the start in this race. I’d done a fun quadrathon with work on Friday and, even though it was just a short 300m swim, I’d really struggled to get comfortable in my suit. This time I decided I’d get those things sorted well before the gun went off.

The water was absolutely freezing! Much colder than the Blue Lake on Friday. Nothing for it but to get swimming, and then get lined up at the start line. To start with I made my way to the back lines, as I usually do. Then I suddenly decided that I’d had enough practice and it was time to start lining up at the front. I made my way into a spot and got ready to go. The gun went and I was off. All the open water swim practice really did pay off and my beat my way out of the flurry to find my own space.

The swim went as expected really. Not great, not bad. A highlight was being able to sprint out of the water and through transition, and another highlight was finishing about halfway through the field on the swim. A definite progression. And the good news just continued really.

Really quick transition and out onto the bike. On the way over to Tauranga I’d decided that a small goal for this event was to spend a lot of time on the aero bars. I’m not completely comfortable on them yet, but I knew it would pay off on this flat course. I’ve also trained on this course a few times now so I felt like I knew it. And it was time. As soon as I got onto the main road I went down onto the aero bars…and I just stayed there!

I had hoped to do the bike in 45 minutes. I reached the first turnaround point in just over 10 minutes. Fantastic! You should have seen the smile on my face, I was grinning from ear to ear. I knew if I could do that time in a strong wind I’d be looking at sub-45 minutes. I even managed to wave to Mike as we went by in the other direction.

I stayed strong on the bike on the next three legs and clocked the bike in just over 42 minutes. Stoked!

Heading into transition I had a small panic that I might have killed my legs on the ride and wouldn’t have anything left on the run. I’d done a trial run at the Mt two weeks ago and while I’d done a decent time, it was a hard reminder that its a challenging run. Heading out of the transition I had absolutely no idea how much I had left.

My second wee goal for this race was to wear my heart rate monitor so that I could pace myself on the run. I knew where I’d been sitting on the trial run, so used that as a benchmark. It took me a little while to get comfortable in the run. I knew I’d come out well on the swim, and that I had passed quite a few people on the ride, however, I knew that I would lose that on the run – I’m still a plodder.

The run went pretty well really. In fact I did the same time as I did on my trial run (44min), and that was adding a swim and a bike into the mix!

My third wee goal for this race was to finish under two hours. I’d gone well over two hours at Kinloch and I wanted to beat that. I was feeling so comfortable on the run that I actually had time and space in my head to start working out how far I had to go and what time I needed to be off the mountain in order to reach my goal. Unfortunately my stop watch hadn’t started for the swim so I had no idea how long that had taken. But I did know how long the bike was. By my calculation, I had to be off the Mt by 1h22 (bike/run combo).

When I hit the road off the Mt at 1h16 the grin came back. I knew I’d do under two hours. The challenge now would be to see how far under I could go.

I knew I had about 1km to go. By monitoring my heart rate, I knew how much I had left in me. I picked up the pace. By the time I hit the straight I was starting to speed up significantly, another few hundred metres and I was at my max. It felt absolutely fantastic to sprint the last 500m through the finish line.

1h49. Unbelievable!!

I knocked 21 minutes off my Kinloch time. Obviously a completely different course, but a sensational result even so. Absolutely stoked.

PS: Mike had a great ride and run as well. The James Triathlon train is underway.

A sensational swim…

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Being Auckland Anniversary Weekend, this weekend marks the annual Blue Lake Multisport Festival – one of the highlights on the RATs calendar. It includes a reverse Aquathon (run around the lake followed by swim), the Hinemoa Swim (2km from one side of the lake to the other) and a sprint triathlon. This year also includes a 750m swim and a fun run. The event plays host to individuals – young and old – and families from Rotorua and beyond.

Last year it was one of my first forays into the lake for an open water swim as I completed the reverse Aquathon in a team with Mike. I’m not competing in much of the festival this year as I’m getting ready for my first sprint tri at Kinloch next week. But at the last minute my friend Mary Ann and I joined forces in Team JackMAP to take on the aquathon. Like everything we do, its serious – but with a whole lot of fun!

The runners headed off with some of the fastest (including Lawrence our coach) whopping around the lake in what seemed like no time at all. Mary Ann had estimated 35 minutes, but I suited up as soon as we got back to the beach after the runners headed off. Just as well I did, a very quick 30 minutes later and we were swapping the timing transponder and I was off.

Mike, Lawrence, Kevin (Mary Ann’s husband) and the rest of our support crew were all cheering us on at this stage, so I thought I better put some of our open water swim course skills into practice. I ran in to the water (yes ran!), doing the high-knee sprint, and then dived in. It was text-book. Apart from the bit where I lost my goggles!

But, once the goggle situation was fixed, I was off. And I had a great swim. I thought I was going quite slowly, but I did think I was going smoothly, and I was trying to focus on “catching” the water. Rounding the buoys went smoothly as well. I passed a few people on the way out, but no-one passed me. I headed into the beach for the run-up before rounding the flag and back into the water. I had finally remembered to start my stopwatch when I started and I quickly glanced down at my watch (never easy without my glasses on!) But it quite clearly said just over six minutes – for 400 metres! Significantly faster than in the pool.

I was absolutely blown away.

“Wow! I am having a fantastic swim, I better keep it up,” I told myself as I went back into the water.

Second loop, same as the first – except for the unexpected chop that had come out of no-where. After the first few mouthfuls of water I tried to breath on the other side, but in the end just opted for a higher breath on my preferred right side. Buoys – all good. Into beach – all good. Run into finish line – fantastic.

All up, 13 minutes 43 seconds for 800 metres. As long as their distance was pretty accurate, that’s a fantastic swim for me and one that bodes well for Kinloch next weekend.

You can check out the link to the Blue Lake Multisport Festival here http://www.rats.org.nz/eves-blue-lake-multisport-festival/

Race Report Contact 3:9:3 Blue Lake, Rotorua

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

My race preparation for the first official triathlon of the 2009/2010 season wasn’t ideal.

 

I drove out to the Blue Lake with Mum and Oli to register and collect our race packs. The only downside to living in semi-rural Ngongotaha (which we love) is that we are now on the absolutely other side of town from the Blue Lake – and on the opposite side of Lake Rotorua! On a good day it’s at least a 25 minute drive – which, when everything else is only five minutes away, it’s a bit of a pain. I know, all you city folk, we’re lucky!

 

Anyway, we rocked up on a bit of a timeframe. It was Mum’s birthday – a bit of a milestone for her – and we were due out to dinner. The boys were both fractious and we needed to hurry. We collected Alison on the way, who had brought her wetsuit with her for dipping. I hadn’t. I had read on the race instructions that all the wetsuits would be dipped before racing to prevent the spread of a noxious weed, didymo, to our beautiful North Island lakes. However, I completely missed the bit where it said that you couldn’t collect your race pack until your wetsuit had been dipped.

 

Bugger.

 

No amount of begging and cajoling the DOC warriors would convince them to let me through. They informed me I could just dip it and then collect my race pack in the morning.

 

There was absolutely no way I wanted to do that. I have enough problems with my stomach on a normal day, let alone with pre-race nerves, so I didn’t want to add to that pressure.

 

We drove all the way back to Ngongotaha, I got dressed into my party clothes, and then Dad and I drove all the way back to the Blue Lake again. And then back halfway to home to go out to dinner.

 

Dinner over, it was home to prep the race bags, get the number onto my race belt and spend two hours looking for my tri pants. Then off for a semi-early night.

 

Alarm went off early, and Mum and I managed to get out the door early. And arrived at the Blue Lake to find ourselves the only people there. We had taken the concept of “being prepared” to a whole new level.

 

Actually we needed to be. In my infinite wisdom, I had told the folk at TriNZ that Mum and I were doing this triathlon together for her big birthday – they thought it was a great story and lined us up for interviews for TriTV which screens on TV One later in the season, and also Sky Sport. We were followed by cameras for most of the event – a hilarious feeling, we felt like real sports stars.

 

At least it distracted us from the fact it was pouring with rain and the lake was bitterly cold.

 

Finally the pre-briefing was done and we suited up and headed for the start. After testing the water I had thought it was slightly cooler than two weeks before. Wrong! It was freezing. Really took my breath away and made it very difficult to swim. I felt like I barely made it to the other end and the whole way, all I could think about was finally getting out!

 

I eventually rounded the buoy and headed for the beach, knowing it had been an average time to say the least. The cold really took its toll and it was a long walk up the hill from the beach to transition. I only broke into a run once I could see my bike!

 

Really quick transition into my cycle shoes, out the gate and off. I felt great on the bike. It was pretty warm. I had decided to just wear my Reebok singlet with my tri pants and it worked really well under my wetsuit. Really comfortable and dried quickly.

 

The route out to the turnaround point went pretty well, hills included. I was actually enjoying the ride and went absolutely whizzing down the hills, passing lots of people. I made a good turn and started for the return leg. And promptly lost my drink bottle. Bugger. I’ve been having quite a few problems getting dehydrated lately and this wasn’t a good start!

 

The hills back up felt much longer and harder than they had previously. I eventually got there though and headed back to transition. By this time most of the RATs club had arrived at the Blue Lake to help marshall for the next event. Everyone was cheering for me – it was absolutely awesome. Mike was also there with both the boys, and Dad yelling from the sidelines:

 

“Come on knickers!” Well no event would be completely without that from my Dad so it was all good.

 

I’d also been keeping an eye on Mum and she was doing really well.

 

Transition into running shoes and off. The 3km run leg was up for 1.5km and then down. Its quite a challenging run as I know from experience. I couldn’t wait for the turnaround, and then I couldn’t wait to get back.

 

I had quite a strong finish, but got passed at the last minute which was gutting!

 

The highlight, however, was a big hug from World Champion Triathlete Sam Warriner at the finish line. Absolutely awesome. I’d also caught up with her earlier in the day. That will have to be the topic for the next blog post because this is already the size of a novel.

 

I grabbed a jacket and headed back to meet Mum. She wasn’t that far behind and had run the whole way. She had an awesome event and loved every minute.

 

So overall, a good first hit for the season, but I felt like it was really hard work – much harder than the short one I’d done with Lawrence just a few weeks ago. I felt like I hadn’t improved much over the year at all.

 

Until the next day. Mum charted our results against the one we did in January, and there were some definite improvements! Then I asked her to chart it against all my results from earlier in the year and it turns out I knocked two minutes off my previous best time – and on a much harder course. So eventually I was stoked!

 

So, results from the 3:9:3 – 300m swim, 9km run (except it was 10!) and 3km run:

 

Swim including T1:     10:38

Bike including T2:       29.43

Run including T3:        22:30

 

Total:               1:02:51

 

First race of the season…done!

 

 

What a difference a week makes…

Monday, November 16th, 2009

This Saturday dawned bright and clear, and I felt absolutely miserable.

I was (and still am) completely full of head cold. I hadn’t been able to train since Tuesday morning – missing six training sessions as a result. And completely freaking out about how quickly the Tauranga Half Ironman is creeping up.

This was in complete contrast to the previous Saturday…which also dawned bright and clear. Don’t you just love the onset of summer after a long, cold winter?

Anyway, on the previous Friday night I was like a little kid the night before Christmas. Or a labrador puppy waiting to go for a walk. I was absolutely beside myself with excitement.

And the reason for the extreme excitement? The first triathlon of the 2009/10 season!! Wahoo!

It was just a little, informal triathlon organised by my coach. A short 300m-ish swim in the lake, a nine-km ride on the Okareka Loop Road (ugly) and a 5.5km run around the Blue Lake. But it was the first tri of the season and it was worth wagging my tail over!

I sorted out all my gear the night before. And double-checked it. And triple-checked it. I carbo-loaded. I got an early night. Honestly, you would have thought it was the Ironman the way I was carrying on.

I got up early, had the right breakfast, packed the car, cranked up the stereo, and headed off. I was halfway to town when I spotted some cyclists coming towards me.

“Bugger!” I screeched on the brakes and flipped a u-turn. All my early preparation came to nothing. I’d forgotten my helmet.

Back home, in the gate, run to the garage, get the helmet, run back, repeat the earlier paragraph. Am now running late.

Fortunately Lawrence’s little informal triathlon was very informal and the organisation was very flexible. I pulled up at the lakefront to find fellow RATs members in various stages of preparation.

I hauled all my gear out of the car and set up next to a fence. Still beside myself with excitement and suffering none of the nerves I had done with the start of the previous season. Not only was this the first triathlon of the season, it was also the first time I had ridden Dr Alice’s bike in an event, and the first time I’d done an event in my clips and riding shoes.

I peeled on my wetsuit – which I should note at this point fits me significantly better than last season and is no longer such a struggle to get on. Losing 10kg will do that I suppose!

It was only at this point that I took my first apprehensive look at the lake. It was a stunning day, but it was a cool wind, and I knew it would be freezing. That was to be the understatement of the year. I walked in to the water to try and aclimatise. Wherever the wetsuit covered was fine – wherever it didn’t was not! My feet were absolutely freezing, and my fingers went numb just from dipping them in the water. This was not going to be okay.

Race briefing. Very brief, very informal.

I whispered Lawrence’s wife – and Camp Mother, Lisa – that I might not make it all the way to the buoy, but I’d go as far as I could in the cold.

“No problem,” she reassured me.

Five minutes later we were off.

And it took my breath away. Quite literally. I managed to swim freestyle strokes with my head out of the water, putting my face in the water every few strokes. Then I tried a few breastrokes.

“This is ridiculous,” I thought. “Get hard.”

And that was it. I swam the rest of the way – all the way out to the buoy and then back in again. And I wasn’t last. And I beat a boy. Nice.

Peeled off the wetsuit, straight into the bike shoes and onto the bike. Nice.

Started the bike, slight incline, long downhill, long flat. Nice. Then up. And up. And up. And around a corner. And up. I had completely forgotten how hilly this very short loop road is. But I got up those hills very well – even though they lasted for about five kilometres. I even managed to stand up on my pedals. A lot. Very pleased with the effort.

I screeched to a halt (literally I think) in front of my fence post – remembering to take my clips out first! On with the shoes and off.

Feeling absolutely fantastic. Those brick sessions are really paying off. Had a fantastic run on what is a reasonably challenging route for me. I was about two-thirds of the way around when Lawrence flew past me like a lightening flash.

“Well done Jacky!” he yelled on his way past. I didn’t know whether to feel proud that he thought I was doing so well, or offended that he had expected otherwise! I decided on the former and let that carry me home.

I was on an absolute high – in fact I was buzzing the whole time, even going up the hills. I loved every second of it. That high carried me through the rest of the weekend – and my first three and a half hour ride the next day.

Which is why I was so gutted to come down with a cold the next day. But just writing the race report for this mini-tri already brings the buzz back. I can’t wait for this season. I will be slightly underdone for the Half Ironman, but I will be ready. Bring it on.

Lawrence’s Mini Tri race times:

Swim: 00:11:47

Bike: 00:29:54

Run: 00:49:55*

Total: 01:31:36**

* if I hadn’t stopped to go to the bathroom I would have done a sub-45 minute run – bugger!

** if I hadn’t stopped to go to the bathroom I would have done a sub-1h30 tri – bugger!

 

Slip, slop, slap…

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

My back creaks from neck to toe.

But not from sore muscles.

Unfortunately, I’m suffering from one of the worst cases of sunburn I have had in years and years.

Being a redhead, I’m generally pretty careful in the sun. I fry easily – I do then tan, unlike most redheds – but I definitely tend to pink very quickly.

I managed a quick 1km swim in the outdoor pool at lunchtime on Friday – and came out with a distinct tan line. I even reminded myself then, that after just 20 minutes I’d collected a tan so it was time to sort out some sunblock.

Saturday dawned fine and clear – slightly cool and a bit windy, but definitely one of those “summer is coming” kind of days. I’d already done my 6km run – and got very hot while doing it. I talked myself into the car and on to the pool. A 2km drill set with a few 500m lots at Ironman pace thrown in for good measure. I wasn’t convinced I was up for it but jumped in regardless. I was so focused on the fact that I didn’t want to be there, I completely forgot about the sun, and the crystal clear water which would amplify its rays.

As I headed off I really didn’t want to do 2km. In fact, for most of the swim I was battling it in my head. By the time I was halfway I decided to just do a bit more; by the time I’d done two-thirds I decided I may as well finish. I was also congratulating myself on my stroke which was decidedly better than its been in a while.

My 2km done I jumped straight out the pool, threw on a towel and headed home. After a quick shower and an even quicker nap (Toby is teething, oh happy days!) it was time to throw some glad rags on for a family photo. I was starting to feel a bit pink and sore on one shoulder – and noticed I’d developed a million new freckles on my forehead – in the shape of my bathing cap. Very attractive.

“I caught a bit of sun today,” I said to Mike as I jumped in the car. “I’m going to have to get sorted with some more sun block for the next swim.”

Several hours later I went to slap some aloe vera gel on my shoulder – and caught sight of the rest of it. Bright pink, the whole way down my back and down the back of my legs – all in the shape of my speedo togs. Ouch. Won’t be forgetting the sun block again!

A quick catchup…

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Forgive me father for I have sinned…its been over two weeks since my last blog post!

But that doesn’t mean that the training has stopped – it just means that our lives are even more manic than usual, and that I may have even broken my own record in my level of busy-ness.

The new job is amazing – I’m in my happy place and I feel like its the job I’ve been waiting my whole life for. I don’t think many people get to say that about their place of work so I do feel very privileged. Its also regularly a manic adrenalin rush, which has taken me closer to my triathlon goals than I ever would have thought – and I mean literally closer, as in right on top of both the Ironman and the Half Ironman course!

With five minutes notice, last week I found myself holed up in the Mt Maunganui police station, overlooking the swim course and transition area for the Tauranga Half Ironman in January. If I squinted my eyes I could just picture the excitement and chaos of race day. And it only scared me a little bit!

The week before, work had taken me to Taupo. Rather than just drive straight down State Highway 5, I decided to drive into town on the Ironman cycle route – I’m still not sure if that was a good idea or not! The turnaround point for the Taupo Ironman cycle stage is Reporoa, a tiny country town that is home to a dairy factory, a school, a general store, veterinary clinic and not much more.

We’ve based ourselves at the turnaround point for two Ironman events so far – the first time to cheer on a close friend (and accountant!), and this year to see the leaders go around for the second time. That’s right. Its not just a long way into town – you have to do it twice!

Now that I’ve spent a bit more time on the bike, I’ve started looking at these roads in a whole new way. The route is certainly a lot flatter than I remembered it being the last time I drove that way. For the most part, its long and straight, with just a few undulating hills – apart from the climb out of Taupo township on the way out. It seemed to take a very long time to drive that day. And this time I’m not afraid to say I was scared just a little bit.

The main training highlights in recent weeks have been on the bike and in the pool. Apparently I’ve made a massive improvement in my swimming stroke, so hopefully that bodes well for improving my times. Swim squad at 6am is going really well. In fact I love it and I really struggle now to swim on my own.

And, the bike has indeed become my friend and I miss it if I don’t get out on it several times a week! Hills are also becoming my friend, and I’m getting much faster. I rode around Lake Rotorua on Sunday – 50km – and I did it 20 minutes faster than the last time, which gave me a huge boost.

The other big highlight has been the people I’ve met and the new friendships I’ve made just in the last couple of weeks. The online triathlon community just keeps getting stronger and is hugely supportive and motivating. At the same time, I’ve met many like-minded people here in Rotorua with similar goals and speeds and we’ve formed new little training groups for swimming and cycling. Its much easier to get out the door when you know you’re due to meet someone at Lane One! I’ve also met new people around New Zealand who are also working towards big goals. Its good to share the good times – and the bad – and it all helps make you feel like you’re not the only one slogging it out every day and weekend to get to the finish line. What a team.