Ironman New Zealand

After finding myself in reasonable shape, I managed to catch a virus two weeks before Ironman NZ. With two weeks I thought that was more than enough time to recover especially since I would be in taper mode anyways. Unfortunately I was wrong and even writing this report three weeks on, I have a crackly cough, a sore throat and stuffy nose. I tried my best to get rid of the virus with vegetable juices, vitamin C, lemsip and plenty of rest but it didn’t work. Regardless I dragged myself to the start line to give it my best shot. I didn’t really think about my virus as I chose to instead focus on racing to my potential.

The wind was ferocious and the water very rough as all the pros were completing their warm up routine in the lake. Guess its strange having waves in a lake, but not at Taupo especially not on that morning. As we made our way to the startline, it was dark and rough and we couldn’t see the turnaround buoys. We could only head in the approximate direction and hope they appeared in front of us. The traditional Ironman NZ cannon went off with a thundering bang before many of us were ready for it but we all took off in a dash. The swim groups quickly thinned given how rough the water was and I end up swimming with Allistar Caird and Scott Defilippis. We broke appart about ¾ through the swim as the leading pro woman came through. When I jumped out of the swim and saw 60min on clock, it was a bit of a shock but I knew the swim was rough and my stuffy nose probably impacted me a little. I had a fair amount of pain in my left side of my ribs, which was enough to slow me to slow jog up the hill towards transition. Since coming off the bike at Geelong two weeks previous, I have had the pain. This was particularly bad during training and at night as it would wake me up numerous times each night. Fortunately the pain disappeared as I got going on the bike.

My transition onto the bike was reasonably smooth bar the longer time than usual getting into transition. I jumped on the bike, got my feet in and started pedalling down the road. I purposely took my time getting up to my target race power, there is plenty of time in 180k to pick up later when you are on your own. I got up and around the initial hills then quickly realised the tail wind heading to Reporoa. I held back my power since I was already flying at around 55kms/hr. Once the road veered into more of a cross wind direction I picked my power up again. As I got closer to Reporoa I could see how the pro field was spread. There were a few guys not far ahead of me so I picked up my power to a reasonable level going into the head wind on the way back into Taupo. I ended up passing a few guys on my way back into Taupo and a few more pulled out after the first lap as I found myself around 16th. Everything was going to plan, I was sitting on a power I knew I could normally handle. Then as I got going through 120km my power faded and I was fatiguing quickly. Given how I had controlled my effort to this point, this was not expected or usual as I could normally comfortably hold this power in training yet alone racing. I was wrecked, and I hate using excuses but it was likely the cold/flu virus I had. I think it had fatigued me leading into the race. I struggled through the last 60km and had lower back pain which was cold to touch possibly from the flu as I had never had it before but I pushed through and finished off the last 60km as best as I could. My ride time of 5.25 was the slowest I had been in 7 years. My lower back was tight and felt freezing I was hoping I could still complete a good run and get a solid time.

As I started on the run, I was all blocked up and congested but hoped that once I got going everything would clear up. I just put one foot in front of the other and got through the first turn around at approximately 7-8km. My legs up to this point had felt tight but I started to loosen up and I was able to pick the pace up. This was a great relief but was short lived as after 22km everything seem to tighten up again. I kept the legs going one after the other trying to get the cadence up but it wasn’t really happening. Just ticking over I made through to the final lap of the run. I knew I could finish both mentally and physically but also knew the last 12km would be the most harmful in terms of recovery time. With a number of races still to come this year and opportunity for a solid result well out picture now I decided to pull the pin at 30km. With this being ironman number 21 for me, a finish is not really the goal anymore so I need to give myself the best opportunity to recover at the next race. For me now I need to get over this flu and back into training Ironman70.3 Vietnam in 8 weeks followed by Ironman Asia Pacific in Cairns.