IRONMAN NEW ZEALAND 2013
A lot of people have asked why I won’t ‘do’ Ironman Melbourne, the main reason is Ironman to me is a ‘journey’. Training is part of this journey but the ‘full stop’ or end part of the journey is either a) flying to the race destination or b) driving insanely long distances to get to the destination ie. Port Mac or Forster – Tuncurry. 2013’s edition was all about jumping on a bird and taking a quick flight across the ditch to New Zealand to tackle IMNZ 2013.
Training for my 13th edition of Ironman was probably the most enjoyable and testing I’ve had to date. I was the only one of my group training for NZ, the others training for Melbourne so we weren’t too far out of sync. The boys were fantastic, regular partner Rob Taranto was awesome – riding & running hard all the way, including our ‘run to you nearly chuck hill repeats’ which were a weekly feature. Long time mate Glenn ‘Hepps’ Heppell joined in, he was having his 3rd attempt at Ironman after several serious injuries & work. Geoff Pell joined us in early Spring as he built up for his Busso ’12 campaign then kept ticking over throughout the summer. 2 other ‘newcomers’ to join the group were Peter ‘Robbo’ Robertson who probably needs no introduction, Robbo added another dimension to our riding and lastly Lachie Mcleod. Lachie injected the fun element into our training, he was training for his first IM at Melbourne & had only raced a few triathlons beforehand -He was raw ! Raw in many ways – he was a keen student of the sport but also had raw speed. He could turn it on when riding & running and really get you working hard to keep up. His humour, want for the sport & patented ‘Gen Y’ speak took us a bit to get used to but was truely infectious. All together we became the ‘Hard Men’, not for the way we rode but due to waking up at 4:15am on Tuesday & Thursday mornings to try to crack a pb down to Mordi & back via Beach Rd. There were some insane average speeds, one ride had us going from Essendon to Mordi & back to Pickles St Pt. Melbourne with a 40km/h average. Running went real well with not many wasted or dropped sessions. Consistency with your running in my view is one of the key areas to focus on if you want to achieve that elusive IM pb. The bane of my life swimming was held at Vic Uni wth the Elite Swimming squad. Again it was a matter of getting fit for the distance and not much else as I have a well known allergy to swimming.
Rob, Jase, Lachie and myself having a breather during a double ascent day of Mt Buller!
Marie, Meg, Fee and myself all headed over on the Friday, a bit over 1 week prior to the race so that we could treat it as a smaller holiday. The week leading up was awesome, The North Island was experiencing drought conditions and as such the nights were cool and clear with the days being a sunny, clear 27°C average with little to no wind – just perfect ! In the days before the race we did some great trips around to Rotorua, Napier, a yacht cruise to the Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay on Lake Taupo, Craters of the Moon and a stack of other stuff. Taupo and the surrounding district is a sensational area to visit. All the places I just listed are all within a 1.5hr drive of each other, the locals are the friendliest going around and the whole place is real clean ie: no litter, no graffiti etc. There seems to be a large amount of pride amongst the locals. They are all helpful and really like to talk up the area which was great as it gave us more ideas of where to visit. A few days out from raceday I raced in the Taupo Tri Club Aquathlon and managed to pick up 2nd place in the long course race which was pretty cool as there were quite a few fellow Ironmen racing. It was an atmosphere very similar to WSTC with heaps of spot prizes and some good prizes also for place getters !! The rest of the time leading into the race was spent lounging around with feet up, eating & doing not much else. Training in race week was structured, light and went very well so I was jumping out of my skin to get racing.
Race Day dawned as all the other days had done – cool, clear skies with no wind. It made Lake Taupo look like a sheet of glass and already I could feel it was going to be a quick day. All the pre race tasks were taken care of with not much thought put into it, everything is planned the night before and I just go into auto pilot in the morning, not having to think too much helps keep me calm – I hate last minute rushes etc. So off to the water where I was hopefully going to see the Maori warriors come in for their Race Greeting, but bummer, I got talking to BJ and missed it. I have known BJ for quite a while now and coached him through this, his first Ironman. He was really buzzing which was great to see as he’s been struggling with a dodgy calf, he knew what was going to happen in the run and also knew what he had to do to get there, inspirational & tough stuff indeed. I waddled into the water then swam the 150m to the swim start which I thought was a nice warm up, positioned myself about 5 to 6 people back from the front and waited.
SWIM: Bang, we were off, straight away I settled into a nice rhythm, it was still a bit dark as the early morning sun hadn’t made its way over the hills yet. As the sun rose we were looking directly into it which didn’t matter as underwater you could see the underneath of the buoys and also the chain going to the floor of the lake which you could site off quite easily. It is quite an incredible feeling to be swimming in a lake with such pristine water clarity, it really makes you feel alive ! The water temperature was awesome and the swim rather uneventful, no biffo or kicks to the head at the turn buoys, just a good honest swim ! I exited the water in a touch under 1hr 05mins..... Not bad !!
RIDE: The run up to T1 is quite a long one, for the most of it I was yelling out “coming through”, “on your right” or “stay straight” as I was sprinting past the majority of the lumbering swimmers on the way into T1. The first few km’s of the ride is pretty cruisey along the Lake’s foreshore. It gives you time to settle in ie do your shoes, adjust your tackle, get your glasses sitting right, then get comfortable and up to speed for the 2 lapper. The first hill about 5km in is a doozie !
It is short, 1km or so and there were supporters everywhere. It was easy to get excited and burn up it but this wasn’t part of the plan. Didimo Dave is fast becoming an icon of the race and he was sensational with his Rasta styled pot and wooden spoon making sure his support went unnoticed, he was running up and down the hill like a mad man – Gotta love that spirit! It feels like you climb from this point for about 10km’s until the Taupo Motor Sport complex then it levels out with a few up and down bits until you get to near Reporoa at the turnaround. I wasn’t running with HR or wattage, I just used speed and PE as a guide to how I was feeling and how hard I should go. Back into Taupo for the end of lap 1, it was good to cut through the streets and head out for the 2nd lap as it gave you a bit of ‘out of saddle’ time where you could ‘sprint’ out of the corners, firing the legs up a bit.
The 2nd lap see’s you out on a private road behind the Motorsport track that is used by logging trucks which has quite a coarse surface to it so the going was quite hard. Again these km’s out of town were uphill so double whammy ! Out to Reporoa the 2nd time and my butt was starting to get a bit tender, since I was here last time in 2006 a lot of the forests have been logged and the roads have been chopped up by the logging trucks and were not the smoothest about, this was only contributing to the hammering my undercarriage was copping. My speed was good and my legs felt fine, it felt like there was a slight headwind from the 160km mark onwards so I decided to up the output to keep my speed up rather than let it drop off and conserve. It was a gamble but turned out to be a wise choice.
Again I ripped back through the Taupo streets treating it like a crit and had the legs firing for a quick T2. My bike time was 4:52:36, again not bad I thought, all going well I’ll crack a PB here !
RUN: I got through T2 quite quick and started the run adjusting my race belt, finding pockets on my racesuit to stash gels and salt tablets, getting my hat on and again – adjusting the tackle. My sore butt was a mere afterthought as the task was on now belting out the marathon as quickly as I could. About 1km into my run Bevan Docherty the eventual winner went past me so I thought I’ll tag on for a while. My Garmin had us doing 3:45min/km’s and after another couple of km’s I thought WTF am I doing this for? and pulled the pin on my ‘stalking’ of Docherty.
I settled into a 4:20min pace which was my goal time to achieve hopefully a sub 3hr 10min PB. The support along the front of the lake and for the whole first lap was incredible. There weren’t many athletes around and the crowd was all fired up and in good spirits. I got heaps and heaps of encouragement and at the end of the 1st lap was being told that I was the 1st age grouper. It was really hard to work this out as I had passed a handful of athletes, but the difference in builds, styles & techniques between the top a/g’ers and Pro athletes is not too dissimilar, making it hard to differentiate as I couldn’t see any numbering etc. Still I kept plodding along, hitting my numbers, knowing that the last lap would be tough and working on slowly building a buffer of a few seconds per km here & there just in case the last lap got a bit difficult. And difficult it got ! My first 2 laps (3 lapper) were about 1hr 02 mins each. My sore butt from the bike was really starting to hurt ! Every seam on my tri suit down there felt like it was slicing me in half, it was getting quite uncomfortable, even to the point of being unbearable. It was an unwanted distraction and it felt like I was wriggling like an eel rather than running.
Wiggling like an eel - ouch !
I could see from the last turnaround on the last lap that there was nobody close doing the same speed as me so in a way I mentally switched off. I feel I gave into the pain of all my cuts on my undercarriage and took the easy option to slow, which to now is still a disappointment, I would’ve liked to have pressed on and even split the whole run. The finish chute was empty – I had it all to myself, I could hear one of the PRO Females getting interviewed and myself running over the line was just a distraction to them, it didn’t matter as I had seen Marie, Meg & Fee before crossing the line & had a quick hug/kiss/chat to them and that is what really matters.
Y E S !!
My run time was 3hrs 09mins 53secs – a PB ! for a total time of 9hrs 13mins & 10 secs. An overall PB!
The aftermath was pretty good, I had a lot of family, friends, Ironman work colleagues, some of the Tri mags etc. all get in contact with me about my race. I didn’t really look at it as a ‘super human effort’ as one tri mag put it, rather (& I’ll bore you here) a culmination of the long days, hard efforts and training consistency that got me there. The only drawback that I had from the race was my ‘undercarriage’ which look like it had been mauled by Bengal Tiger ! It was quite unpleasant for a week or so after but we all know ‘ye good ole’ Ironman adage of pain is temporary etc.etc.
THANKS, Matty !