Saturday, 13 March 2010

Ironman New Zealand - Race Summary.

"Still No Hawaii"

It's a week now since Ironman NZ, and I've had a bit of time to reflect and relax.  I suppose overall I am still disappointed with the race last weekend.  Disappointed not to have got a Kona slot, but mainly not to have raced to the best of my ability. I’ve had a few days now to think about what went wrong and I’m still not that much wiser!

I think really it came down to a combination of three things

1. Head not there (mental preparedness)
2. Nutrition
3. Short build (lack of run base)

I had played down (in my mind) the task and underestimated just what an ordeal Ironman is mentally and physically.  I had it in my mind I’d done 9:48 and 9:29 and so should be able to do 9:15 this time.  I’d done the training and it would just happen.   Perhaps all the changes of coming out to New Zealand and the time it took to get my bike here and get into a routine may have had an impact on my training.  It was only really a 12 week build and although I got some really good volume into that time, it might not have been the best quality.  My longest run was only 2:20 and that was a race, whereas last year I ran 1:45-2+hrs maybe 8 times. 

In terms of nutrition I didn’t change much in terms of calories and carbs from the last two races. The difference was I didn’t carry all my own food,  I was relying on the Powerbar stuff that was at the aid station and not training with that may have had an impact. 

In terms of the race everything went great until the run.

There were only 1250 competitors so T1 wasn't as busy as other IM I have done recently and this was te same in teh lake.   It was a stunning swim, the sun was rising on a pretty calm lake as we lined up for the 7am start.  The helpicopter was out tracking the pro's which always adds some adrenaline.  I had some help from my new locals mates (thanks Dee) sneaking into the quiet loo's about 6:40 before quickly heading down to the lake for a warm up.  Fresh water swimming is so good compared to the sea and I felt pretty confident on the line.  

I  got a good start from the front on the inside next to the buoys, so I was able to sight clearly, I had some feet from about 10mins in and quickly settled into a good rythym on calm clear water.  I kept those feet or others pretty much all the way around.  I checked my watch at the turnaround (bit under halfway) and I was on 27:30. I was stoked and that positiveness kept me pushing all the way home, I got out of the water at 57:30 on my watch which I was over the moon with as I’d been struggling to get the splits I wanted in the pool the last few weeks. 

Transition is quite long, maybe 600m including some steps up to the T1 park, I had a good quick transition and was onto the bike in just under 62mins, all was looking great.  Out on the bike the legs felt ok, maybe not great, but within 30mins my heart rate settled.  I let a lot of guys go, but had it in my mind I would ride 5 and a bit and still be on target.  There was a bit of obvious drafting on the way out with the wind, which I didn’t get involved with (maybe I should), but I still hit the first turnaround averaging 36kph. After the first lap I was still on the same pace, I was comfortably on for 5hrs.  The second lap the wind had picked up, as I'd anticipated.  dave and I had discussed this and I concentrated on eating and took it steady to the turnaround, at which point the wind had changed a bit and I didn’t find it too bad back to T2, I was cruising and rolling through a lot of guys.  

I hit T2 in 6:20 ish, a little p’d about the time but remembering your words from Dave not to fret about the time and at this point confident I’d left enough in the tank for the run to be a good one. I nipped through T2 (I think fastest of the day!) in under a minute and although the back was a bit tight I settled myself down into low 4:20 k’s for 3:10 a marathon.

After about 5k I started to slow, there was a headwind, but I just didn’t seem to have my run legs. I kept expecting to get a second wind (I was still taking regular gels at this point), but by 10k I was starting to die on my ass, the 2nd quarter back towards the finish of lap one we had a tail wind and I kept rolling on, albeit slowing, but once I turned back into the wind for the 2nd lap the wheels came off.  It was a real struggle to get back to the final turnaround and there were spells of walking from about 24k onwards. In the end all times went out the window and it became a battle to just finish.

The 10.5k splits for the marathon were 57mins,53mins, 1:06 and 1:16.

The finish was nothing like Switzerland, I was exhausted, but more mentally.  I just felt hollow and ruined and wanted to get out of there.  So I did!  This is the first Ironman I've left feeling I wanted to do it again, I might have to come back next year and smash it...

My Age Group (30-34) was madness.  By far the most competitive of them all,  7th place in 30-34 (the last guaranteed Hawaii slot) was 21st overall in a time 9:21 and the last Hawaii slot rolled down to the 11th in AG who did 9:31. I would have needed to run 3:10 to get that slot.

I've spent more than 2yrs chasing this Hawaii dream and perhaps it's time to take the pressure off myself and have a rest? I know I can do it, but I'd need a perfect day and a perfect build to get one of the slots.  BUT I'm not sure I can quit this without achieving the goal I set myself. 

In terms of my wider 'life' plans things have taken a bit of a change in the last few months, the work here is pretty great, especially in terms of opportunities.    I'll be here until at least Christmas, perhaps longer.  

I'm thinking of enjoying some racing for the next couple of months, training hard through summer (NZ winter) and having a crack at Ironman Western Oz (WA) in December. Keeping NZ in the back of my mind.

At the moment my cycling is probably weakest (certainly weaker than I'd like it to be) so a real stint on the bike over the winter as well as perhaps another marathon would be good. I want to be able to do sub 5, even 4:45 easily at WA in December and not feel I've got to kill myself on the run to go sub 9:15.

Thanks as always to everyone, friends, family, colleagues for the incredible support, kind wishes and patience over the last few months (years). This is a very selfish thing I do and I do appreciate the impact it can have on those around me.

Special thanks to Dave Parry (HPU) for his continuing invaluable advice and guidance and all the guys in NZ that have made me so welcome over the last 3 months and helped me very quickly get back to some good form; Dee, Mike, Mel, Helen... You guys Rock!!

Some pics to follow.


Friday, 5 March 2010

Ironman New Zealand T-14hrs

I thought I'd pen a few thoughts as I have a few hours to kill, keeping out of the sun and resting up as much as possible before Ironman New Zealand kicks off in 14hrs at 7am, here in Taupo, North Island, NZ.

Another incredible NZ venue (Lake Taupo, 8am Friday 5th March '10)

This time last July I was in another hotel room, keeping off my feet and trying to relax before Ironman Switzerland.  Certainly there are a lot of similarities to that day, I'm pleased to say I'm pretty relaxed this time. Experience really does make these things easier.

I went into Switzerland thinking I was in 9:15 shape and in the end just touched under 9:30, albeit with a brief pause to fix a puncture.  After missing a Hawaii slot there by 15mins I said I'd come back here in sub-9 shape.  Now I'm not sure I'm there, I'm not going to put a time prediction on tomorrow, but I feel good.  I've had 12 fantastic weeks of solid training out here in NZ.  My mileage and training time is the highest 3 months  ever, across all disciplines, so I just hope the 12 weeks build is enough.

Conditions for tomorrow aren't perfect for speed, with a 20mph SE wind, we will get a headwind on the return leg of the two bike loops, i'm not looking forward to the last 45k back to town much!  The lake here is incredible, it's crystal clear fresh water. But, as we are situated at the north of the lake there will be a bit of a chop with the wind, that said it shouldn't be terrible and with only 1250 competitors it's not like some of the huge Ironman mass swim starts.  The run is also a two lap affair, with some gentle undulations. As we follow the airport road out of town to the South East, at least the last 10k of the run we'll have wind assistance.

There are 162 competitors and 7 World Champs slots up for grabs in the male 30-34 age grouper.  The last three years they have rolled down as follows; 2009 - 9:45.11, 2008 - 9:43.23 and 2007 - 10:05:24, so you'd hope sub 9:30 would be good enough for that golden ticket...  That's a big ask on a slow(er) course but I've got my support crew trained up as 30-34 male spotters and I'll do everything I can to get the slot...

I'm feeling good, the bike and all the bags are checked in and there's nothing to do but relax, eat and drink well and try to get to sleep in good time.  I'll post a note as soon as possible with an update but don't forget you can track results live at (race starts 6pm GMT Friday 5th March).

Thanks for all the kind wishes,  Laurence