Sunday, November 14, 2010

Karapiro Half - race report

The week leading to the half was different to the usual pre-race week with Nat not being around and me being super organized and having all my week's meals ready on the Sunday prior. It was boring to be on my own, but on the bright side, I watched some good war and sci-fi movies and I was involuntarily getting over 8 hours sleep. The HR checks indicated I was in good form.
So, after a couple of hour's drive I got to Cambridge and then to the lake to pick the race pack and attend the briefing, I didn't do any running or biking in the evening. A pretty average pizza wasn't the ideal dinner, but it wasn't that bad either. I had eaten well all week and I made sure I was snacking well as well. I stayed with italian Nick, one of my training mates. He was good company and we helped each other doing all the setup for the race.
Breakfast was the usual toast, peanut butter, banana and honey and 3 gels, and a shot of redbull. We drove to T1 and got things sorted, from there we drove to the swim start.
Swim + T1
The day was a stunner and Lake Karapiro looked very inviting to race. We started together with the teams, so it was about 250 peopl dashing to the first buoy 50 metres into the lake. After a left turn at that buoy, the aim is to make it to the boat ramp 2km down the road. I did what I have planned and made it to the buoy among the top 10, then got clear water and went about my business with a relaxed pace. It worries me that sometimes I may be too relaxed and not to "racy" in these type of swims. Anyway, I made sure no one went past me without me drafting of their feet. It turned out only 2 people passed me (maybe more, but they were too far off the my line of sight) Over the last 500m I picked up the tempo and got off the water in about 29 minutes (I did not wear any watches in this race).
T1 was slow, I had a gel on the run to transition and got my bike jersey, helmet, sunnies, socks and shoes and the pump. Nick came right after me and we ran out of T1 together.
I posted before about the bike course at this race. It's challenging and getting it right is getting your race right. I haven't done a lot of strength training over the last three months if I wanted to have some legs for the run I needed to be smart in using my energy. The plan was to start conservative and keep a good cadence and rythm. Eat one gel every 45 min, drink every 15. I had a cereal bar just in case, but I don't do well with solid food on races.
The first hour was spot on, I was peddalling on 98rpm, there was westerlies blowing but nothing extraordinary. As long as the speedo kept being over 36km/h I was a happy man. About a dozen people biked past me on the first hour. I wasnt sure if they were experienced in the course or just new to it and had a different plan, nevertheless it didn't worry me, wich is a good sign of mental strenght: I knew I was doing the right thing for my race and I wasn't going to deviate from the plan. I had my first gel at 48 min.
And then the hills started
I went to the small chainring on every one of them, made it to the halfway marker/aid station and had 6 riders on sight. I was happy with my plan. There's a descent of about 7km with gentle bends and good straights, I pedalled all the way down and by the end I had passed 4 of the riders. the other two were just 500m up the road. That descent marks the start of the hills, I kept working to plan and passed 2 more riders, another couple passed me as well. I had my second gel and kept pedalling, by now I was in company of someone in similar conditions, we played cat and mouse for about 20km and then he peeled off in the last hill before the lake. From the lake to T2 is about 12km into the wind. I didn't made any progress on the guy. I found a red bull in my lunchbox, downed it and kept pedalling at 98 till T2. The plan appeared to have worked, I was tired but not spent and happy to start a half marathon. The bike speedo said 2.47. Not flash, but not bad at all. T2 was fast, I got my cap and sunnies and headed out
I am used to short, fast races where the first km is real fast and then it slows down just a little bit to end up with an even faster last couple of km. The half required a different approach and it greatly depended on how much damage was done by the hill cycle course. I hit the pavement on a good sub 4min for the first 5km, then I faded a bit and kept running in good form but not very fast. I watered at the 3km, 7km and 10km and again on the same places on the second lap. I think I ran well because no one passed me and I managed to catch 3 or 4 guys that flew past me in the bike. I don't have a time, but I guess it should be about the 1.30mark.I was happy and proud the plan worked and even though I got a bit of cramping I think I've never felt so good in a half marathon run. I thought about a lot of things while running, but that's material for another post.

The overall balance is positive, very positive. I gained a lot of confidence for the next one in a month's time and I also have some feedback for the coach on areas we can improve between now and then. I missed my favourite supporter/photographer but I think she would be really proud to have watched me yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good race. I would give a lot to do a 1:30 13.1 in the best of times fresh and without a swim and a bike already done. You are the man...