Monday, December 20, 2010

Rotorua Half Ironman race report - money in the bank

The start
we stayed 2min down from transition and could afford a long sleep till 5am. The race start was 6.25, Nat got dragged into swimming for a team, so it was three of us (Nat and I plus our mate Jeremy who was staying with us having breakfast and leaving just in time to get there, park, and set transition. Gordon, Carl, Paula, Megan and Kylie, Cyril, Oli and Sue, Brownie, Ingram, everybody was there and ready. I must say we were a bit later than planned and had to set up in a rush. The day was not great, we had drizzle and showers for the past two days. The race was going to be wet, not very hot and not very windy. 

The swim - 
I warmed up for about 30 seconds before we were ushered out of the water. The swim was a beach start and two laps in an anticlockwise triangle. The field was of about 200 guys. The lake temperature was about 18 degrees, with no current or chop of any kind, the water was clear and you could see like 10m under with no trouble. The gun went off and I was sharp to start with, got clear water in the first 50m and went about my business, without lifting my head to look until half way through the 450m we had to the first buoy. I then settled into a rhythm and kept going, I was towing 4 or 5 guys behind me and I kept towing them through the first and second buoy. After the second buoy we had another 450m of swimming to do, and I got someone else to take the leading duties. I lifted my head to check who it was and it turned out it was my mate Jeremy!, I decided to swim alongside him to the turnaround buoy. We did 13.48 for the first lap. I lost Jeremy on the first turn of the second lap and just kept going, as it was only a few more minutes to be over it. In the end he nick me by about 10/15 seconds. We both were in the top 15 out of the water. T1 was a shocker… i was rainy, and grey and I didn't have the time to set up and practice my moves, I had to grab the pump and it wouldn't stay in my racesuit back pocket, I took it in my hands and out to the bike course. 

The bike
out of transition there's a little hill, then 4 or 5km downhill and then onto the main road which is flat for about 30min. I quite didn't get into a rhythm and got passed by more people than I thought…. it is a constant in my races, that people seems to fly by me on the bike. The plan was to do my race and don't get psyched out about stuff, same as it happened in Karapiro, a few would be too aggressive to start with and then fade on the last 20km. The first 30km where a bit disappointing, but I got into the turnaround only 2min off my desired time of 1.20. The weather was drizzly, showery at times, but luckily not cold, it was a bit scary coming down the hills trying to see where I was going with no eye protection After that I got my act together and started rolling a bit more aggressively. A shot of red bull and a gel helped with the legs and the sharp mind. At 60km I started to feel even better, so I put my head down and made sure I catch a few guys that were up the road. I was in the middle of that when the saddle bag came off, I heard the noise and made the decision not to go back for it. I has lucky I didn't have a flat on the last hour. 3km later I heard another noise, it was another red bull shot gone. To top it up, I lost an arm pad from my aerobars further down the road. The last 15km of the bike are hilly and many times windy. I passed two more guys up the hill. and got into T2 just about on the time I wanted. I must say, though, that there's room to improve in at least 5 minutes on the same conditions. I lacked that "racy" mindset at times, and I paid for that. It looks like I enjoy the race soooo much that I forget that it is a race, he he.
On a separate topic, the course is an out and back, which allows to do a headcount and see where one is at. I saw the first guy and he was 5min ahead of the chasing bunch. But the good news was that my mate Jeremy was in the chase bunch, in fourth position when he got past me, and finally in 2nd at the end of the bike leg. He was flying on that bike… and would not let go of his place easily. He ended up 5th overall male, with a great swim and bike and a solid run. 

The run
I had left my stuff in a bag for T2, so it would not get too wet. It took me a bit to get everything out and I forgot to put my race number, but I am still OK with how it went. The legs were feeling OK, yet a bit stiff on the quads, but I thought I'll have a good run. And what a run it was!, I said in the previous post that it is a brutal off road run, I realize now, that I was looking through the eyes of my defeat 2 years ago. Yes, it is a hard run, but it is not as brutal as I remembered it. I got off T2 together with the first girl, that was good motivation, as I said to myself "you are not getting chicked, valen" we run the first two km together at a punishing 3.30 pace. That part of the trail has a lot of switchbacks, turns and not a lot of hills. As soon as we started to hit the more undulating bits my quads, hammy, calf, glutes all started conspiring against me and menacing with popping out of my body. It was a big bother, and a painful patch. I said I would not walk or stop unless the muscles stopped working, and I endured a fair amount of pain. It eventually got better on the flatter parts. To my bad luck, there is only about 6km of flat in the whole of the course. I was feeling well in my mind, and there wasn't any stitches or tummy cramps. it was just the legs aching, but they were able to run, so I made them go as good as the could. I passed quite a few and for the first time in some time I got passed by two guys. One training buddy, Brownie, was ahead of me like 3minutes and I each time I saw him on a turnaround I would said to him to take care that I was coming strong. there are 3 of those turnarounds and on the last one, at about half way, I realized it was doable. I kept a good pace, run past the first girl and did the last lap as fast as I was able, the HR was up there as it was my mate, I cough him with 500m to go and we had a laugh. I crossed the line in about 4.47, 2min off what I calculated, but I was extremely happy with my performance. according to my polar, the run was a 1.27, but I'll wait for the official results to get the proper time. 

The balance
this year for me is about racing and learning, and the last couple of races have been great learning experiences. They were both outside of my comfort zone, and both were strength events. There is a lot of room for improvement, but each race has given me a wealth of experience and it is all money in the bank. In this particular one I learned a lot about pain, and how to deal with it compromising as little as possible in the performance department. 
I just love this photo

After the race

it kept raining and drizzling, but each of us stayed after the race to see our mates finish. Jeremy was the first one, I followed together with Brownie, Carl did a superb race for his team and they won the mixed teams division going under 4.30. Then it was Ingram's turn, and Oli, Cyril came after that and not far behind was Julia and Gordon (Julia took the vet womans), finally Kylie crossed the line for Nat's team. While waiting we had a couple of heinekens, and a lot of chat and banter. A great weekend to finish off the year and go in holiday mode for ten days. 


  1. Thanks for the race report over there. Good job. Did you ever get your stuff back ?

  2. WHAT A RUN!! and just a totally soid race especiallly considering the conditions. Another great race and as you say "money in the bank" fer sure

    when you say "Shot of Red Bull" is that different than a normal Red Bull drink?



  3. also
    can you post your upcoming race schedule or plans? just curious

    is there a Tri on the horizon with Lance? January?