Thursday, January 16, 2014

5 years on - Rotorua Half Ironman race report

The Rotorua half was my first half ironman and third ever triathlon 5 years ago. It was December 2008 and I've been training for 6 months to race. I didn't have many mates from the triathlon world, I had attended a few brick sessions with who was later my coach. My parents were arriving to spend Christmas in NZ, so there were a few checklists and plans in place to ensure I could survive a race longer than anything I've done before in any sport.
The race went well to start with, I was top 12 out of the water, reflecting my strong(er) swimming background, the bike business was long, tiresome and plagued with GI issues due to overplanning on my behalf (oh… the younger days when I would actually follow other's nutrition advice) the run was stinking hot, with a personal worst over the distance that has stood the test of time :-(. All in all, a great day at the office, and a steep learning curve in the endurance world a was happy with a 5:19 knowing there was potential to go under 5 with all the learnings taken on race day.
5 years is a long time and a lot of things have happened. The most important of them is that I have, over the period, applied myself physcally and mentally to train for endurance sport. I've done countless hours of running. I've cycled over hills, country roads and a number of places, I've woken up at 5 in the morning to go and beat the sh-t out of me in the swimming poo. I've drunk litres of coffee with mates chatting and exchanging learnings from racing, training, gear and so on. In that long time I've become a better athlete and a better person overall. 
This years iteration of the Vegas half was a different kind of monster. The swim course is a 1k lap that we do twice, the bike leg changed to a different course with a few more rolling hills and the run was made thougher with the introduction of a section of off road running around the green lake. My preparation was different as well, race plan was a lot simpler and the only downside is that I didn't prep my wetsuit, so I gave away a few minutes on the swim. 
The bike section is a test of good pacing, there are many hills and after the 2nd hour of racing they start to make a dent in your strength. One has to be mindful of that and not get carried away when some team racer or a youger athlete powers past in the first 45km. 'Tis also important to fuel some sugar to the old muscles, hills are not climbed burning fat, they are sugar-suckers and one has to plan for that. Remember, this is just the middle section, there are 90 to 120 minutes of running to follow. In brief, I got out of the water in 30th place in just under 30min and came back home 12th after biking my way through. 
The run is 85% off road, and I like to think myself as a good off road runner, so there was a good change to make up some places. As it happened, it took me longer than anticipated to get my rhythm and it was well over 5km when I started to run at the desired pace. I cought one, two and thanks to the company of a team runner, I kept the pace to pass #3 on the last 4km of the race. I finished in the top 10 of the race, how cool is that!.
It was so cool that I had a wee chat to my grandma who was looking from above.

Anything else to say about Rotorua half?
A great race in a great location. and a good way to celebrate the sport in company of two good mates who also came racing and the amazing support crew (a.k.a. the wifes) 

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