It’s certainly nice to be racing again after an interrupted 22 month period in which the only races I was able to complete with any competency were the 2011 Ironman Hawaii and 2012 Challenge Wanaka.
I didn’t go into Ironman New Zealand with any great expectations – just hoping for a solid result to confirm to myself that I was up to the task of racing at the elite level of Ironman triathlon.
The swim panned out pretty much as expected. I was able to stay with the likes of Docherty and Albert for the first 200 metres before they eased away and swam off into the early morning gloom. Realistically, there will never be any hope for me to swim with those guys and exit in 45 minutes, but with a bit more conditioning, it may be possible to swim with the second group at 47 – 48 minutes.
As it turned out, I swam the entire journey with Cam Brown. I led the first 1500 metres and then Cam came through and finished off the job. We both put our feet down at 50 minutes and after dropping almost 5 minutes to Albert and Docherty, it was going to be tough to get back into the race. This was, of course, more of a concern for Cam at the time than it was for me under the circumstances.
In the almost 400m run to the transition area, I stepped on something sharp and it lodged into my foot. It then seemed to get pulled out again by the fibres of the carpet as I ran up a set of stairs to the transition area, but it affected my momentum and Cam got away from me. This meant I had to cycle the first 95k of the 180k journey solo, before I caught both Cam and Balasz Csoke at the top of the climb just out of town for the second time.
I then led Cam and Balasz for the next 5 kilometres or so before Cam pulled through and then both Cam and I shared the time at the front for the next 40 kilometres, picking up Terenzo about 20 kilometres before the turn around point in Reporoa in the process. In this time, we had the gap to Bevan and Marko pegged at about 7 minutes and 30 seconds, but I was starting to get tired.
Just after making the turn at Reporoa with about 40 kilometres to cycle, Cam slowly eased away, Balasz dropped off the back of the group and Terenzo was, like me, struggling to hold on. Another 5 kilometres down the road, Terenzo popped completely, and I was just barely maintaining some level of momentum, keeping Cam within sight.
With 30 kilometres to go, I had exhausted my endurance, and it was a monumental struggle to get to the finish. In those 30 kilometres, I dropped close to 3 minutes to Cam and well over 5 minutes to Bevan. With this race in the legs, such a spectacular capitulation is far less likely when I compete next.
After that cycle leg, the run was always going to be a matter of survival, and that is exactly how I approached it. I hit a steady pace and tried to maintain it for the duration of the run.
Balasz caught me after the first 14 kilometre lap, but I knew he had burnt a lot of energy to do so. I ran close behind him for the next 7 kilometres before he really started to struggle, and it was here that I passed him again to move back into fourth position.
On the final 14 kilometre lap I was really concerned about my right calf, which was on the verge of locking up. I altered my stride a little to unload the calf and hoped for the best. I was lucky that no one was closing in from behind, and I cruised to the finish. I was somewhat surprised to have managed a sub 3 hour marathon, because it felt like a 3.10.
In summary, I’m very happy with the result under the circumstances and it gives me a platform to work on over the next few months.
Big thank you, as always, to Kieran and Greg from Biosymm WIM for keeping me on the road, Greg MacKenzie of Pharmacy 777 for always being there and my equipment providers – ON running shoes,Vision/FSA, Blue Seventy, and Swish Design.