Apologies for the delay in this blog as we head towards Ultraman Australia (14-16 May 16). Since my last blog I’ve competed in the Scorching Triathlon and Ironman New Zealand with the latter being a good build up / solid testing block for Ultraman.
Ironman week, as it affectionately is known, properly kicks in on the Thursday before Ironman with Ironman New Zealand itself always on the first Saturday of March each year and the Sunday evening being the wind-up with the Awards Ceremony. It is known as Ironman week as people start congregating in Taupo to practice on various parts of the course from the start of the week.
I arrived on Tuesday and settled into my accommodation at the Army Leave Centre and visited close friends Dave and Julie Bickner, with Dave being a retired RF Major now serving in the TF, and Julie serving with Defence as a Registered Nurse and previously as a Soldier (Medic). During the week I completed my training in the lake and on the roads as per my coach’s programme (Ray Boardman). Thursday was an excellent Welcome Ceremony with the local Iwi performing and the Race Briefing followed by a Pasta loading meal.
Saturday 5 March – Game on!
The swim went well. I lined up in my usual place at the rear of the squad to avoid the washing machine effect of 1300+ athletes taking off into the lake. I got knocked about as I swam through the swimmers, which happens in such a swim of so many swimmers. I completed the distance of 3.8 km’s in 1 hour 16 mins.
Once I went through transition it was time for the 180 km cycle. Five minutes into it my back wheel came to a grinding slow pace. I couldn’t believe it as I has test ridden my bike for 30 minutes the day before. I got off and disconnected the rear brake thinking it was sticking and took off again only for it to continue. The only thing I could think of was that since the day before I had inflated the tyre to the correct level the morning of Ironman. So I tapped the valve and released some air. It fixed the problem however I was riding the 180 kms on low tyre pressure and prayed for it to not blow out. I carried spare tubes with me, but not a spare tyre.
I made it to the finish line with a PB (Personal Best) of 180 kms in 6 hours 5 mins… go figure. The next day I checked the tyre pressure and it was on 62 PSI instead of 95-100 PSI.
Into the run and I had to ‘plan my race and race my plan’ as I had a calf problem in the past. Nikki the Physio from Wellington Medical Centre was unsure how I should run it but suggested for the first 10 kms I should run 1 km and walk 1 km, repeating the process. She was unsure what would be the best plan after the initial 10km.
Ray had suggested to not increase the run duration but decrease the walk duration. For the first 10 km I ran 1 km and walked 1 km and for each 10 km after that I ran 1 km but reduced the walk by 250 metres then ran the final couple of kms. I shoveled ice down my calf compression sleeve at every Aid Station and my calf held up well. It is so easy in these kind of events to become carried away with the hype and throw the plan out the door. Sticking with the plan everything worked well, thanks to the advice from Nikki and Ray.
You can’t beat an Ironman finish line. That last 200 metres where the finishing chute is packed with well wishers and half of the Taupo population is out there involved one way or another. Then Mr Ironman himself Mike Reilly, calls out on the loud speaker… John Humphries – You are an Ironman.
The best part was seeing colleagues competing and supporting, particularly friends and family. Many thanks to my partner and family members who travelled to the event and Army colleagues such as Derrick McMillan and Clive Douglas who were snapping shots, Rod and Kim Hickling for their encouragement along with Steve Harvey and his Junior Officers manning the Gun Crew to start the race and then enjoy the day. My colleagues who were competing for their ever supporting comments as they ran past me during the Marathon phase such as Tommy Hirst, Ron Skelton, Lincoln Nicholls, Gerard Bell and their families providing encouragement, plus another Qwik Kiwi Member Di Chesmar for driving to Taupo to support her Qwik Kiwi colleagues.
Ironman = 226 kms which is made up of a 3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle and a marathon run of 42.2 kms. My time was 12 hours 48 minutes which I was happy with considering I rode with a partially inflated tyre and ran / walked the marathon.
Bring on Ultraman Australia where I fund raise for the Fallen Heroes (KIWI = Killed, Injured, Wounded, Ill).
Regards Humps (John Humphries)!