This year was my 6th visit to the Rotorua Half Ironman, 3rd year in a row biking out to Lake Rotoma and running round Green Lake. Of these last three times I was feeling the fittest and most prepared of all.
Unfortunately the couple of days leading up to race day did not go to plan, running late on my travel up on the Thursday, to having tenting issues on the Friday (ie no pegs and no tent poles – not good for a large three room tent) and finding alternative accommodation for the weekend. Then to pick up my race pack to find an item that I had ordered was not included or available. All these things would have previously thrown me completely and I would’ve been a bit of a wreck – I think the combination of experience and training really helped me cope with these hiccups a lot better than most would have expected.
The week leading up to it had a chat to Coach Ray and confirmed my plan for each section of the course – starting the swim in a more “aggressive” manner – ie not waiting at the back of the pack and tiptoeing into the water. The bike was going to be a fairly steady pace, not pushing too hard, but practicing my correct nutrition intake and keeping things steady. My idea for the run was to run as much of the course as possible, not thinking of pace, but with permission to walk a couple of areas – such as the two uphills to drink stations – one at the Green Lake drink station and the “Hot Corner” after the climb back up from Green Lake.
Race day dawned and unfortunately I woke feeling pretty constipated, even though the day promised great weather conditions we head to Blue Lake.
I started the swim near the front of the pack, slightly to one side, only to spend as least the first 500m getting squashed and bashed from the other swimmers and not being able to find any kind of rhythm and drinking far too much lake water. I managed to complete in about 40 min, was ok with this, but not happy. Going into transition I was wheezing worse than a smoking asthmatic, but put that down to the extra effort getting through the swim and the extra lake water.
Off on the bike I was mentally quite comfortable, although I dropped a water bottle in the middle of the road near the bottom of the hill. I made the mistake of getting off the bike and laying it down to retrieve the bottle (didn’t want to leave this in the path of everyone else to come), and lost most of what I had in my aero bottle. Although annoyed with myself wasn’t too worried, as I knew I could at least pick up some water on course and having retrieved the bottle I still had some R-Line with me. The rest of the bike went ok, apart from trying to cough Blue Lake out of my lungs for the first 45km and feeling pretty uncomfortable from the constipation. I did at least spot the red blur that was Javier Gomez streaking passed.
The run went pretty well, I’m certain its the most I’ve ever run on this course, although still not as fast as I would’ve like. In hindsight, I should’ve still kept half an eye on my running pace and tried to keep that in mind.
Post race I felt really good – almost to the point where I feel I could’ve/should’ve gone harder. But, I learnt a few more things on this day – from knowing I can stay calm and focused when things don’t go to plan, not worrying about the hustle in the swim, doing the best I can when it’s not feeling too good (eg on the bike), and trusting myself to push a little harder – such as on the run,
All in all – not satisfied with the end time, but learnt a lot and best of all have a lot more confidence in myself to do what needs to be done.