Hello my beloved public this is my account of my very 1st Ironman event at Taupo New Zealand.
My big day began at 3.50 am. Luckily I had 5 hours of deep sleep so when I woke I was excited and a bit fearful of the day ahead. I had my breakfast with my partner Sharon which consisted of muesli, yoghurt and banana with a cup of Moccona coffee. We then made sure we had everything needed for the event (at the 70.3 event I forgot the earplugs).
We arrived at the venue at 5.15 am along with about 60% of the field. The start was at 7.00 am. It was approximately 200m to swim to the start line. A cannon signified the start of the event. It took me a while to get into a rhythm. At about 200m I had doubts I would even finish the swim. The turn-round point seemed to take forever, but after that I relaxed and felt I was swimming a lot quicker. The end by the ramp came up quickly. I was happy with my time of 1.27.06 for the 3.8 km.
It was great to see my supporters (Brad, Tom, Catriona, Chris and Pete) when I got out of the water. They had left from Palmerston North at 4.30am. Thanks guys.
After exiting the water there was a 400m distance to the bike transition and as I had a leg injury I walked and ran this. After a longish transition 10.10mins I began the bike. I felt great so I took off at a good pace. I really enjoyed the first lap out to Reporoa and return maintaining a 32.5 km/hr average.
The second lap was a different story as going out the headwind was a lot stronger and plus I was feeling a bit tired. Consequently my average dipped to 28 km/hr for this lap. Also on the way back I had trouble with the gears as they kept on slipping. Luckily this problem righted itself and the last 10 km back to Taupo was enjoyable. I took just over 6.0 hrs for the 180 km and I was ecstatic with this.
Then when I got back the real test of the Ironman began. You won’t know what I mean unless you do an Ironman. As I wasn’t confident in my running I had another slow transition 9 minutes. I even got the wonderful volunteers to apply sunscreen. I began the marathon by walking the first 200m then I thought I had better try and run. As I was heading out I heard over the loud speaker the leading man was arriving.
I ran the first 2kms at about 6min pace which was the fastest I went for the whole run then I stopped at a hill just before all the motels and attempted to walk although this was more painful than running. It went through my head, “how can I go another 40 kms
when I can even barely walk?”.
While having these thoughts I saw photographer Jack McKenzie who is an avid Triathlete. He told me he walks most of his Ironman events so I said to him I’ll walk to the top of the hill where the aid station was and then pull out. When I got there the volunteers urged me to continue on, which I did. I ran very slowly taking tiny steps. Then strangely enough the pain went from my leg.
What kept me going was the Taupo public – they really embrace this event.
After completing the first lap of three I knew I would be able to finish. I was not the only one suffering out there. My marathon was slow (5.17.59), but it was still 31st of 62 in my age group which surprised me.
It was such a relief to reach the grass then see the red carpet. It gave me a boost of adrenaline and I ran this last bit as hard as I could, then heard the immortal words from Mike Reilly “Matthew Schipper, congratulations you are an Ironman”.
Then you have the medal put around your neck and are weighed. I only lost 2 kg and was now cleared to celebrate my achievement with all my supporters.
– Matthew Schipper