This is the 2nd time I have worked with Coach Ray in the build up to an Ironman. Previously, I purchased a 12 week plan after Ironmaori half, and was able to take 40 mins off my full distance time. Wanting to take my training to the next level, and really test my ability, I joined Qwik-Kiwi April 2019 for an 11 month build up to Ironman New Zealand 2020.
This plan tracked very similar to the previous year, which enabled me to keep my family informed on where I’d be and what I’d be doing, and most importantly, how long I needed on each day of the week, which was crucial in a household that contains a 6 year old and 1 year old.
Our build up would include the Huntly Half Marathon, Taupo Marathon, Hamilton Half Marathon, and the Ironmaori Half Ironman before finishing up at Ironman NZ. Milestones were achieved along the way with testing in the pool, FTP tests on the bike, and 5K time trial runs. Highlights would also include me going under 2 hours for the first time at the Hamilton Half Marathon, third place in my age group at Ironmaori, and a PB of over an hour at Ironman NZ.
I would recommend Coach Ray to anyone looking for a triathlon coach. His plans are based on consistency, making sure that you are able to back up your training to your own ability day after day, without feeling absolutely thrashed! This consistency, as well as a measured taper, had me standing on all my start lines, refreshed, relaxed, and confident in my ability. Thanks for helping my smash my goals Ray.
Do the mahi, get the treats
IRONMAN NEW ZEALAND 2020 RACE REPORT
The morning dawned with no wind, and with the 70.3 race taking our 7am kick-off time, the extra hours sleep was welcomed by myself as well as my support crew. A quick stop at transition to drop off my helmet, bike computer, and sort the first part of my nutrition and hydration needs, I set off for the lake front for karakia with the Ironmaori crew.
Once down on the lake front it was clear to see, that what ever light winds there were, it had caused a bit of a ripple on the lake surface. It was not a significant chop, but it was at this time I was grateful I had completed a recon swim on the Thursday with a couple of friends in very similar conditions. After goodbyes to my support crew, I entered the lake to warm up, (yes the temperature of the lake was warmer than standing in the yacht club car park) and acclimatise.
I set myself up a little closer to the shore, as the areas around the marker buoys seemed a lot more congested.
BOOM!!! We’re off. Chaos! However in the grand scheme of the day, it is short lived. I found several sets of feet to draft off as we made our way down the course, battling the slight current and chop. It was marker seven before I had made my way to the middle of the course, which gave me confidence that it had been a gradual crossing and I hadn’t panicked. Making the turn, with the small chop we had now assisting us, and heading for the Waikato river, there was a noticeable increase in pace. This had me catching and passing other groups, and after 1:10, the first part of our journey was complete. A one minute improvement on last year, I felt fantastic for the first marathon of the day, the trip to T1!!!!!
Transition went without a hitch, and so off we went on the bike. Plan: keep the power down and the cadence up, it’s gonna be a long day, and drink at least every 10 minutes and eat every 20.
I enjoyed the new layout of the bike course, the ride out of town is now a more gradual climb, and the new loop at Vaile Road, Broadlands, just breaks up that monotony enough to keep you stimulated and engaged, not to mention the road surface through there is fantastic. Reporoa came and went with no drama at all, and at this stage of the day, wind was not an issue at all. Heart break hill knocked off, I enjoyed the descent back in to Taupo, and soaked up the energy of the crowds on Lake Terrace, and threw an appreciative wave to my wife and kids and the round two battle with Broadlands Road commenced.
By now the field is really strung out, but as I mostly train alone, any company at this stage is a welcome distraction. The descent of Heartbreak Hill was a bit different to the norm, we had a head wind, a rarity when heading in this direction. Reporoa for the last time was a welcome landmark, and it’s always nice to see some friends who had made the trip out to support. Thankfully the breeze had decided to hang around and give us a helping hand as we headed back to town. This also brought about the breaking up of the cloud cover that had been hanging around all day, and a definite rise in temperature, it’s going to be a warm run. As I made my way up Tongariro Street, I heard the unmistakable voice of Mike Reilly, ‘the voice of Ironman’ welcoming home our 2020 champion in record time, congratulations Joe Skipper. Checking my own time as I handed my bike off to one of the volunteers, I realised I had taken 40 minutes off my best bike time for 180kms! 6:23.
The moment of truth at Ironman is always the run, if pro athletes have no idea how their legs are going to feel on the run, age groupers don’t have a prayer really. Thankfully my legs weren’t too banged up as I made my way down the chute to T2, and the 42.2kms of survival began. Plan: walk the significant uphills, and walk the aid stations. With it warming up, I wanted to make sure I was always hydrating. An uneventful first lap is not a bad thing but the pain starts to set in on the second, and half way through the run, my sense of humour was starting to wear thin. With the last lap under way, I began to try and figure out what kind of splits I needed to run to go under 13 hours, a simple mathmatic task under normal circumstances. The response from my brain was, “maths or running mate, not both, you choose”. Fair enough, we’re under a bit of stress I thought, I’ll check in again with 10kms to go, my brain laughed at me!! As I turned for home for the last time I knew it was going to be tight to break 13, I was tired, I was sore, and had 7kms that I was going to have to run, these are the times you think of all the sessions you pushed through, when you trained when you didn’t want to, the days where you didn’t press the snooze button. I relaxed at the red carpet, I walked, strolled down the finish chute and looked over at Mike Reilly as he pointed at me to welcome me home and deliver “Brett Johnson from Huntly, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”. 12:56:50, 12:57 flat by the time I stopped my Garmin. my mission, accomplished.
If I never get to do another Ironman, I’m glad I can say I gave it my best shot in 2020, I trained the best that I could, I executed as well as I could on the day, and I can be proud of my efforts knowing I couldn’t give anymore, not everyone that takes on this event has that luxury.
– Brett Johnson
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