This is it. It’s been 2 ½ Months since I first implemented the new training structure to my weekly schedule – If you can’t train longer, then you need to train smarter – that was my situation. Nic Gill, a man well renowned as the best strength and conditioning coach around, has been assisting me since April this year. Since we met, objectives and goals have become more clear. Assessing barriers and ensuring better quality to my old aggressive training plan that was only going to work so long, my fitness level seemed to be at a plateau.
Saturday morning, conditions were near perfect. No frost, blue sky – about 7°C. I’ve learnt my lesson (see old posts!) and was layered in warm gear. I felt ready and was already warming up 30mins before race start, biking up and down Thames back streets, over-enthusiastic for it to begin.
The start was… well… lame. Months of pain filled MTB intervals seemed somewhat wasted when the usual high tempo start never eventuated. Five of us got away on first hill and quickly became 4 without noticing (#1 got well ahead). Two team riders and two individuals (myself and No.12). Us two individuals made zero attempt to provide any work at the front. I didn’t feel it was necessary. At transition to run I was calm and ready.
A vital mistake filled my head with negative thoughts quickly though: I’d left my timing chip in my warm up jacket at the start line!! . An organised event marshall had me quickly with a replacement. Phew! Run: Nailed it. Picked off the 4 people in front of me at a steady rate claiming my final victim just before the Summit. A really gnarly run on the trails, really technical and slippery with massive climb – just my forte. Final 4kms of gravel road was and always is tough but still kept pace well under 4min km’s. Run time was fastest of the day.
Into the kayak, a slick transition again thanks to the crew, I said ‘no thanks’ to the cramp stop. Bad idea. Within 10mins I had severe cramp in my quads and it haunted me for the remainder of the paddle. An outgoing tide meant for a lightning fast leg but exiting at Cooks beach and the chance to stretch my legs was extremely welcomed. I was still leading the entire race field with no others in sight. On the final 28km cycle to end the day in Tairua it became clear that I was tired. Any uphill sent me to snail pace. It was up Pumpkin hill, just 4km from the stage end that I was caught by a 3person relay team cyclist. Not thinking twice about chasing him, I continued at my pace to finish just 30seconds behind.
Day 2 forecast bad weather – strong northern gusts and rain, however the turn out in the morning wasn’t bad. Deep water start in the harbour with the strong winds meant most lined up at start line facing away from desired direction to avoid crossing too early. The tail wind and incoming tide meant for another flying fast paddle – only slowed down when the rising river current changed the water flow. I came out in 3rd place with many hot on my heels. Rain was heavy but temperature was not too cold. Into cycle I was passed quickly by two team cyclists, I took back one placing before catching top paddler and individual competitor – Travis on the flat section. Working together for a bit I decided it was enough and pulled away on the outskirts of Whangamata.
Stomping on my food in transition didn’t stop me from eating it and I set off with three teams ahead of me, one only 10meters ahead who’d past me in transition. I used him to pace me along the flat 5km of gravel and easily got ahead on the hill climb, 10mins later I caught the next team too. It wasn’t until the very top that I felt low in strength and found myself pushing on the knees, the cooler temperature made it easy not to get dehydrated. End of run I was only 1min behind 1st team and overall.
Final ride was painful but the lack of headwind that was expected made it easier. Stuffing my face with chocolate bars, sugar and caffeine, anything to use for that extra boost. Having support crew yelling motivation often was nice too. The groin wasn’t happy, in the saddle this much with tri shorts is never pretty though! Exhausted and relieved I arrived at finish line with a huge lead. Stoked.
Finshed 1st Individual male in 9hours 32mins 44secs – New race record.
An awesome event that attracts only the best type of people – there to have a good time and support all competitors. Being a two day event makes it a large gathering of happy like minded folk for a weekend of fun!
On Radio Sport for an interview tonight – bit nervous!!.