As we all know (I hope), everyone is different. Unique minds, unique bodies, different strengths and weaknesses. I landed back in New Zealand after my final China team race on 11th September. This was followed by 4.5 weeks of enforced rest. My body and mind had had enough.
This is a write up to keep things real, let you know where I’m at currently, but also give everyone an insight into how human I am/we are.
2019 has been a full on year so far and if you’ve been keeping track you’ll know that I’ve had the pleasure of competing in a new Stage Adventure Racing team with Simone Maier, Sam Clark and Dougal Allan. We had great success and managed to win all three China competitions this year (Weng’An – June, WuLong – August, and SuQian – September.
After racing Weg’An in mid-June I flew straight to Sweden. I landed about 5:30pm (around 11:30pm China time) and exhausted post the China race. It was mid-Summer day there, the peak of Summer. After driving for a few hours I arrived in Dala-Floda around 10:30pm and of course they were in full swing of a classic bbq party, plenty of food and beer. It also doesn’t get very dark. Soon I found myself up until 2am just to be social as I was a guest. The next day I was sick with a cold. But it was summer and I wasn’t going to hide indoors. So I spent most days outside. This meant 7 days later I was still sick and had to compete at the Are Extreme Challenge in a state less than ideal.
The AEC went surprisingly well. I came off the paddle in the lead, had an amazing run stage (which I thought I paced well) to have 3.5 min lead on to the final stage: Mountain biking. I rode well until 15km in and then totally completely blew. In hindsight I think I raced quite well (considering all) so will be back next year.
Once home I relaxed and had a fun holiday with my girlfriend, Lisa. All up in Northland. I recovered well and couldn’t wait to get training again for the next China trip. By now it was mid-July and the next China race (WuLong) began 25th August.
4 days into training I caught a bug again and was in bed for 1.5 weeks, I just could not get rid of it! The voice in my head reminding me that this next trip was BIG and that I really needed to get my A into G. I managed a solid 1.5 week block (yes all of 10 days) and then it was time to ease off and board the plane.
I knew I wasn’t as prepared as I’d like to be. But I backed myself to still be a useful team mate. I let the others know my state and hoped for the best. I was definitely aware that to stay with my team would require every trick I had up my sleeve with pacing, nutrition and grit. It would be possible but painful and waaaay more discomfort than usual.
I will summarize WuLong very quickly in my eyes.
Prologue: 15mins long, super short and silly. Happy with how I went. A lung burner. (38°).
Day 1: Lost too much fluids early, Needed help from Dougal and Sam up massive 1000m climb on bike stage (Heart rate low, legs being weird), Run stage towed by Sam a lot, not much to give on uphill but OK everywhere else. (42°) Absolute hell in that heat. Just surviving to finish.
Day 2: Had a brilliant day, strong to the end, helped out as much as possible (36°)
Day 3: Sick from the start line, hurt a lot to stay with team. Towed on uphill by Dougal and Sam on run and bike stages. Hung in there. (34° and overcast)
Not a particularly strong race from me but we got there and got the overall win!
Next was a trip to Phuket, Thailand for 9 days recovery before the next China race. As soon as I arrived at hotel I had a head/throat cold again. This put me in bed for 4 days and slowly came right. A few easy jogs in the Thai heat and back to China it was.
SuQian race was next on 8th September. 2km swim, 130km flat mountain bike on road, 30km flat run on road, 40km flat paddle, 30km flat run on road. around 33°.
We had a great swim with a 10 min lead. As you can imagine we are a strong cycling team, Simone, Dougal and Sam are all exceptional time trialists. We were riding about 42-45kmph taking turns for the first 60kms. But my turns were getting slower. Managing around 37-38kmph for a much shorter turn on the front. Plus the surging back to the higher speed was killing me. I knew the boys were keen to extend our gap. Our speed was definitely decreasing by the end and it was getting hot outside too. No one said anything but I’m pretty sure we were all thinking about how we may have gone a little too hard.
The run was ruthless. I was supposed to be navigating but after 2km I was already dropping off the pace and handed it over to Dougal. He had me on tow for the remainder of the run to just ensure I didn’t slowly slip back again. Sam was grabbing cold drinks faster than you could say ‘it’s too hot”, he even gave me an ice block which I just stuffed in my pants.
The next team (Raw Adventure) was catching fast and now the heat was getting to Sam Clark too. We enter the Kayak stage transition together and begin paddling together. Alex Hunt in the other team is vomiting. No one is in great shape.
After paddling together for 4.5 hours we exit together. I feel better and take the navigation back, this lasted all of 2 km. Then I felt weak again. Raw Adventure ask for a truce with us as they have lost their means for navigation so need to follow us. They are stronger runners, so if their GPS had being working it is possible they would beat us to the finish. BUT now they have given the race to us. We now know, with 25kms of running still to do, that we have won the race.
But this 25kms of running is so brutal for me, my body had really had enough. I was grunting and self-talking and blocking out the ‘please stop’ voices for a long time. All while on the towline behind Sam Clark. Eventually we make the finish line.
An incredible team effort, Simone was ALWAYS there, so consistent, barely needing help and Dougal/Sam controlled us and the team speed.
I was ruined. I did not enjoy that race. Not one bit. It was horrible to keep going but I knew I had to.
Arriving back home in NZ, I had four days of kayak instructing with TopSport and then totally ‘hit the wall’. I came down sick again with a head cold.
My body and mind had had enough. I really needed time out.
So my bikes and running shoes were not touched for over 4 weeks. Then I eased in 2 runs per week and maybe a bike. Now I am here, I am healthy again and motivation is slightly back. It was gone though and I began to wonder if it would ever come back.
Digging that deep for such a strong team really hurt me. I would probably do it again. But what we must respect and understand is that body and mind is fragile. You must let it recover. I’m hoping the rest I’ve had is enough.
From here I have a few running events coming up which I’m really looking forward too. Mission Mt Somers Marathon, and the Kepler Challenge. Both races I plan to walk/run and enjoy them. I do not wish dig too deep in them.
Then I have a Summer of mostly cycling (something that needs a lot of work) amongst all my kayak instructing and Goat pass guiding.
I hope you learnt something from my experiences this year as I sure have too.