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Challenge Wanaka - TriathlonFull Ironman


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Lake Wanaka, Otago
New Zealand
Challenge Family
20C / 68F
Overcast
Total Time = 14h 07m 13s
Overall Rank = 184/228
Age Group = Women 18-29
Age Group Rank = 9/11
Pre-race routine:

I woke up at 4:30am, had breakfast, changed into swimsuit and warm clothes and walked from my house to the park in the dark. I encountered fellow athletes while walking, so I spent time chatting with them as we walked to transition. I've never lived on the course of a long distance triathlon, so this was an entirely different feeling altogether. I knew every single molecule of water in the lake, every twist and turn (and sheep) on the bike course, and every single stone on the single track of the marathon. That's not to say I wasn't terrified as fuck for my first iron-distance race. That and the forecast called for "Strong gusty northwesterlies". The Northwesterlies off the Southern Alps on the South Island in New Zealand are pretty legendary, so when the weather forecasters add superlatives to the regular Northwesterlies, you know it's going to be brutal. And it was, even in the dark when the world is usually calm.
Event warmup:

I pumped up my tires - everyone had to flatten their tubes because yesterday's scorcher had the bike tubes overheating and popping. I then got body marked (622), got my bike ready, and sat on my wetsuit talking to people in my age group. The young girls (W 18-29) were on the opposite side of the rack of the pro men (funny how that works out...), and just a few bikes downstream from the pro women so I was distracted enough watching and listening to their conversations. I knew pretty much everyone organizing the race and volunteering, given that I'd been living in Wanaka for 2 months and had volunteered for the last 2 months week in and week out to help the race director out. In that way it was very comforting in the 1/2 hour leading up to the race because so many people as they rushed to and fro came up to me to wish me luck, ask me how I was doing etc etc. It was amazing, I felt so lucky to live in such an awesome town. What is there to say, at 6:30am the water in the lake was so incredibly choppy that people ended up becoming sea sick. I got in for a bit, peed in my wetsuit, got myself warm, swum a few laps to figure out my rhythm in the water and then got back out.
Swim
  • 1h 14m 2s
  • 3800 meters
  • 01m 57s / 100 meters
Comments:

5/11 AG, 22/46 women, 106/228 OA

I knew today was going to be a tough day, especially on the bike. And I knew that swimming was my strong suit but there was no point in trying to go for a PB on the swim, given what I knew I would have to face in a few hours' time. So I cruised and expended basically no energy. Given my low effort levels, I was still surprised at how well I did. Everyone swam longer than the 3.8km because you couldn't see the buoys ahead of you. Not that it wasn't marked well - there were bright orange buoys every 50m but with the swells you were lucky if you saw a buoy once every 3rd or 4th sighting. But I cruised and got out of the swim as if I'd barely done anything at all.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, given the conditions I did perfectly. Not get punched in the eye, though. That'd be nice.
Transition 1
  • 06m 59s
Comments:

You grab your swim-to-bike gear bag, run up a ramp to a bridge over the street and run back down and then go into your respective changing tents. One of the volunteers in the tent was a friend of mine so she screamed and yelled and jumped up and down with glee when she saw me, then proceeded to very efficiently dress me. I was packed, in cycling gear and ready to begin my adventure.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I did almost forget to put on my cycling shorts but realized I was pantless before I walked out of the tent!!
Bike
  • 8h 03m 15s
  • 180.25 kms
  • 22.38 km/hr
Comments:

10/11 AG, 40/46 women, 217/228 OA

I stayed controlled in the rollers despite feeling awesome. I didn't want to be one of those racers that bombed it on the bike because they "felt awesome" and then paid for it on the run. So I stayed controlled, and was even terrified to push it too much when I had a beautiful tailwind down from Hawea Flat to Cromwell. I averaged around 32km/hr with the mini rollers, but mainly tailwind. HR was in zone 1, but I knew I'd have my work cut out for me in the last 70km with the headwind coming my way. That was one good thing about knowing the course. A lot of people expected a headwind when they would turn around from their tailwind, but a lot of them didn't know just how potent this headwind could be. And today was the most brutal day I have ever seen. So they smashed down the tailwind, and cried on the way back up. It was indeed brutal. I stayed tucked into aero for hours, crawling at 18km/hr in high zone 2/low zone 3 with a headwind of 70km/hr. I stayed hydrated, I stayed on top of my nutrition, and I spent the hours talking to myself and repeating sentences in my head. For 10' I would repeat "The road is short The road is short The road is short The road is short", then for the next 10' I would say "Pain is temporary, glory is forever", or "The chip seal is flying under my wheels". Of course, it wasn't flying underneath my wheels, I was rolling over each and every rock and could feel it. I saw men break down and cry here, not believing they had 70km of slow pain to endure. Crosswinds were whipping everyone about, and most didn't know how to handle it.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I'd broken down and passed out from dehydration and misery on a training ride on the course a couple weeks back because of the wind, the heat, and the total lack of civilization along this long stretch of road. This time, even though the winds were 100x worse than the previous times (which were "only" 40-50km/hr), I was prepared, I had aid stations to keep me hydrated and I just got into my zone and blocked out the sound of the wind howling and I plodded on. I don't think there's such a thing as going "too easy" on the bike portion of an iron-distance race such as this... I could have easily gotten into zone 2 for the tailwind portion and average mid 40s km avg, but I knew the heart would have its work cut out for it in zone 3 on the way back. It wasn't worth it for that extra speed. I wouldn't do anything differently. I know bike is still my weakness, but at least I played this smart and set myself up for an awesome marathon.
Transition 2
  • 05m 5s
Comments:

In the last 400m of the bike course, as you head into transition, it is alongside the lakefront. The winds were so severe coming off the lake that sand AND ROCKS were being flown into the road and our bikes were slanted sideways. The air was filled with sand flying. I'll never forget that image. But I got off the bike, racked it, grabbed my bike-to-run bag and got into the change tents. 3 other women were in there, complaining of the bike (as the wind battered our tent roof). But I ignored them, smiled, and put on my running shoes, my favourite run tee and shorts and got to my favourite portion of a triathlon: the run.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing.
Run
  • 4h 37m 49s
  • 42.16 kms
  • 06m 35s  min/km
Comments:

4/11 AG, 19/46 women, 119/228 OA.

My first half marathon was 2:15:25 (6/12 AG, 23/46 Women, 148/228 OA), and my second half marathon was 2:22:24 (4/12 AG, 19/46 Women, 120/228 OA). This means I can seriously hold my own on the swim and on the run, and seriously improved in standing as the marathon progressed. But let me describe how the marathon went.
I got onto the course and the first thing I had to do was tighten my cap on my head so that the wind wouldn't blow it away. The second thing I did was take 2 painkillers (why not?) and drink water from the course. Every single cup of water had dirt floating in it because the winds were carrying everything everywhere. It was going to be a GOOD run, I could tell. And so I set off onto the course. I knew the run course backwards and forwards, too. It's uphill for the first 1.5k, then back downhill to reach the paths by the water. We stay on gravel paths, then single track for the next 13 or so km. The wind was so strong that you were literally stopped in your tracks at times. But I love running and so I continued without a care in the world. At the first aid station, km 3, I took in a gel with caffeine. Let me preface this by saying that I never consume caffeine so when I do I get seriously "in the zone". My cadence was high, my effort was low, and nothing ached. I felt perfect, and just had to make sure that I kept cool and drank enough to avoid sidestitch issues. At each aid station I would sponge my neck, my arms and face, then drink water and sip on the fuel belt bottle I carried throughout the run (which had a concentrated strictly electrolyte drink in it, no calories). I peed once the first time around. I got into my zone and slowly started to pass people that were stronger bikers (or stupider/poorly-paced iron-distance racers). I took a gel with caffeine every hour, and just focused. The single track is small ups and downs, then we head onto the road for a steep uphill, then back onto gravel paths for a gentle long downhill, then back on road for another hill, through a park, down again, up again... you get the gist. Up, down, nothing dramatic... headwind, tailwind. The course is gorgeous, most on isolated single track and gravel paths by the water, and some along house-lined streets with Wanaka residents spending the day cheering athletes on. The run back into town is with a strong tailwind and a gentle downhill. The first loop of the run felt amazing, would I totally implode in the second loop?
Well, I took another 2 painkillers (again, why not?) and headed back out, this time with a white wristband to prove I'd run one loop of the course. I headed back out, this time feeling a minor sidestitch coming on. I cured it quickly by running tall, drinking enough water, sipping on electrolyte and taking in a 3rd gel in the 3rd hour. Also caffeinated. At this point I knew I couldn't take any more gels or caffeine. I could taste the caffeine sliding down my throat and didn't like it. But I was happy to be running and now that I was on the 2nd lap of the run course and still going strong, the run became a minefield of athletes that had blown up. I passed dozens of people (there are only 228 doing the entire iron-distance) on the 2nd lap, I was just picking them off. Some were barely running, many were run-walking, and some were just flat-out walking. I kept the cadence high, I kept the focus laser sharp and just ran. The HR was still very low, but such is the nature of the beast - the heart and the body are tired. I kept going at an easy cruisey "go forever" pace until the 32k mark. With 10k to go, I tried to pick off as many people as possible. I got delirious comments from fellow athletes, such as: "HOW do you have so much energy?" and "You're making this look ridiculously easy". Honestly, the marathon wasn't that challenging. I knew where I was at all times on the course, and I knew where I had to go, so I just went. Yes, the body was getting tired but I didn't feel like shit, I had zero GI issues, and nothing really ached. So in the last 10k, I sped up and drank coke and water. I flew by people. The last 1.5k were beautiful, cruising with the tailwind, absolutely amazing crowds on the main street in Wanaka. When I saw the finish chute, and saw my time I was so proud of myself for the achievement. I was grinning, absolutely overwhelmed, laughing and crying a little too.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, this run was perfectly executed. It was PERFECT. The one thing I could improve upon is knowing my run limits over such a long distance. I'd never run farther than 30km, and I though the 30km mark was some magic number where things start falling apart bodily. Nah, after the 30km there's just 12 more km and it's pretty much the same thing. But I left pretty much everything on the course.
Post race
Warm down:

My friends were cheering for me at the finish line, loud as all hell and cheering like mad. I ate watermelon, got weighed (I did not fluctuate one kilogram, can I say that I hydrated this PERFECTLY), grabbed a cookie and a banana and put my number down to get a massage. I chatted with a couple guys, 3 that were part of a team, and one guy that I had passed on the run course. I was feeling alright, as long as I got some salty food in me STAT. I finally got my massage (amazing massage therapist, I'm getting a full-on massage from her later this week), grabbed a cupful of salty soup and another cookie and walked home with my friends. They carried my bike and bags and I walked barefoot as the sun set. Yes, it was epic. Then I peed in a bush by the side of the road. Finally made it home, ate some more (I needed salt, and more salt! My flatmate's tortilla chips saved the day!!), showered and sat in the massage chair that one of my flatmates owns. Then we walked back down into town to see the last 4 competitors come in and the fireworks show. Iona, one of the commentators for the race (and assistant director to the race or some such official title), was so amped up on RedBull or something similar that she was speaking so fast that you could barely understand her. Everyone on the Challenge Wanaka team (Vics, pregnant Nicole, Iona, Alexa, Lucie, all 3 leg directors and all the volunteers) worked so hard to make this day happen. Some were pulling 23-24 hour shifts that day. We brought in the last 4 racers. All 4 were over the 17 hour limit but on a day such as today, the toughest Challenge race ever, and probably one of the toughest iron race conditions EVER, who cares about time limits? The town was screaming and cheering and absolutely amazed at what these last four athletes achieved (2 men, 2 women). Fireworks brought them home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

1-My bike strength.
2-The fact that I am a lightweight and winds crush me
3-The 70km/hr winds, gusts and general psycho weather conditions. To see how a pro fared, see pro Canadian triathlete Luke Dragstra's report of the race (http://www.lukedragstra.com/?p=126). It was brutal.
In the end, I could have pulled off a 1h to 1h30 improvement in time had conditions been better (1st pro female this year, the ever indomitable Belinda Granger was 1 hour slower than usual first pro female times on this course). In the end, today was an achievement due to the weather conditions we did have to face, not despite them. The next day, when one of the race officials spoke of the race, they said this: "When the car leading the first pro male was driving at under 20km/hr on the flats, at the speed of the top pro, we knew the age groupers were seriously suffering." My time of 14:07:13 in these conditions just adds fuel to the fire for the next big one.

Event comments:

This race is phenomenally organized; the people directing the race, the 3 leg directors and the organization are all superb. It's in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet. To have had this race as my first iron-distance... well, it's going to be hard to live up to and surpass my expectations now!!
Pros blogs re. race:
Courtney Ogden: http://courtneyogden.com/?p=573
Luke Dragstra: http://www.lukedragstra.com/?p=126
Jamie Whyte: http://www.triathlontribe.com/blog/post/show/id/105
Keegan Williams: http://keeganwilliams.blogspot.com/2011/01/wanaka.html
Jimmy Johnsen: http://dtrsportsmanagement.com.au/blog/?p=2657
Josh Rix: http://www.joshrix.com/newsdetails.php?year=&id=17




Last updated: 2010-05-21 12:00 AM
Swimming
01:14:02 | 3800 meters | 01m 57s / 100meters
Age Group: 5/11
Overall: 106/228
Performance: Good
Suit: nineteen W XS
Course: It's a 2 lap kind of rectangular course. It was incredibly choppy but I had gotten used to the choppiness of the lake swimming in it these last 2 months. I actually enjoyed the swells and the waves hitting my face.
Start type: Run Plus:
Water temp: 16C / 61F Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
T1
Time: 06:59
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
No
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
Biking
08:03:15 | 180.25 kms | 22.38 km/hr
Age Group: 10/11
Overall: 217/228
Performance: Good
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: The course is one of the most beautiful bike courses in the world. Set in the South Island, in NZ, we visit 3 of the most pristine lakes in the world, with gorgeous mountain views. It's truly an epic course. The first portion is an out and back along Mt Aspiring Rd, with gorgeous views of Mt Aspiring and Lake Wanaka. Rollers, and partially shielded from the wind. Then we're back in Wanaka and head out the other way out to Lake Hawea, more rollers and a headwind. We're then treated to a beautiful tail wind for a downhill portion of the course to Luggate. We then make a turn to head out to Cromwell, a slight downhill and a tailwind the entire way, but then the last 70km from Cromwell are a slight uphill and into the most brutal and gusty Northwesterly winds I have ever experienced. 70km/hr winds that stop you dead (the pros were going sub 20km/hr here), with crosswinds and gusts to boot. One of the pros was in a crash because a crosswind got her. She was oozing blood but got on the bike and managed to finish the marathon as well. Nothing is more dispiriting than crawling at 15-18km/hr, seeing each and every chip sealed rock under you as the winds try to beat you raw.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 83
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
T2
Time: 05:05
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
Running
04:37:49 | 42.16 kms | 06m 35s  min/km
Age Group: 4/11
Overall: 119/228
Performance: Good
Avg HR was 147 - low, but I went by feel and knew I couldn't trust my HR to give me accurate readings, given what it had been through. It's usually incredibly low after long, big efforts.
Course: It's a 2-lap course along gravel paths, single track, and maybe 15% on road. It is one of the most beautiful places, and courses, in the WORLD. I chose this race for its beauty and it did not disappoint. Racing and training (and living) in Wanaka has been the best thing that has happened to me.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %0
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

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2011-01-16 3:52 AM

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Subject: Challenge Wanaka


2011-01-16 4:15 AM
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Melon Presser
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
definitely on my to-do list even before i moved back to this part of the world. thanks for the detailed report.

what an amazing and perfect execution you did on a very tough day. CONGRATULATIONS IRON CHAMP!!!
2011-01-16 4:34 AM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
How fantastically awesome!  What a race, and a report to match!
You smoked it, feel damn proud of yourself, you deserve it all!!

Ironman!!
2011-01-16 11:05 AM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
Krystyna,

As we discuss yesterday, you had great execution in this race. Congratulations on your first ironman finish. I know there will be more!

One thing we did not talk about was the pain killers. If we had discussed using pain killers before your race, I would have cautioned you against it. You didn't mention exactly what you took, but you might want to take a look at this (to answer your question, 'why not?'): http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/medicationanddrugs/a/NSAID_endur...

It's been a pleasure coaching you for this event, and I'm looking forward working with you more in the future!

Regards,
Lee

---
Lee Gardner
President & Director of Coaching
Trismarter.com
www.trismarter.com
lee@trismarter.com
917-825-1451

2011-01-16 2:19 PM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
TriAya - 2011-01-16 7:15 PM definitely on my to-do list even before i moved back to this part of the world. thanks for the detailed report.

what an amazing and perfect execution you did on a very tough day. CONGRATULATIONS IRON CHAMP!!!


It is DEFINITELY one to do! It was amazing!!  
2011-01-16 6:15 PM
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Master
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
Congrats Krystna!! you totally deserve that awesome finish - you are one tough chick and you put in SO much time!

Great race report, great execution - you're description, aside from the tough conditions makes me want to head down there pronto!

Ironchick!


2011-01-16 10:09 PM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
congrats irongirl!
2011-01-17 12:54 AM
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Master
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka

Congratulations IRONMAN!!!! This race sounds totally brutal and you totally nailed it. You have done so much dedicated preparation, you totally deserved this amazing result!!!!! WELL DONE does not even start to describe it!

I agree with you that Wanaka is one of the most beautiful places in the world :-)

Best of luck for all your future endevours!

2011-01-17 3:05 AM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
juniperjen - 2011-01-17 9:15 AM Congrats Krystna!! you totally deserve that awesome finish - you are one tough chick and you put in SO much time!

Great race report, great execution - you're description, aside from the tough conditions makes me want to head down there pronto!

Ironchick!


Oh my gosh, you totally should come to Wanaka/New Zealand! You'd never return to Canada!! 
2011-01-17 8:26 PM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it!! Now it's time to explore the rest of NZ, and volunteer at a bunch of local races. This Saturday I'm volunteering at "The Big Easy" - a mountain marathon. I don't know why it's called the big easy, it sounds tough as sh*t. 
2011-01-17 8:35 PM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka

 "it sounds tough as sh*t" says Ironchick :P

 

Congrats on the wonderfully executed race Krystyna!!  The way you describe it make it look dangerously easy, like, "I want to do it" easy.



2011-01-17 8:53 PM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
Congrats Krystyna!  Great write up and you did so awesome!
2011-01-19 1:30 PM
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Master
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
awesome job!
2011-01-19 1:33 PM
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Master
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
that race looks awesome! and you look so relaxed!!!

didn't get to read the entire race report but I'll get back around to it!

Congrats on a nice race!

2011-01-19 2:22 PM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
etccallhome82 - 2011-01-18 11:35 AM

 "it sounds tough as sh*t" says Ironchick :P

 

Congrats on the wonderfully executed race Krystyna!!  The way you describe it make it look dangerously easy, like, "I want to do it" easy.



Ahem, get yourself to the website and perhaps register???  
2011-01-19 2:55 PM
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Champion
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
Nice race report. Sounds like a brutal race. I would definitely cry on that bike ride, nothing worse than a headwind heading home. Well done. Congrats.


2011-01-19 3:17 PM
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Master
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka

Congrats on the excellent race execution! That is amazing!

You rocked it, stayed in control, and made it look EASY!!

2011-01-20 7:47 AM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
Awesome race Krystyna

CONGRATULATION!!!

This sure seems like it was a tough day out there and you nailed that race perfectly

You are a ROCK STAR Ms. IRONMAN!!
2011-01-20 2:57 PM
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Subject: RE: Challenge Wanaka
Cheers everyone! :D
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