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Ironman New Zealand - Triathlon

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New Zealand
Ironman New Zealand
Total Time = 16h 51m 46s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Unfortunately, the week before race day our little man brought home a cold from kindy. And I spent most of the week fighting a cough and runny nose, and generally feeling a bit under the weather... Perfect for race week.

Drove down to Taupo on Thursday, arrived mid afternoon. Off to the race site to register and scope out the merchandise. Did a little 3.5km run around the new part of the run course in the evening.

Friday morning went for a swim in the lake. It was beautiful, surface like glass, and cold, but not freezing, so was happy to stick with my new sleeveless wetsuit. Post swim I took the bike out for a short 20 minute ride to test out be bike post transport. All good.

Mid day Friday we racked the bike and handed over my transition bags. And spent the afternoon taking a drive on the bike course to scope things out.

Early to bed, and woke at 5am race day. Breakfast of toast and a redbull. before heading off to transition to pump up tires, put bottles on the bike and hand over special needs bags.

A short walk down to the swim start, hugs and good wishes from my family and friends who had made the trip to support me. Before wetsuit on and heading to the water about 15 minutes before the start.
Event warmup:

Dove underwater to acclimatize a little to the lake. Otherwise the first 500m of swim is my warmup.
  • 1h 23m 4s
  • 3800 meters
  • 02m 11s / 100 meters

Well, conditions were honestly perfect. Light to no winds, a mirror flat lake and crystal clear water. I don't think I will ever get better for an OWS again.

I was not expecting great things for the swim, my swim training has been lacking (Only 10 swims total since our little girl was born early December). I went in with a target of 1:20-1:35. I was also in a new, sleeveless wetsuit. At my half in January I felt very restricted in my upper body, so decided to try something new. I had 1 test swim pre race in it, and felt good so decided to give it a go. I also had Mrs Bullfrog put sports strapping tape on the back of my neck to try and stop the nasty chafing I've always had swimming. I'm not sure if it was the new suit, or the tape, but I got out of the water with my neck in by far the best condition it has ever been in a long distance tri.

I lined up at the back of the pack, waited for the countdown, heard the cannon and was away. I got into a rhythm fairly quickly, I tried to focus on nice, long, easy strokes. Energy conservation stuff. Unfortunately despite some early nice drafting, after around 30 minutes the pack had spread out to much and I was pretty much on my own. Less than 1/2 the usual entries due to covid sure made a difference.

On the 2nd half of the swim I got a little wide of the course marker buoys, so probably swam further than I needed too. But otherwise it was more of the same, focusing on a nice long, easy stroke. Things felt good.

Round the final corner, and up the river to the swim exit I found myself outside a swimmer with the same pace as me, but terrible sighting. I lost a bit of time trying to get around her and actually head towards the finish buoys.

Seeing 1:23 on my watch as I exited the water was great. Sure conditions helped, but that was better than expected. A PB for the Iron distance by just under 3 minutes.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Was probably as good as I could expect to manage given my swim training efforts.
Transition 1
  • 14m 40s

T1 contains a long, 6-700m run from the swim exit to the transition tent. So it was never going to be fast.

I walked, rather than run to the tent. Got my bag. Wetsuit and jammers off, Tri shorts on. Cycling bib shorts over those, cycling jersey on. Socks on, Bike shoes on. Nearly forgot my wahoo tickr optical HRM, slip that on under my cycling jersey sleeve. Grab some sunscreen, apply to face, neck, arms and legs and face again and off on my way. Walked to the bike, which was easy to find as the transition racks were pretty empty. Short walk to transition exit, and off on my merry way.

3 minutes slower than 2017.. that cancels out the swim PB.
What would you do differently?:

Move faster. Wear Tri shorts on the swim, rather than run a full change. Run not walk to and from the changing tent.
  • 7h 53m 22s
  • 180 kms
  • 22.82 km/hr

The bike was where I expected to shine. Compared to IMNZ 2017, I've doubled my time on the bike over the 2 years building up. And moved the riding indoors, to focused trainer rides. My only concern was being a bit heavier, how much more would I suffer on the climbs.

The forecast was for light winds, and what wind there was to be North East. This would make it a tail wind for the 2nd half of each lap heading back to Taupo. Perfect.

Immediately on the bike, things didn't feel great. For some reason the saddle felt awful, and I felt like I was pedaling through molasses. With hindsight, this was the lack of swim training coming back to bite me. I'm just not able to swim for 85 minutes and feel fresh after. Anyhow, after a slow ride up the hill, I got to the crest and was rewarded with a nice long descent. Pedal up to 30km/hr, and time to coast and recover. (The first 10km, going up hill took 31 minutes, the 2nd 10, going down less than 20... woo hoo)

On the flats, things were still tough. Partly due to fatuige, Partly due to the notorious Taupo chip seal roads, but a large part due to the increasing winds. The good news is at the turn around it turned into a tail wind to help me back to town.

The 2nd half of the first lap was the best part of the ride for me. The tail wind helped push me along. The bike felt good. The road seemed flatter (slightly different routes out and back so may have been real not just imagined) I was able to spend a lot of time down in the aero bars, comfortably managing 24-26km/hr.

Up the climb heading back to town, Yes it was slow as all hills are for me. But honestly not as bad as I remembered. That tail wind was awesome. Down the hill back into town, couldn't totally let her rip, as the descent has a few roundabouts and a viscous chicane to navigate. But still able to coast in at relatively high speeds. I also saw my family for the first time since starting the ride parked half way down the hill.

After rounding the 90km turn, I stopped at special needs (Garmin says for 5 minutes so lost some easy time here) Restocked my bento box with Gu chomps, and snake lollies. Enjoyed my peanut butter and nutella sandwich and back on my way up the hill, past the family again.

The first half of lap 2 was seriously hard. Yes fatuige was up, but man so was that head wind. I tired to keep it comfortably paced but struggled to maintain an aero position, finding myself down in the low 20's and needing to sit up to open my hip angle to keep power on. It was like a 30km climb. For context:

Lap 1: 1hr 53 min 45 sec out. 1hr 49min 40sec back
Lap 2: 2hr 13 min 44 sec out. 1hr 55min 45sec back

That's 20min slower heading out on lap 2. Vs 6min slower coming back, when fatuige should be at its highest. That's what a building headwind does for you.

Eventually made it to the turn around. Got to enjoy a tail wind, and again tried to maintain a comfortable effort back to town. Also got to switch to coke for the last 2 aid stations to top up the calories.

The final 1/4 of the ride, back to town was tough of course. fatuige was setting in, I had well and truly had enough of bike riding for the day, but as I started the final climb I knew that I was going to manage a sub 8 hour ride. 1 of my pre event goals. So would get off the bike with enough time to run/walk my way to a good result. (good by my standard I mean)

Eventually rolling into T2 with 7:53:xx on the computer. and 5:30pm on the clock. Well clear of my 6pm 'Must be off the bike by now' time.

An Iron distance PB of 23 minutes. Not as much as hoped, but happy
What would you do differently?:

I didn't train enough on rough chip seal roads. The trainer, and nice smooth cycle path didn't prepare me for that. I also needed to be in aero position more. more chip seal training would have helped with that. and more time in aero, when going relatively slowly (up hills etc.) would also have helped.
Transition 2
  • 07m

Better than T1. But still pretty slow.
Everything off other than Tri shorts. Tri top on, shoes and new socks on.
Put on race belt and hat as walking out of transition.
What would you do differently?:

As always, move faster.
  • 7h 13m 39s
  • 42.2 kms
  • 10m 17s  min/km

Going into Ironman my plan was to run/walk as much of the marathon as I could, and switch to a walk when the wheels inevitably fell off. I had been practicing a 3min run to 2min walk in training and the plan was start like that, switch to 2 run: 3 walk when it got tough, and reduce from there. Unfortunately I got off the bike feeling knackered, and with surprisingly sore feet (not something I had experienced on the bike in training) so decided to walk lap 1, treat it as a bit of 'active recovery' hope my feet feel better and start the run/walk on lap 2.

I power walked my way out to the turn around at 9:32/km. saw my family who were parked outside our hotel, so went past them at about 4.5 and 6.5km every lap. The way back into town I walked again at 9:42/km. But something nasty was happening in my shoes. The aching on the side of my foot I experienced off the bike had passed, but I began to feel nasty hot points on the balls of both feet. Blisters were coming.

Now, as background info, at my previous Ironman in 2017, I suffered from nasty, nasty blisters on the front of my feet. So, I have invested a lot of time trying to solve that problem before this Ironman. I've changed shoes, I've changed socks. I've done 2.5 hour runs, in wet conditions... no blisters. I've run off the bike multiple times... no blisters. So I thought I was on top of it. But, on the big day, almost from the first 2-3km I've got big nasty blisters forming on both feet... at least last time it took till the 2nd half to form.

Anyhow, I resolved to try and push through and run some miles... if only to bank time for the suffering to come. Lap 2, I began 2 min run, 3 min walk (except walk the hills and aid station) and managed my fastest split, 9:22/km back to the turn around for the 2nd time. But man those feet were sore. So, new plan. Walk back the return leg, and try and repeat the run 1st half of the lap, walk the 2nd.

I stopped at special needs on the return leg of lap 2 to put on my long sleeve thermal top for the rest of the marathon. It was getting dark, and cold. especially along the lake front with that wind still up. With the stop I walked back at 10:32/km.

Rounding the half way point to start lap 3, I tried to start a run again. It's like stepping on knives. I check the time, high 9's, low 10's are fast enough to get me home comfortably, so I stick to my power walking. 10:30/km back to the turn around. Acceptable but not great. My family tell me I'm looking good, that I'm way up on schedule, keep doing what I'm doing and I'll be home easily.

Approaching the 4th and final lap the pain in my feet is only getting worse. And a crippling fatuige is hitting me. All I wanted to do was lie on the side of the road and have a rest. At this point I've switched my watch from my usual running data fields to displaying the time. The goal is to get to the turn by 11pm, which will give me 2 hours to do the final 10.5km. I round the turn at 10:52pm, with a split of 10:42/km.

My fatigued math tells me so long as I don't slow to 12's I've got this.

Lap 4, I tried to push and 'walk with purpose' but very slow, very painful. 10:57/km out to the turn. Seriously slowing now, but still above the line. Turned at 11:48pm. 1hour 12 minutes to get home. That's like 13min/km. Looking good.

The return leg of the last lap I slowed to a crawl. At the midway point aid station I'm told 2km to go (that's a lie, it's closer to 3) and 35 minutes to do it. 15min/km needed. At this stage I'm hurting but starting to believe.

Finally got up to the last corner, only the home straight till the turn into the finish chute to go. I think it was about 11:40 by this stage and I finally believed that I had it in the bag. A wave of relief washes over me, and I started feeling a little emotional.

Round the corner, I see the red carpet. Lots of high fives. "Andrew you are an Ironman"

And done. 26 minutes slower on the marathon and 3 minutes slower over all than 2017.
What would you do differently?:

Solve the damn blister problem.
Post race
Warm down:

Got my medal, got wrapped in a finishers blanket. A medical volunteer walked with/supported me into the recovery tent. Post race weigh in, I've lost 3.5kg (7.7lbs) I'm marginal for an IV but I decline as I don't feel light headed/dizy etc.

After some time in recovery, some chocolate milk, big bowl of ice cream, more electrolytes. it's off to find the family.

I can barely walk. My family help me to, and into the car. Back to the hotel room. I enjoyed a beer and off to bed.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Weight. I am not doing this again unless I'm 40kg lighter.

Event comments:

The people of Taupo are amazing. Obviously the thousands of volunteers are wonderful, but to have random locals, sitting on deck chairs, in the cold at midnight supporting the last few runners is amazing. The organizers rescheduling an Ironman by 3 weeks following our latest covid lockdown is a spectacular feat of race management.

We were lucky to be there, and owe everyone thanks.

Race wise, I like the changes to the course since 2017, and hope they stick around post covid. 8 times past the family rather than 6 on the run can only help.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2021-03-29 12:00 AM
01:23:04 | 3800 meters | 02m 11s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
No gps, due to battery anxiety. Keeping the watch charged for the run was the priority,
Course: 1650m along the lake front, 50m out, 1650 back then 450m up the river to swim exit.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 14:40
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:53:22 | 180 kms | 22.82 km/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Up the hill, down the other side. Out on the flats to Reporoa and back. Back up and over the hill. Repeat.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:00
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
07:13:39 | 42.2 kms | 10m 17s  min/km
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Bad
Course: A new course this year due to lower entry numbers. (Thanks covid) 4 laps out to rainbow point along the road (3 short climbs each way) and back along the lakefront walking/cycling path (nice and flat) with 4 aid stations per lap, so aprox. every 2.5km.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Too much
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2021-03-31 6:45 PM

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Auckland, North Island
Subject: Ironman New Zealand

2021-04-01 6:33 AM
in reply to: #5275498

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Atlanta, Georgia
Silver member
Subject: RE: Ironman New Zealand
Fantastic RR. Way to muscle through and the part about not feeling so fresh to start the bike after limited swim training is words to the wise. Blistering is one of things that once it sets in, there's nothing you can do beside gritting your teeth. Way to get it done.

Congrats on your day, Ironman..
2021-04-02 2:28 AM
in reply to: #5275498

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, Kronobergs lan
Subject: RE: Ironman New Zealand
Thanks for sharing. Great read and well done!
2021-04-02 10:59 AM
in reply to: Rollergirl

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Middle River, Maryland
Silver member
Subject: RE: Ironman New Zealand

Thanks for sharing the feelings throughout the race, and way to really stick to it. 

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