Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ironman New Zealand 2014 - Another Ironman, Another Challenge

I am sitting at Sydney International Airport, not far from Gate 57, patiently awaiting the departure of flight EK412 to Auckland.

In 4 days time I will be on the start line for Ironman #6.

In the spirit of all good adventures, though, this one promises to be as unique as the five before it.  And  I haven't even left Sydney yet!

First of all, it's going to be a different experience because this time I'm travelling solo.  St Pete, my rock, my biggest cheerleader, team manager and support crew, all rolled into one amazing package, couldn't get out of work commitments and so made the difficult (but right) decision to stay at home.

Family and supporters can be some of the most underrated stars of the ironman show.  Yes, I am out there getting the job done, not allowed to take any outside assistance.  It's all down to me from the time the starting cannon fires to when I jubiliantly (and painfully and slowly!) make my way down that finish chute.  But a big part of that is the psychological support you get from knowing your "team" is out there somewhere on the sidelines, looking out for you and getting ready for the next sighting so they can tell you how wonderful you're looking (ha!) and relay it to other friends and family who may be further afield.

And then there's the looking after, before and after the main event...whew!  That's a job and a half... Is it any wonder St Pete needs a break to recover almost as much as I do when I cross that finish line!

So I'll be preparing and racing in Taupo without my biggest supporter on the sidelines and he will be missed.  But we will be in touch every day and on Saturday I know he'll be online keeping track and will be floating just above my shoulder all the way.

But it's not all bad news - while I'll be without St Pete, I will still have an amazing team in Taupo and so won't be doing this alone.  As he did last year, dad will be driving up from Christchurch and Coach Dave will be flying up to join the fun as well.  Can't wait to see them both.  Plus it's going to be amazing to share this weekend's journey with ironman virgin Paul, and Leigh (who has been promoted to the role of Camp Mother in St Pete's absence!)  Will Paul be hooked on this madcap sport like I was after he crosses that finish line on Saturday night?  We'll have to wait and see!

So, I have the team, now I just have to get to the start line in one piece.  And that brings me to my second challenge in this year's adventure.  Brought to you by the letter "I".


I've been so lucky these past 4 years to have remained basically injury-free, however that run of good luck threatened to come to an end about three weeks ago when I had a run-in with the uneven boards around Luna Park.  No doubt affected by a reasonable level of fatigue, I managed to trip over a board and hit the ground front first, landing heavily on one knee.  After feeling sorry for myself for about a minute I picked myself up and carried on, not giving it much more thought.  That weekend was the final big bike training block and so a big dose of hills on Saturday was completed before planning on a flat ride on Sunday.  Well, let's just say that Sunday ride was a cruiser....

The outside of my right knee had packed up big time and I couldn't put any pressure on the pedal stroke on any sort of incline.

Not to worry, "there's still three weeks for it to settle down" was the thinking, and so a regular routine of icing and rest was started to give it the best chance possible.  Despite my best efforts, though, it remained niggly and started to make me grumpy and paranoid enough that Pete, Mel and Coach Dave were starting to tell me to go pay a visit to the physio.  I resisted for a couple of days (this irongirl doesn't get injured, it'll come right, what's a physio going to do now, blah, blah, blah).

Finally I succumbed and did as I was told.

After a full assessment my physio figured the most likely theory is that my fall might have done some minor damage to the meniscus (pad) inside the knee joint and it got properly inflamed and upset by the big hill ride a couple of days later.  A round of anti inflammatories, massages to loosen up the leg muscles that had tightened up down the side and a continuation of the ice treatments should see me all set to go on Saturday.  Whew!  

So, support crew sorted.  Injury sorted.  All I have to do is get to Taupo, enjoy the rest and relaxation for the next few days and then have an absolutely wicked time on Saturday. 

St Pete - this race is for you. xxx

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflections on a Big Training Weekend

I thought Australia Day weekend was a tough one.

I was wrong.

Saturday saw me scheduled to do a 2km swim, 100km bike and 90 minute run off the bike.
Sunday was for another 100km bike and 90 minute run off the bike.

My reflections on the weekend?

Attempting 85% efforts for 2km ended up being an "F" for execution. But I did as I was told by Coach D and got out of the pool as soon as I felt that it wasn't coming together.  Hated the fact that I had only managed one set (250m) though.  Never mind, onwards!

Sydney drivers in the Northern Beaches this weekend were awesome.  Thank you for being considerate around me and giving this solo chick a safe amount of space on the sometimes narrow winding roads.

Lace monitors are wicked!  Spotted a huge one on the side of the road during my monster climb out of Church Point.  (Much like this one that turned up at the Hornsby RSL last December...) Not much less than 2m long but he didn't want to hang around for me to get the camera out.  Another thank you to the car ahead of me on the road that actually drove around the goanna rather than run over him when he was half on the road.

Doing two rides on consecutive days totalling 200km is tough but including 3000m of climbing is even tougher!  But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Running in 28 degrees plus, with no aid stations available to throw water over yourself, is a killer.  I must be acclimatising to Sydney though - a couple of years ago 20 degrees plus would have killed me off!  It did mean, however that our 90 minute runs got cut back to 60 minutes.

So the aborted swim and shortened runs meant this weekend was far from perfect - but still tough.

And while this Type A personality hates not hitting the sessions exactly as they've been set for her, as Coach D says "Progress, not Perfection".

And I definitely got that one right.