The pressure had been building to do a Half Ironman. People had kept asking me when I was going to and my coach had said to think about it, so I thought “Why not?” I knew that I would be able to complete it but the question of if I could do it well was another thing.
I headed over early the day before for a bit of pre-race training and also met up with my newest sponsor BlueseventyNZ. I tested out the new 2018 Blueseventy Helix wetsuit and it felt MEAN so I knew without a doubt I wanted to use it in the race tomorrow. After registering and racking my bike, I went to sleep really early – 8:30pm!
5am alarm. Breakfast was my classic porridge, banana, mixed nuts and fruit. And it goes without saying, rocket coffee. (V60 pour over).
I had left myself heaps of time before the race, aiming to get there at 6am to finish setting up in transition. Caught up with Jack Moody – the mysterious and went for a warm up jog with him. It was good to catch up since racing at the Tinman Triathlon.
It was a floating start with the elite group. I held onto the lead pack for about 750m before I lost their feet. I somehow managed to crash into a small buoy during the first half of the swim but I recovered fast to stay with Mike Phillips. I wasn’t really sure how hard to push in the swim. I knew what was coming in the rest of the race and didn’t want to max out. But I felt good and stuck with Mike, coming out 6th and onto the bike in 5th.
MK Tip: Always have goggles that don’t fog up. Mine weren’t as clear as I wanted them to be but after a bit they came right which was lucky. When you first buy goggles, I find that in the first few races they are awesome. But even in the space of two weeks since I had bought them, they weren’t as good as new. I’d suggest finding a pair of goggles that works well for you, and having a new pair that you only use for race days.
MK Tip: Don’t let something silly get you down and put you off your race. I crashed into a buoy but I said to myself “Don’t let this be my excuse of why I get dropped in the swim”. It’s going to be easier and WAY faster with a group than solo swimming, so keep pushing through as hard as you can to stay on their feet.
I had a really good T1 and was quick out onto the bike. Overall, I was solo on the bike and mainly stuck to my race plan. My power was a bit low to begin with but once I found my rhythm I was good. I did decide to take a risk when Cam Brown and Dan Plews passed me. I knew that they would be my ticket to the front so I tried to stick with them (Obviously keeping in mind the 10 meter non-drafting rules). The pace they pushed was hard and after 10 minutes or so I decided to back off because I knew I’d be stuffed for the run! But now I have an insight into what sort of watts I need to push if I wanted to stay with them.
I hadn’t needed to worry about nutrition in races before so I went in with a rough structure of when I would top up. I had 3 gels and four bliss balls and ate them evenly throughout the bike along with water and electrolytes. I think it was really good and although I was tired on the run, I think that was because of the long distance that I wasn’t used to, not lack of nutrition. MK Tip: When coming up to an aid station on the bike, make sure you don’t chuck your half empty bottle away before grabbing a new one. You could miss the new bottle, or drop it!! Grab the new one first, then throw away the old.
T2 was messy. I couldn’t find anything. I thought my spot was further down, I couldn’t see any race numbers, couldn’t see my shoes or race belt so I was confused. I could hear people yelling at me while I looked back and forth trying to find where I was going. Turned out I had run past my stuff so I had to double back. It was such a bad transition!
I ran off the bike calm and collected (and still laughing about how bad T2 was) knowing I was running a bit faster than I’d planned too but I felt strong so kept it up. But I was running 10-20 secs too fast per km at that time and I should have backed off straight away. After about 3km I slowed down and from there I got slower until I was just trying to hold 4.30’s! I struggled throughout the run and was more in survival mode rather than race mode. I just didn’t have any speed. It was really hot and the run around the Mount was hard!
MK Tip: Going out onto the run, you may feel good but don’t fall into the trap. It’s easy to get caught up in the crowds and the excitement but stick to your race plan from the beginning, then increase later in the race once you get into a rhythm.
MK Tip: When you’re taking gels in a race, take them as you’re coming up to an aid station. That way when you get to the aid station you are finished your gel and can have water to wash it down.
So the big question – Would I do it again?
If you had asked me this straight after the race I would have said no. I didn’t enjoy the race, and especially the run. It was brutal and I was suffering for a long time, especially around the Mount and those stairs! When I finished the race, I remember thinking that I didn’t like it. Part of it was that I’m used to really fast racing and going hard until the end which I love. But in this I had to pace myself and it was really weird, I felt like I was plodding along and not racing.
Now though, I would do another one (but not for a while). Switching into Halfs isn’t a change that going to happen anytime soon. But it was my first one, I learnt a lot and next time will be faster!