3/11/2011 3:24 PM
My Ironman day begin with the alarm going off at 5am after a surprisingly good nights sleep. My preparation had gone pretty well so i awoke feeling pretty excited and was looking forward to the day. Compared to last year where i didn't sleep and felt nervous about whether i was even going to finish, this was a very good start. My older brother was also competing this year so we had breakfast and headed down to transition about 6am to get our body marking done and do our final checks on our bikes. The professional athletes kicked off at 6:45 and then all the age groupers started at 7am. It was a calm morning and ideal conditions for the 3.8km swim.
The gun went off, courtesy of John Key, and the day began. With 1300 competitors the swim in the ironman is a bit of a slug fest. Black eyes and broken noses are common place with all the thrashing of arms and legs so i went out pretty fast to separate myself from the carnage behind. Once I was near the front i moved in behind a group of about six people and just sat there and dragged of them for the rest of the swim. I got out of the water in a slick time of 51:19 in 23rd place overall (including the pros). I took my time going through transition and probably lost a couple of minutes but was not too worried at this stage.
There is a bit of a hill at the start of the 180 km bike so i decided to take the start easy. I few people went flying past but I stuck to my game plan and let them go. The next phase of my plan on the bike was to find a group to cycle with. In ironman there is a no dragging rule, so you have to keep 7 meters behind the cyclist in front. At seven meters though you still get some benefits of dragging and cycling in group is easier mentally as well. I eventually saw a group forming ahead so i speed up and joined onto the back. By the time we got to the 45 km turn around at Reporoa there must have been 15 people in our group and we were flying. The group was slowly but surely catching all the cyclists ahead one by one. The group stayed together and i reached the 90km halfway point at the front of the pack in 2 hours 21 minutes, probably around 15th overall. This was 10 minutes faster than I planned and even though i was feeling good I knew I would pay for this later on in the day. Despite this realisation I decided to stay in the group as the wind had really picked up and it would be easier to cycle in a group rather than as an individual. I managed to stay with the group until the 160km mark when we hit the last hill into Taupo. I really struggled up the hill and by the time i got to transition they had put 8 minutes on me. My bike time was 5 hours and 9 minutes and i was now in 37th place overall. My second lap on the bike was 27 minutes slower than the first, partly due to the strong wind that was now blowing but mainly due to the fact I had gone out too fast. I took the transition pretty easy again and tried to get myself ready to run a marathon.
I started the 42.2 km run pretty exhausted and new it was going to become a real struggle at some point. Anyway I stuck to my race plan and still ran the first 12 km pretty quick. However, as I headed back to town on the first lap the bike came back to haunt me big time. I was now feeling sick as well so had to start walking every so often. I continued on and after a couple stops on the side of the road to be sick I reached the turn around for home at 32 km. I was feeling a little better but was in real danger of not breaking 10 hours. I decided that was not going to happen so pushed as hard as i could on the way back. I ended up running quite quickly and reached the finish in 9 hours and 55 minutes. My marathon time was 3 hours and 46 minutes which was slightly faster than last year.
I ended up placing 90th overall and was 11th in my age group. Annoyingly i was only 8 minutes off 7th place in my age group which qualified for the world champs in Hawaii. My brother also finished with a good time for his first attempt under 11 hours. Overall after reflecting on race I was happy to break 10 hours but think I could have gone at least 20 minutes faster with a good race plan. I definitely learnt a lesson about pacing which cost me a lot of time on the run. However it’s made me even more motivated to have another go next year and get under 9 and a half hours.