Friday, June 12, 2009

When things do not go quite as planned

OK- well it has taken me a while to get my 'Rev 3' race report up- and there are a few valid reasons for this. Firstly, I have done so much travelling since I left Kona that I hardly know what time zone I am in let alone what day it is. I do not think I gave it quite enough credit just how big the United States of America is, how many hours of flying it would take to get from Kona to Hartford, Connecticut, the 6hr time difference between the two States and then my final two flights and another time change to get to my final destination- Boulder, Colorado- I get tired just thinking about it
Secondly, nobody wants to write a race report when the actual race wasn't, well lets just say, wasn't exactly what I had hoped for. Now lets get it straight from the start- the race itself was nothing short of amazing- Heather Gollnick, her husband Todd, Charlie and everyone who was involved in getting the inaugural Rev 3 race up and running should be commended- it was simply an awesome event. The actual course was back to 'grass-roots' triathlon- one loop swim, one loop bike and an out and back run course that was one of the toughest I have done in a while ( it was definitely on par with the run course in Honu minus the heat). It was such a tough and honest course. My race, on the otherhand, was nothing short of abismal. I am not going to make excuses- not my style, but I just felt flat all day and just didn't have the strength needed to do well on the course. It was, however, unbelievably exciting to watch some of the best gals in the sport go head to head in a thrilling race. Watching Rinny, Natasha and others pushing themselves to their limits was all inspiring and has really motivated me here in Boulder to pick it up a few notches.
My homestay family in Woodbury (nextdoor to Hartford) were just wonderful and did everything in their power to ensure I had a great day of racing. Unfortunately I could not repay them with a great result but I have promised them that I will come back next year and try again :)

Well- lessons were certainly learned- no race is a complete disaster. There is always something that you can take from the race and use at a later date to your advantage. Yes- it is hard to see this immediately after the race (all you want to do is crawl away and hide) but give yourself a few days, a couple of easy sessions on the bike where you let your mind wonder and it is amazing how one can put it all into perspective.
Time to move onwards and upwards. It has been exactly 12 weeks since my surgery and I am starting to feel the strength and fitness come back. I have completely changed my scenery from the vast and endless views of the blue waters of Kona to the equally spectacular views of the mountains in Boulder, Colorado (I think my pics show the contrast quite well). I thoroughly enjoyed my time training on Kona but I am just as excited to be here in Lyons just outside of Boulder. I have always loved training in the mountains- I spent the last three years training in the Swiss Alpes. This season I opted for the Rockies. I haven't been to Boulder since 1996- that is 13 years ago!!!! Justin and I came here so that he could prepare for his first attempt at Hawaii. I came along for the ride. Honestly, back then, I thought Ironman was for crazy people (by the way I have not changed my mind about this, I have just joined the crazies).
Coming back here now brings back so many great memories. When we were here in 1996, I got to train with Greg and Sian Welch, Mark Allen and Julie Moss, Chris Legh and Christian Bustos (who we nick-named 'Chilli-dog'). It was so much fun and really set the ground-work for my passage into Ironman- I just didn't know it yet.
We have been lucky enough to stay at Chris and Sarah Legh's house out in Lyons- it is such a great little town- it is at the base of all the great climbs and the town itself looks like it has not undergone a facelift for at least 50 years. But that is just how I like it- no distractions, just good, hard training. The view from the house is amazing, as you can see from my pictures. There is just something so tranquil and fulfilling about waking up and looking out over the snow-capped mountains- you just want to get out there and ride up every single one of them.

I have been here now since Monday and have already managed to make my way to the top of a few of them- typical me-cannot wait, must do it all at once.
Tomorrow Justin and I are heading up into the clouds to do a 15 mile trail running race- it starts at 9000ft and continues to go up. Justin is going to race it, I am going to 'run' it- and I use the term 'run' very loosly. I am looking forward to the challenge and the view- I am sure it is going to be nothing short of spectacular.
After the run we are heading over to Greg and Laura Bennett's house- they have just moved into their new pad and it is so cool- I will have to take some pics. It is BBQ time and I can't wait.
Will let you all know how the run went- I will have lungs the size of Pharlap by the time I finish.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Honu 70.3

Alright- finally I have a bit of time to get my race report done- I must apologise for getting this to you all so late but I have been a little busy flying over to the mainland and then all the way across to the other side of the country- I honestly had no idea just how big this country actually was! But I am now settled in Woodbury, Connecticut- I have replaced the heat and humidity with the cool and dry air and the mongoose with the squirrel and am trying to get my head around the fact that I am going to be out there racing again on Sunday. My good friend Hillary does 'the double' like it is nothing, and by the double I mean double ironman. I, however, am about to attempt my own version of 'the double'- the double half-ironman. I am definitely expecting to hurt but I am going to enjoy the challenge that is for sure. I think I am just so happy to be back racing again and happy that my surgery is finally behind me and I am well on my way back to full fitness.

OK- now for Honu- I have to start by saying that I honestly had the BEST time training in Kona. It is such an amazing island and the training is as close to perfect as you can get. I really believe it helped me on race day as even though it was definitely hot on the run, I never felt like it was getting on top of me. I would be lying if I told you I was confident going into this race- I was as nervous as if it was my first time racing. I really wasn't sure exactly how my form was- yeah I was fit but was I race fit? My surgery was on March 10 and even though I knew I was fully recovered from the procedure, I was unsure if I was actually 'race-ready'. Honu was the perfect race for me to test this. I had a great swim, not such a great start but after about 400m I started to get into my groove and exited the water with Sam. Once we got to T1 I could see local favourite Bree wee leaving- she had a great swim but it was good for me to have someone to chase. I caught Bree early on in the bike ride ( I later found out that she had been sick before the race and had to eventually pull out but I know she will be back just as strong as ever). I felt good on my new Ceepo- I had only done a dozen or so rides on it but it felt perfect. I did notice that I was definitely lacking a little strength on some of the inclines and during the later stages of the climb into Hawi (we had a shocker of a head wind up there), but other than that, I felt pretty good. I have not been able to do much strength work since my surgery so I did expect to suffer a bit but I will be based in Boulder from next week so plenty of time for some serious strength training.
I dismounted the bike in first place and wanted a lead of about 5 minutes- that is what I predicted I needed to hold off Sam. Unfortunately I did not have the cushion I wanted. As I left T2 I could hear them calling Sam in off the bike- she was only about two odd minutes back. I won't tell you what I muttered under my breath but it wasn't pretty- nobody wants the likes of Sam McGlone that close behind them and even though she is still on the comeback after injury, I would never discount her- she is a World Champion, an amazing athlete and above all, a really great chick!

So, if I wanted this title I was going to have to fight for it on the run- not something I usually like to do or something that I am particularly good at, but I have been doing a heap of training with Luke McKenzie and he has really helped me to not only improve my fitness on the run but also my confidence. Justin has also been getting me to do a lot of running time-trials over different distances and this has definitely improved my running. At every turn I could see that Sam was making up small amounts of time on me and each time I would try and run a little bit faster. It was honestly one of the toughest run courses I have ever done. Most of it was around the golf course so not only was it incredibly hot as there was no shade, but it was also unbelievably humid as they had watered the greens that morning (just to make it that little bit harder for us all). You just could not get into a good rhythm- up and down, over grass, onto paths, back onto grass, loads of turns, through a couple of dark tunnels, we even had a switch-back to contend with but I think this actually worked to my advantage in the end as the run was more about strength, stamina and survival rather than pure running speed.
I was actually able to open my lead up by about the 10th mile. I now had about a 4 minute lead so was able to enjoy the last few miles- I always love being able to relax a bit towards the end (not that it happens all that often) and really take in the atmosphere and the crowds- it was so much fun. It felt great to cross the finish line in first place and to have the fastest run split of the day- now that never happens. It was a great race and one that I definitely want to return to again next year but only if I can snare the same homestay as this year- they were awesome and made my stay in Kona unforgettable.