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Taupo Ironman 70.3 December 2015


Hubby’s mountain bike certainly gets around

I swear that when you live your life event to event the time just seems to fly by. My race in Taupo came around far too quickly and now it is less than two weeks until 2015 is over. I for one am glad 2015 is almost over. I have achieved so much this year, inducing a number of personal bests. However, I can’t help but feel that I could have achieved more?

The Taupo Ironman 70.3 was on 12 December. It was a hard and challenging race for me, both mentally and physically. A number of things didn’t go my way but the race was still a success. So what did I learn?

  1. Getting up at 4am never gets any easier.

  2. Changing my electrolyte drink strength IS trying something new on race day! Turns out more electrolytes does not equal more hydration.

  3. If I can still run that is still a success.

  4. I am never that hungry that I will eat a stale muffin!

I was really excited to try a few new things out in the race situation. I had Kiwivelo in Wellington put tubeless tires on my race wheels. These would not make me go faster necessarily but I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to deal with punctures.

I was also going to see how my new nutrition choices that I had been training on would work on race day. Ironman had changed its course nutrition so I had changed to so that I could still pick food and drink up from the aid stations.

A few days before I started my hydration strategy – three days out one bottle of Nuun, 2 days out 2 bottles, and 3 bottles on the day before. I also started to increase my carbohydrate intake by incorporating more brown rice back into my diet and having some Em’s Power Bars in addition to my normal diet.


I was really lucky this year as I got a free tune up on my bike by Shane from Kiwivelo. After last chance training on Friday morning a group of us went back to a where some friends were staying and Shane offered to look over our bikes. I felt like a pro and he ironed out some kinks that had been worrying me.

I then went back to my bach and got everything ready for tomorrow morning. Trying to get things ready at 4am in the morning is just asking for trouble so pack the night before! I laid everything out and then put in to appropriate bags depending on when I need the gear. I then have an early dinner of chicken, brown rice and veggies and then to bed around 8pm. Don’t think that I actually am able to sleep this early. I actually was still awake at 11pm. I just lay quietly and hope that at some point I will fall asleep. However, I am usually too nervous/thinking about the race. That is why it is better to make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before the night before.



Wave starts – Not quite the washing machine of Ironman

This time I would be part of a wave start. This was quite interesting as we were not allowed in the water until about 10mins before our wave start time. This meant there was very little time for a ‘wet’ warm up.

I positioned myself at the front and tried to hang on to the fast swimmers. I did this for maybe 100m but I did look up shortly after the start and there was a clear gap developing in my age group. Then it became more about weaving around the slower swimmers from the earlier age group starts.

I thought that I was powering through the swim. Finally! All my swim training and massive shoulders are paying off! However, when I got out of the water I saw I did the swim in about 34mins which was much slower than I was hoping for and thought I had done. Everyone else I spoke too thought the same though. When I looked at my data my watch measured 2150m. There was a bit of zigzagging in my swim lines but it didn’t look too bad.

T1 was a bit of a mess, I mucked up the auto sport function on my watch so I started the bike function while still running through transition. I also got my wet suit stuck on my transponder. It wasn’t the fastest transition, but I did get onto my bike well with the rubber band system. However, the watch didn’t calibrate the power meter with the shoes on so I spent the first few mins of the ride resetting the watch. So my watch time is short.

BIKE I started off getting comfortable and then used the first hill to start passing people. However I was conscious of the fact that I didn’t want to go too hard out yet. Plus the road was still a bit wet and one rider did skid out in front of me on a short downhill before the turn into Broadlands Rd.

I then focused on going out steady pace to Raparoa. I also wanted to use the wind and downhill to my advantage. I initially thought I was making good time out to Reparoa, but I turned at the half way point at about 70mins which was a bit slower than I was hoping for.

Due to the wave starts, there were a lot of people ahead of me that I had to weave my way through and there was very little clear space to just get down and ride. There also seemed to be a lot of drafting going on, especially when the fast young men caught up to the rest of us.

I was pleased with the second half of the ride. I thought I was making good time still. I started doing some Fartleks- 20mins hard and then 5 easy. These worked well and I used the qualification spot to keep me motivated. Plus lots of people were getting punctures, but not me!

I did make the mistake of losing some of my nutrition to the bumps in the road. Now normally the advice would be to go back and get it. However, I was flying downhill so it wasn’t safe to stop. Also I only had about 30mins on the bike left so I thought I would be OK.

My legs were getting tired and when I got to the climb back into Taupo/speedway everyone had slowed and was bunching up and this made it very difficult to pass people as I had to pass everyone in one go. The other thing that would happen was other people would try to pass in front of me and then realise that they were too tired, but instead of moving back over they would just stay out in the middle of the road.

Looking at my split times for the bike, they were pretty even. Just slightly slower on the way back.


I started off running to plan and was looking forward to chasing everyone down. I kept a conservative effort and held back a bit, although my km times were closer to 4:30 than the planned 4:55. After 3 km I increased the effort for 2km and then decreased the effort. I was having water at each aid station and a shot blok.

It was around the 10km mark that I suddenly started to not feel so good. I ran up Redoubt St so slowly and when I came back down the lake front I was shivering and cold. But I knew it wasn’t cold (it was about 21 degrees) and I also never get cold while running. When I tried to run faster I felt like I was going to vomit.

I slowed down and started walking the aid stations and drinking cola. I just wanted to keep running at this stage and finish. I slowed to doing over 5mins kms. I was being passed by a lot of people now. I did pass one woman in my age group but got passed by a couple of others.

This race is also a qualifier for the World 70.3 Championships on the Sunshine Coast, Australia.  This was not something that I had really thought about until a few weeks ago. It then got stuck in my head that I should qualify and that this was an ‘A’ race. It wasn’t. It was only meant to be a test and an opportunity to try some things out. However, I put too much pressure on myself to qualify and when it all turned to custard during the race the pressure and disappointment intensified.

Garmin heart rate graph

I was quite shocked when I got to see my heart rate data. I have never had anything like this happen before!

I slowly started to feel slightly better, or rather I didn’t get any worse.


The smile is fake, just for the cameras!

I finished and needed to sit down, I was feeling very light headed and exhausted and cold. But after a little while I could get up and move around again and eat and drink. At this stage I thought I was dehydrated but I thought I had drunk so much.

My time was 5:03:58. I had really hoped I would be in the sub-5hr club. But all in all I can’t complain.

Later that day I went to the qualification roll down ceremony. I had finished 4th in my age group but I didn’t know how many spots there were in my age group.


Luckily there were 4! #roadtosunnycoast

I still am not 100% sure what went wrong that day. The theories are:

  1. I drunk too much Nuun;

  2. I changed my nutrition too much;

  3. I overcooked the bike leg;

  4. I came into the race over-trained;

  5. Freak event;

  6. All of the above.

I have since calculated my hourly calorie intake and I have about 270 calories per hour when training/racing. So that is within the reasonable range. I am also going to do a FTP (functional threshold power test) to work out if I indeed did ride too hard.

I am also going to go back to drinking Horleys as that nutrition did work for me in past events. I just need to make a small change to replace the gels with something else not so sweet. Perhaps the Cliff Shot Blocks or Gu Chomps.

As one of the themes of this blog is to learn from my mistakes it is perhaps good that this race gave me something to learn from and make sure that I come back stronger and better prepared for Ironman in March.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Training!

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