Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Training

Christmas week was always going to be an interesting affair. How do you squeeze in training when one has so many family commitments to keep. To complicate things for me was the small matter of a plane trip to Christchurch and an uncomfortable few sleeps in a cabin in the same room as two rather excited kids both under the age of 5.

I’ve had a little bit of feedback regarding one of my previous blog entries (basically around the length), so for those of you who are pressed for time here’s the short version of my Christmas training experience.

My family and I arrived in Christchurch. I put on a kilo, got sick and only managed a total of two hours training over the course of six days.

Actually that pretty much sums things up. Training wise it wasn’t a great week. I went off for a run on Monday past the Christchurch airport and down to my brother’s place in Russley. There was a nor-wester blowing and it was stinking hot. My heart rate was unusually high and I was starting to suffer by the end of it. I had a fairly bad sleep that night and right on queue I woke up with what was either a cold of really bad hay fervour. Given that I felt like rubbish for most of both Christmas and Boxing day and the hay fervour pills didn’t seem to do anything, I guess I was actually sick. By the 27th I was starting to feel better, which was just as well as it was my birthday (yay to me, 32 years old!). I went for a nice easy run on a mix of road and off road around a near by lake, and felt really good for it. That afternoon I went for a half hour ride with my brother. It was an interesting affair. My brother is a top kayaker, having represented New Zealand for several years. He also has 5 kids with another one on the way, so time for him is even more precious than it is for me. As a result he uses a hand bike so that he can get in extra upper body workouts (it also means that people give him heaps of room on the road as no one wants to hit a cripple (which is what he looks like on his hand bike)). So off we went, him on his hand bike, and me on his mountain bike complete with his wife’s pink helmet – cool! It was a bit slower than I’m use to but it was still good to turn the legs over.

Aside from the training though things were really good. I got to hang out with my whole family which doesn’t happen very often, my kids had a very exciting time and really enjoyed hanging out with their cousins, plus there was a reasonable haul of presents to both take down and bring back. Plus there was the pervading joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus which, after all, is the whole point of Christmas in the first place.

I’m back in Auckland now and feeling much better. I got in an ocean swim of around 2.5k’s at Long Bay. The beach was packed as it was a beautiful day. The sea was calm and quite warm, meaning I had a lovely swim. And this afternoon I also managed to get an easy half hour run done.

As of next week the in-laws (bless them) are going to help out where the can to allow me to get in some bigger training days. This will be really great as my wife works on a Saturday so doing a long ride, run or brick is very difficult and as a result my training load at the moment is probably only just adequate. So hopefully the next two months will see a final “rush” of quality training that will really build on what I’ve done already and see me in good stead for 1st March.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Post race week

This week has been fairly laid back with recovery being the name of the game for the first half of the week.

After the long drive home on Saturday it was straight into playing with the kids as my wife had to go out that evening and was working on Sunday. One endurance event finishes and another one starts, but thats my life and I love it. All the running around after them ment that my legs didn't have a chance to stiffen up and I actually felt pretty good.

Sunday evening sore me back on the bike for an easy and short ride just to get the legs turning over. Mondays session was a 2k swim in the pool followed by a 40 minute ocean swim on Tuesday (I'm guessing that was around two k's as well). By and large the workouts have all been fairly easy with the hardest being a 40 minute run up a hill (The Avenue) on Thursday. Today's plan is to get in a short bike (I have time working against me today as I have to be back by 9.30ish and won't be able to get going until around 8ish - but its all good - and tomorrow I'll be trying for a run (in saying that we're all off to Christchurch tomorrow night so I think it will be a bit manic with packing and excited kids etc).

Next week is planned as being and "unstructured" week, where basically I'll train whenever I can as we'll all be down in Christchurch with the rest of my family enjoying Christmas. My birthdays actually on the 27th December so I as a present I told my brother he could go for a run with me - I'll be nice to have the company, although he normlly leaves me really suffering over any distance up to 10k, so it'll be interesting. My sister who has recently discovered triathlon is also coming down so I'm pretty confident that it will be a reasonably active Christmas.

Below is my one and only photo of the Rotorua Half Ironman. I obviously wasn't too stuffed as being the true professional (at heart anyway) I remembered to zip up the top to show off the sponsors product.

Have a great Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

1st Triathlon - Rotorua Half Ironman

Yesterday I was down in Rotorua putting myself through a reasonable amount of pain and suffering in the Rotorua Half Ironman. The motto for this event is “The Pain is Never Far Away” and is pretty apt as its raced over a tough course. The bike has two particularly sharp climbs, the last and longest being, cruelly, right at the end, and the run starts off on a trail through the bush around the Blue Lake. The run is beautiful but tough, and includes a stairway to no where – I’ll explain later.

For those of you who don’t know (and I suspect that most people who follow this blog probably do know) a half Ironman, as the name suggests is exactly half the distance of a full Ironman (actually that’s not quite right as the swim is 2k’s not 1.9k’s which would be half the Ironman swim), so it was a 2k swim, followed by a 90k cycle and finished off with a 21k run.

This was actually my first triathlon and so was very much a step into the unknown. I have done some multi-sport events in the past but this was significantly different as you have no support crew sorting you out in the transitions. And in this case I had no support crew at all as unfortunately Helen and the kids couldn’t make it down with me, which meant that I had to sort everything out and get myself ready by myself. Doesn’t sound to hard I hear you say… unfortunately being a first time triathlon for me there was an awful lot of stuff going on in my head, and a lot of it I was working out as I went along. This, predictably, lead to some issues on race day.

Anyway I got to Rotorua on Friday afternoon and after only one wrong turn I managed to find the registration venue. I always get nervous that my name will somehow have been left off the list when I et to registration time, but thankfully, once again, everything was where it should have been and I registered without a hitch. It was then off to the Blue Lake to check out the course and get my tent sorted (I was staying at the Blue Lake Camping ground which was very convenient). I got my first look at the big climb (bike) it didn’t actually look to bad as I regularly train on tougher climbs at home, the difference of course being that I’d be running a half marathon immediately after this climb (literally, as you basically come up over this climb, and then have a short decent into transition). My first real challenge was setting up the tent (by the way thanks Rice’s for the use of your tent). It took me a wee while and a sneaky look at someone else’s tent which was the same kind as what I was using, but I got there in the end (hopefully) without looking like to much of a clueless idiot. The camp ground was a strange mix of bemused looking German Tourists and super fit triathletes, it was quite strange, you could almost feel the pent up energy. I then set about checking out the swim course and transition area, before setting up my bike and going for a short ride to make sure it all worked properly and to stretch my legs after the long drive.

Dinner was the endurance athletes staple of pasta (tasty little chicken parcels in my case) chased down with some creamed rice. When I was making it in the kitchen I was chatting to another guy who was doing the team option (ride). He said that I looked as if I had been doing this for a while, which is the perfect kind of complement for my fragile ego. Walking around the camp ground it was funny seeing everyone checking out each others legs, you get that a bit when you hang around the cycling scene, so I guess triathletes are no different. I eventually called it a day and went to bed at around 9ish and actually had a reasonable sleep.

5am I was up again and munching on breakfast before taking my bike and gear up to transition and then picking up my timing chip. It was amazing how fast time flew past and I found myself running a bit short while I was busily pulling down the tent and getting the rest of my camping gear packed away (and I use “packed” in a very very loose sense). While I was doing this I noticed that I’d left a gel bottle that I was going to be using on the run behind, as well as the spare car keys which I’d planned to leave in my running belt (so I could actually get back into the car afterwards – things will be so much easier with a support crew). After a quick look at the watch I reckoned I had enough time to whip back into transition to drop it off while I drove the car to the car park (unfortunately I couldn’t leave it in the camp ground). So after dropping off the gel bottle and car keys it was quickly off to the car park to change into my wetsuit and then hurry on down to the swim start.

I was just about at the swim start when I looked down at my ankle and realise that I had left my timing chip in the car! I had 8 minutes to o until the start (3 minutes before the final briefing) and had to decide if I really needed it or not – I decided that I probably did and so ran to transition (again!) got the car key, ran to the car park, grabbed the timing chip and some sun block (which I’d also forgotten), and then ran back to transition to put the key back in the running belt and throw the sun block into my transition bin. After that I ran (some more) down to the swim start. On the way I ran in Steve Guy from and gave him my goggles and swim cap while I put the timing chip on. As I was doing this the race got underway, so while everyone else was in the water ready for the start, I was still on the beach fumbling around – better later than never I guess! I threw on my swim cap and goggles and sprinted into the water (slightly off course) and got underway. In my rush I hadn’t put my goggles on properly and had to stop after a 150m or so to empty the water out and put them on correctly. Not the ideal start, I was puffed, late and flustered.

It didn’t take to long before I got into a rhythm, it also didn’t take to long before the women (who started 5 minutes after the guys – but only a couple of minutes after me …) started passing me. Predictably I was smoked in the swim by the bulk of the field, I came out of the swim with 49 minutes showing on the clock, one leg down. The first transition was SLOOOWWW, something I’ll defiantly need to practice, it probably took me close to 10 minutes to get going. Once on the bike though I started doing some smoking of my own, passing a lot of people going up the first hill, going down the hill (where I hit 80kph) and onto the flat section pass the airport. I passed Kathy Miller ( ) going out pass the airport, I gather she had a bit of bad luck with punctures, check out her blog to catch up on her day). Speaking of bad luck, on the way back I past a guy walking he rather flash looking bike up hill. He didn’t seem to have a flat, and normally anyone who spends that much on a bike knows how to ride it, I was talking to a team rider after the race who said that that chap had lost his pedal and ended up biking the course (apart from the hills) with only one leg! Throughout the ride I was super conscious of not over doing it and making sure that I’d have enough left in my legs to put in an ok run. My main was of doing this was to keep my heart rate in check and staying fuelled. The eating plan was to have two “One Square Meal” bars (one at the start of the ride and the other two thirds into it) and a gel every half hour. This all worked out well and over the course I averaged just over 30 kph to give me a three hour ride.

The transition into the run went much more smoothly and I was quickly onto the run course. The run was a mix of single track through native bush (which was tough but beautiful), dirt road and sealed road. It consisted of a lap around the lake, followed by an out and back past the “buried village” with a 4 k detour down a dirt road to the Rotorua Gun Club, followed by another lap around the lake. There were a couple of hard parts to this run, including the bush track (ran twice), the stairway to nowhere, and a long sharp climb coming back from the buried village it was heading down this climb that I passed Graeme MacDonald ( ) going the other way, he must have been a good hour ahead of me and was looking really strong.

The stairway to nowhere needs some explaining. At the top end of the lake is a lookout, and the run course goes up to this across the lookout and down the other side. You could very easily simply stroll around it but no! You have to go up a bunch of steps (trying not to use the hand rail) take the 4 – 5 steps across the lookout platform and then down the other side, so basically a stairway that goes nowhere and is simply there to course you more pain!

The run itself was reasonably slow for me, I took 2 hours 5ish minutes, but kept a steady pace throughout which was always the goal. Unfortunately for me I ad some “gastro intestinal” problems for most of the run, and was constantly trying not to throw up (I think I may not have had enough water with my gels thus messing up my stomach) as a result I ended up doing most of it with just taking on board water – not ideal. So that’s something else to sort out before Ironman.

End result was 6 hours 9 minutes. I had hoped to go sub 6, and probably would have if it wasn’t my first triathlon (i.e if I had started the swim on time and did a half decent transition) and if my stomach behaved itself. Nevermind all in all it was a good outing and I learnt plenty from it.

I’ve found that I tend to get quite emotional doing stuff like this, it’s a mix of the effort and the corresponding endorphins floating around. In my first marathon I spend a lot of time after the 30k mark thinking about my kids and having to choke back the tears, in my second marathon it was my lovely wife who took my attention. This time round I found myself thinking about the pain and suffering I was putting myself through and the general pointlessness of it. This was followed closely by the pain and suffering that Jesus went through and the total worth of that and then I realise, like Paul did, that there’s redemption in suffering, at which point I got teary again (its funny how your mind works when you’ve been going hard for several hours).

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks for your prayers and best wishes. I’m now about to head around the bend and get on the home stretch towards Ironman – not much longer to go.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mountain Biking

or something a little different I went out mountain biking yesterday evenin with a mate. It was a really refreashing change and just great to get away form sealed roads and do something different.

The forest that we went to (Riverhead for those in the area) was a mix of single track and forestry road. The forestry road a fairly dry with loads of good solid uphill and nice long downhill, but the single track was muddy and slippery due to the better part of a weeks worth of rain.

I took it pretty easy as I was a bit worried of crashing and breaking myself with only a couple of days until the Rotorua Half Ironman (I have a habit of crashing when I go mountain biking). It was great, I didn't crash (which was more than I could say for my mate) and had a blast, I'll diffently be putting in some more mountain bike sessons in the near future (its acually quite good for your riding technique according to some studies I've seen).

Next up is the half ironman, I'm a bit nervious about this as it will be my first actual tri. I've done some multisport stuff before, but in multisport you have someone else (your support crew) taking care of the transitions for you. Plus I've never run a half marathon off a 90k ride before - so I guess I'll see how I go.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another week down!

Another week down and now my countdown clock tells me that its less than 90 days to go! With December and summer here the training load is finally going to start to build up. To date most of my weeks have maxed out at 10 hours of specific training (I can't really count running around after the kids, running them to the shops / park / grandparents) or biking to the shops / church etc, although I'm sure it all helps!). That's all about to change as somehow I'm going to have to find time to get in around 15 hours of training a week and still put in the time as a father and husband.

I had a little bit of a taste of what things would be like if all I had to organise or be responsile for was myself, earlier on this week as my wife and kids went off to Taupo to spend a couple of days with a very pregnant friend (she's since had her baby by the way). They were away during the week (otherwise I would have gone) and in the space of a couple of days I managed to cram in 6 hours of training after work including one really great swim / bike / run brick session. If left solely to myself I'd be training like a manic all the time - but my life would be very empty and one dimensional.

Yesterdays ride was sensational and signifiantly better than last weekends for several reasons.

a. I'm off my antibiotics so the powers coming back
b. It was hot and sunny - which is exactly how I like it
c. I just generally had a better frame of mind
d. I had my race wheels on! (see picture of deliriously happy looking Kieran)

The ride felt great. There was a strong wind blowing and it was a very hilly course, so it was a real power workout, and I loved it. I have no idea of top or average speeds etc as I'm still trying to work out the best way of getting my bike computer wheel sensor attached to the tri-spokes (it normally clamps onto a wheels spokes), I think duc tape will be the best solution. I normally just motor on without knowing but I think, given that I'll be running after the ride, it would be best to know what I'm dong so I can work to my plan better. Anyway I did an 80k hilly ride in 2 hours 40 min which isn't bad at all.

The Rotorua Half Ironman is now under a week away, its a "C" race for me as its going to be my first actual triathlon and I have a bunch of things I'll be trying out (including a slightly new nutrition strategy - following yesterdays ride I've had to re-think things and don't have ime for a practice run). I'm a little apprehensive about how the run will go as I haven't done a lot of brick workouts due to being to worried about straining my ITB band again, so that part will be interesting (especially given as I'm inclinded to go pretty hard on the bike). I'm really looking forward to it though and it sounds like the course is going to play to my natural strengths. Watch this space for the race report next week.

In the meantime here's some more photo's of a happy rider!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rubbish Ride

Ever had a day where your training just wouldn't work? Yesterday's "long ride" was like that.

I had planned to do a 110k ride but it got slashed to just 75k's as I felt like rubbish. The legs just wouldn't fire, it felt like I was constantly bashing into a head wind and I got rained on several times! I suspect that it was probably the antibiotic's messing up my energy system (they do that) but knowing that didn't make me feel any better about things.

I eventually got home in a bit of a grump after 2 hrs 20 min on the bike. So to make myself feel better I dusted off my tri-spoke race wheels put them on and tuned them into the bike. They're beautiful and I felt better just looking at them. I took the bike for a quick spin in the afternoon to make sure that I had tuned in the cluster correctly and that all the gears fired where they should, and came home with a big grin on my face. The wheels are FAST and make a cool wop wop wop noise when they start spinning.

I had my last antbiotic last night and am ow largely well again. So with the flash wheels on the bike I'm all set for the half ironman in two weeks time. My first propery triathalon, I'm so excited

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Feeling Better!

I woke up this morning feeling MUCH better, in fact it's probably the first time in over a week that I've actually felt good. I still have a bit of a "rattle" in my chest but the antibiotic's ought to deal with that in due course.

I've been eyeing up a new run run lately and today was a good day to try it out. Its 17k's long and takes just over an hour and a half on account of the fact that it has a couple of pretty decent hills along the way and is "undulating" in between. As a special treat the family showed up about an hour into the run to cheer me on and snap some pic's. There really is nothing like the voice of a 2 year saying "go daddy go" or the beaming face of a four year old to push you along.

It was a really good run and I was just so thankful to be out doing stuff again. It's a great course that see's you out into the country within 15 minutes, and I had a fanastic time. The four days resting must have been worthwhile as I felt super fresh throughout the run and wasn't particuarly tired at the end.

I had a good mix of music in the MP3 player, including some good old "crunch crunch" rock from Skillet as well as some deeper more searching stuff from Shawn MacDonald which got me thinking. One of his songs asks the particuarly deep question of God "what am I?" (as in "what am I that the creator of all this should go to the trouble of redeeming a broken soul?"). The answer of course is a love given without condition - it was at that point that my family turned up and it all made sense to me. Its amazing the revelations you get in this sport.

Alright that's my deep and meaningful for this week, I've got a bunch of things to do today (including mowin the lawns and cleaning the toliets - life doesn't stop for an Ironman wanabe). Tomorrow I've got a long ride (110k) booked in for the morning, and in the afternoon there's talk of my wife and kids heading down to Taupo to catch up with a pregnant friend who's due any day now ... which means that I can train selfishly, so there will probably be a swim at the beach followed by another long run - When you have a busy family you have to make the most of the opportunities which present themselves, even if it does mean throwing the plan away.

The only other things that have happened this week (its been quite as I've been sitting around feeling sorr for myself - as only blokes can I'm told) is that I've booked a tent site at the Blue Lake for the 14th Dec, so as soon as I find a tent I'm all set for the Half Ironman on the 15th. (Due to ciricumstance I'll be heading down alone and the family will be staying up here - hence I can be a cheapskate and get away with a tent ... assuming I can find one that is!)

Also being the first of the month I need to finish off my regular journal entry for Steve at to keep to my side of the rather generious sponsorship agreement (thanks Steve by the way).

It's good to be (mostly) well again.