Well. I’m not sure where to start with my recap (edit: this is a huge ramble and apologies in advance!)…
I’m going first because we should end our trip blogs with Kyle’s phenomenal performance…!
Basically, it was one of those days where I had ZERO luck.
In the lead up, training was going better than ever. I was finally beginning to swim fast again (I really struggled going from squad led sessions with an amazingly successful swim team at ASV, to just me – and Chris! I couldn’t do it without him – doing sessions together for 40mins during our lunch hour (Aberdeen just isn’t feasible anymore with the new job). Cycling, although 99% in my garage using the legendary Zwift, was going scary well. I mean, I managed an entire 2 hour session with an average of 230W. So I was quietly confident about that, and I just hoped with a few cycles in NZ in the lead up to the race, I would be able to feel the road again. And, well, running has probably improved the most thanks to Lewis!
Let’s rewind to the morning we leave for Glasgow to fly to NZ that evening. From about 6am-10am I worked on my laptop, then I started to dismantle the bike. Bike wouldn’t dismantle. Basically, the screws on my handlebars had some sweat on them from a winter of turbo-ing (gross!) that they rusted, and with several allen key attempts (thanks to neighbours!), and multiple calls with Twiggy (fellow Outlaw champ who JUST TURNED 48 and looks like a supermodel! I hope Speedhub makes me age gracefully!), we were at a loss, so we packed up the car and headed to Holburn Cycles (the best bike shop in Aberdeen by FAR). They were incredible and as soon as I arrived everything was dropped and there were 4 people working on my bike! Kyle and I were famished so headed to Melt for the greasiest most delicious sandwich ever, and when we came back, it was all ready to go! Phew!
We got to Glasgow in good time, and even managed a wee pre-flight session, before flying at 9pm!
We had worked on the time difference so aimed not to sleep on first flight, and then slept on the Dubai flight, so when it came to arriving in Auckland, we actually felt ok!
(at least one of us did…)
I didnt build my bike until a couple days later, just because we had so much to do the following day (register Kyle…what an ordeal that was!!!), do a recce etc etc.
(about 12 hours after arriving and not jet lagged at all!)
The plan was while Kyle SMASHED HIS RACE (wait til you hear his story!!!!!! I couldn’t be more proud!!), I would ride after dropping him at his 5am bus, then do the local parkrun, hit the mall, do a wee lake swim, then drive to the nearby aid stations for his final 40km!
Well, wasn’t it one of the worst storms ever?! No cycling could be done! And even though we built the bike, we only went and forgot a pump! So I dropped Kyle at the bus, went back to our house for breakfast (ate a bit too much after wanting to try ALL THE THINGS from our first NZ shop!), then went to parkrun at around 7.30am for their 8am start. Plan was a couple of longer intervals and then strides. So I thought parkrun would work. I managed a decent 18 and a half and 3rd overall over the geyser fields (SO bouncy it was hilarious!). Because of the rain, it was slippy and the sulphur smell was pretty potent that on the second lap I could taste my breakfast and had to slow down a bit! The next repeats I was so drenched that it was just a “get it done” workout.
(20C but SOAKED!)
(Running through areas like this was so weird but so cool at the same time!)
I then dried off and went to the mall to get a pump (and maybe some earrings and tops for me), when Phil messaged to say Kyle was in 5th and they hit the marathon in sub3! WHAT?!?! He was about 20mins ahead of what he reckoned. And in those conditions I was even more surprised!
Anyway, more on his race later, but in summary no cycling was done but the bike was now ready.
(2x aid stations…it was THAT muddy!)
After his race we headed to Coromandel. It was a long drive where it rained non-stop. I was getting anxious about a lack of cycling that Kyle threw me out of the car at one point and said “just try it”. It was a long straight road so I did. That ride lasted 13 minutes and Kyle came and got me. I was nearly blown off at a bridge. Stupid Cyclone Gita.
I then tried a second cycle which lasted half an hour but finished at a treacherous gorge where we found a car IN the river. AND a screw came loose with the bumpy roads (I didn’t screw them tight enough) so my tri bars were dangling about the place. Sorry mum! Shout out to the bike shop owner in Thames who gave us screws and really helped us!
(if you look really closely you will see a car in there)
And that was that. I didn’t cycle again until Waiheke island, which was super hilly. And still rainy.
I DID manage sea and lake swims. Kate French (5th in the Olympics for modern pent) came for a swim in the sea with me the morning after the lads went fishing and caught a hammerhead shark! Luckily we were ok, but we had her bf and our friend Toby kayak next to us just in case!
Running went a little downhill, due to the uphill! The gradient on the part of the island we were staying at was so tough that it was almost impossible to run! Kyle and I ended up hiring a car so we could head to another beach so I could do my last session: a 10min/5min/5min workout. Which I nailed! So that was a massive confidence boost. But now looking back I just hate all the expenses we added to our trip just so I could train for a race I didn’t finish… 😦
Bike packed up again, we headed to Queenstown after the wedding. Bike built and put in transition. Everything worked ok. It could have done with a hose after the grit from Waiheke but I spent about an hour with a cloth on it so I’d hoped that was enough. I also got a lot of tips from my new friend Jan Van Berkel. He is a phenomenal pro and one of the friendliest guys I have ever met!! We both had nightmare races so I really hope he can SMASH Ironman NZ this weekend! Good luck Jan!
(He was dressed like a pro. Me, not so much…)
Race morning (“finally” I hear you say!), I wake up feeling HORRENDOUS! I had a sore throat, but the kind of soreness that you KNOW is going to turn into something bigger. I had zero energy, and could barely warm up or sip coffee.
Going through the motions, I double checked the bike, then put my fuel in my IA2’s built in bento box, then headed to the swim start to watch the full distance guys and try to psych up.
I had nothing.
I got in the swim and was hoping the water would wake me up. Seeing Gomez warm up next to me, I was hoping that would bring some motivation. Normally, I can get some energy from somewhere, but I felt so flat; I have felt like “I can’t be bothered” in races before, but never “I don’t know if I can do this” feeling.
The gun went off and I swam hard with the lead group of 3 others. Ok ok this is a strong group; 2 ITU girls and an U23 world champion. Just stay on their feet.
200m in and I was dropped. I wasn’t breathing hard which is unusual and I couldn’t move my arms any faster. Weird but I thought even with a solo effort I would come out 4th which is solid.
“Where is the first buoy to swim around? I know it’s red. Oh there it is. Oh wait that looks like…oh that’s a canoe. Ugh! How much time have I wasted swimming to the red canoe? Ugh doesn’t matter just aim for the red buoy this time. I wonder how far in last I am and how much time I’ll have to make up. Why don’t I see anyone? Ok out I come. I am so embarrassed. Oh wait, Amelia was on my feet the whole time (she came 3rd in the end). There is a camera in my face. Oh I’m still in 4th. Nice one!”
In transition, I went right past my bag. Like 50m past it, so I doubled back. Then I misheard the volunteer saying she would repack my bag and I left my wetsuit on the ground. I had to go back and pack my own bag; they just hang up back up for the pros…oops! I caught Amelia again and picked up my bike. I was out of transition before her (a miracle given the bag malarkey) but I couldn’t change gears.
Remember when I said I put my fuel in my bike’s built in storage? Well that is also where the electronic gears are. 10minutes at the side of the road waiting for help, I realised the problem. I had unplugged a cable with my food!
I was MISERABLE! By this time it was raining and every other pro had passed me! It was pouring rain and into a massive headwind at the first out and back and I saw the leading pack of girls (drafting their butts off, by the way), minus Annabel who smashed a solo effort to win, and was really disheartened. They were working together and hitting almost impossible splits.
I passed zero girls on the bike, and with 30km to go I came to the top of a steep hill and couldn’t get into my big ring. The final near hour I was in the little ring!
I roll into T2, snot all over me, wheezing as my throat was getting worse. Spectators were amazing: “Girl power” was my fave! I ran over the bridge and was dizzy. It was game over. I had closed the gap to 3 minutes on the girls in front, and on even an average day I know I would have ran past them, but today I was well below average.
I DNF’d my first race as a professional triathlete and I have been ill ever since. I woke up the following day with the flu, and haven’t really managed to do anything without it draining me!
Hopefully I can get back to training soon and come back with a vengeance!
I am so sorry to disappoint everyone who was following and supporting me, even at ridiculous o’clock in the UK!
…especially Mum, who I sobbed down the phone to after the race. “But you don’t quit. Remember Kalmar? You are not a quitter. I thought something terrible had happened”. Those words were so powerful and I felt awful. However, looking back, I couldn’t have finished. For me to still be ill, something was up. I just hope I have better luck for the rest of the year after that!
All was not lost though…Kyle is now a known name on the international ultra running circuit, and Freyja and Aki had such a perfect wedding (the ONE day it didn’t rain haha!).
Once again, thank you so much for all your support, especially to Speedhub for still believing in me, and a big thanks for still reading if you have made it down this far! Xoxo
Here are some photos of the rest of our trip: