I have been over in New Zealand with Mark and we raced the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman yesterday. Here is a quick recap of my race:
The swim course was made up of 2 laps with a short 700m lap first, followed by a 1300m lap (the swim was 2km, rather then the usual 1.9km). The male age group wave was off in one go, 2 mins behind the pros. We had a boat anchored in line with the first turning buoy, so we had to make a decision to go on the inside or outside. I chose the inside line and I think it paid off. I positioned my self in the front line of the start and went hard to get some clear water. I had a clean start and no contact with any other competitors which was nice. The first lap went by quickly and it was onto the beach for a quick run around a marker before heading back out for the bigger lap. I took a direct line to the buoy, while others seemed to be going out a lot wider). I focused on technique and held a comfortable rhythm for the remainder of the swim and as fast swimmers came past i stayed on their draft. I came out of the swim in 28.28.
Into T1, and it was time to rip of my wetsuit which was a bit slow going, and buckle my helmet up and I was out onto the bike in 1.12.
The bike course was flat (nearly as flat as Busso) and was 2 laps. We had a nice tail wind pushing us out for the first portion so I pushed the pace. On the return journey a few guys joined me. I was a little frustrated when they all kept dropping in the draft zone so I over took them again. After this they came through one at a time and did a bit of work on the front which was nice. I was eating and drinking and feeling pretty good on the bike. The second lap I was in a group of 4 and sat in the group for a while. It amazes me to see how close these guys sit on each others wheels. The pace was good and I was happy to be legally riding with a group and I went to the front again to do some work. There other guys didn't come to the front again until about 8km to go which was very frustrating, especially when my pace was starting to drop. Some large age group packs were in action behind me but they didn't catch me during the ride, but that is always going to happen on a flat course like this. My bike time was 2.18.43.
T2 was a quick change over to my K-swiss konas and I out on the run course in 1.05.
The run was going to be the unknown for me in the race. My Achilles was feeling good leading into the event, but I didn't have many kms in the legs. I went out nice and easy and got myself into a nice rhythm. I was feeling great and was getting my gels down and taking on water at each aid station. There are a couple of opportunities to see your competitors so I was keeping a close eye on Mark. He was making up ground on me fast! The first 7kms of the run is flat, before going around the mount, which is around 3.5km and undulating. The mount sections hurts! I was running the best I ever have in a half ironman was feeling strong. I was running scared with Mark approaching, and I continued to push as hard as I could. Just before doing around the mount for the last time I had a good look back to see if he was in sight, and to my relief he wasn't! I continued to push the pace and a couple of checks behind to make sure he wasn't going to pass me. Down to the final km on the flat I pushed the pace and crossed the finish line in 4.24.05, with a run time of 1.34.37. A huge PB over the distance and most importantly, the run!
I finished 2nd in my category and Mark was 3rd 2mins behind!
A big thank you to Mike Giles for putting us up in his apartment in Auckland, and also to John and Margret Luckin (Lisa and Mark's grandparents) for organising our accommodation in Tauranga and for looking after us for the week!
I'm off to Melbourne tomorrow to meet up with the LSDsports.com team to do a training camp in Falls Creek. I am really looking forward to meeting the team and spending some time training with everyone!
Next big race is the Singapore 70.3 in March!