04 March 2014

Ironman New Zealand 2014 - 30th Anniversary

March 4, 2014

Ironman New Zealand's 30th Anniversary.

Thought I would jot down some thoughts as I reflect on this experience.
1985 seems like a lifetime ago and of course it was.
So much has changed, so much remains the same.

Did I think in '85 that I would still be doing this sport?
I knew I wanted to be active and fit and wanted to be able to run all my life, but that was as far as my forward planning got at that stage.
Did I think Ironman would be such a phenom world-wide in the 21st Century?
Seemed way too hard to fit in the training in everyman's life.
Still seems a bit that way to me today, but the average guys's level of expectation of the fitness required to do an Ironman is much less today than it was then.

For this year's event the organization at IM NZ made a considerable effort to get back many of the people who've either won the event or have been instrumental in its development over the years.  T
Back in September Erin and I accepted their very gracious offer to attend and be part of the event and we had the option to be in the race if we wanted to.
So I'd like to say a Thank You Very Much Jeanette and Jane and crew for such a wonderful experience.

I was already hoping to be fit enough to race, but over the last 13 years most of my race plans that involve running have had to be binned as one injury or another kept me off the starting lines.
So I stuck to a sensible, progressive training plan that would get me in good enough shape to complete the course in a time my pride and vanity would allow - hopefully under 10 hours.
Pride and Vanity factor heavily into every event I do.  I keep trying to reduce the impact those personality traits have on my approach, but have had little success so far.

After getting through Challenge Wanaka 1/2 in mid January things were looking OK.
Another very good 5 weeks of training without doing anything grand or impulsive went by pretty quick although I felt kinda shattered from soreness and fatigue most of that time.
 My low back and knees continue to plague me a bit, but those issues seemed manageable.  After some x-rays in January ruled out any arthritis I gave myself permission to train solidly, if cautiously.

Talking about racing with injury.......
Was writing down my thoughts in an e-mail to another athlete who's been going through considerable long-term pain with no clear signs that they will ever diminish significantly.
Here's what I wrote to her ........

"Absolutely wonderful news that your feet aren't torturing you.
Even though this sport is all about managing the pain that the event gradually inflicts on us, the normal type of discomfort that comes through fatigue seems like a reasonable pain to deal with.  We all can accept that type of pain as part of the deal we signed up for.
Injuries don't feel reasonable to deal with though!
But after having spent so much of my life injured I'm finally starting to accept that pain from injury _is_ part of this IM package for me.
It may not be for most people, but it is for me.  I'm mostly OK with that now.
If I only ever raced at 100% healthy and not injured I'd never race again.
So there's this constant, on-going negotiation going on with myself as to what's OK to deal with.
  I know you've been going through the same process for years and I admire your perseverance.
I really do.  Not just saying that.
This IM on Saturday was one of the least injury-hampered IM's I've had since IM Brazil 2001.
Gives me hope that I can keep these ol' bones in good enough shape to do more great events.
The thought that one day I won't be able to take part in these suckers keep driving me to keep working at staying healthy.
And I am working hard at it!"

The race did go extremely well and in hindsight I had very little reason to expect a sub-10.
Swim - 53:35.  Perfect conditions in the most beautiful swim in all of Ironman racing. 
My own swimming is at a lifetime worst level, so I put my good swim down to my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit. 
Bike - 5:27.   Cold to start for the first hour+ which suited me great, then sunny, cool and breezy for the rest of the ride.  I got an early draft penalty which meant 4 minutes standing there kinda pissed off as I thought it was an in-correct call.  But upon reflection I was glad the draft marshals were doing their best to make it a fair race for everyone.   I've been in draft-fests before and it really does take a lot away from an otherwise positive experience. 
I rode more cautiously from then on as I thought another penalty would mean a DQ.
My good buddy Dave Lawson caught me near the end of lap 1 so I tried to keep him in sight for the remainder of the ride as I knew he would ride decent.  Kept fueling.   Patience, patience, patience ........
Run - 3:39.  Tight as a f... drum for 10km and was starting to doubt that I would actually be able to flow a bit and actually run.  From there had a good 20km until it started to get really grim but I was determined to only walk the aid stations.  Very lucky to be able to follow some gorgeous women around the run course.  Thank You Amanda!  :-)  
Passed Ken Glah at about the 17km point and he was really slowing down a lot at that point. I kept thinking that I train about 2-3x what he does! so I had better damn well be able to beat him to the finish.
Lots of friends and supporters out there on the 3-lap run course and they helped tremendously.
Finish - 10:10:37 3rd in 50-54.
Very happy with my effort in the end as it was physically uncomfortable from the 3-minute mark of the swim.
Kept thinking of the saying my buddy Gordo thought up for Epic Camp years ago - "No Easy Way".
At this point in my life I do accept these things are going to be a massive challenge, but there's still always the temptation to give into the pain.  Managing that challenge is really what its all about. Its _supposed_ to be hard!  Kept telling myself that the last 3 hours.

Not sure when I'll do another Ironman as I'd like to focus most of the next year or two on going faster for shorter stuff on the bike and on the run.
Also want to put a little muscle back on as I've lost a bit preparing for this race.
Have plenty of bike races to do and my two other main physical challenges for this year lined up:
June 1 Comrades Marathon (89km actually).
August 18-30 Epic camp Canada in the Rockies.

Will try to keep the wheels from falling off as long as possible.
"Better to Burn Out than to Fade Away"
I keep waiting to "burn out" actually as people have been telling me my whole life that if I keep training and racing as I do that I'm going to "burn out".

Not ready for that to happen just yet.
Keeping the Faith.
Cheers, Scott