Last Saturday, a ‘weather bomb’ befell the town of Taupo shattering all windows of opportunity for 1,600 participants to do Ironman New Zealand. Winds of about 120-140kph and punishing rain compromised the safety of participants, volunteers and spectators. Although painful, race-officials made the right call to cancel the race on Saturday, but instead held an alternative half-Ironman race on Sunday. These are lessons I learnt from racing in the inaugural, 70.3, triathlon format.
1) Despite the use of a wetsuit, I found it too cold to swim well in 15-degrees Celcius water. The cold knocked the wind out of me. Hypothermia is a serious threat to weaker swimmers, as over-exposure can drain your body of heat or fatigue you prematurely.
2) I took about 10 minutes to complete Transition 1 yet think it was worth the delay. A 400m run up the slope to T1, removing my wetsuit with cold hands, putting on two layers of clothes, and using socks during my ride. Still cold during the ride, but bearable.
3) I took only Hammer Nutrition ‘Perpeteum’ powder as my main source of nutrition. Suffice to say, it met my energy needs and filled my stomach without gastro-intestinal (GI) issues. Just add water, sip the ‘paste’ and chase it with water.
4) If you got to pee, you got to pee. System check: I was well hydrated. My body responds to the cold air (low 10’s) and headwinds the same way it does to caffeine, by seeking refuge at a porta-loo.
5) No caffeine on this race, except for the last 5K with flat Coca-Cola. I did it as Macca suggested in his biography. Sweet as hell, but beats the ‘bonk’.
6) I suffered cold cramps on the 70K mark of the ride, and thereafter during my run. Imagine getting cramps about 300m away from the finishing-line! I did my best Crowie impression by stretching my hamstrings – did not do much except to irk the spectators to cheer me on – I gritted my teeth and pushed on, painfully. Four days of sore thighs suggested the extent of damage from the cramps. (Note to self: take more Endurolytes, like 3-4 per hour on hard rides)