Monday, March 5, 2012

Race or Training Day?

Yesterday, I completed my 12th Ironman event at Lake Taupo, New Zealand. Our 226K-triathlon was cancelled, and in its place we had a contingent half-Ironman triathlon. 
Due to a 'weather bomb' that hit New Zealand, Lake Taupo suffered strong overnight winds and rain. As race organisers judged it dangerous for all 1,600 participants and more than 2,000 volunteers the race was scrapped for the first time in 28 years of the event's history. 

About 1,400 decided to race yesterday morning at 7.55am. The professionals, comprising multiple-Ironman NZ winners Cameron Brown and Joanna Lawn took off from a 'wet start' at 7.45am for the single-loop 3.8K swim. At 15 degrees Celcius, the lake swim was cold for many, especially equator-dwelling participants like us. Most of the Team Singapore raced in what looked like the original event.

It was, nonetheless, a tough day. Call it a race or label it a training day, it was still a hard hit for us. The swim took the breath out of me, and being swam over by strong and competitive swimmers was troubling and anxiety-building. The 90L ride was smooth and uneventful for the first-half, yet the headwinds on the return leg made it harder to attack the ride with the same relentlessness as found earlier. I cramped a little at the 70K mark, and I attributed it to cold cramps - which was to plague me later during the 21K. I found good success in my nutrition with Hammer Nutrition Perpeteum (a soya-protein based energy drink) which caused no stomach distress, and gave a sense of fullness. I wore adequately to keep warn, although this extended my usual transition time in T1: I had to use socks, arm-warmers and gloves.

I enjoyed myself on the run, focusing on recovering my lost time on my race-buddies. I started with a 5:45min/K pace for the first 5.25K, and then throttled it up to a 4:43min/K for the last 6K. I made up some ground, but ran out of real-estate to earn more time. No PB for me this time, and more like a PW; however, I was pleased that many of friends did well and they deserved their personal victory. In the end, for a shorter format race, the strong swimmers and riders determined the race. I learnt many lessons from this alternate race, and will use it to prepare for my next full-format race in July. I am not a cold-weather athlete, and excel in hot climates. I will decide how to handle such chilly races in future.

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