Well what can I say, NZ was an interesting challenge. As if Ironman wasn’t a tough enough race, try adding an element of uncertainty whether there’d be ANY race in NZ for 2012, then add an extra day to ponder (and carbo load) before tackling a race half the distance of what you’d trained all those months for. I guess Ironman wasn’t meant to be easy and this edition had a large dose of the emotional roller coaster added to the mix.
After being informed the evening before that the IM was off and replaced by a 70.3 race the day after, we awoke Saturday morning (originally race day) with some relief to see that the weather was as predicted and pretty much impossible to hold a race in. It wasn’t wet but it was WINDY and even I with my ample mass would have struggled to keep my bike from getting airborne – the disk wheel probably wouldn’t have helped much . . .
The new race day on Sunday was much better and the race director had made the right call. A choppy swim, moderate wind on the bike and a dry and sometimes sunny day meant good racing conditions. To be honest I wasn’t relishing having to smash myself over the half IM distance to try and achieve my objective – Hawaii qualification – but knew it would be a chance to prove my worth as more than just an Ironman specialist. A 2nd place in the Australian Long Course champs at Falls Creek 3 weeks earlier also gave me a bit of confidence that I had some speed left in my sad old legs.
So the race went ok for me, a strong swim (for once) let me control the bike intensity early and allow some of my main A/G threats to catch up as I dosed out my effort. I rode hard after the Reparoa turnaround, catching and passing many as I rode to a negative split. After a fast transition I took
off on the run in a bid to make up some places and get into the pointy end of the field. Passing 5 or 6 in the A/G in the first 14ks, I was then running scared as it was hard to fully drop anyone over the short distance and I guess not many out there were going to blow up after training for the longer event. The legend that is Kenny Glah was one that I passed, only to see him (and a few other threats) tenaciously clinging on about 50 metres behind as I went around the last turnaround with 5ks left to run. In future I won’t sit in the condo with my crew watching old Hawaii Ironman DVDs to kill time before the race – watching Ken come 5th in 8hrs 30mins in an early nineties race didn’t do my confidence a lot on raceday that I could maintain my lead over him!
Into the finish chute and I was finally able to step off the gas as I checked behind and saw noone. End result: 4th place and a spot in Hawaii in October. But give me a full Ironman qualifier any day over the pressure and intensity of racing for Kona slots in a Half Ironman.