Sunday, 9 June 2013

14.05.13 Bay Ride

I decide that it is time to get out there start riding with other people.  As much as I like riding alone as well as training alone because you can go as fast as you like or as slow as you like depending on how you are feeling.  When riding in a bunch you go as fast as the testosterone that is leading the bunch.  My new bike shop does a late bunch ride on a Tuesday night and I have decided that it is now time to join them.  My concern is the fact that I will not be on Catalina.  There are certain rules that you must adhere to when riding in a pack.  Things such as swinging your left arm from the bars to halfway up your back to show that there is an obstruction on your left hand side coming up albeit a car or a curb etc. to calling out when you are braking or slowing down.  One of the rules generally is that on a bunch ride such as this, you don't bring a bike with aero bars and if you do, you don't go down on them in the bunch.  Why??? Because when you are down on the bars you are not near the brakes and considering that you are about 5-10cm away from the back wheel of the person in front of you and if they suddenly break then you will not have time to react and will be on the ground quicker than they can say "braking!"

I arrive at the shop and say hello to Paul, Mike and Gareth.  It is a nice night tonight so I am looking forward to the ride but my only concern is that I will not be able to hang on.  If I can't hang on then it is going to be a lonely ride home along the bays.  We start out and head down to Freiberg pool.  To get there we are having to dodge traffic as well as lights so the real pace will not show itself until we really get going.  We all meet up at the pool and before too long we are off.  The pace is quick but I am feeling really good.  Since the slight adjustments on my old bike have been made I actually feel really good on it.  How good I feel will soon reveal itself as the pace has just picked up.

I find myself second from the back.  Not the place I would normally like to be but I don't want to be in anyone's way and until I can determine the pace of the pack I am happy to be here.  I quickly realise that this is the place to be as the pace has certainly picked up.  I am hanging on with no issues and look down to see we are sitting on around 35km an hour as we weave around the bays of Wellington.  The way that we are going usually determines what the other half of the ride will be like.  Bsaically if you are heading into a tail wind in the first section of the ride, then you have a head wind for the bulk of the ride.  We are moving and this is being assisted by the tail wind behind us.  Hopefully when we hit the turn into the headwind I will still be able to hang on.  We hit the turn and the pace quickens a little bit more as the big boys hit the front of the pack to drive into the wind.  I now find myself at the back of the pack with another person next to me and I am doing everything to stay on it.  I look across and meet Dee who is Mike's girlfriend for the first time.  I ask her if this is the normal pace and she says that it depends who is on the front.  Whoever is on the front is seriously going for it.

Just as quickly as we are going for it we slow down and bring the pack back to a normal speed.  It is good to see as there is nothing worse than when you fall of the back of a pack and then spend the rest of the ride on your own.  This pack does go for it but wait to bring the pack back together.  We hit a flat section before we go up a slight incline.  Dee warns me that the pace is about to pick up again.  She is right, there is a sprint to the top of the hill and everyone is going for it.  I stay at the back and although feel I can go faster, have no idea of what is to come so decide to pace myself.  I am not at the back anymore, I am obviously a little stronger on the hills than some but I am also no where near the front including Mike who has proven himself as a hill specialist.  We hit the top of the hill and descend back down the other side before we reform again.  The pack has again waited and we continue with each other until we hit another flat section before it is flat out again.  This continues until we hit the bottom of a huge climb that goes for around 2-3km.  It is one of those never ending climbs where you just have to get into a rhythm and go for it.  As soon as we hit the flat section the same people that jumped for the previous climb are at it again.  Before I know it, they are long gone and I am in for a long climb by myself.  I am halfway up and I can sense someone behind me.  I am not sure who it is but they go past me and tell me to jump on the back of their tyre.  Attached to them is Dee and attached to Dee is someone else.  We now have a train that has formed and we are all hanging on for dear life.  This is the part that I enjoy about being in a pack.  In this situation all you want to do is stop as your legs are burning but you know that it will be all the bit harder if you are dropped so you hang on.  You don't let that wheel in front of you no matter what.  As they say in cycling it is like an elastic band is attached to the person in front of you.  You can let it stretch a little but when it snaps say goodbye to the person in front of you.

We hit the top and again everyone is waiting for each other.  We have a drink and a snack and then we descend down to the city.  Victoria is away this week so I have the car at work.  I ride back to work and put the bike away before heading home.  I swam 2.5km this morning so by the time I get home I am shattered.  It was an awesome way to finish the day and after I have had something to eat I crash in bed enjoying a well deserved sleep.

Below is my bay ride information.
Bay Night Ride by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Saturday, 8 June 2013

12.05.13 Longest ride of my life

It is Sunday.  The weather has been crap for the last couple of days however it has turned it on today.  I was busily checking the weather throughout the week in anticipation for a long ride.  Vic and Lachlan have headed to Auckland for a week so there is no rush for me on my ride today.  I decide that I really want to give Catalina a run for her money so there is a Haywards ride that I do that is around 80km and involves coming back home along a motorway.  This will enable me to be down on the aero bars and giving it my all to see how fast I can really go and how comfortable it will be for me.

I leave home and start the ride.  Today I am focussed on being down on the bars as often as possible.  I want to ensure that I get maximum time in that position to get used to it as well as maximise my speed for the ride.  I head past Tawa and as I have left a little later than usual (8:30am) there is a bit of traffic on the road however when I head out a little more there will be hardly anything.  I hit an area before Haywards Road which snakes around the water and is my favourite part of the ride especially when there is no wind.  I am down on the bars and starting to get used to the bars.  I am about to head to Haywards road.  It is a steady climb and was the scene of my crash about three months ago.  Haywards road is a steady climb before a descent back down to a highway.  It gets steep in parts but mostly it is a gentle climb.  I am riding along and feeling really good and strong.  I hit the main hill part and begin the climb.  As I keep mentioning this bike is not built for climbing but it just feels so much smoother climbing on this bike than my other bike.  It feels like me and the machine are one and all the power I am putting into my peddles is going straight into the wheels of the bike.  Before I know it I am at the top of the hill and I begin my descent down.

If this bike feels fast going on a straight, it is nothing compared to how it feels when it is going down hill.  It is scaringly fast!  Before I know it I am doing over 60km/hour.  The bike wants to go faster but I slow it down.  In no time at all I am at the bottom of the hill and back onto the freeway for my time trial ride to the turnaround point.  As per usual I am feeling really good and see the turnaround point but I decide that I am feeling too good to turnaround now.  We recently went and did some tree planting at the Kaitoke National Park which is only around another 5km away.  I decide that this will be the turnaround point today.  I am starting to get a bit hungry now so looking forward to having a break.  I make it to the turnaround point and pull out a couple of bars and chill out in the sun enjoying the fact that I have just completed 51km and am feeling sensational.

I begin to head back and in no time at all I have passed the turnaround point that I usually stop at.  I begin the long time trial back but the first part is now busy with traffic and the bike lane is not as big as it is further along so I am reluctant to get down on the bars.  Eventually I hit an area at about the 65km mark where it is a flat ride home.  I am down on the bars and sitting over 40km with ease.  I am back into town in what feels like no time at all.  I head to the old bike shop that I used to go too and order a nice coffee whilst sitting out in the sun.  It is the first time I realise that I am going to do close to a 100km ride.  If that is the case it will be the longest ride of my life.  I finish my coffee and jump back on the bike to complete the second last hill of the day.  I make it up the hill fairly easily even though it is a really steep and tough climb and begin the short ride home.  After the hill I suddenly realise that I am about to bonk!  I am all of a sudden really hungry and need to eat but only have a short distance to go home so decide to keep going.  I am closing in on home and know that I will be short of my 100km so decide to do a quick loop to ensure that I make the 100km mark but my stomach is telling me otherwise.  I don't listen to my body and complete the short loop.

I am starving now.  I still have one last hill to go (the hill of death). This hill has got me before and it will get me again today as I am struggling up it.  Eventually I make it home and I am ravenous.  I park the bike outside and come straight down to the kitchen to start getting something to eat.  I have not even looked at my watch to see how far I have gone.  All I am interested in is showing some bread with jam on it in my face as quickly as possible.  I have some more water and I am feeling instantly better.  I look at my watch and I have done 100.12km.  I am glad I did the extra loop as I would have been upset if I had just missed out on the 100km.  The amazing thing is that although I was starving, my body feels fine.  This bike has just done something to me.  It has made me realise that the distance I can travel on it is limitless at this point in time.  I have struggled through my Half Ironman races after doing 90km of predominantly flat courses yet I have done a 100km ride today made up of three to four good hills and I am still feeling good.  How far can I go on this bike?  Can I go 180km and complete an Ironman?  I am starting to think that I can...

Below is the ride for you to see.
Haywards Road Ride by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My first long ride with Catalina!

It is my first real ride on Catalina.  It is a perfect morning with not much wind.  I have to be back at home by 10:30 so want to do around a 3 hour ride however it has been a long week and I enjoy a little bit of a sleep in.  I decide to do a loop around Makara Peak and then along the bays before heading home.  This ride normally takes around 4 hours so I may have to cut it short.

I leave the house and immediately enjoy the relaxed position on the bars as I am heading down hill.  Instead of bars that go around like a normal road bike, the P5 only have bars that go straight out which provide a comfortable position when going down hill or sprinting up hill, and the aero position.  I start the climb up to the road that heads to Makara and as mentioned previously this bike is not a climbing bike, so it is a tough climb.  I eventually hit the flatter section of the ride and am able to get down on the  aero bars for the first time.  It feels really insecure as I am so tucked in and I am reluctant to get down on the bars even on some flat sections.  I gradually get more confident and begin to enjoy the comfortable position that the bars provide.  I head over the Makara Peak and into the city before heading into the bay loop.  This loop is slightly secluded from normal traffic so gives me more opportunity to test my aero riding position.

I am feeling so comfortable it is crazy.  My back does not hurt and I am just cruising along.  I am up on the bars and I am sitting on 35km/hour.  I go down on the bars and instantly I am going 1km/hour faster.  I get back down on the bars and continue to ride along until I hit the airport.  I would normally continue past the airport but I am running out of time.  I am actually disappointed as I am feeling sensational and want to see how far I can go but turn around and head back home.  I am hitting more flat sections and spending more time on the aero bars.  I make it to the city and look down at the clock to see that I have only 20 minutes to make it home by 10:30.  It would normally take me at least 30 minutes so I am going to have to go for it.  I start my trip home and at every possible opportunity I get down on the bars to help me get home as fast as possible.

I eventually make it home, 10 minutes later than expected but as mentioned feeling sensational.  I would have loved to keep riding but my mum is over and we are heading out.  I make it home after completing 73km which feels like it is around a 40km ride.  It has taken me 2 hours and 53 minutes and below are the details of the ride.

Makara Short Loop 04.05.13 by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Taking the P5 home...take two!!

I ride to swimming on my old bike knowing that today I will finally be picking up the P5 to take home. I complete my swim session and then ride to work.  I have a quick shower and eat some breakfast whilst I wait for the shop to open and then I walk my old bike there.  When I arrive at the shop they are still working on my P5.  As I walk in, Ricardo is in the process of refilling the brake lines with hydraulic fluid.  It now has the drink holder on the back seat with a light attached and by the end of the day it will be ready to take home.

I head back to work and thanks to me being exceptionally busy, the day fly's by.  I get changed before walking back up to Capital Cycles to pick up the bike.  I arrive and the P5 is there waiting for me.  Paul wants to have one last look at me on the bike so we put it on the wind trainer.  I get changed out of my Vibrams that I have brought with me and quickly realise that I have left my socks back at work.  I just put on my new bike shoes and Paul decides to make an adjustment of my seat by bringing it up slightly.  It feels a little uncomfortable so we put it back down again.  It is now time for me to go for some long rides and test it out before we make any further adjustments.  I take the bike off the wind trainer, get a couple of complimentary drink bottles, fill them with water and then wheel the bike out of the shop for the second time.  I make it back to work, pick up my socks and my backpack and get ready to ride home.

I attach my Garmin watch to the bike and then enter the traffic for the ride home.  As I have already ridden it home once before, I am a little bit more confident and very soon I am feeling good.  There is a lot of traffic on the way home however there are lots of flat sections before the steep climb home.  With no major stops for traffic lights and slowing down for cars and buses that pull out in front of me, I should be able to get down on my aero bars and really test the bike out.  The stopping at lights is giving me time to test the new cleats of my shoes.  They are still quite stiff due to them being new and clipping out and especially in, is very different to what I am used to.

I hit the major flat area and get down onto the aero bars.  The bars are much lower than what I am used to.  It also feels a little unstable as you are basically steering the front of the bike with your forearms.  But as soon as I am in the aero position, I am immediately comfortable and am easily sitting on around 37km/hour.  I get to the bottom of the gorge feeling really good and then begin the climb up the hill.  As I have mentioned before, this bike is not built for climbing so I am not expecting and major gains whilst going up hill.  In fact I am in the easiest gear possible but feel very comfortable.  I hit the Newlands turn off and for the first time I look down at my watch to see that it has only taken me 19 minutes.  I track this ride every time I ride home and I know that this time is fast.  I hit a slight and quick downhill before continuing the climb home.  I hit the last major climb up hill and by this stage I am definitely going quicker than ever before.  I make it home and stop the clock on 29:37.  I have just ridden faster than ever before.  The fastest time before this was 30:07 and that was when I was in peak condition just before my last Half Ironman in March.  I have stopped a couple of times because of lights and cars which has increased my time and yet I have still come home faster than ever before.  I put on my Vibram's and go for a warm down run.  I put the bike in the garage and proudly show it off again to  Vic.  The P5 is finally home and ready for me to ride!  Below is my ride home and a picture of my Cervelo P5 or as it will be known as now, Catalina.  Catalina is an Italian name that means 'pure'...a fitting name for this bike as it is 'pure' speed!!!

Ride home from work by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, 13 May 2013

Back to the shop with the P5

As I wheel the P5 into the shop the following morning, Ricardo who is one of the bike mechanics looks at me and says 'What happened?"  I tell him the story and he looks down at the rear brake and touches it then looks at his fingers to see fluid on them.  He tells me to leave the bike and come back later.

The day goes by and I have heard nothing from the bike shop.  I finish my day and then head back to the shop.  As I walk in I begin chatting to Mike and I fill him in on what has happened.  We start talking about a ride on the weekend and he invites me to it.  Whilst I am talking I can see another mechanic in the background looking like he wants to say something.  I turn to speak to him and he tells me that the bike is not ready.  I am then informed that the bolt that I had undone was actually the bolt for the hydraulic brake fluid and by pressing the break lever I have bled my breaks.  To fill the fluid back up again they have pulled out a plastic screw which is now broken and needs to be replaced.  They have to order the part in and it will hopefully be in on Saturday morning but most likely not until next week.  I am not happy however it teaches me a lesson though.  Gone are the days of simple mechanical fixes on a bike, they are now going to be complicated fixes only to be performed by skilled bike mechanics.  The last thing that I do before I leave Capital Cycles is book in my old bike for a service.  I need it to be working to the best of it's ability even though I will be spending most of my time on my new bike.  I will need it when riding in packs as well as some of my training of course any long rides or sprinting will be done on the P5.  My old bike is in a bit of a state.  Just before the Auckland Orca Half Ironman the gear shifting became extremely difficult, to the point that I could not change into the big chain ring on the front.  I struggled through the race in Auckland but it was now time to get it back in full working order.  I had negotiated a set of peddles for this bike so that my new shoes could be used on it rather than me having to switch back to my old shoes.  I leave the shop with my tail between my legs embarrassed that I have been the major cause of the problem with my new bike and upset that for the weekend I will not have my new ride.

Taking the P5 home

I ride my motorbike to swimming on Thursday Morning before driving to work excited with the prospect that I am picking up my bike that afternoon.  I have a busy day at work and before I know it is time to walk to the shop to pick up the bike.  The bike is ready for me and looks amazing.  The tube light has arrived and it is shown to me but I am not happy with it but have limited options.  I ask about drink holders.  We only have one position for a drink holder on the frame of the bike and we find one that matches the colouring of the bike and install it on the frame.  I also ask about rear drink bottle holders off the back seat as I will need at least two drink bottles when going for long rides.  We discuss the options and unfortunately there are none in stock so we need to order them in.  I then have the bright idea that if we mount a drink bottle holder on the rear of the bike, we can mount a light of that.  Mike agrees and shows me the options before we place an order for them to be delivered the following week.  Paul tells me to take the long way home and enjoy the ride and I suddenly realise that I have no spare gear should I get a puncture on the way home.  The light is also starting to fade and I have no rear lights.  I have a back pack on and we quickly mount a loan light on the rear and then Mike gathers a spare tube, tyre levers and a C02 canister and chucks it in a bag for me to use if required.

The time has come for me to wheel it out of the shop.  I am extremely nervous as the time is now around 4:45pm and I will have to ride home in virtual peak hour traffic.  I say goodbye to the boys and head out the door before joining the road and beginning the ride.  I hit traffic lights straight away and have to unclip my shoe.  It is very different to what I am used to and I am praying that I will not tip over.  I start to get used to the gearing and peddling down Willis Street before passing work and heading home.  As I hit an area with limited traffic I change up into the large chain ring and it makes a grinding noise before the chain comes off and jams on the bike.  A dropped chain is nothing major but I am a little embarrassed that it has happened and pull over to put the chain back on.  It is very hard to get the chain back on as it is really jammed between the frame and the chain ring.  Eventually I free the chain, put it back on and continue the ride.  The ride home is full of traffic and I am not confident to be down on the bars which is the most efficient position and will provide me with the greatest gain in speed compared to my previous bike.  Due to me not being able to get down on the bars as well as the stop start of traffic, the bike does not feel as amazing as I would have expected it to be.  Once I have ridden along the flat it is time to go up hill.  This bike is not built for climbing so again I will not see significant gains.  I make it home and proudly show off the bike to Victoria.  The first question she asks is how it feels and I tell her that it does not feel that different.  For the price I paid she is mystified how that is possible.  I get changed and go for a quick run to warm down before heading back home to admire my new purchase.

As I move the bike into the garage, the wheels move which is nothing unusual but I notice that the front wheel is spinning freely whilst the rear wheel has stopped. I take a closer look and spin the wheel whilst watching it.  The wheel is not spinning freely and I discover that the rear brake is rubbing on the wheel.  No wonder I felt nothing special on the ride home, the brake must have been knocked when the  chain came off and I have then ridden all the way home with resistance on the back wheel.  I grab some towels and turn the bike upside down to have a look.  The brake pad is definitely rubbing on the wheel.  I try to adjust it but cannot move it.  There is a panel that is hiding the brakes and I go and get some allen keys to have a better look.  I take off the cover but cannot move the brake lever.  I see a bolt that looks like it is holding the brake lever into position and start to unscrew it.  Nothing happens but I see some fluid coming from the bolt.  I squeeze the brake lever and the distance between the brakes and the wheel increases.  I tighten the bolt but now the brake is no longer working at all.  I am devastated!  I have had my bike for less than 1.5 hours and it is already broken.  After playing with the brake leaver for another 20 minutes or so I finally am resound to the fact that I will have to take the bike back to the shop.  I want the bike back for the weekend, surely it is an easy fix!  As the bike is unridable I put the bike in the back of the car before driving it to work so that I can wheel it to the shop in the morning.

The Final Fitting on my P5

Paul arrives and again apologises for being late for our fitting.  I forgive him as I can't wait to jump on the bike.  We put it on the wind trainer and begin to look at my positioning.  We have done the basic set-up on the bike and it is now time to make the final adjustments.  We start with putting my shoes on and again I am back down into the aero position similar to the other fitting.  Due to the measurements that have been taken on the previous fittings, no adjustments are required.

Paul then looks at my foot positioning.  He asks me to peddle whilst he sits on the floor.  He doesn't want my foot moving around too much as any major movement will result in loss of power.  I peddle around 8 times and then stop at the top of my stroke.  Paul then adjusts the cleat to my natural position when my foot hits the top and we do the whole process again around 5 times until he is happy with the minimal movement.  After we have completed one foot we move onto the other.

Paul then shines a laser on my leg as I am peddling that shows the line of my stroke and too see if I am going up and down and pushing through the peddle.  He shines the laser on my right leg and is happy with the position.  He shines the laser on my left leg and identifies a problem.  He asks me if I feel my left foot moving around at the bottom of the stroke.  I tell him that I have felt this during my rides on my old bike.  I thought it was a weakness in my left leg so I have been intentionally concentrating on pushing harder with my left leg.  It definitely feels different to my right leg but I never knew why.  Paul tells me to sit on the counter and he marks where both my left and right leg hang whilst I am relaxed.  He then puts a spirit level against the two and finds I am 8mm shorter in my left leg.  He grabs my shoe and goes into what he describes as his 'bits and pieces drawer' to try something.  He pulls out some foam which is around 5mm thick and cuts it into the shape of the innersole of my shoe.  He then puts both the innersole and foam in the shoe and asks me to put it on.  It is extremely tight but he just wants to see the difference.  I jump back on the bike and begin to peddle and amazingly I feel a difference.  He brings out the laser again and the difference is extraordinary.  Rather than me searching for the peddle at the bottom of my stroke resulting in a loss of power, I am now powering through the stroke with both legs and the laser is straight up and down my leg.  Paul knows that the foam in the shoe is too  uncomfortable so decides that he will instead build up the cleat outside the shoe.  Final adjustments need to be made including the tape on the bars and the brakes installed.  By Thursday the bike will be ready for me to take home.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

My purchase of the Cervello P5.

As I have stated numerous times in many of my blogs, my current bike needed to be changed.  In my investigations it has turned out that my current Cannondale bike is not only very old it is the incorrect size for me.  This means that I am stretched on the bike and peddling something bigger than what I need to be peddling resulting in some fairly uncomfortable positions.  I knew that this year a new bike was on the cards so I began my investigations looking at all types of bikes.  I knew that I needed a time trial bike.  There is no point in purchasing an expensive road bike and then for races, slotting on some aero bars and trying to go fast on it.  I needed a bike that was specifically designed for racing.  I would use it for training as well as the Cannondale but regardless, it would always be ready for racing with no adjustments required.

So I begin my search in late January looking at all major brands.  Googling best time trial bike in the world and reading my triathlon magazines.  Eventually I make it to the Cervelo website and discover a new bike that it soon going to be released.  It is the Cervelo P5.  Looking at it on various websites and reading about it, it comes across as the ultimate and fastest time trial bike, and I convince myself that it is way out of my reach.  I am happy to admit it but I begin to fantasize about this bike.  It becomes my Excalibur (Waynes World) and eventually the only bike I want is this one.  The problem is that it is near impossible to track down.  I can't find one for sale anywhere on line and I spend months thinking that it is a lost cause.  I continue to search for a P5 for sale, trying to find a price for it and someone who  I can talk to about it.  Eventually after much searching I find that Capital Cycles in Wellington is a distributor of Cervelo products.  I send them an email along with a couple of other shops across the country asking about the P5.  Capital Cycles is the first one to come back to me (and the only one in the end).  Unbelievably they have a P5 on loan from Cervelo and they have it currently displayed in their shop.  I arrange a time to go the shop and speak to Paul who is the owner who will talk to me about what I want to achieve and whether this is the right bike for me.

I count down the days and eventually a couple of days later it is time for me to head to Capital Cycles to view the P5.  I walk into the shop and just like Excalibur in Wayne's World, it is hoisted up in the centre of the shop on a stand, above all other bikes.  I love it straight away.  I begin to talk to Paul and we discuss my needs.  He measures me and we discover the bike he has is the perfect size for me.  The bike is on loan from Cervelo so he has no great demand to sell the bike.  The price of the bike is a little more than what I was expecting but I am given a commitment that he will make this bike fit me like a glove.  He also tells me that he will include a pair of shoes and peddles of his choosing but that they cannot be chosen until he sees me on the bike.  I need to make a decision as I am told that a shop in Christchurch has an interested party and they want the bike down there for display in a couple of days time.  It is Friday and I tell him that I will come back to him on Monday.  He tells me that he will ignore the Christchurch phone calls until then.  I toss back and forth that night and Saturday and have great discussions with my wife.  The bike is a lot of money and there is no guarantee that it will make any major difference.  Regardless, I decide that it has to be mine!!  I email Paul on Sunday and negotiate a deal, hopefully I am not too late.

I receive an email whilst away at a conference and am told that the bike is mine.  I am ecstatic but then a dread comes over me that I have made a very expensive mistake.  I soon push that fear away and realise that this is something I deserve and it will be the right decision in the end.  I organise payment and schedule in my first fitting.  A week goes by and I am so excited to head down to the shop to finally sit on the bike.  I get changed from work and walk to the shop.  I get there and there is huge anticipation but I stop in my tracks when I realise that the P5 is not on the wind trainer waiting for me and Paul is no where to be seen.  I speak to one of the other guys in the shop called Gareth and ask where Paul is.  Paul was getting married the weekend prior but was meant to be back at work on the Monday.  Gareth apologizes as Paul is not in and I tell him that I am here for a bike fitting.  Gareth again apologises and states that Paul may not have been thinking straight as his mind was on the wedding.  I am disappointed, I have almost been counting down the hours to this moment.  I ask Gareth to call Paul and he is reluctant but offers to reschedule.  He asks what bike I am being fitted on and I state the P5.  He replies with an "Oh what!!!  That bike!!  Let me give him a call."  A couple of minutes later he comes back to me and tells me that we will have to reschedule.  I make a booking for two days time.

Two days has passed and I am back in the bike shop.  This time I see the P5 sitting at the end of the shop on the Wind trainer waiting for me.  I see Paul and he apologises for the other day.  I am half listening to what he is saying but I am fixated on the bike.  Only the essentials are on at present as I soon learn that this bike will be custom built for me.  Every inch of the bike will be cut and glued perfectly for my body.  

First things first, bike shoes.  I have bought shoes in the past for my bike and to me, if they fit you and look good they are fine.  Wrong!!  It is more than that and Paul explains to me that there are various differences in shoes with regards to the level of support they offer as well as what will work for my body and positioning.  He chooses a pair of shoes and I try them on.  They feel amazing already.  He puts the cleats on them and then attached the corresponding peddles onto the bike.  The peddles are like nothing I have ever seen before.  They are tiny little circles and look nothing like a peddle.  They are a minimilist peddle as I discover.  The big peddles that I am used to are long gone.  I learn that the peddle needs to be small as the power from the foot needs to be transferred straight into the bike and nothing should be lost on a clunky peddle.  The next thing to adjust is the seat height.  This bike has a carbon fibre frame with a carbon fibre seat post.  Paul wants to get the seat height exact.  Once he has the seat where he wants it he will cut the seat post so that it is resting on the bottom of the frame.  This way there is no way the seat will move and it will be easy to remember the seat height if I take the seat post out.  We measure the seat and then it is cut to perfection.  Next job is the bars and bar height.  My arm angle is measured to ensure that my forearm is at right angles.  Once these are done the handlebars are glued into position.  After around an hour the basics are done. There is nothing on the bike except for the bars and wheels so the rest of the bike needs to be built including brakes, gears and minor things such as the tape on the bars.  Another appointment is made for a couple of days time.  It is Thursday so  I am going to have to wait for a weekend before I get to see the bike again.  It is so close now until that first ride and I just can't wait.

I return back to the shop and walk in.  Again the bike is not on the stand and Paul is not in the shop.  I catch up with Mike who is another guy who works in the shop.  Paul is stuck in a meeting but will be in soon.  I take the time to start organising the bike for me to take home later in the week.  I will be riding this bike both morning and night so need some lights as well as a seat bag to carry tools.  Mike starts helping me out and showing me some of the options however as soon as I look at the options, I am immediately limited in what can go on the bike.  For example, the seat post is thick and will not hold a normal saddle bag.  The options that I have is a seat bag that will sit on the back of the seat which is fine but the bags on offer do not allow for a light to be on the back.  The light options are even harder to decide upon.  Out of all the options that we have nothing will fit on the bike.  Eventually it is decided that we will put on a tube that sits on the rear frame of the bike and go with a seat bag made by the company that makes the seat itself.  By the time we have discussed the lighting options Paul arrives.

Crash and Burn

I am looking forward to my break.  It is well deserved and needed.  But a week into enjoying the sleep-ins and casual drink, I get a gastro bug from Lachlan.  I try to push through it thinking it will go away but after a couple of days of it I decide that the only thing I can do is starve it and eat nothing for a couple of days.  I am meant to be indulging yet I spend 2 days of a weekend without eating a thing.  It is a great weight loss technique though with 3 kilos shed in 2 days.  By the third day I am eating rice crackers and after 5 days I am eating simple foods.  This is not the way that I wanted to spend my time off!  Eventually I am back to eating normally again but the gastro bug has taken it's toll on my body.  A week after overcoming the bug,  I am struck down with the flu.  Again the worst of it is over a weekend so I am stuck in bed for two days.  The worst thing though is that it is Easter.  Again I should be out enjoying myself and catching up with friends, something I have not had a chance to do for months.  But no, I am stuck in bed, my body aching just hoping to get better soon.  After a week, I am feeling a lot better.  Work now takes over and for the next two weeks I am flat out traveling and catching up.  Before I know it 5 weeks has passed and the worst thing is, I feel like I have not had a break!  I have missed the start of the swim term and begin to get frustrated that I am not dong anything. Regardless of the fact that my body has not had a huge rest, it is time to get back into the pool.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Rest Begins

After my last race I am exhausted and looking forward to a break.  That breaks begins not long after the Orca Auckland Half Ironman when I am sipping on a beer as shown below.

I underestimated the mental impact that the season would have on me and to be quite honest, I was mentally and physically exhausted by the end of it.  I had been looking forward to the end of the Auckland race but another piece of me was going to miss the training that had been done.  The fact that I was going to miss it was a good sign, not missing it, hating it would be an issue.  I had decided to cut all ties from training and do nothing for at least 4 weeks.  By that stage I would be craving a run or ride and if that was the case I was ready to get back into the training for another season.  I would enjoy the sleep ins and late morning starts.  I would enjoy the early evenings and glasses of wine with dinner. Would four weeks be enough?????

Monday, 29 April 2013

16.03.13 Orca Auckland Half Ironman

Sorry for the absence of my blogs after the last couple of months but I thought I would give you a quick refresher starting with my last race of the season in the Orca Auckland Half Ironman.

Pre Race
It had been a long week at work yet it was only Wednesday and I still knew that I needed to come home, pack up my bike and get ready for the flight to Auckland the next day.  The bike was quickly put in the bike box (getting good at this now), taped up and the case packed.  I arrived in Auckland on the Thursday evening after a busy day at work, eventually chilling out at my Mother in Law's before having an early night in bed.  I woke up the next morning feeling pretty good and relatively relaxed.  I had to register today and the registration was taking place in town.  It was a quick drive into town to the Triathlon shop where the registration was taking place.  A couple minutes later I was down the road ordering a nice coffee and a muffin and then sitting on Mission Bay beach enjoying the sun.  We went back home and then it was time to do the official gear pack for the following day.  Again this did not take long as after two races already, I had a technique in place.  Before not too long all bags where packed and ready for the race the next day.  This race there were two bags however as for the first time I had to pack a transition bag which is a bag you pick up from transition 2 as it would be located in a different location to transition 1.  You had to ensure that all your gear for the bike was in the bag as if it wasn't you may find yourself doing the run leg with no shoes...  The car was packed and the bike put on the back of the car and after a quick dinner it was into bed.

Race Day
I was really looking forward to this race.  The two main reasons where the fact that it was a low key race, not all the razzle dazzle of an Ironman Half Ironman, and the fact that the swim start was just around the corner from my mother in laws, in fact it was on the beach that I have swum in on numerous occasions.  I was feeling pretty good fitness wise also.  The fact that I was mentally exhausted and this was the last race of the season also provided added incentive and of course there was that cold beer that I had been waiting over 2 months for.  I drove down to the start line with my mum and the first thing I noticed about the low key event was the ability to park right out the front of the start line.  I looked on the grassy patch to my left to see what looked like a fairly small transition area which I thought had not been set up yet but quickly realised that it was finished, just very small.  It was not going to be a big field today, less than 300 competitors on my count.  Low key and I was loving it.  Yep, today was going to be a good day and I was going to go hard on the bike.  I really wanted to get a good time and after all the training I had been doing, felt like I deserved a good time.  That dream was quickly shattered though when the announcer started talking about the course, explaining that it was not a fast course and the bike course was a hilly one that would take it out of you.  The best time by a pro was around 4:15 which in comparison was 30 minutes slower than the pro best time in was going to be a long day!!  I was going to enjoy it though, there was a break from all that training just around the corner, I just had to get through 5.5 hours of pain first.  Whilst getting ready the announcer saw one of the competitors and recognized him as Garth Barefoot who was one of the owners of Barefoot and Thompson Real Estate.  He had just competed in the New Zealand Ironman and unfortunately DNF due to coming in after the 17 hour cut off time, just 5km from the finish!  He talked about his race and the course and everybody just stood there in awe listening to him.  He managed to calm everyone down and by now everyone was pumped for the race start.

The Swim
The weirdest thing about this race was the fact that the race did not start until 8:00am.  The main reason was that it was still dark at 7ish so was unsafe.  By the time that 8:00am came around, the sun was shining and it was warm, not the nicest conditions to be in when wearing a full length wetsuit.  It is race start and everyone starts together.  No seperated age groups or men or women.  If you are racing then you are in the pack and ready to go.  The hooter sounds and I am quick into the water, duck diving before getting into my rythym and heading towards the first buoy.  I have sighted the course already and even though the sun is rising and making it difficult to see I am right on target for rounding the first buoy.  As I round the buoy I can see that there is a pack in front of me and a large pack behind me.  From what I can tell though I am near the front of the pack.  I start heading to the second buoy and half way through I am heating up.  The water is really warm and the sun is now beaming down on me.  I feel like I am sweating and if I am sweating then I am becoming dehydrated, something that I don't want on my first leg of a 5.5 hour race.  I make the second buoy before heading back into shore to complete the first lap.  I hit the beach, get out of the water, run around the turnaround and then back into the water ready for the second lap.  Although really warm, I am feeling good and decide to really push the rest of the swim leg.  Before I know it I am heading back into shore to Transition 1.  I enter transition and cannot find my bike anywhere.  I head up and down the short isles before realising where it is losing valuable time in the process.  I strip off my wetsuit, chuck on my helmet and glasses and bike shoes before packing up all my swim gear into a bag as nothing can be left in transition, it is all going in a truck down to the finish.  I wheel my bike out of transition and the bike leg begins.  The swim has taken me 38.11 minutes, the 35th best time in the open age group.  The swim leg is below
Auckland Half Ironman Swim by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Bike Leg
I jump on the bike and am looking forwards to the course.  I know half the course as when staying at my inlaws, I have regularly ridden it.  Past that point though, I have no idea of what is ahead of me.  I am feeling good on the bike.  I look down to see what speed I am doing as well as distance and realise that my watch is not working for some reason.  It has jammed and whilst the timer is working I have no idea of distance travelled or current speed.  This is going to be a tough bike leg.  What is making it enjoyable however is that all the supporter cars are now making their way to the finish line and with no roads closed for this event, they are cheering you on as they drive past.  It is nice to see my mum and wife and son drive by, stopping every now and then to allow me to catch up and cheer me as I go past to do it all over again 10 kilometers down the road.  I finally make it to Kawakawa Bay which is the half way point.  There is a crowd there and we get a good cheer as we go past.  Despite it being hot during the swim, the conditions are no longer that bad and it is quite a comfortable ride.  That is until I turn out of Kawakawa Bay and hit a hill.  This is a huge climb and something that I was not expecting.  After what seems ages, I see cars at the top of the hill clapping people and come to the conclusion I must be near the top.  As I pass the cars and turn the corner I begin my decent down hill.  It is starting to spit so I am careful heading down the slippery road.  I hit the relative flat and it is now a 15km time trial until the turnaround point.  The rain is pouring down now but it is humid and although I am soaking wet, I am very comfortable.  As I hit what I think is around 10km to go a person goes past me and I confirm there is indeed 10km to go.  He asks why I don't have a speedo and I quickly point out the issue with my watch.  He goes past me for a bit and then I catch him up before I disappear in front of him again.  I hit the turnaround and know that I have 25km to go and again it will be another 15km time trial back until the start of the undulating hills followed by the climb.  My back is killing me now.  I am over my bad position on my bike and decide that no matter what, after this season it is time to start looking for a new bike.  I make it to the base of the climb and begin stomping on the pedals.  The chain slips off as I am halfway up and I can't get it back on.  I am not pulling out of the race this close to the finish line and eventually manage to get it back on.  I continue the climb before reaching the top and my decent back down to Transition 2.  As I reach transition my back is really hurting and I can't wait to get onto the run.  I pull into transition, see me family who ask how I am and I tell them about my back.  I grab my back that I packed earlier in the day and put my bike on the rack.  I take my helmet off, put on my Vibrams, grab some energy gels and I am away.  It is a 3 hour 16 minute bike leg, my longest yet.
Auckland Half Ironman Cycle by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

The Run
I am glad to be off the bike.  After the bike leg however, my watch has started working again.  At least I will have something to judge my pace on for the next two hours.  I begin the run and start to feel really good from the start.  It is a 3 lap out and back course so I begin to break it down.  It will be 3.5km to the turnaround and then 3.5km back to complete the first of 3 laps.  3.5km...I can do that easily.  I pickup the pace whilst feeling good and am averaging around 5 minute kilometers.  I pick up the pace before finding the nearest bush as I am busting to go to the toilet.  I hit the first turnaround and begin heading back to the finish.  There is a mixture of slight uphill and down hills but mostly flat and I am finding my rhythm.  I hit the finish line turnaround for the first time before heading back out onto the course.  As I head out I start to recognize the faces of people coming back the other way.  There are people hurting out there and I am starting to now overtake a few of them in front of me.  I go past one lady who yells out 'Geez, you are light on your feet.  I am like a bloody elephant compared to you'.  I reach the turnaround and one of the volunteers asks if I am on my way to the finish and I quickly explain that I have one more lap to go.  I am starting to hurt now but know that I have around 10km to go.  Knowing I am only halfway hurts mentally but as soon as I make it back to the finish line turnaround, I only have 7km to go.  I head back and see my family before heading back onto the course one last time.  I am passing quite a lot of people now, some people are really suffering.  My pace has dropped but I am happy with the 6 minute kilometers I am producing.  I hit the turnaround and remind the same volunteer that I am now on my way to the finish.  As I am heading back the thoughts that this is my last race for a while bring on emotions.  I am enjoying this last 3.5km.  On my way back I see Garth Barefoot and yell out to him ''C'mon Mr Barefoot".  He gives me a smile and waives.  I am heading home now, I can see the finish and really push the last 1.5km.  I reach the finish chute and see my wife and son cheering me on.  I grab Lachlan and run to the finish line with him.  Three Half Ironman races are now complete in my first season and it is time for a break.  The run has taken 2 hours and overall it is the longest race I have ever done at 5 hours 55 minutes and 8 seconds.  Auckland Half Ironman Run by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details.  Attached is the photo of me and Lachlan at the finish line.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

24.01.13 Back in the pool

It is 4 days since my Ironman and the 5:00am wake up call is not something that I am happy to hear.  I put it on snooze and sleep for another 20 minutes before getting up.  I head downstairs and give breakfast to the cats.  I think about having something for myself but it is only the second session back for the year and I am sure that we will be easing into it.  I grab a banana just in case and head towards the pool.  It is nice and warm in the morning and seems like an eternity since I have last ridden my motorbike to swimming.  Usually it is a bike ride followed by a ride to work and then home however this week I am taking it a little easier.

I make it to the pool and catch up with a couple of people regarding what they have done over the Christmas break and the various races that they and I have completed.  I head into the pool area and there is no program.  We are told to jump into the water and do a 400 metre warm up.  This is followed by 300 metres worth of drills.  We are told that the next session will be 3 lots of 5 minutes of swimming.  Basically the first set is to swim for 5 minutes at 7 pace and see how far you can go in that time.  When we swim our level or exertion is based on a number out of ten.  Usually an easy swim is around a 6-7, a swim at a reasonable threshold is at 8, and a swim above threshold (absolutely flat out) is at 9-10.  The first set will be at 7 pace followed by a set at 8 pace and then a set at 9 pace.  For the next 15 minutes we are going to sprinting.

We complete the first set and I have gone around 275 metres.  We have a break and then start the second.  I am feeling okay from the first set but know this next one will be hard.  I am just hanging on to the person in front of me when time is called and I have swum around 290 metres.  We start the third set which will be flat out and my arms are killing me.  I push through counting down the laps and make it to the wall just as the 5 minutes is up completing 300 metres.  I am exhausted after this and it is only 6:40am.  We are soon told that we are repeating the sets.

I let out a sigh and can't believe that we are doing it all again!  I push through the second set of exercises, completing similar distances to what was completed on the first set.  We are finished and I complete a 100 metre backstroke warm down before heading to work.  I am officially back at training!! Why you ask, should I not now be resting??  No, as I have entered another Half Ironman in Auckland on March 18th and there is no time to waste!

20.01.13 The run of the Auckland Half Ironman 70:3

I quickly put on my Vibram's, take off my bike helmet, replace my gels and put on my hat.  I leave transition in 1 minute and 53 seconds and begin my run of the Auckland course.  I am not feeling great at this stage but I wasn't feeling great in Tauranga initially and that all changed after I got into my rhythm in the run.  I had my new Garmin watch on in this race and had set it up so that it was able to time my swim, transition, bike, transition and finally my run.  I had used it for the bike to view average speed however had not had much of a chance to look at it apart from that during the race.  I knew that for the run though I would want to use a few of the features including the pace per km and the heart rate function.  I had to make up some time that I had lost from the swim and the bike so wanted to push hard on the run.  Whilst I am not feeling great, I look down to see that I am doing 4:45 minutes/km pace.  That is fast for me and I am then motivated to push that little bit harder.  After 1km I see that the pace has now dropped down to 4:38.  I am flying in this first section and if I am going this fast for the rest of the race then I should have a good run.  I run past the crowds and Quay Street and they continue the enthusiasm I have experienced on the bike with their support.  I have run this run course many times before.  When I come up to Auckland for business, this is the same course I normally take and so I know that it is not a hard course but it is a question of how hard I can push.  With my current pace it could be a good run but only time will tell.  I come to a rise in the road before it drops away to a flat section and continues on parallel to the ocean.  I look down at my pace and it has now come back up to over 4 minutes 50 per kilometer.  

I am just not feeling it today I decide.  I don't know if it is due to this being my second race in as many weeks or the fact that my cold has reduced my energy levels.  Nonetheless I continue on.  I look down at my pace and it is now over 5 minutes per kilometer.  I am starting to fade and am only around 5km into the run leg.  I know where the turnaround is and focus on my stride length as well as my arm rotation to try to increase my pace but nothing is working.  I am glad to reach the turnaround and start heading back into town.  I am not sure what it is about heading back, maybe the fact that you can see the city, who knows, but it certainly make the run more enjoyable and feel a lot shorter than 6km.  I am back in town and again go past the supporters as I snake my way around the waterfront eventually into the back streets near the transition area.  Again I see Victoria and Lachlan.  I give them a smile as run past but I am not smiling about anything.  I make my way to the finish line where the turnaround is for the second lap.  It is heart breaking to see the finish but know you have another 11km before you will be able to cross over it.  I again see my support crew and tell them I will see them in an hour, this is going to be a slow run.

I begin the second lap and just feel like crap.  I am running and honestly thinking about pulling out of this race.  My body has had enough and I just don't think I can handle the monotonous 11km run that is ahead of me.  I somehow manage to keep going.  I am slowing down at every drink station by now and taking on a sip of water with the remaining water being poured over my head.  I grab a coke in the middle of transition and drink as much as I can before grabbing two more waters and take another sip and pouring the remaining contents over my head.    I can now see the turnaround which means I have 5.5km to go.  I hit the turnaround and start heading home.  I literally have nothing left and my pace has now slipped out to around 6 minutes per kilometer.  I don't care about time anymore, I just want to finish.  People around me are starting to go down also.  There are people walking, collapsed or just running through the pain.  I am glad that I am not the only one that is finding this race to be tough!  I come over the top of the rise before dropping down on the flat with the finish in site.  I am now running along Quay Street.  The crowds are not as boisterous as before and have started to thin out.  I am counting down the kilometers now.

According to my calculations I have around 1km to go.  I push on and start the dreaded snaking through the waterfront.  I have around 300 metres to go but something does not feel right.  I am nowhere near the finish so how can that be.  I come to the realisation that my watch must be wrong and I have longer to go than anticipated.  I hit the 21.1km mark and I must be at least 1km from the finish.  This demotivates me even more but I keep going.  I round the last snaking part of the course and run past the back streets of the finish.  Victoria and Lachlan are not in their spot so I am hoping they are near the finish.  I run the final straight stretch and then start to make my way to the finish line.  I hit the carpet and make my way to the finishing chute.  I see Victoria and Lachlan and give them a wave.  I turn the corner and there is the finish.  I run up the finish and hear my name called as I cross the line in 5:43.  The run has taken over 2:05 hours and I am exhausted.  I stumble after crossing the line before receiving my medal and heading into the recovery area for some rehydration and food.  I have pushed through the pain barrier and am now a dual Half Ironman.

Below is the run leg of the Auckland Half Ironman 70:3

Ironman Auckland 70:3 by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, 25 January 2013

20.01.13 The Bike Leg

As I enter transition I am feeling quite good.  I have my wetsuit half off my body and begin to step out of the rest of it as I put on my bike shoes and helmet and stuff my chia seed mix in my back with a couple of gels.  The helmet is on, I un-rack my bike and run to the end of transition, I am away in 2 minutes and 26 seconds.  The start of the bike is through the streets of Auckland over cobble stones and tram tracks before heading along a bypass road parallel to the ocean and onto the bus lane that leads over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.  It is quite surreal that we are riding over the harbour bridge.  The climb is steep but not to bad.  I hit the top and start the descent down to the other side.  My speed picks up and I am traveling at 58km/h as I descend the bridge.  The next part of the ride is through the new bus lanes into the North Shore.  Before I know it we are off the bus lanes and into the residential area of    Windsor Park and Rosedale.

The support throughout the start of the ride has been amazing.  The Fulton Hogan boys that have been in charge of closing the roads are cheering you on but it is support from the local residents that blows me away.  As we are going through the residential area, there are crowds of people lining the streets.  Not only that, they have lined the numerous roundabouts that we are going through with BBQ at the centre and an amazing party atmosphere.  It is taking my mind off the fact that we are constantly turning left and right through the undulating streets which is preventing you getting into any consistent rhythm. I am looking at how far I have gone and I am at around 30km.  I am starting to wonder when we will be heading back to town as I am over the constant turning through streets.  I turn a corner and find myself back on the bus lane heading back into town.  It is now raining, not heavy but enough to be annoying as it hits you in the face.  It is not long until I am heading back over the bridge.  The legs are tired now and the hill climb over the top of the bridge seems a lot harder than before.  As is cross over the crest of the bridge, I now hit my 58km/h speeds again.

After the bridge we are heading back into town and I begin to notice the huge amount of volunteers that are cautioning us as we twist and turn through the slippery streets of Auckland.  For the first time I see Victoria, Lachlan and a couple of friends (thanks for coming Morgan and Mike).  I go past them as I come to some tight turning corners.  The volunteers are telling us to slow down as another rider with a full disk wheel goes flying past me.  I know that the turn coming up has tram tracks across it as I see him lean into the corner and the back wheel loses traction.  Somehow, and I still don't know how, he holds the bike upright.  As I follow him into the next right hand turn, he takes it a little more cautiously. We then hit the straight of Quay Street and begin our first lap of Tamaki Drive on our way to Mission Bay.  Again there is huge crowd support and I soon get into my rhythm as push on at around 40km/h.  There is a definite tail wind so I know that I will be heading back into a head wind on my way back.  I know this road well as it twist around the coast of Auckland and it is not long before I am at the turnaround.  As predicted there is a headwind and it is a hard slog back to town.  I look at my average speed for the race and it is below 30km/h.  It has definitely been a hard ride with the twist and turning of the roads on the North Shore but I felt I had made good time on the flat sections, obviously not.  At present I am going to do over a 3 hour bike ride which is around 10 minutes slower than Tauranga and I thought that this would be a fast course!

I am heading back into town and am now hitting the 60km mark of the bike.  My back was aching slightly at around the 40km mark and now is really hurting but on this race I remembered the Voltarin gel as I was getting ready.  I am not sure if it is working or not but I am glad that I at least put it on.  I was in agony in Tauranga at this point.  I am feeling OK now but I am looking forward to the end of the ride at this stage.  I again see my support crew as I head to the turnaround in town and begin my second lap of the race.  There is a tailwind again but my legs are tired.  I am trying to push through it as I see that my average speed is now above 30km/h, at least the ride will be 3 hours or less if I maintain this speed.  I again hit the turnaround at Mission Bay and start heading back into a headwind.  My average speed is dropping and I am pushing as hard as I can but just not feeling it today.  There is 10km to go and I cannot wait for it to end.  After around 15 minutes I have made it back to the city.  I do half a lap on the bike in the city before heading back for transition.  About 500 metres from transition I pull my feet out of my bike shoes and ride on the top of them.  I hit the dismount line for the bike and run my bike into transition.  My legs feel like jelly but it feels good to be off the bike.  I run the length of transition back to my area and rack my bike.  The ride has taken me 7 minutes more than Tauranga which is not much considering the fact that I am definitely hurting more today than I was in Tauranga.

Below is the graph of my bike.

ironman Auckland 70:3 by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

20.01.13 The Swim

As I walked from transition to the swim start I was slightly excited about the upcoming swim.  The conditions looked really good, the weather looked good and I was feeling confident.  The swim start 'holding area' was on one side of the Maritime Museum hidden from the crowd whilst the actual swim start was on the other side.  We all knew our wave start positions, I was the next wave after the male and female pro's.  I was standing there knowing we had at least 10 minutes before we got in the water and there were people already fully suited up in the morning Auckland heat.  At the last possible moment I asked a fellow swimmer to zip me up and before I knew it we where being led through a gap in the building to the swim start.  We went underneath a mini tunnel and could hear the crowds on the other side.  It sounds ridiculous but it was like Gladiators just about to go into battle.  We came through to the other side and could now see and hear the crowds of people before we made our way to a small jetty and began jumping into the Auckland Harbour.

We had around 5 minutes to warm up before the start.  Not a great warm up as I like to swim for around 10 minutes as a minimum to get the wetsuit in the correct position and my heart rate up so I am not starting with a cold engine.  This is not going to be the case in this race.  Before I know it we are at the start line waiting for the whistle to go.  I am visualising the course in my head from all the times that I have reviewed it on the website when the whistle goes off.  The sprint is on but the field is defiantly smaller and more spread out compared to Tauranga and it is a good sprint.  I am heading towards the first buoy and feeling quite good.   I know the first buoy is around 300 metres away according to my calculations and I get into my rhythm quickly.  Before I know it I am at the fist buoy and turning for the second which is a good 400 metres away.  My goggles have been tightened so as not to have the same leaking incident that I had in Tauranga and I am feeling good.  I feel a pulling sensation on my head and in no time at all my swim cap has come off my head and is floating behind me.  I carry on a little pissed off that I have lost my cap as it was a good one.  I am nearly at the second buoy and still feeling good.  I round the second buoy and head towards the third buoy.  There are two distinct groups from what I can see and I am leading the second group.  We hit the third buoy and begin to make our way to the fourth buoy when the leaders of the age group behind start to pass us.  The fourth buoy is passed fairly quickly and we are heading back under the bridge we crossed to get to the swim start and the last buoy before transition.  I am heading towards the bridge but it doesn't seem to be getting any closer.  I keep looking up and eventually I pass beneath it.  I see the last buoy which is around 40 metres from the finish.  I round the buoy and head into shore.  I swim for around 30 metres before I hit the stairs and I am on my feet running up stairs from the ocean to the transition area.

Below is the link to my swim:

ironman Auckland 70:3 by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, 24 January 2013

20.01.13 Race Day

I wake up on Sunday morning to the alarm going off next to me.  It is 4:40am and I have had a good sleep care of the Mercure Auckland.  I turn off the alarm and head out to the lounge room to make my breakfast whilst Victoria and Lachlan stay asleep.  I perform the same routine as two weeks ago as I prepare to make my way down to the Auckland Waterfront for my second Half Ironman in two weeks.  The first thing I do is collect my Ironman tattoos from the table and make my way into the bathroom.  I read the instructions and before too long I have a semi permanent tattoo of the number 146 on my arm and my age group on my right calve.  I cover myself in sun cream to hopefully ensure that this time I do not get burnt.  I then start the job of fueling myself ready for the race in 1hour and 30 minutes time.  No porridge this time as we are in a hotel room and it is too hard however weetbix, hot milk and honey is on the cards.  After finishing my breakfast it is time to get dressed in my clothes that I have laid out the night prior.  Before long, it is time to collect the rest of my gear, put my drink bottles from the fridge into my bag and leave to go and get ready.  I kiss Victoria goodbye and walk out the door grabbing my bike pump as I leave.

As I reach the Auckland streets at 5:40am I start to see what was causing some of the noise I could hear  from my room earlier in the morning.  There are people all around town in all states of intoxication and me walking to the waterfront in lycra with a bag full of gear.  Let me just say that it was frustrating knowing that you were about to work your ass off for the next 5.5 hours and there were people still making their way home from Danny Doolans from the night before!  As I am walking towards the race start I don't see any other athletes and begin to panic.  It is around 5:50am, surely there should be more people heading to the race start.  I head around the corner and begin to see people carrying bags as big as mine with bike pumps in their hand.  Before I know it I am nearing the footbridge that we will be swimming under in around 40 minutes time.  I enter transition and start to prepare my transition area ready for the race.  After completing a race 2 weeks before and races in the past you start to learn how to set yourself up and today's setup was no different to two weeks ago, in fact it was identical.

It is around 6:10 by now and I start to put on my wetsuit.  I have to ensure I have everything for the swim, everything for my transitions and everything else that I brought with me is going back into my bag which will be handed into the bag drop inside the convention centre.  The last thing I do is put half a tub of vaseline on my neck to stop a rash from my wetsuit before walking out of transition to the bag drop and then make my way to the swim start.

Friday, 18 January 2013

19.01.13 Pre race preparation

1 Day to go

I can't believe that the Auckland Half Ironman is tomorrow.  It has come around so quickly and it does not feel like two weeks since the Tauranga Half Ironman.  A lot has happened since that race however not much training.  After my Tauranga race I was back in the pool on the Tuesday and felt really good.  My intention was to then do a light run later in the week followed by a mountain bike ride and long run on the weekend and then a couple of light runs in the week leading u to the race.  I got as far as the swim and then work took over...  No problem I thought to myself.  I can still do my weekend exercise.  So the mountain bike took place and 3 minutes from home ended up in disaster with me ending up in A&E and my arm with two stitches and several deep grazes over my legs and hands.  Since then nothing has been done in the form of training and to top things off, I have come down with a bad head cold.  All the plans in the world would not have prepared me for a cut up arm and a cold but I have tried my best to get over both.  I have had dressing changes and done the whole 'hang your arm out of the shower routine' to ensure that it stays dry.  To be fair, the healing of my leg and hand has been amazing due to this care and the great dressings that I was given.  I was told by the nurse that the dressings were used for burn victims and promote the skin to heal.  Well I can confirm that they certainly do that.  The forearm where I have my stitches and deep graze feels like it has healed and the dressing has neared the end of its life however I just need it to get though the swim and whatever happens to it then does not bother me.

The cold has been may biggest issue.  Swimming with a blocked nose as well as feeling crap for the bike and run was not something I was looking forward to.  In fact on Thursday, I did think about pulling out as I was feeling that bad.  All week I have been trying all manner of remedies to make sure that I was feeling at least 90% come race day.  I am beginning to feel like a lemon based on the amunt of homemade lemon and honey drinks i have had over the last week!  One thing i have been careful to ensure is that i was doing it naturally rather than the usual cold and flu tablets i would normally take.  I wanted to beat the cold not just hide the symptoms.  On Tuesday I was told about liquid echinacea from a friend (thank you Georgina).  The stuff tastes horrible but I was hedging my bets on it working.  As mentioned on Thursday I was feeling that bad that I did contemplate pulling out however by Friday the nose had started to clear, the runny nose was minimal and the headache had all but disappeared.  Today, I class myself to be at 95%.  The body feels good but still a little congested in the head.  Hopefully by tomorrow the percentage will have increased slightly.  The last drop of echinacea was drunk today at 4pm so it is all down to my body now.

Today it was all about getting into town and checking into the hotel and registering.  We arrived about lunch time and checked into the Mercure Hotel.  They upgraded me to a suite so a thank you card will be going to the GM next week.  We went down to the Viaduct Event Centre and there were people everywhere.  I registered without hassle, watched a video on the rules of the race and race day bike in transition.  For the second time, I have been near the pros.  Putting Chloe the 10 year old Cannondale near these bikes is like turning up to a Porsche convention in your Camry...  Anyway, the bike was racked and we headed out to do the final shopping in readiness for our early start tomorrow.  Dinner was had in Vue restaurant where the chef did a Chicken Carbonarra for me and was appreciated.  It is now time to head to bed.  Enjoy watching the race from your bed tomorrow on line.  Just go to and you will hopefully get your updates there.  My athlete number is 146. Have a great sleep and I will catch up when I am a dual half ironmaner.

Friday, 11 January 2013

12.01.13 Picking your lines

8 Days to go

I woke up to the alarm sounding this morning at 6:30am and although I wanted to get out early so that I could get back home and enjoy the day with my family I hit the snooze button.  For around 30 minutes I lay there trying to motivate myself to get out of bed.  I succumbed to the alarm re-sounding every 10 minutes and rolled over to turn it off.  Whilst rolling over I felt a pinch in my neck and a shooting pain.  Great, I had just pulled a muscle in my neck and was now going for a bike ride, what else could go wrong!!

I drove to Makara Mountain Bike Park.  An awesome Mountain bike park that has been built by volunteers and local supporters.  There are some amazing tracks and the view once you get 412 metres above see level on the top of Makara Peak is sensational.  I was planning to take my normal route all the way to the top which includes a lot of undulating tracks, some downhill and then a technical climb.  I got the bike out of the car and started to get ready.  It was weird going back on the Mountain bike but I was looking forward to it.  I only packed a small bag that had a little bit of food in it, my wallet, car keys and phone.  Normally when I do this ride I am preparing for an adventure race and carry a full pack but not today.  I put on my bike shoes, locked the car and jumped on the bike.  Instantly I remembered the pleasure of riding a full suspension bike with 3 chain rings at the front.  Very different to my road bike.  I started on the track up to the top and realised that I had left my bike gloves in the car.  Not good as if I was to come off I would chew up my hands (based on previous experience) so would have to be careful.

I was riding along and could not believe how fast I was climbing my way to the top.  When I first started doing this ride, it took over 1.5 hours to get to the top.  When I was training for my adventure race in April, it had taken me just on an hour.  I was moving quickly and before I knew it I was 3/4 of the way to the top within 31 minutes.  I had the technical climb to go which would take no more than 15-20 minutes so was anticipating reaching the top in 45 minutes!!  I continued on the technical part of the track and made it to the top.  As I reached the top I saw they had completed some renovations at the top so that you can ride right up to the lookout.  I reached the top in 47 minutes.  A new record that showed my bike fitness has improved dramatically and also showed that on the right equipment, record times were possible.  I sat down to admire the view and pulled out some slice from my bag.  I wanted to do a short run after the ride and was feeling so good that I packed up the slice and decided to get down straight away, do my short run and be home ASAP.

I would be taking a track I found only last year down to the bottom.  It was not extremely technical but it was good fun as it swept back and forth down the mountain and gave you a good ride down.  I was feeling very comfortable as I made my way down being careful on some of the more technical sections.  The importance of picking your lines cannot be stressed enough on a Mountain Bike.  You are always setting up for the current corner and the corner in front ensuring that you are in the right position through the apex.  I was nearing the end of the track and coming into a flat section.  Ahead I could see that the track narrowed and fell away to the left into some trees.  I was staying right but a rock knocked me off line.  I was traveling at around 14km an hour on rocky terrain when I felt my front wheel fall off the track on the left and slingshot me forward straight onto the ground...I had crashed!!!

I was lying on the ground in shock and at first nothing seemed to hurt.  Then the pain started returning to my knee, hand and elbow.  I was screaming out loud, "No, No No.  Not a week before my race".  I got up and assessed the damage.  Yes the bike was fine.  I looked down at my knee and it was badly grazed and cut but no other damage had taken place.  I looked at the palm of my right hand.  It was badly cut and grazed and stinging like nothing else.  My right forearm was also very sore but I was able to move everything so nothing was broken.  I could see a small hole in my arm warmer which pissed me off as I had owned these arm warmers for ages and I loved them.  I decided to look at my arm when I got down to the bottom.  I uncomfortably rode the last 3 minutes of the ride cautiously holding the handlebar in my right hand due to the chunks of skin that were hanging off.  I make it down to the bottom and get off the bike.  I take stock of what has just happened but am feeling okay.  I contemplated going for a run but decide to have a look at my arm first.  I pull back the arm warmer and too my shock I see that a rock has dug into my arm removing a large chunk and I can see muscle.  I take another look to assess how bad it is and decide that the run is off and I will need to head to hospital for some stitches.  All I can think about is, will it have healed in a week and what will wifey say?

I pack the bike away and jump in the car.  I call Victoria's mobile and no answer.  I call home and she answers.
"Good morning I say.  Have you had a shower yet?"
"No," she answers.
"Can you please have one?"
"Because I have had a crash and I think I need you to take me to hospital".
"I will be home in 15 minutes and I will see you then".

I drive home and when I get there I quickly pack the bike away and head up to see her.  She asks how I am and for me to show her my arm.  I show her and it disgusts her.  I jump in the shower and wash the dried blood away from my body.  I pull out my loofah brush and put some soap on it and begin scrubbing my knees to remove any dirt.  The pain is excruciating but it has to be done.  I do the same on my hand it hurts even more.  I scrub my elbow however I am careful to not touch the deep chunk that is missing.  I wash it out with water and it looks deeper than first thought.  I get out of the shower, fill up the sink with some warm water and add some Dettol.  I then get a cotton pad and begin to soak my knee, hand and elbow in Dettol.  It stings but it is not too bad.  I quickly get dressed and then we are in the car on the way to Accident and Emergency centre.

We arrive and I walk in and speak to reception.  There are not many people there which hopefully means that the wait will not be long.  We have decided to come here rather than the hospital where I know the wait will be a long one.  I ask the receptionist if they do stitching here.  She looks at me and asks what I mean and I show her my arm.  She gives me a form to fill in and tells me to take a seat.  I am seen by the nurse fairly quickly and she asks me what happened.  I tell her that I have come off my Mountain bike and grazed my knee, hand and there is a gash missing from my arm.  She takes a look and asks when I last had a tetanus injection.  I don't recall and she tells me that she will have to give me one.  I am given the injection and then take a seat whilst I wait for the Doctor to see me.

My name is called a short time later and I go and see the Doctor.  Again he asks what has happened and I explain to him.  He takes a looks at my arm and says that he thinks he may have to cut the flap of skin off and stitch my arm or potentially use the flap of skin to fill the hole.  I explain that I would prefer the flap of skin to be used as in the shower it looked quite thick.  We decide that under anesthetic we will take a look and decide the best way forward.  I explain to him that no matter what I need the best option that will promote healing as in a week I have a Half Ironman.  We go into another room and I am laid down.  I am given an anesthetic shot straight in the gash and soon the wound is numb.  After a bit of cleaning and cutting of dead skin, the doctor decides to use the flap to help heal the wound.  He sews up one half of the gash with two stitches and decides to put steri strips on the other side.  He does not want to put too many stitches in the wound as he does not want the flap to die.  The wound is covered with a sterile bandage and sterile bandages are put on my knee and hand.  I am given a course of antibiotics to take for the next week and sent home.

I get home and the pain is bearable.  My right arm from the Tetanus shot is starting to ache a little and my right hand is killing me.  I chill out for a little before having some lunch and relaxing for the rest of the afternoon.  I am hoping to go for a run tomorrow at some point but will have to wait and see how I am feeling.  I can only hope now that the dressings do their job and my wounds heal in time for next week.  Only time will tell...

Below is a picture of my injuries and a link to the ride this morning at Makara Peak.

Makara Ride by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, 10 January 2013

11.01.13 Preparing for Race day

9 Days to go

Unbelievably time has flown by and in 9 days time I will again be racing in the Auckland Half Ironman.  I have been looking forward to this one though.  Tauranga was a nerve racking experience because it was my first one and I just had no idea of how I would go but Auckland is one race that I will hopefully enjoy.  I know that bar any issues I will finish the race.  I know what is now required of my body in the swim, bike and run but best of all I know the course that I will be riding and running on and am familiar with the terrain so know when to push just that little bit harder.  I decided to go online as I had not even looked at the Auckland requirements for the race yet and make sure that I was going to meet the pre entry requirements.  In looking at the site, I found a link to the Auckland Ironman Youtube Video (click link).  I thought it was a brilliant video and gives you a great overview of what I will be seeing on Sunday morning.

Not much has taken place since my race last Saturday.  Of course I did my swim session on Tuesday however since then the first week back at work has stopped anything further.  It is probably a good thing but I will be doing some reasonable weekend training.  The bike is still up in Auckland so tomorrow I am jumping on the Mountain bike and heading up Makara peak.  It has been a long time since I have been on a Mountain bike however the climb to Makara is a great leg work out and will be a good work out but not a ridiculously hard one leaving plenty left for next Sunday.  It gives me a chance to give my Garmin watch another work out so I am looking forward to seeing how it will go and the data that I will get from it.  Until then, it is time for an early night ready for my ride tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

07.01.13 Kilbirnie 2KM Swim

As mentioned in my previous post there is another Half Ironman in what is now 12 days time so it was back in the pool this morning.  When the alarm went off at 5:00am all I wanted to do was turn it off and go back to bed.  I don't need to get up surely!!  I put the snooze button on and 10 minutes later the alarm goes off again.  It is time to get up.  I slide out of bed and get changed before heading downstairs.  I don't feel like much to eat which is not a good start as I always eat before swimming but I am not going to do a hard session.  I jump in the car and head to the pool. When I get there the car park is not exceptionally busy and I wonder how many people are still away.  I enter the pool and start getting changed and realise that no one from my squad is around especially my coach.  I stand there and come to the conclusion that everyone is still on Holidays and I have read the calendar incorrectly.  I move my stuff and jump in the Medium fast lane, right next to a guy that used to be in my squad and the winner of my Age Group in Tauranga.

I am keen to test out my new watch.  It has a swimming function on it that apparently can tell how many laps you have done as well as measure your stroke rate.  I have watched a video on it when I was researching the watch and could not believe it so this morning I was going to put it through it's paces.  I set the watch to a 25 metre pool and dove in.  I decided to do a quick warm up and test to see what happened.  I turned at the 25 metre mark and looked down at my watch whilst completing the turn to see it had measured 25 metres.  I started heading back down the pool and began another turn again whilst looking at my watch to see it said 50 metres.  It was amazing as it was also calculating my stroke count as well.  I continued on completing laps, counting them in my head and occasionally looking at my watch to see that it was counting correctly and it was.  Before I knew it I had completed 300 metres and was feeling sensational.  Right there and then I decided to keep going and do a 2km swim.  I was not wanting to go fast,  I just wanted to roll the arms over.  I was not flying today but I most certainly was feeling energized and very comfortable.  I was not focussed on time just completing 2km.

I was getting near the end and looked down at my watch to see that I was going to complete the 2km in 35 minutes and 50 seconds, a very similar time to what I had completed in my race in Tauranga.  Yes I was pushing off walls but I was also not wearing a wetsuit and had a strong current pulling me towards buoys.  I was happy with the time and very surprised with how I felt.  I had taken today off from work as I wanted to spend time with my family after coming back to Wellington.  I grabbed a coffee from the pool and headed back home for a relaxing day.  Attached is the link to my swim session this morning.  Now I have a watch that works I will be able to put more links on so that you can see my progress towards the Auckland Half Ironman on the 20th.

07.01.13 Kilbirnie 2KM Swim by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, 7 January 2013

06.01.13 The Morning After

As I crossed the finish line a sense of relief hit me.  I was pleased that I had finished the race but the fact that it was all over and what you had achieved took a little longer to hit me.  As you cross the finish line they call your number and name out and you feel proud.  A medal was placed around my neck and there were some chairs that you could sit down on whilst you rehydrated and got yourself together.  I sat there for a couple of minutes contemplating what I had just achieved and a smile came across my face.  I made my way to the recovery tent and immediately drank two cups of Leppin.  I started to feel a little light headed and sick.  I needed to eat something so grabbed a banana and tried to munch it down but my mouth felt dry.  I didn't want to eat anything or drink anything and to be honest I was feeling like crap.  I heard my name and turned around and outside the tent was Victoria and Lachlan.  I saw them, walked towards them and my sense of achievement took over.  I gave them a massive hug and then turned around to see Olivier had just crossed the line.  I gave him a big congratulatory hug and we headed back in the tent for some more fluid and food.  Eventually I headed out of the tent to my family and gave them all a big hug.  They were asking how I was feeling and to be honest my body was okay apart from my legs.  They were starting to tense up and I needed to stretch.

I stopped what I was doing and headed down to the cool ocean that I had been in earlier in the day.  I walked out to the ocean and stood there whilst the cool water did it's job on my muscles in my legs.  I met a girl out there and we started talking.  She was from Wellington as well and she asked how I had gone.  I told her and she said, "well done".  I asked how she went and she said she did not finish and she pulled out on the second lap of the run.  I could not believe that.  Who would pull out with only 11km to go!  I got out of the sea and had to walk up a bank.  I could hardly lift my legs and a spectator offered me assistance to get up the 0.5 metre bank which I declined.  I made it back to my family and we happened to be standing next to the massage tent.  I decided to treat myself and pay $20 for a 20 minute massage.  I hobbled into the massage tent, had my massage and paid my money, best $20 I had spent in a while.  My legs seemed to feel a lot better but by the time I swung them over the table and stood on them, they seemed to be in an even worse state.  I hobbled out of the tent and back to my family.

We were able to get bikes out of transition now and so I hobbled to transition with my wife and collected my gear.  I picked up my wetsuit, goggles, bike helmet, towel and then realised that my ear plugs were long gone.  I wheeled my bike out of transition and gave it to my wife who was going to ride it back to the apartment whilst I got driven home.

There was a mini expo happening at the time and Olivier had purchased a brand new Garmin watch that normally retailed for around $540 however at the expo they were only $450.  I was over my Polar watch and decided that I was going to treat myself.  My mum came with me and as we walked towards the stand, she declared that she wanted to buy it for my May!!  I accepted her offer and we purchased the watch.  We drove home and I struggled up the stairs to the apartment.  Two rolls were made for lunch for me and whilst I was considering the fact that I would not be able to eat two rolls, I was already consuming the second one.  After lunch it was straight down to the pool whereby I jumped in the hot tub,  soaked and then jumped in the cool pool water.  I repeated this around 6 times and whilst I was down there I met two guys who had competed in the race as well.  One guy had completed it in around 4 hours 50 and the other had completed it in just over 5 hours 30 minutes.  We started talking about the conditions and from what I gathered from these seasoned racers, this was normal for Tauranga.

After a quick shower it was off to the Awards presentation to see the Age group athletes get their medals as well as various people recognised for their efforts including the oldest competitor of 83 years!!  After a quick bite to eat it was off to bed before packing up the car and heading home.  The journey to the Tauranga Half Ironman has been an amazing experience for me and one I will never forget.  What a place to do your first Half Ironman!  I have learnt a lot from this journey and will certainly be applying what I have learnt for future races.

Most of you will not know this but the Tauranga Half Ironman is not my only Ironman event this year.  Believe it or not, I am racing in a Half Ironman in 15 days time.  The Auckland Half Ironman is on the 20th January and I was given a comp entry for it.  I initially turned it down as it was too close to Tauranga but I have done so much training, it would have been a waste not to use the entry so here we go.  Due to this on Tuesday morning I will be back in the pool and by Friday I will be going for a long run to work before a longer run on Sunday.  So the good news is the blogs will continue until at least March when there is one more Auckland Half Ironman with my name written on all over it!