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 birthday...in 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!