Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Taupo Half Ironman Event

Saturday was the big event.  Well I should say BIG event.  It was probably one of the biggest things I have ever done.  One of those bucket list things.  Except it wasn't really on my bucket list.  It was really a moment of insanity and a backfired joke that lead to last Saturday.  A what-was-I-thinking kind of moment.  But now I'll add it to my bucket list and tick it off.

On Friday afternoon I left work early and met Paul at school so that we could leave around 3pm.  Caitlyn decided to come with us and so we loaded up the car with the last few things including the breadrolls Paul organised for us.  Paul was a bit disappointed (okay a lot...) when he realised about 45 minutes later that he left his guitar behind in his classroom as he was looking forward to having some free time to play.

It is nice that we have daylight savings time because even though we arrived about 7:30 at night it was still light.

We checked in at our motel and then once Caitlyn was settled in bed, I started getting all my things ready for the big race.  I then went to collect my race pack from my friend Rose and Denise at Denise's place.  They were kind enough to get my bike checked in and collected my race pack.

My race pack and helmet - all ready for the next day

Lollies for the road
Once I was all packed it was time for bed.  Except I didn't sleep all that well to be honest.  The guy next door decided at 2am to watch some or the other music show on TV and then some people came walking past the motel having quite a noisy discussion. 

I got up at 4:50am as transition was going to open at 5am and I wanted to quickly install my new little bike computer that I bought and didn't have a chance to install before the time. Paul kindly gave me a lift even though we were maybe only a 10 or 15 minute walk away from where the race would start.

I must say that at this point the nerves really hit.  I knew that this was it, that there was no going back and that I was going to put myself through quite a bit of exhaustion and pain.

I met Rose and Denise at the transition and at 6am when transition closed we set off for the lake where they would have the safety briefing as well as the start of the swim.  It was so nice to see Lynley there.  She has been our excellent Saturday morning coach taking us under her wing teaching us some skills and techniques.  I haven't been for a while as I've been so preoccupied with everything else happening around here.

Me and my awesome team! Photo thanks to Lynley

The morning was really cold and the lake quite choppy.  I believe in the end about 20 swimmers pulled out, but Denise stuck it out despite a few ashtma attacks and getting sea sick and she completed her 2km / 1.24 miles swim in about 1hour 30 minutes.

So proud of Denise! Photo thanks to Lynley.
Once she got out she had to climb up some horribly steep steps and finally made her way to where I was waiting in the team tag area.  We swapped the timing device and off I went.

Lynley watched me as I started my leg of the race (90km / 55.92 miles) and Paul and Caitlyn followed me around as much as they could until they got to the point where the road was closed.

Off I go

I was surprised that the one hill I thought I would really struggle with was not as hard as it was during our practise session.

Going was not too bad and I managed quite well although by the time I got to the turn around point I must be honest I started feeling a bit tired.  During the race I kept bribing myself with lollies and to hopefully boost my energy levels a bit and I suppose it worked to some extent.

Turning around and heading back was hard.  Suddenly I didn't see any other cyclists around other than the occasional one and with rural landscapes all around it became a real struggle as I had little sense of how far I have gone and how much further I still had to go.  To make matters worse my bike computer wasn't working well as I set it all wrong and it showed me going at speeds of well over 70 km / hour (43.50 miles per hour) (probably about 50 km / hour / 31.07 miles per hour faster than I was actually going).  With about 20 - 30 km to go still I could really feel the exhaustion set in.  Everything was sore and I struggled up the hills (I could probably walk faster than I was cycling at that point).  This van followed me and I thought that I must have been last. At one point I stopped to catch my breath and I asked the guy driving the van how much further and he told me that there was only about another 8km to go and of course if I already put myself through 82km of pain and suffering I wasn't going to quit with just 8km more to go.

4 hours and 9 minutes later and it was with a huge sense of relief when I got back into town and headed into transition.  When I had to dismount my bike I wasn't able to run so I walked in and I suddenly felt really emotional as I realised just what a big thing I did.   I racked my bike and then passed on the timing chip to my friend Rose.

Denise, Paul, Caitlyn and I went for lunch as we waited for Rose to get through her 21km (13.05 miles) run which ended up taking Rose around 3 hours 30 minutes.  It was really hot by then so I really felt sorry for Rose.

So proud of Rose! Photo thanks to Lynley.

Around 3pm Denise and I waited for Rose and then we jogged with her as she had this last horrible uphill waiting for her so that all 3 of us could cross the finish line together. 

What an event!  It was incredibly hard, but what a sense of achievement!  Denise, Rose and I have come from nothing and with little more than sheer determination and a sense of not wanting to let our team mates down, we did it. About 116 teams / individuals didn't start or didn't finish and the 3 of us not only started, but we actually finished and that in my opinion makes us winners!  Both Lynley and Paul truly believed in us throughout the process and it made such a huge difference.

Post by Lea


  1. GREAT JOB! Awesome! Not sure I could manage any leg of that race but YOU did and thats AMAZING!

  2. Hi Lea! Love the action shots of you and your friends. Great story!

    :-) Marion

  3. I am thrilled for you, Lea. What a fantastic achievement by all of you. Many congratulations.

  4. Wow, well done to you all - I am so impressed with how well you all did. :)

  5. Amazing effort! Well done :-)

  6. I should think that you would be proud of yourself. Well done!
    Now, get some rest!