by Noel Daly
G'day and happy day after IM!
I arrived in NZ on Wednesday morning after an uneventful, extremely long plane flight. I must admit, I was kinda disappointed that the bike made it too...Let me preface:
I'm the most under-weight, under-trained, mentally taxed I've ever been entering a race. I'd thought about bagging it more time than I'd like to admit.
So, if no bike - no race, it was my simple solution. Low and behold,
against all prayers the bike arrived. Kenton (my boyfriend) arrived 2 hours
Austin, Texas and was waiting with my friend Michelle Impey, who is living in NZ for a year, and the $^%$%* who talked me into doing this race after IM Austria
only 8 months prior.
We arrived in Taupo (the race town) Wed. afternoon after a quick stop-over in Hamilton to say hi to Impey's family. Cute little kids, all with red (auburn) hair. We were getting REAL tired by the afternoon, but managed to run the little 5K Fun Run that The Ironman team put on, just to turn the jet-lagged legs over. It kinda hurt, we were scared.
Thursday we awoke to rain and gail force winds. We squeaked in a swim in the lake and a 10 mile gusty ride to make sure the bikes were in working order. Ian, Impey's boyfriend (a kiwi), arrived that night, and we made our way over to the Tuapo Hot Springs (Natural pools) for a relaxing dip, but found the water-slides...too fun.
Friday was bike check-in, race briefing, and transition bag check in. Basically you have to pack everything you might need for race day and considering the fickle weather, we were pretty much guessing. It rained all Friday afternoon and the wind whipped around, not ideal race conditions. After a lazy afternoon nap, we were too sluggish to venture out for dinner- so we settled on cheese, crackers and wine and a last minute ordering of pizza at 9 PM. Perfect pre-race meal.
Alarm goes off, 4:30 AM, I was up well before the alarm doing mental flip-flops. I managed to choke down some muesli, hydrate and then head straight to the cafe for coffee to meet up with John K and his friend Julie. Julie was racing too and loved the fact that all three of the girls were racing and the three guys were our "Iron-mates." We told them they could hang out with the wives and girlfriends...hee, hee. Lots of laughs on that one...
Kenton took his duties seriously, ran around getting me anything I needed
so I could rest up and made it his sole-duty to keep me hydrated. Truly
I were pampered- we even had Iron-mate competitions: foot rubs, doting, etc. It was Ian and Kenton that finally wised up and mutually agreed to put an end to
it to the disappointment of us. Sorry to side track- but the Iron-mates are the best part of the story...
After coffee, we set out for the start to check on our bikes and get
body marked (they write your age and race # on your legs). With 45 minutes
to race start,
I methodically checked my back tire for pressure...FLAT, totally and completely. I unfastened it ran it over to Ian and Kenton to fix while I chased down a tube, because I only had one. And as all cyclists know where there's one flat there's bound to be another, especially because they were changing it in the dark and couldn't find the source of the leak- not what you want in a 112 mi bike ride. I put it back on and hoped for the best.
Impey and I smooshed and pulled ourselves into our wetsuits and headed for the start. After an extended farewell, we raced to the start to find cold water filled with 1,100 nervous people and cloudy skies, BUT no wind! Impey and I said our good-lucks and then the cannon, and yes, a military cannon went off. And off we went. I knew that I would be a bit faster in the swim and that Impey was a stronger biker and runner (the summer training, unemployed lifestyle would only make her faster!) I knew the next time I would see her was on the bike.
The swim: 2.4 mile loop (buoys on right, thank God) Cold, comfortable
stroke. But then real cold, almost hypothermic towards the end. I noted:
I was among a
dozen who were wearing a sleeveless wetsuit. Oh well, made me swim faster. Overall, great drafting and a 1:12 which I was happy with.
The Bike: 112 miles, two loop, undulating hills, headwind on the way out, tail wind on the way back. Mixture of clouds, rain, and thermal nuclear sun when it peeped out.
Felt ok and Impey caught me at mile 35, we rode together for about 20 miles and then she started to pull away (she was feeling strong and looked it). I also received a warning from a race official for riding too close (no drafting allowed). I plugged on alone seeing a few fellow tri geeks I recognized: Chris the Aussie I ran with in Austria was there- what a surprise great to see her again. Chris Miller looked strong when she passed Impey and I at mile 50. Saw Brock about 25 miles ahead of me heading back on his final lap, he looked a bit piqued. I assumed he went out too hard.
Much to my surprise on my way back out for my second loop, I saw Kenton
and Ian on the top of a hill. Kenton had his chest painted with Noel #277,
waving Impey's Canadian flag. What a crack-up! They got all frazzled as I approached, rummaging for cameras, amongst beer bottles and other goodies. At
the 80 mile turn-around, I still hadn't seen Impey- weird. I made my way back, the final leg to town when I spied her 5 miles BEHIND me. She yelled in passing
that she missed the turn for the second loop! Ugh, you don't want to add on miles today! I plugged on as the sun REALLY started to come out. I was dragging
bad. But the good news was that I had a lot of food in me, my stomach was settled, but I was ready to be off that damn bike!
I had a relatively quick transition but did get to chat with some ladies who said out loud, "This is the worst idea, I've had yet!" hee, hee. Kenton was there at the start of the run, actually he was everywhere I don't know how he did it. I started to trot and glided into an easy jog, my legs actually felt good. I ran to about the 13 mi mark and then Impey caught me. We caught a glimpse on the ground, about where we met up, of a huge L with a slash through it (No-L) and a Impey Pig (Her nickname, don't ask, she grew up on a farm!) Too fun. Her parents who had flown in from Canada to cheer had brought some chalk. They were veteran Ironman spectators. Another spirit lifter for sure.
We started a walk run pattern that was aided by which Aid Stations had
the best food (mars bars and chips). Our Iron-mates rode along and cheered
with Cow Bells and chants. We were having a blast. Kenton somehow managed
to get up on this huge stage with a DJ to play my most motivating song:
"I see you baby, shaking that ass" He yelled in the mic, "This
goes out to MY baby, #277. I Love you, Noel." Tears I tell you!
It was awesome. I was elated so was the whole crowd. Impey had to wait
a bit as my under-training started to take it's toll, but we managed just
fine. Lots of laughs, lots of offers from the spectators for leg massages,
beer and dates- apparently not too many tall chicks (or chicks period for
that matter) running and smiling together. Way fun! As we rounded the
finishers shoot, they announced us as we clasped hand and ran in together. What a feeling! And under 14 hours, (13:55)...you're welcome SG.
All in all a fantastically painful day!
I heard that on your 3rd Ironman you start to get the causes and effects. This one I did. I felt good, despite my training: my longest run of 8 miles and longest ride of 80 mi. So sad, but life throws all kinds of things at you, it doesn't care about the training schedule.
And now, neither do I! We are off to the awards banquet after eating the biggest breakfast ever.
Thanks to everyone for all the love and support.