Its been a funny old month. I feel like I’ve been getting some regular tastes of both the troughs and peaks that life can throw at you. Winning in China with Team NZ Adventure was certainly a big high. But no sooner had we finished the race and I was lying foetal on the finish line shivering on a 30 degree day. This would mark the start of over a week of diarrhoea (not ideal when travelling home for 40 hours while trying to recover from 4 days of racing).
I got nervous leading into my beloved Contact Epic Lake Hawea MTB race which was 10 days after China. My body still seemed to be fighting off some foreign invaders despite going through two separate courses of antibiotics. Surprisingly on the day though, I felt pretty good. It would be my cassette, just 20km into the 110km race, that would end up causing me the biggest problems, eventually leading to me fading back into 18th place. A tough one to swallow after falling in love with this local event in 2011 when I raced for the first time and won, then won the two years following. Despite stopping 5 times on the trip up to the Green Bush turnaround, I was still able to lead James WIlliamson at the halfway mark, with about 5 functioning gears and a rapidly deteriorating bike. However it was never meant to be and I ended up having to walk into the Dingle Burn and have my chain wrenched out from deep within my cassette where it had jammed. I was thankful to finish but bitterly disappointed. I didnt hang around long at the finish.
China seemed a long time ago and the euphoria of winning with our new team had certainly worn off after the Contact Epic experience and my inability to run due to some neural pain that had developed in my foot during my sickness-induced inactivity. I was pretty worried about the Wellington Crazyman multisport race that I raced on Sunday, a week after the Epic. Being my first time in the event I didnt know what to expect from the course, but I still didnt know what to expect from my body either. I decided to take a relaxed approach into the race and see the weekend as a great way to see family and friends in Foxton and Wellington, which it was.
Thanks to Katharine my physio at Wanaka Physiotherapy my foot would eventually go the distance and I was able to finish the race. Better still, I felt great on race day. It was bizarre. I had a very near perfect race. Here is how it unfolded for me:
The 13km opening paddle started badly when I was too relaxed in the run to my kayak and took a bad line off the beach. I had borrowed Richard Ussher’s new Flow Addict ski and immediately found it to be incredibly responsive to my paddling efforts. If I wanted to accelerate, the ski was more than happy to do so. Once I was underway I paddled through small groups of paddlers and eventually about halfway through the paddle I was sitting with the two lead paddlers at the front of the field. However at the turnaround under the Petone Wharf I noticed a steal beam running just beneath the water surface and the ski in front of me got well and truly smashed by the beam on its rudder. Not wanting to damage Rich’s boat I promptly slammed on the brakes and jumped into the sea, flipping the kayak upside down just before smashing the rudder off. After a remount I was now back into no-mans land and paddled the final 4-5km in 3rd place.
Coming off the water I was aware I’d be the lead individual, but with elite triathlete Martin van Barneveld in the field I felt I needed to ride pretty hard to get a head start on to the run. The 30km mountain bike was pretty full on. Conditions were wet and muddy and the terrain was steep. I went about riding my way through the duathlon cyclists and eventually passed team rider Kim Hurst. Soon after passing Kim I came to an intersection in the tracks that weren’t marked. Without knowing whether to go left or right I waited for Kim to pop up the hill and luckily she pointed me in the right direction. After that it was a case of survival along the tops where visibility was a bit limited in patches and the rain seemed to be coming in sideways. I have to admit I did love the ride because it felt really wild, despite only being a few kilometres from Lower Hutt city.
I came off the bike in first place, having ridden the fastest bike split, then hit the run with surprisingly good legs. My goal for this race was to never let up on the pace. I wanted to basically hit a high heart rate and hold it throughout. Not knowing how far Martin was back in the field I also felt motivated to keep pushing the pace. Much like the bike, the run felt surprisingly wild and with plenty of steep bush sections up and down along with some river running, I was really enjoying it. Once I hit the Petone foreshore and could see the Wharf and finish line in the distance I kept the pace on, realising I was coming close to breaking the course record of 3.48 set by James Coubrough.
I managed to cross the line in 3.47, shaving just over a minute off the record, a pretty dam pleasing result considering the lead-in and conditions on the day. I was pretty happy to see my best mate and support crew Dan Sanson welcome me across the line along with mum and dad who’d driven down from Foxton that morning and a good friend Paddy Butler who’d also come out to support.
I loved spending Sunday night catching up with my Aunty Jane and all went well on the flight back to Queenstown, only arriving 3 minutes late to work at 3pm at the Wanaka Pool. Not a bad weekend I thought to myself as I was hit by reality and a noisy pool to contend with on the first day back for the school term. But as has been the theme this past month, the peaks and troughs continued on their pattern of regularity as I hit a trough last night being kept awake all night with stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea. Possibly the result of a tummy bug that is going around. At least being bed ridden all day has given me a chance to write a blog!
Next up is another trip to China in just over two weeks to race the Pengzhou Adventure Challenge with the team. Keep an eye on our website for updates.
Cheers and see you out there.