The road to Taupo

28 09 2015

The road to Taupo

No, I’m not talking about State Highway 1.

This is where I’m going to start chronicling my final few months of training to tackle my first half ironman.

This time three years ago, I couldn’t even contemplate tackling a half marathon, let alone doing one after I’ve done a 1.9km swim and a 90km bike.

But September three years ago was the start of the new me. It was when I started losing weight and getting fit.

A year ago, I hadn’t even really contemplated triathlons. As someone who’s not really a swimmer, and whose mountain bike had probably been used in earnest less than a dozen times in 13 years, it wasn’t even on my radar.

But a year ago I decided I wanted to do a triathlon before my 40th birthday. So I bought a road bike. And I’ve covered more kms in a week than I did in the lifetime of my old bike.

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To help me achieve my dream of the half ironman in Taupo on 12 December, I got a new boss. AKA Gerrard. Or Mr Smith’s Coaching. A few people who’ve done half and full ironman distances recommended joining his squad. So I did.

And I’m glad because there’s no way I could do this on my own.

At the end of the second week of training with the squad, “the boss” ran a training camp in Taupo itself. It was completely optional but it was a good chance to push myself early in the season with some hard brick training sessions. And also to surround myself with some like-minded people and soak up some of their knowledge.

And potentially come away from it with some new friends too.

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I also saw it as possibly my only opportunity to get to ride on the actual bike course before the event.

It’s probably been my best decision so far. After joining the squad that is.

We all came away full of new learnings, and in most cases, with confidence high. It certainly showed me the importance of riding the course beforehand. Knowing where you can push it. Knowing where the hard graft will come.

Various previous Taupo competitors had different tales about “the hill” on the way back in. Some describe it as a killer. Others not so much.

And if you live in Wellington, the word “hill” takes on a completely different meaning anyway.

When you add that to the fact that this was also the longest ride I’d ever done, by a margin of around 30kms, I was a little concerned about that hill.

It seems I needn’t have worried. The majority of it is a steady, gradual incline. Yes there are a few steep rises, but they’re short and manageable. Yes you need to drop down a few gears to get up them (especially after 70kms of riding) but then the motorsport track comes into sight and you know the end is nigh.

Both of the hill and the bike leg.

And that is why it’s so important to ride the course before race day. You can get all the opinions you want from people who’ve done it before. But none of them are you. You’ll all have different perceptions of how easy or hard that hill might be based on how bike fit you are. And what you constitute is a hill.

But the only perception that counts, is yours.

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18 09 2016
What a difference a year makes | A little old blog, by little old me

[…] time last year I was up in Taupo for my first ever half ironman camp. I was a complete novice with so much to learn. A camp […]




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