What a difference a year makes

18 09 2016

This 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 virgin.

I had such a great time, and learnt so much, that I had no hesitation at signing up to go again.

Only this time I wasn’t so green. I had the benefit of a year’s worth of experience, multiple duathlons and triathlons.

And the small matter of a half ironman under my belt.

Reflecting back on where I was last year, the most significant change has been in my swimming. Camp last year was a bit of a turning point for me as I realised I really needed to work extra hard there. Rather than letting it defeat me and walking away from my goals, it made me more determined to get better.

This year I was moved up a lane. And I kept up.

And there were no tears.

I swim almost 1 minute faster per 100m than I did this time last year. That’s significant. I certainly wouldn’t have got here without the boss. But I also think I deserve a huge pat on the back (even if I do say so myself).

Camp swim.jpg

It’s all well and good knowing your weaknesses. But if you don’t do anything about them, they’ll stay weak.

I could have got by in the half ironman without focusing on my swim technique. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to get better at it and have some comfort and confidence in my finish time.

But at this year’s camp I learnt you can’t always expect to hit pace or time goals in an outdoor event.

I knew I was fitter, stronger and faster on the bike. One of my squad mates even commented on how much stronger I looked on the bike now. That has just come from consistent training – either on the road, indoor trainer or spin class. At camp I had two bike activities I could use to benchmark my improvements.

Or could I?

One of the most fun things we do is to time ourselves going full pelt around Taupo Motorsport Park. We have the track to ourselves. It’s a full on 3.5km sprint. And I had a time from last year to beat. Only this time I had an extra year of experience in the saddle.

tt-motorsport-park

And I have a new bike. A flashier, faster one.

TT bike.jpg

But last year, we didn’t have the same wind. My God that wind!

So whilst I could confidently strut into Camp 2016 in the knowledge that I’m (probably) a better cyclist, my lap times don’t reflect that. I was a little bit gutted.

I’d been convinced that I’d smash last year’s time with ease. Create my own little PB. But when you round a corner and are pretty much stopped in your tracks by a headwind that feels like you’ve ridden into a sandpit, you might as well give up on any time goals.

And that’s exactly what could happen on race day.

What it made me realise is that I can’t set my heart on a time goal because it could be pretty futile if events conspire against you. Race day last year was almost perfect for me. It’s quite possible I’ll never race in such perfect conditions again. So whilst I’ll have a goal for the 70.3 this year, at the end of the day, completing it is enough of an achievement that anyone should be happy with.

And that’s this year’s wake up call from camp. But I still loved it.

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