Countdown to Ironman: Race week

8 03 2017

This is my third Ironman event in Taupo and I love the buzz of arriving.

The swim course buoys are laid out. The lamppost banners are up. Ironman is everywhere.

I remember arriving in Taupo last year when I volunteered at Ironman and looking at those swim buoys. The image daunted me.

“I can never swim that far” I said. In awe of every one of my squad mates who was attempting the event the next day.

How different a year makes. It didn’t daunt me. It excited me!

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I got to Taupo on Wednesday lunchtime. There was a 30 minute run on the plan and I had a massage booked at 3pm. So I got the run out of the way and then headed to my night’s accommodation to check in and get a shower before my massage – which was bliss! Just what I needed after a five-hour car drive.

The following morning called for a short swim and bike. Wanting to get it out of the way before the first-timers seminar that was listed in the athlete guide at 9am, our trusty crew gathered at the yacht club at 7am. Nothing like practicing a race day start.

The lake was perfect. Oh how we hoped for this on race day.

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We got the swim and bike done easily and then all headed into the Great Lake Centre for the seminar. And we waited. And waited. While all the time the regular rolling race briefing played on the screen. We even asked a few people who said it was on. It soon became obvious it wasn’t and the contradicting information on the website, which showed the seminar on the next day, was actually right.

It left us plenty of time to wander round the expo though and my training buddy and I managed to get some twinning done! Buying the same cycle tops (well, they were only $20!).

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We then went different ways as some wanted to register early while I wanted to wait a little longer. I still had to check out of last night’s accommodation and check in to my home for the next few days.

After lunch, and a chat with those who had already checked in, I headed over to the registration tent to get that ticked off. There was still a large queue but I joined it anyway.

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After what seemed like an age and crawling forwards ever-so-slowly, I was finally called forward and asked my name. This was it. I was signing in for Ironman.

It all gets really real when that athlete wristband gets taped around your arm.

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The lovely volunteer at check in asked where in the UK I was from. When I told, she replied, as many Brits do, with “Manchestoh” in a faux-Manc accent. I had a giggle as it was so unexpected and out of context in NZ.

As I left to go and get weighed (yes, weighed – I’m coming to that), a voice behind was calling “excuse me!” I looked round convinced it wasn’t aimed at me, but a bearded chap was looking right at me and starting to talk.

I walked over and he asked if he’d heard right and that I was from Manchester. Yes, I replied. So of course, he then asked where. “Middleton” I said. “Really? I’m from Oldham!”

If you don’t know it, they are neighbouring towns and I was actually born in Oldham. Not only that, he was from the town that sits between Middleton and Oldham.

Small world.

The weigh in is part of the health and safety process as you also get weighed immediately after the finish line. This is to ensure that you’re not severely dehydrated, which can happen if you get things wrong, and extreme weight loss is a key sign. I hadn’t weighed myself in months, but I knew I wasn’t light. I was still a bit disappointed at the numbers, but I put it to the back of my mind. It was purely a benchmark for Saturday night.

The rest of the day was pretty chilled and we went to the athlete welcome function. A pretty simple affair but helped with the build up.

Friday saw our final “tune up” swim (in another perfect lake)/bike/run and coffee done. Some went off to the first timers seminar. I decided not to. Not being arrogant, but I didn’t think I could learn or know any more about the event. I’d volunteered last year so seen it all. I wasn’t feeling nervous so didn’t need help with that. I was in the zone!

A restful day followed with some hot pools, lunch, hubby arriving and setting up by bike. I wanted to change my tyres from training to race tyres. My carbon race wheels are difficult to get tyres off, and even my male friend couldn’t do it! Eventually I got there though and just prayed for no punctures on race day. I’ve had a couple in training so was wondering if I’d used them all up.

Then it was down to transition to rack the bike. Are house was so close to town that we could walk down. I was given my personal volunteer transition “tour guide” to show me the ropes. But again, because I’d volunteered last year, I knew how it worked. The one thing I wanted to do was walk through the transition entry gantry so I could see which row by bags would be on and work out a “sighting point” to make it easy to aim for.

Bike racked. Transition bags dropped. Timing chip in hand. All that was left to do was have dinner and relax.

And hope for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow was game day.

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11 03 2017
Ironman Race Day: the swim | A little old blog, by little old me

[…] into the water we went. It looked nothing like the calmness we’d seen the previous two days. Why couldn’t it have been like that? I’m sure I wasn’t the only one asking that. […]




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