Sunday, December 19, 2010

All in the name of Charity....

At blueseventy, our staff are mostly made up of people that represent the general triathlon audience. We have some pretty fastish athletes, some weekend warriors and some first timers.

Our head of Product, Steve Nicholls, has been around triathlon for about 20 years, but more recently life has definitely got in the way of training. 5am wake up calls are for kids these days rather than swimming, and most of his running is to catch planes, but that hasn't stopped Steve occasionally getting out and “competing” in the local events.

This past weekend he was fortunate enough to head over to Rotorua in lovely New Zealand, to partake in the blueseventy sponsored Rotorua Charity Half Ironman. This is what happened.

When 100%, yes that’s right 100% of your entry fee goes to the local hospice, then you really run out of reasons to not do an event, even if those reasons involve brushing cobwebs off your bike, and checking to make sure things like the tyres are still Ok, and your aerobars still fit (they didn't - I had to buy new ones the day before the race). To say I had prepared well for this event is a bit like saying that the swimming community had prepared well for the tech suit issue. Still, riding a bike is still much like, well, riding a bike so I was pretty confident that I'd at least get to the finish line with a minimal amount of walking.

I managed to get a lift up to the event with the lovely people from Hammer Nutrition and arrived at the registration in drizzling rain, full of gloomy faces and dripping people. The race director, Shane Hooks is a larger than life character, who has probably done more for triathlon in New Zealand than any other person. Shane always puts on a fun event, but even he can't control the weather, so we all were hoping that it would clear up the next morning. A quick registration, and I managed to grab some nutritional products to help me get through the next day (when you haven’t actually done any training of longer than 90mins, it's a bit difficult to try something in training before your event).

Race morning dawned grey with a steady light rain, and after some fuel I was on the bike, all my gear stashed in my blueseventy transition bag (man those things are like the tardis) and riding off to the start. The event is held at Rotorua's picturesque Blue Lake which unfortunately, is at the top of a 5-10km climb. So I was able to clock a few last minute training miles as part of my race warmup. I racked my bike and donned my helix and hustled to the start line.

My swimming was pretty uneventful, the big orange blueseventy turn buoys were easy to pick out with my yellow lens nerorace goggles, and I got out of the water 26 mins later, jumped on my bike and headed off. After plunging down the big hill I'd so recently climbed up, we settled in to a period of flat riding out of Rotorua before undulating roads take in some of the most beautiful lake and bush scenery that the country has to offer. At about the 20km mark I stopped to help someone fix their chain, but it wasn't until the 45km turn around (my longest ride of the preceding 12 months) that I started to feel like this may have not been such a great idea. However, I must say that the impending pain from my bike saddle that I was expecting never really eventualized - the distance tri chamois is fantastic, and I regained my mojo at the 70km mark and was able to get through the last climb without too much groveling. Bike time 2:56.

Off the bike, and into the bush for the start of the run, and after a quick pitstop I managed to find a reasonable rhythm, and found something resembling running legs. The run is absolutely stunning, there is a small section where you have to take a slight detour that force you up a set of stairs in order to take in a lookout that on a clearer day is an awe inspiring sight, but today just showed me that the sun was not going to make a guest appearance anytime soon. The last 5 km of the race through the bush again and I was only hanging on, and trying not to fall over in the gradually muddying single track. I crossed the line pretty destroyed with a 1:40 run and a 5:03 finishing time, grabbed a beer, sat down and lent against the handily placed blueseventy tent staffed by Chanell and Jason (who had also raced and finished a good 25 mins earlier) to avoid falling down completely.

Great event, and a great cause in raising tens of thousands for a local charity. I'm sure I'll be hobbling around the house trying to chase my 2 1/2 yr old around the garden tomorrow.

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