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Wanaka - Race Day.

Posted By: Vaughan
Date: Saturday, 19 January 2008, at 10:49 a.m.

Whoa! I'm glad that's over! Talk about an experience! Wanaka was my fourth IM-distance race and all previous three had been executed according to my plan. Yesterday was a bit different! We started under a brilliant blue sky and a light wind and the water initially felt warm (it was 64), but I started to cool down at about 800m - my body is hopeless when it comes to the cold. A series of hamstring and calf cramps entailed for the remainder of the race and my technique was toast due to my cold arms and shoulders. Out the water in 57 and into the change tents, where quite a few layers of clothes were applied to warm up!

The bike at Wanaka is not what I would call tough, but more unrelenting. The combination of small rollers, the rough road and slight winds can add up and the bike was uneventful. I ended up taking in 450cal/hour comfortably and averaged a HR of 135, but to be fair, there would have been some spikes into the high 140s on some of the hills. Coming back into town for the first time, there was a screaming downhill and a big paved judder bar, about four metres long. The angle of it called out for a 'sweet jump' so I pulled one and launched a massive six inches - eat your heart out Pedro! The crowd seemed to enjoy it and only know I wonder what would have happened in my front wheel exploded!

In T2 after the 5:50 ride, it was stinking hot - the announcer said temperatures were reaching 93 around the run course so I tore some holes in my t-shirt to let some extra air in, threw on my Uncles trucker cap and off I went. The run is the real jewel in this race - the scenery is stunning around the lake and Clutha River. I'd been working on my bike a lot this year and started running with no complaints from my legs. As the kms went by, I was knocking of 4:50 kms with my HR under AeT and was taking in plenty of water, electrolytes and carbs. The first 21k was down in 1:43 and I was still feeling fresh, however at 26km, my stomach started complaining. I decided to slow down and jog to let everything absorb, but the situation was not improving - in hindsight, this is where I did not execute properly. Running just past the aid station at 32km, I had to stop and everything came up with four big yaks, right in front of three families with kids. I started to feel better but realised all my nutrition over the last 10km had just drained into the sand - gawd damn it! I started moving again but within 500m, I was seeing two of everything, my mouth felt like it had cotton wool in it and it had this thick white paste that tasted of ammonia. Boy was I having fun! I walked my butt up the hill and thought just walk the next 3km to the aid station - one km took my 23min! There I took in two mouthfuls of water and threw that all up so decided to keep on rocking - it seems even walking was too much for my stomach. After the out-and-back, I thought bugger this, I'm not going to achieve a personal best, so I'm gonna enjoy my time here, so I went and joined a party of Wanaka locals in their late 20s in the shade. I hung out with them for 30 minutes and drunk all their coke and ate half their chocolate. After a bunch of laughs, I said my family were probably wondering what was happening to me and I should get going. I walked the hill just after their house and with 3km to go, all systems were go and I ran in 15min, for a mary time of 4:49, kicking it for a total time of 11:49 - my slowest time to date but oddly enough, it was the first time I felt satisfied crossing the finish line.

Despite my problems, I had a great time. My family were there to support me, the race was well run and the weather was great (although a little hot for me!) It was the first time I raced in these temperatures and has allowed me to learn that despite feeling fresh, my first half of the run should be run at easy, not easy-mod. In addition, I should have a stronger nutrition plan as I was taking in quite a lot at aid stations and calculated I took in 400cal/hour before my stomach issues hit.

I'm pleased this race is over and I finished. I'm looking forward to Jen, Lucy and I spending more time together on Saturday mornings and us using the landscaping of the house as some active recovery.

To all considering Wanaka, I can't speak highly enough of it - you will have a blast.

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