It has been quite some time since my last blog update, and this time I come back as a recent Ironman winner of Ironman Australia!
I’m going to break this into 2 posts- firstly a quick recap of the time that has lapsed and next my Ironman Australia experience! It is easy to fade away when the going gets tough as per my 2014 year. So zooming back a touch, after a successful start to the year of 2014, I found myself struggling to move forward after Ironman New Zealand with injury issues and decided to take a back-step from training to allow the body time to chill and recover, and focus on my career as a physiotherapist, and to learn a new speciality. I took on a role with a great company, Procare and invested the remainder of 2014 into this sector of my life. Towards the end of 2014 the opportunity arose to return to professional racing and with the support of my new employer I was able to create the perfect work/life/triathlon balance and begin working part-time from home which allowed me to invest the necessary time into slowly and steadily preparing the body to get back onto the racing scene!
2015 started out with a beloved and meaningful race, the Tauranga half ironman, which doubles as the New Zealand long course champ’s. Held at the beginning of January in my hometown, beautiful Mount Maunganui, it was my first ever half ironman triathlon and one I try to return to on an annual basis. Living in Australia, Clay and I always head back for Christmas with the families, so it’s a great excuse to extend the trip by a couple of weeks to include this one on the calendar. General fitness was there, but race fitness was by no means with me, however I decided to give this one a crack anyhow! Not my flashest of races, but I came away with 2nd place behind the always impressive Gina Crawford, and kick started the year on the right foot.
It actually took a little extra time to recover from, as racing when not race fit is hard and takes it’s toll! Once the body allowed it was back to work for the next goal- Challenge Wanaka, a race I have had my eye on for a few years, but timing wise has just never worked out. Clay and I had our honeymoon in Wanaka/Queenstown back in 2009, and we just fell in love with this place. The entire South Island of New Zealand is magical, but Wanaka is truly something else, just breath takingly beautiful, a view I could never tire of. So, what better place than to race an ironman!
I was looked after by an amazing homestay couple, Glenda and Lionel, who treated me like a queen, Lionel’s cooking skills are second to none! Race day presented us with a perfect Wanaka day- calm, crystal clear waters with the gorgeous mountain backdrop, what a sight!
Swimming in Lake Wanaka was a great start to the day, getting glimpses of the sun rising beyond the mountains, taking sips of the fresh mountain water as we swum through it in the Lake, and swimming a PB IM swim, I was off to a happy start!
The ride is tough, the roads are quite dense and there are a decent amount of hills, but once again the fact that we are racing in such a stunning place helps to take most of the hurt away. I had a reasonably good ride, a pretty good representation of where my fitness levels were at and came off the bike in 3rd spot.
The run is 2 loops alongside Lake Wanaka and the Clutha River, predominantly off road and is relatively slow going, as a lot of the surface is gravel- so loose underfoot, and there is a nasty hill about 3/4 way into each loop coming back through the suburbs. It was very hard to resist the temptation of taking a detour and diving into the sparkling waters, but I managed to stay focussed and on course and enjoy the marathon. Positions stayed the same and I came across the line in 3rd once again behind Gina in 1st and Laura Siddall in 2nd….which ended up being an all SOAS podium!
The Challenge finish line was great fun, as the kids who raced well at the kids tri the previous day await the top finishers and run the final stretch with them, so it was cool crossing the finish line with a little entourage!
After my time in Wanaka, it was up to the North Island to see my family, attend a good friends wedding and have a bit of R&R and soak up more of the awesome Kiwi summer! Then once again, back to Oz and back to work for Ironman Australia!