by Fred Maggiore
The following is a "stream of consciousness" race report that I emailed out the day after the race, right after I checked the race results...
Taupo, New Zealand, Sunday March 2, 2008
After a week of trying to acclimate to the heat and humidity, race day dawned cool, around 60 and pretty much stayed there all day. The lake was like glass at the start, well until the cannon went off, then I felt like I was in a pack of piranhas with so much splashing and white water. I managed to find some fast toes, as my swim time was faster than expected, a 1:03, and honestly it didn't feel like a long swim at all.
The rain started halfway back into town on the first bike lap, a really fast downhill section, but a nasty crosswind had us out of our aerobars and hanging on. The rain continued on and off the rest of the day, with the winds feeling much stronger (me more tired?) on the second out on the bike.
My heart rate monitor wasn't working on the bike, as the power lines running the course seemed to scramble my signal, so I went old school, perceived exertion. My first bike lap went by pretty fast, so hopes of going around 5:40 were in my head, but the winds reminded me of my training days coming back from Ventura to Santa Barbara, or my double brick training day, when I once again found myself riding 12-14 MPH in my aerobars.
Throughout all this I just tried to stay positive, holding back thinking about the long run ahead. On the return to town I was once again greeted by the wind and side blowing rain, and I was starting to feel bad for the volunteers and spectators. Remembering that on cold days, and I was cold, starting out with only my arms warmers on, no vest or rain jacket, I tried to take on extra calories, as I kept repeating in my head, fuel the machine!
Coming off the bike my back felt like I had ridden 5:51, which I did, so I was thinking shit, how am I going to be able to run? Well two minutes later I was out there, crossing over this funky temporary bridge built over the road to avoid the oncoming bikes and cars, feeling pretty good. I ran the 2K to the "finish line", before starting the first of two loops on the course. The first 5-6K of the course is lined with people, so with you name on your race number, wearing my Santa Barbara Triathlon Club racing top, I was getting lots of "Way to go Fred, good on you mate!", "Go Santa Barbara!", and that helped a lot.
The course is basically a 10K four times, and luckily to start we had a tailwind, which of course meant we had to return in the wind. I was able to run at speed right away, actually getting my heart rate monitor to "find" my HR again, so I could finally see what I was feeling. I averaged 138 for the whole run, which told me I probably did the right thing on the bike, by holding back just a bit at times when in a shorter race I would have pushed the pace to pass more people.
The course has some rolling hills, which I had run before the race, so no surprises and on the first return back into town I once again had to deal with the wind and the rain right in my face, hat pulled down, jersey zipped up, hands clenched, trying to stay warm. I completed the first lap feeling good, just starting to let my brain think about actually finishing! After all the good wishes from everyone I thought I would probably be easier to deal with whatever pain and anguish I was feeling at the time, then to come home and have to explain to everyone why I didn't finish! Nothing like a little peer pressure, huh?
I ran through the half marathon around 1:53, so thoughts of going around 3:50 were looming. At 15K into the run, I had been on course for over 8.5 hours, exceeding my longest training day ever, and this being all non-stop. With 20K left in the run, the kilometers finally running down from 42.2 to zero, I realized that I had to run 5:30/K to break 11 hours, so this was the carrot that pulled me through to the finish, that one desire. But once again the winds and rain returned at the run turn-around, so hating life heading up the long grade with five miles to go, the only time my brained slipped into the "I wish I was walking so I wouldn't hurt so much mode", I started drinking the Pepsi on the course to get the caffeine buzz and get my mind right.
Anyway, at 6K it wasn't looking good to break 11 hours, so the next downhill I took off, forgetting about tired feet and wanting to just sit down, and set sail for the finish line. It was surprising how many of the fans back in town knew how close I was to doing it, but it just wasn't to be, but 11:00:20 ain't bad. And I'm not looking to do this again to try and break it! 😉
Overall I'd say I was very happy, 10th in the swim in my age group, 14th on the bike (well that doesn't make me happy, but I think its a fair trade for running a 3:55 marathon!), and then 12th on the run, 10th in my age group overall. Yeah, there were 50 places that I did stuff that cost me 0.5 seconds, so sub 11 hours was within reach, but then it wasn't, so I'm good with that, and I know that the last 5-6K on the course I was the fastest person out there, passing lots of other age-groupers.
So it's done, I'm glad, relieved, a bit sore, but walking okay, getting ready for a post-race massage, and not sitting here thinking what could have been, but only that I gave it 100%, and that no, I'm not planning on signing up for another IM race in the near future. Luckily you only turn 50 once, so that was my excuse and I've used it up! I look forward to shorter distance races, when I don't have to hold back, and can really race the darn thing, I think that's more my style.