*** many thanks to Liz Verheyden for this race report ***

Training and Pre-race days

I decided on doing my first Ironman 70.3  in April ’13. That’s 9 months to prepare for a race! This was good, as I needed to work a lot on my cycling still, but it also felt like an eternity! With Coach Marshall very strict on limited time and effort spent on unnecessary races, I was getting very itchy to get going.

Overall training had been very structured, with a rather low volume load. This felt weird at times, but also resulted in no time off cause of injury or niggles. 

Tapering started as we left for New Zealand on the 8th of January – that’s 10 days before raceday. Keeping in mind the effects of jetlag (it’s a 9 hour time difference with Dubai) we really needed this week to adjust.

The pre-race week was also the time to adjust to the new status as “wife-to-be” as Simon proposed to me on top of Mt Maunganui!!


Early morning

I took lots of time before the start (2 hours), even though we only had a 5min walk from our hotel to the transition area.

I decided to go put the final touches to my bike first, before the transition area would close, and then go back to the hotel to have some more food and the all important toilet routine!

I decided not to have real solid food. Just a banana, chocolate milk, bite of protein bar and a diluted energy drink to take to the swim start.

Swim – 30min 50sec

It was a deep water start, which freaked me out a bit. But my wave consisted of approx. 40-50 women only, and the start line was very broad with about a 200-300m swim to the first buoy. I chose to be at the front, wide to the first buoy. Excellent choice, no arms or elbows being thrashed about and goggles stayed put. It was a rather odd shaped course, and I’m glad I memorized the left and right turns around the buoys! I exited the water in 8th position, with lovely numb frozen feet to run to transition.

T1 – 1min 55sec

Smooth transition. It was easy to get the wetsuit off, as I didn’t wear my Garmin watch for the swim.  But I forgot to take a sip of water before taking my bike off the rack which left me tasting sea water for quite a while as I was too busy navigating the sharp turns through the city at the start of the bike course.

Bike – 2h 48min

The bike course had a northern and southern loop. The northern part was more undulating, and crossed the Harbour Bridge at about 8km into the course.

Approaching the bridge I changed to my small chain ring and my chain came off… Great…. I briefly tried the no-dirty-fingers approach but no luck with that. So both hands on the chain for the quick approach and off we go. No doubt with some additional Rambo-looking greasy streaks on the forehead and cheeks.

The winding roads and ups and downs are certainly not something I have learned at Al Qudra.. And I noticed lots of people passing me on downhills and corners. I was really focusing on the course and therefore struggled to drink and eat enough. Even though I set a time and distance alert on my Garmin to remind me.

These are all things I will definitely have to work on!

Luckily the southern loop was faster and mainly following 1 road. So I got to make up some time here.

T2 – 1min 05sec

Smooth transition, but again didn’t take the time to apply sunscreen or take a sip of water as I already took the extra time to put on socks. I put my nutrition, peak and watch in a ziplock bag so I could put them on while running. This worked really well.

Run – 1h 38min

I really wanted to take a GU, but as I didn’t have water I had to wait till the first water station, which was about 3-4km’s in. So definitely take a run bottle next time! I should also have checked how it felt to run with the timing chip strap (and take a spare one from home which I know is comfortable) as the one we got had nasty sharp edges to give you some nice ankle rash. Yet it felt great to be off the bike and I was looking forward to the run. The legs were feeling good and I therefore got a bit carried away and started too fast. This lasted until about 9km, and by km 14 I had to pay for it. Not much sprint left by the time I finished the long 21.5km course. But I was a very happy chap having completed this race in style and have Simon cheer me on and wait for me at the finish line (yes, he breezed through the 13minutes he had to make up on the wave start time difference).

Finish – 5h 00min

I had no idea of my total race time when I crossed the finish line, which made the celebration all about having finished the race exactly as planned. My estimated finish time was between 5h and 5h15min. Finishing in 5:00:35 was unbelievable.

After collecting my bike etc we walked back to the hotel, which was great to loosen the legs. Keeping the body moving the rest of the day was key. Resting on the bed, taking Epsom salt bath, sitting down for XL lunch etc was all great, but left me achy. So off we go to buy my well-deserved Ironman 70.3 Auckland cycling top, which I had been eyeing since day 1 of the Expo, only to find the Expo ladies packing up and telling me all is sold out. BUMMER!


Bring on the next one!