Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ironman New Zealand Race Report

3:30AM My alarm went off I looked at it looked out side and hit snooze. My body was going to be going through 10+ hours of sheer Hell the least I could do was give it 30 more min. of Rest. 4:00AM and I was awakened by some crappy oldies station I shut the alarm off and went to the loo. Slapped on my War on ALS tattoos and began my pre- race ritual of wondering around my hotel room with my i-pod blaring clad in nothing but my tri shorts.

Wet suit...check

Body Glide....check

Slathered myself with enough Hawaiian Tropic to protect me from a supernova....check

Post race clothes...check

Threw on my tri top and my HEAT T -shirt and warm up pants and went down for breakfast, a bowl of cereal and toast with honey I wasn't eatting heavy today.You could definiately tell the Iron-vets from the rookies USC Jonathan had been through this all before, it was his 3rd time, but even he had jitters , hoping his back would survive, Paul had done at least 5 and was just looking forward to another day at the office. Justin a fellow Iron rookie sat there silent ready to go. Pete and I were the nervous guys with big yaps, I tend to ramble when I'm nervous, but I was starting to settle down. I looked out at the sun coming up. " Looks like the weather guys were full of shit." I said fairly confidently " I wouldn't say that mate.", said Blair with a semi prophetic tone. " At least we're expecting a tailwind on the way back on the bike." Pete chimed in. The eire silence over the breakfast table was broken. Breakfast flew by in a blur, before I knew it Jonathan and I were on the first shuttle to transition. The i-pod went in the music went up. " Just another day at the office" I tried to tell myself, " Just another race like any other." We arrived at transition. Got my special needs bags and body marked. BSed with this Aussie chick Naomi, she was hardcore doing this race with a cracked vertebrae. I checked my bike tires, 80 PSI, grabbed a pump from Blair and inflated to the recommended 110psi ( the chip seal makes stiffer tires bounce.) Johnathan wanted a picture in Transition. Tried to snap one but the stupid light blurred it out, finally after 5 takes I got a keeper for him. I looked accross the rack at the pros setting up, one young Aussie chick Kate was set up across from me, we shook hands made a little chit chat but that was about it. Talked to Dan Cochrane the last Kona qualifer from my age group last year, told him I owed him a beer if he beat Shannon Barnett, we laughed at that one. Bella Cumberford was snapping her shoes into the pedals.I had thought about doing that but I had accidently packed them in my T-1 bag at drop off. Too late now. A bunch of Maorui Warriors were doing the Huka on the beach, I tried to imitate hoping in the words of one of the warriors, it would scare the piss out of anyone in ear shot. Instead it made for a hysterical snap shot. Jonathan then snapped a more legit one. 6:30AM a half and hour went by that fast. I lubed up with as much body glide as I had left. Killed the water bottle I took with me and filled my aero drink with Gu2O, started to put on the wet suit and made one last trip to the portoloo. Had Bill zip me up and made my way down to the water. Started talking to Matt yet another Iron virgin: "Just treating this like one really long brick. I've got an hour swim, 6 hour bike, hopefully less than a 4 hour run." Just a training day with 1200 of your closest friends. I handed in my pre swim bag, and swam out tho the swim start. the bottom of the start area was shallow and rocky. It didn't matter now I was in my element. The 3 min. light came on Mike's voice boomed on the loud speaker, as the Warriors brought their boat along side the mass of swimmers in the water. 2 min. light. The pros made their way to their start 15 meters ahead of the age groupers. Mike was spouting some shit over the PA. the 1 min. light came on then the cannon.........

The Swim: 3.8k (2.4 miles) Arms and elbows: kicking and screaming.

I had started wide as usual but for once was actually regretting it. I was in clear water but falling toward the back of the back. I started to cut in. I ended up dueling with this chick in blue swedes for about 200 meters. I lifted to sight a sea of orange and green caps I was still with the age groupers. My competitive swimming prowess started to take hold. Go harder, keep sighting, still orange and green caps. For the first 1000 meters it felt like I was going no where, either I was really sucking or everyone else was really good. Suddenly a white cap then another, a pack of us had caught the slower pros, that got me motivated. passed 3 or 4 white caps before I found a draft pack at the turn around. tried to go around , couldn't. Tried to go inside couldn't . I kept wide and drifted along side, losing some ground for 25 meters gaining back for another 50 meters, Satyed wide on the return leg to try to catch the current from the river back to the beach. Passed some more Orange and green caps but I was still stuck in the draft pack. I could see the beach now, the carpet to transition. the water was shallow. My hand hit bottom butterflied past the rocks then sprung to my feet. Cap and goggles came off, pulled the wet suit to half way. I looked at the clock as I left the beach on a 400 meter run to transition

53:36 Heard Catherine and some of the EST group shout my name as I ran past. One leg down, two to go.

T-1: [wetsuit] Strippers wanted!

the 400 meter run to t-1 was a head game up the steps across the parking lot, up the hill. passed some guys got passed by others. Came into the chute and shouted out "114" a woman grabbed my T-1 bag and handed it off to me. Ran into the tent. Two guy grabbed the legs of my wet suit and yanked it off. Shit I forgot a towel volunteer got me one,I dried my feet and threw on my socks and shoes. Then off to the bike rack, threw on my helmet and sunglasses and off I went on a 180km (112 mi.) ride, the second place pro woman at my side. Total T-1 time I believe was 5:38 not bad for a quarter mile run in a wetsuit.

The Bike: 180k (112 mi) Kick it in the big ring and pray nothing gets in the way.

I figured I would go conservative on the first loop of the bike so when I strated getting passed like it was my job I didn't panic. The roads were dry, once we got out of town ( and all the technical corners) the road was closed to traffic and went down hill in a hurry. I grabbed a Gu off the top tube only to see the wind had blown my other four off.....those aid stations every 18k were a blessing. PowerBar drink replaced the Gu2O as I consumed it in a desperate battle to keep hydrated, and every two stations I was grabbing a power bar to boost my sugar. At one point Justin and Canadian super stud went by, I made an effort to repass and it worked but was repassed by them about 2k up the road I decided at that point it wasn't worth burning the energy to try to keep their pace. ( Justin did a 10:57 I have no idea how super stud did.) By the time we hit the turn around at Repora the winds were in full force. As I approached a sudden gust made me feel like I was going to be dismounting over the left handlebar. also on the way some joker would run along side with a bottle of Tui beer and fake like he was handing it off aid station style. We hit the sharp turn around and the wind suddenly shot you out like a rocket. As I flew back up the road it dawned I me I had to pee, got ready to try the whole let if fly thing but I just couldn't make it work. I stopped at one of the aid stations instead. Topped off my aero drink with Sports drink and grabbed an extra bottle for the road, after hitting the loo.

As we made our way back up toward Taupo I saw three cyclists had gotten together, one of them ( a girl, who until I double checked, I thought was Naomi) had gone down pretty hard and was being stablized by course officials as the support cars stopped and an Ambulance from St. John's was racing to the scene. We got to the lovely turn by the racetrack and as I crossed the white lines the clouds opened . We were now on the descents back into town, I was sitting up in the bullhorns for some of the descents, especially one sweeping left hander...I didn't want Catherine to earn a pulitzer for caputuring the spirit of the Ironman by snapping a picture of me riding by in bandages and torn cycling shorts. For those who don't know me too well, my bike, sharp turns and wet chipseal don't usually make for a good combo. Anyway it was down another long down hill on Spa Rd., just letting it coast as competitiors flew by, before the sharp left back through the Center of Taupo. I was going 25 everyone else was going 30 before all of us slammed on the binders for the left hander and then accelrated through the flat fast smooth roads of Taupo. Heading back out for the second loop I decided to be conservative on the rain slickened corners and white lines in town, saving my efforts for the fast, yet rough straight shot to the turn around on Broadlands road. It seemed a few other of the "mid-packers" were following this strategy, either that or they were the ones who went too hard on lap one because I managed to get about 5 positions back as well as a nice neon green arm band for completing loop one. Once again it was back on to Broadlands with that every so lovely head wind. the rain began to lighten up but even so I kept my sun glasses in my back pocket ( I had taken them off at the beginning of lap 2.), it was too much of a hassle to keep wiping the spray off of them. The lead up to the turn around wasn't too bad, down hill and flat, got out of the saddle occasionally to warm up the legs. I lost some time, when my attempts to let it fly were continuing to fail, and I had to use a more scenic method ( ie stopping in some poor farmer's field.) Which cost me most of the spots I had regained. On the way to the turn around again the wind got brutal, I got in the bullhorns put my head down and gritted through to the turn around. At Repora I made it through the hairpin with relative ease ( trouble spots in the wet 1&2 were out of the way.) I had some trouble getting my sexy neon orange armband from one of the volunteers, it took one fairly tall and muscular dude to push it about half way down my arm. I shot out of Repora with a nice tail wind and began to make up ground. Unfortutnately I had a comical little incident at one of the aid stations, as I tossed the bottle I had just emptied into my friend the areo drink...I noticed there were suddenly alot more guys at the "last ditch" table than at the previous stations. "Watch out!" I screamed as the bottle hurttled toward a volunteer holding out a powerbar, it missed thank god, but it scarred the shit out of both of us. " Sorry!" I screamed as I rode out of sight from one very pissed off volunteer.

As we approached the climbs the fatigue of 160k (100 miles) in the saddle became real, a hill that I had taken semi effotlessly in the Small Ring 15 was now causing me grief as I crawled up it at 12 mph, I was bonking hard core, I reached for some shot bloks that I had been nimbling on as "bail out" food. I finished the bag but the sugar was just not kicking in. I longed for my running shoes because quite frankly I was getting sick of pedaling. After what seemed like an eternity the downhill to the race track appeared I didn't care if it was going to be the death of me I got into the aero bars and descended at a stupidly fast rate of speed. I wanted off the bike Damn it and I was only 10k away from my second strength. I went through the left hander back toward town. As we descened past the Town pool and civic center some Swim Mum had apparently had enough of the Police road blocks and us psycho cyclists owning the road. In an effort to save two minutes and get little Johnny to his swim lesson on time her minivan blew the road block and sped across the road infront of me. Now maybe it was my fatigue at the time but it was like what gives, she was about 4 meters infront of me but on a wet road 4 meters is not enough to safely go from almost 30 mph to 0 on a bicycle ( apparently Specialized, Avanti, Cervelo, Trek, etc all forgot to put anti lock breaks on the damn things.) Thankfully she pulled into the pool's parkinglot and I sped by without incident but this is the 5th or 6th NDE ( near death experience) I had in Taupo in as many days (the first 4 or 5 were courtsey of the big rigs on Route1 and Broadlands on my training ride.) Rant about bad drivers over.Needless to say this was at the end of the ride. I slowed up for the sharp left turn on to Route 1 and as I hit the flat pulled my feet out of my soaked bike shoes like a pro. I think I heard Simon shout out "good stuff mate!" I pedaled the remaining 1k to the Transition area and dismounted like a pro dismounting on the left as I slipped my bike to the volunteer on the right.

Total Bike Split: 6:19.16

T-2: A Comedy of Errors ( cue Benny Hill music here)

I got my bag and made my way past the loos into the transition tent. The bike had taken its toll on me as a volunteer dumped my bag. I pulled off my soaked bike socks, the volunteer got me a towel as I tried in vain to dry my feey and pull my running socks on. I couldn't find my blister blocks, until I felt something in my right racing flat sure enough there they were I dumped them out, switched my race belts, threw my glasses back on and took off toward the water table. "Where's the loo? I asked one of the volunteers, "other side of the tent mate." Damn it, ran back through the transition tent/mash unit to the first empty portolet, then had to dart back through the transition tent and onto the run course total T-2 was about 4min and change.
( End Benny Hill Music here.)

Run: 42.2k (26.2 miles) This time it truly was Macca Time.

As I approached the 1k mark the rain decided it's time for mercy was over, the rain picked up the wind kicked up and in one of my race photos it shows me with my head down like "ok it's windy tough shit." I hit the first aid station and followed the advice of Marty Cashman ( a former pro who spoke to us at Central) I began to take coke at every aid station. This was the first time I had tried the flat cola routine, but if I had anymore sports drink I was going to gag. I grabbed a banana half and continued around the Great Lake Centre. I passed the finisher chute, the music was blaring, and Mike was screaming something about Cameron Brown taking the lead. ( Kiernan Doe had a pretty big advantage on the bike but as usual Cam ran him down.) I ran past New Zealand's biggest block party to the more subdued park surrounding the yacht club. I got my white wrist band for my first loop and got another cup of flat coke. And began to make my way out of town. I ran past Blair and our die hard group of EST supporters. I thought I heard a couple of Shouts of " Go Rob!" but I was zoning out going into a mantra: keep it steady..don't blow up, aid station to aid station, long race, little pieces, worry about the clock on the second loop...coke....keep it aerobic.....
I came out of my zone at the 5k mark as I watched Ken Glah run past, no sprint finish for him this year, he was in no man's land, and comfortably so he had at least a 1k lead on the guy behind him.

As I headed up the hill out of town I began to reel in some of the faster cyclists, one fell back then another then 3 more than one guy from Colorado. I saw Bill run by and wish me luck How the Hell did he pass me I thought? ( foundout later that he was the 3rd guy out of the water, don't you just love it when they don't start the pros 15 min. ahead and age groupers can be right in the mix. I know I do.) by the first little "lollipop" I was needing the rest room. ( damn fiber filled solid nutrition: guys at Gu please make an energy bar low in fiber you will make a killing.). I held it as long as I could but at the 7k mark I had to stop at the aid station. I re-entered the race about a minute later and shocked the dude from Colorado again.

CD: didn't you pass me like 2 min. ago?
Me: Yeah but I had to use the loo.
CD: Well I guess I can let it go this time, you're a newbie.

That lit the fire under my ass I reached the 10k turn @ 5 mile bay, this massive residential area. All the volunteers here were locals and it was like a giant block party, complete with Kiwis talgating. I looked at my watch 53 min. that with a 2 min bathroom break. I was right on pace, for a sub 4 hour marathon. As we reached the 12k point after turning around the cul du sac, I looked over and saw Jo Lawn and that Aussie Chick Kate going head to head ( they were on their second loop coming around to lap us.) I took my mind off the pro drama unfolding behind me, back to the game plan, water and coke at the aid station, feet blistering, don't think about it, sub 4 hour marathon...keep the pace....the rain began to let up but I could bearly feel it, the wind was the main problem, going out we had a tail wind now it was in your face. Keep the pace, Shannon Barnett came by me he was lapping me and he was holding a faster pace than the pro women. I looked back no sign of Jo Lawn, no sign of Kate, their race wasn't my problem now but I didn't want to be the moron that accidently blocked Jo Lawn and cost her 6th straight Ironman New Zealand Win, although it could have gotten me a date with young the Aussie.......and a lifetime ban from ever entering New Zealand again..... back to the race report..... Made it through thhe lollipop most of the Times employees were set up here, got a lot of support to carry me back down that hill into town. Went down the hill looking at guys struggling up saw Jonathan running by he looked like he was in pain, saw Vin ( another EST guy) going up the hill in spiderman togs, then some older guy decided to go anaerobic and pass me, I passed him back he passed again and pulled away, looked at the watch, 10:45 was out the window, sub 11 possible, sub 12 would happen unless I did some thing start running at 10k pace. Keep the pace. Took the turn back on to route one and we were routed on to the beach side path. Seperated by a grassy median and in some cases houses and shrubs from the guys running up. Went by a beach club and watched the flags being blown over by the wind. " I thought they were calling for wind today." I said through the gale. That got a few laughs.... We hit a slight down hill and I saw a dude in a beanie on a mountain bike stop he looked up dead at me I looked over my shoulder, there clad in her signature black and red bathing suit was Jo Lawn bearing down on me , he started shouting instructions to her to take it easy on this descent and work it on the up coming up hill. She ran by her grimace hidden by the sun glasses I could help but give he a cheer, looked back behind me the female leader guide bike rode past, no sign of Kate, she had broken free. I got back into my pace, the mantra, coke, water over the head, rinse the mouth, the path got close to the road again I saw Justin run by gave him a high 5 he was about 5 to 6 k ahead, the turn for the second loop was close Ran around the Great Lake Centre, past the finish line where the crowd was going nuts over Lawn's win in the women's race. Pass the Yacht Club got my blue arm band and started the second loop, 22k down and I was still under 2 hours, a sub 4 marathon was possible as long as I:
1.Did not stop for anything
2. Start walking for any reason
3. Did not go into cardiac arrest.
Got the game face on start to psyche myself up, this was like a typical 10 mile training run now, Hell I could do this a 9:00 pace with my eyes closed, and even if I blew up I would still be in before 17 hours, the party had just begun.

I started to make my way back through the Center of town there was a look of determination on my face with a hint at a smile. The cheers started to hit home, Blair gave me a "looking good Rob, now pick up the pace." I could hear a load of guys start saying "Good stuff mate." kids reading my name off the bib, claps and cheers that I had ingnored on the first lap were now carrying me through the second. The k markers began to go down, 22, 23, 24k and the turn out of town, 26k At the aid stations I was still taking coke, and even at this late stage I was not walking through, I started passing more and more people, most were first lappers just getting their land legs back. Others we guys that had gone out too hard like the guy that passed me at about 18k, keep it steady and aerobic continued to be the mantra, Nashville began to flash in my mind the agony at mile 23 where my calves said "no mas" and I was forced to walk and stretch. I came up on some Aussie guy, he was starting to bonk and was walking his way up the hill. " Come on mate, don't start walking man you're almost done." ( I noticed the blue band on his arm as well.) " I feel like shit mate" He said as he started to run along side. " grab some coke at the next aid station man it will help fire you up, It's been working for me." I ran ahead and he was still going at a pretty steady jog when I last saw him. Into the lollipop, Jude from the Times was egging me on, back out onto the road toward the turn around, the k's were still dropping off 28k, 29k past the portoloos and the aid station at 30k more coke, but now it was starting to get nasty, but the thought of sports drink was still too difficult to bear. 31k the final turn around, grabbed water only for the first time during the race, one went over the head the other into my mouth. Back into the fray and the head wind, the i-pod in my mind started going with that cheezy insprirational music ( the Rocky theme, the Rudy music, eminem, you know that crap.) Pass some more people, man all those first loopers and I thought I had a hard day on the bike.....into the lollipop, the Times staff going nuts. hear Jude on the radio " He just went by and he looks strong." Man I have to piss...what now at this point in the game, hold it damn it....I can't ....there's less than 10k to go I'm on PR marathon pace I'm not stopping and letting my legs seize up. 8k left, Simon drives by with Catherine hanging out the window, She gets a couple shots. " How are you feeling?" She shouts " Pretty good!" I said ignoring my aching calves and buldging bladder, and the skin being torn from my heel with each step. " See you at the finish." she said with a smile then disappeared back into the car, man that momment alone was worth the last 2k of personal Hell. Back to the battle, the turn back to town 7k to go. Past the beach club, get some cheers, get back to the point where the runners going out can see the runners coming in. Blair's standing there so is Ken fresh from the med tent. " Come on Bob looking strong bring it home" he shouts out. 5 k to go 20 min. if that. The bladder is getting heavy as I approach another aid station, a cola and an orange, I just grab them off the table as the staff is trying to attend to the outbound runners. The cheers get louder, kids give me high 5's I'm getting closer. Back into the center of town 3k left, pass the last aid station, coke only I swear that I never want to drink another cup of flat pepsi again as long as I live,( can't be held to that, we all start thinking crazy at the end of the end of the ironman.) 2k left the 40 k marker then I see the town's only traffic light, I see the 41k marker, the flemge rouge the last k. I dig deep start the gut check and use what's left in the tank. I'm going to be an Ironman barring clamity in the finish chute I'm going to be an Ironman. I pass the Great Lake Centre the crowd noise gets loud I see a kid in a wheel chair I know what I've got to do.....I make the turn show my arm band and enter the finish chute grass, some of The CF girls start screaming my name, high 5 a group of kids at the start of the carpet I see the finish tape... I see the blue memory flashes back, 2005 Ironman @ Kona Jon Blais, 2006 Kona Brian Breen, I approach thhe tape look sky ward, " This one's for you Blazeman!" I get on the ground and roll under the tape then get up fist pump as I hear the sweetest words I've every heard Mike Rielly say, " Rob Duguay 23 Years old from the United States YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" One of the "catchers" gets me a towel I get the medal drapped around my neck. I finished it with a PR in the marathon to boot.
Run: 3:50:09
Total Time: 11:13:43

Next Post: The Aftermath.


rocketpants said...

Thanks for the awesome race report. Man the wind sounds like it was quite the shocker! Just a week in kiwi land and you are talking like a local:-)

AWESOME JOB. You are an ironman!!

KLO said...

Blazeman Warrior,

Great job, Rob!! Thanks for the race report. You have done Team Blazeman and the War on ALS proud!

Kevin Long

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Mary Ann said...

Hi Rob,
I enjoyed reading your blog-congratulations on finishing the ironman and racing and rolling for ALS. My son Jon would be so proud of you. Looking forward to seeing you at Eagleman, Providence(Jon's hometown race) and hopefully Kona!

Jon's mom

Mary Ann said...

Hi Rob,
Congratulations on a great race!
Looking forward to seeing you at Eagleman, Providence(Jon's hometown race) and hopefully Kona.
Keep up the racing and rolling for ALS-Jon would be so proud!

Speed Racer said...

Sorry it took me so long to comment. I printed up all the NZ posts and read them on the plane. I even took notes, now I'll type them up.

#1) Don't throw shit at volunteers, especially their heads. It's bad karma!

#2) I found one event that I can beat you at. I'VE peed on the bike :). You should practice. Well, maybe not on the trainer in your living room, but when the weather gets warmer... It's easiest on downhills.

I've also written down a whole list of questions I'm going to drill you on the next time I see you.

Congratulations again!!! I'm SO proud of you! You really blew away expectations.

By the way, you should do a North American race next year so you can come with us to Disney. If you want to go to NZ, do a training camp there, but pick an IM where you don't have to go sub-9:30 to qualify! Most importantly, you'll get to race with ME!