Well on my "off week" I've been doing a lot of thinking ( most of it financial planning, debating on if I should not enter my August races, and just attack the Nutmeg at full bore.) I sort of mulled around one of Claire's comments from our Easter long ride. As we were making our way back to the parking lot she asked " So Bob, honestly, was it ( Ironman New Zealand)the most painful experience in your life?" My answer " Surprisingly no." Indeed upon looking at the other two races I've come to the realization that perhaps the Ironman was the easiest race I've done so far. Maybe it was my attitude going in I had gone through periods of uncertainty ( Three financial crisis and a nor'easter the day before my flight.) if I would even make it to Taupo, but in the month leading up to the race everything just sort of gelled and once my feet were on the island failure was not an option. Eagleman had similar troubles but again on a wing and a prayer I managed to get down and back. I could go with the physical characteristics or each race Taupo was on forgiving hills and the temps were ideal, granted it was pouring rain and we had huge winds. Eagleman should have been the easiest as the course was flat as a pancake but the lack of shade, and excess of heat and humidity made up for it, and the Griskus well, you've read the race report, those hills are murder on the bike. Again I go back to mental state Taupo I went in riding and running outdoors in freezing temps for 5 months, battling snow, ice, rain, hypothemia, Holiday traffic, rain,wind and 60F degree (15-20C) weather was a cake walk ( well alright I hate riding in rain but if you wiped out..... twice..... hard ....in the wet so would you.) In anycase I felt bad ass when some of the competitors groaned 16C ( 60F) was cool enough for arm warmers, except for jitters the night before I was fairly confident heading in to the race. My last two, Eagleman I was lucky I was able to go down and compete and the Griskus, well, I don't feel I really brought my "A" Game last Saturday, although I could use the tired leg excuse for the run, I was going with all I had in the tank but the speed just wasn't there. But to end my tie raid and giving Taupo a rather good arse kissing to get back at what the hardest part of the Ironman or a half ironman, or any race is it is right now. It is when I go back into the video tape in my mind and think back to the scenes in medical, the guys and gals that need IVs, the dude hunched over a garbage can at the finish after giving his all, the guy limping along after decimating the bike and blowing up on the run, the gal gritting it out as her skin turns bright red from the sun beating down on it for 5 hours and you can already see the blisters forming, the guy out on course after dark hobbling along with his shoes turning blood red, from blisters, the point when I realize that at the finsh I was walking talking and fairly coherrent, that I was beat up but not messed up, that I hadn't really had "the moment" where you feel nothing but incredible pain and you just wanted to give up, or die, or sell your soul for reprieve. Part me feels good that " hey I trained well and got it done " The other part chimes in " maybe I didn't go hard enough."