Jellyfish and fartleks

I love racing. I can’t help it. I’ve read all the articles online about how a sensible, structured training programme, built up of blocks and including things called Fartleks (which I thought was the technical name for my pre-race stomach nerves, but apparently are a Swedish training method), planned long runs and recovery times leading to a small number of targeted races is the best way to improve. People at running club have preached about the magical benefits of a training programme, and the importance of not over-racing.

I take that all on board. I do my research, read the science, and decide it’s a sensible course of action, especially with another marathon just three weeks away.

Then someone says “there’s a triathlon on Sunday, you should do it,” and I just get too giddy and before I know it I’ve entered, scrounged a bike and helmet and I’m on the start-line for the Tinman Sprint Triathlon. The day after having taken part in the 2.6km Sand-to-Surf open water swim. Yeah, two races in one weekend really causes a lot of fartleks…

Sand-to-Surf swim

If you were to organise an open water swim in the UK, how many people would you get? Maybe 50? 100 at a push? In NZ, you get nearly 700! Although it helps when the place you’re swimming looks like this.

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I’d never gone this far in a race, let alone in the actual ocean. The 30kph cross-shore breeze, along with a set of sharp rocks and the appearance of a shit-tonne of little purple jellyfish made it an assault course that would put Tough Mudder to shame. And if you got your breathing timing slightly wrong, coming up for air at the top of a big wave rather than the bottom, you came down with an almighty crack that felt like slamming your head against a concrete floor. Take me back to the placid confines of Roundhay any day!

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Tinman Triathlon – sprint distance

What started out with a gentle Tuesday run turned into a chance meeting with the former president of Triathlon Tauranga, which then evolved into a “yeah, might as well while I’m here”. A quick Facebook post to the tri-club led to enough bike offers to start my own Tour de France squad, so I didn’t have lack of equipment as an excuse!

There were obstacles again on the swim – this time in a harbour on the other side of the mount, so avoiding a head-on collision with a yacht became the aim. The glorious wind supporting the first bit of the bike leg turned into a heinous monster when I realised it was an out-and-back course, before a stunning lap of the mount itself on foot finished off proceedings. A cheeky first place in the age category (yeah there were only four others, but so what?!), and a PB over the distance meant I earned that dinner of $5 Pizza Hut followed by a burger!

Travel plans

I’m leaving the Mount on Tuesday to go climb Mount Doom (otherwise know as Mt Ngauruhoe). Which should be a good spot for some hill training, given it’s a countdown to the next two big races – the Auckland Harbour Crossings swim in two weeks, the West Coaster marathon in three. That’s more time to train than I had for the last one. It’ll be fine…

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