Updated: Sep 28, 2018
My focus for the last six months, and with good reason, has been the Kathmandu Coast to Coast. Everything seemed to revolve around getting myself over the line at New Brighton Beach. I don’t think I have ever been so organised for a race before. Ever. Lists of lists included. Exactly a week after the Longest Day, I headed south to compete as part of a team for Challenge Wanaka Half-Ironman, and the contrast between the two couldn’t have been bigger.
I did the swim leg of team Say Yes to Adventure, with Scottie claiming the bike and Jacqs the run and at the last minute, I joined a friend’s team who found themselves a man down on the run section. Because it seemed entirely logical six months ago to do the only part of the race that I hadn’t done any training for! I wasn’t nervous at all, though, even with minimal training. I had done a couple of swims in Mum and Dad’s irrigation ponds a few months ago, plus a few over Christmas in the new lake at Clarence (thanks to the Kaikoura earthquake). I knew I had the fitness and for me, swimming is about getting into a steady rhythm and keeping the arms ticking over. I lived in Sydney for three years, where I joined Bondi Fit, a triathlon club based at Bondi, and managed to go from someone who only ever made the ‘K Grade’ at school swimming sports, to someone who could do a two-kilometre ocean swim fairly easily (no records were broken, however). So far, I appear to be unsinkable, my bubble butt finally offering a small advantage.
It seemed like everything was against us not to compete in the event, though. A compulsory registration had to be completed before 6.30pm on Friday, which meant an early afternoon departure from Christchurch. Scottie and I got as far as Mum and Dad’s south of Ashburton, as they were coming down with us, picked up Dad then headed for Geraldine to collect Mum after she finished teaching for the day. Even with a very tight schedule, there was room for a brief stop for a Fairlie Bakehouse pie on the way – never a bad move – before we were back on the road and heading slightly too fast to Wanaka. Arriving with seconds to spare, we appeared to be a massive inconvenience as we were palmed from one race organiser to another before finally getting our name taken off the ‘Did Not Start’ list. Phew, Scottie’s bike got the once over and after the go head there (a few screws tightened) she racked her bike, and we headed straight to the beach for a pre-race beer!
Wanaka finally decided it was summer time and turned on a boomer for us. The lake was glass, only rippled by the swimmers and safety boats. After realising we hadn’t been given a swim cap the night before and told we would be disqualified if we didn’t have one, we managed to track one down with enough time before the start. I did a quick recce to check the goggles still worked and the wetsuit wasn’t going to rub in any wrong places. After a few strokes the ice cream headache was quick to appear, now realising why people had their own cap on underneath the compulsory one. So, it was quickly back to shore to sort that out before wading back into the water and heading for the start line.
Back on shore, and with less than a minute until our heat was to start, Jacqs and Scottie were chatting to a friend who mentioned their swimmer had almost forgotten to go between the flags to start their timing chip. They both looked at each other; I hadn’t done that. With no time to get me back out of the water they went and found an official to let them know. It must have worked though as we managed to get times on each leg of the race.
My goal leading up to the swim was to start nearer the back so as not to get dunked or hit on the head as we started. But with 30 seconds left to go, I found myself right up the front in the middle, all set and ready. The gun went off; it was all go. I managed to quickly get into a rhythm and control my breathing as I headed for the first buoy. People seemed only to be passing me, with one person even doing backstroke!! But as I rounded the first buoy it was incredibly satisfying as I slowly started to pick people off with the same coloured cap as me. A few passed me on the final leg back in, but they were from the mixed teams who started five minutes behind us. I was swimming blind with the morning sun blinding my vision, so just stuck on the feet of a few ahead and managed to take (I hope) a pretty straight line into the shore.
I had hoped to complete the swim in 35-40 minutes so was very happy to hear my time was 34 minutes. Only a few minutes slower than when I used to swim at least three times a week! I ran up out of the water, over the bridge and down into the transition area where I found Scottie with her bike all set to go. The hardest part was the sprint out of the water!!
Team Say Yes to Adventure ended up having a great day out, with both Scottie and Jacqs having great legs too, even with Jacqs blowing a calf muscle one kilometre in. We finished in 6:15:59and ended up 24th out of 63 finishers, a great result.
I also did the run leg for a friend’s team called Belgian Biscuits, which I loved. It’s been a while since I did a 21-kilometre flat run, though, and I couldn’t believe how sore my muscles were the following day. I have definitely slowed down on the flat; might need to look at that as an area of improvement over the winter!
It’s been all go in a good way since Challenge too. The following weekend my sister and her gorgeous family arrived from Kenya for three weeks for my brother’s wedding. Adding to the wedding week madness, Resonate Productions came to Mum and Dads to do some background filming for the Coast to Coast documentary they are putting together, which meant some interviewing of my family (can’t wait to see it!!) and some drone action half-way up Mt Peel. And as I write this, I am sitting in Mum and Dad’s campervan driving back (feeling slightly carsick) from a magical week in Twizel where summer had finally decided to arrive. I managed a few swims, runs and bike rides accompanied with a slight over-indulgence of eating and drinking!
I have a few races on the horizon, one being Breca Swimrun in Wanaka on the 25th March. I’m in a team with Scott, where we will run and swim our way anticlockwise around the perimeter of Lake Wanaka, starting in Albert Town and finishing at Edgewater. It consists of 18 transitions – seven checkpoints, nine swim legs and ten run legs – a total of eight kilometres of swimming and 42.2 kilometres of running. All while in a wetsuit and with sneakers! I daresay a lot of Gurney Goo will be used! I have never done anything like this before, and it’s the first time a race of this type has been held in New Zealand. Check out the course map here.
In other news, Volume Eight of Say Yes to Adventure magazine has hit the ground running and is now on sale in stores. If you haven’t seen it yet make sure you grab yourself a copy here or head into one of our stockists. It’s filled with some pretty awesome stories and contributions, a little hit of inspiration to help with your next adventure.
And on a final note, I have now been doing press ups for more than 70 days. This is the longest I have ever stuck to something before, more surprised that I have remembered to do them every day too! I can’t believe we are 70 days into 2017, yikes. I have cranked the number up to 30 and am feeling stronger. I think I’ll change the style slightly to make it harder going forward. My original plan was to up it by ten each month, but think this might be a bit ambitious! Will see how we go. Join me on Instagram @pressup365 to follow my progress, or better still, share your own #pressup365.
Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else. – Richard Branson