Things are starting to heat up down here …
Saturday: I ran the mountain section of the race under blue skies
Sunday: I paddled the river section on a scorching hot day and then rode the last bike in toward Christchurch.
10.5 training hours and the body feels good. Here come a few pics …
Saturday morning I got up early and drove to the run start. I was reminded of the brutal race in 2010 when the rain cancelled the run and I was forced to run up this 16% grade on asphalt. Not a happy memory.
I planed to meet a friend of a friend at the run start but he was late. In the mean time Sohpie Hart (last year’s winner) and Emily Miazga (a previous winner) jumped out of their car and I watched them run up the trail. Then it hit me: holy crap (!), they would be perfect to shadow, i.e., run behind to get “tips” on short cuts up the trail. So I charged across the river and got a free “guide” service up to the pass.
When I asked Sophie Hart who her main competition was this year (since Emily was not racing), she didn’t hesitate: “myself” she said. That’s a smart racer.
Posing for a pic somewhere near the top of Goat Pass
Afterwards, it was time to put my feet up and enjoy the sunshine. I am reading “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner” by Dean Karnazes. Great book.
Sunday morning was another 5 am wake up to drop my kayak at the start of the paddle along with food, water, and gear for 5 hours (notice anything missing in this pic below? Yeah, my paddle. Luckily I realized it within minutes of driving away and came back … BTW, IKEA bags are the best paddle bags ever…)
I drove to the take-out and was lucky to find a group driving back to the start. Since they were beginners I stood around to wait for some more experienced paddlers to show up.
Speaking of experienced … Richard Ussher and his wife Elina showed up, along with a few other top paddlers. Nobody likes to take on an “unknown” foreigner down the river — especially not elite racers that are focused on training, not rescuing some idiot. But I thought, what the hell, I’ll ask. They reluctantly said it was OK if I followed them down.
Then as I proceeded to get into my boat to push off, I lost my balance and fell in. Nice first impression, Scott. They paddled away without waiting and I had to work like hell to catch up. Here they are paddling off as I fell in (shamefully captured by the GoPro camera). I’m sure they were wondering why the hell they allowed me to tag along.
Here come some action shots from the day…
Luckily the day turned out well. I kept up with them and even impressed a little when I followed them on some challenging lines through the rapids. Paradoxically it’s harder for me to get “in” the boat in 2 inches of water than it is to actually paddle rapids. Their superior strength showed at the end when I “hit the wall” and couldn’t hold the tempo over the last 30 minutes.
Here I am stopping to get some chow… I forgot how much I love these One Square Meal bars made in Christchurch — best energy bar ever !
I finished off the day with a hard bike against the headwind, which is exactly how it’s gonna be in the race. It was good to get to know the road and practice being down low in my aerobars…
Tmw is a rest day. Then I hope to do one last hard push on Tuesday before tapering down for 9 days.
Ha det bra !