Epic Camp NZ10 – Day 1

Here’s Jo and I at Cape Reinga for the start of our End to End challenge across New Zealand. Everyone was happy and raring to start our 15 day challenge.

When the schedule for the camp was first circulated and I heard rumours about the first day I knew it was going to be tough. Far from protecting us from ourselves this day had the potential to put people in a hole right from the out.

First up was a 22k run with a 10k race at the end. Clearly a chance to tack on to 25k to get the bonus. We’d driven out along the road (largely unsealed) we were to run back along. This was a nice touch as it meant we are doing the full length having started at the Lighthouse. This road was far from flat. First up was 13k at whatever pace you liked. I made sure I was one of the first to leave and went real steady with the whole camp coming by me and I just tagged along with the last group. I was saving myself for the 10k ! I knew I wouldn’t be able to help myself from racing it and thought it would be a good test of my running.

At the start of the run, as I was defending yellow and I thought it would be slightly amusing, I set off like a bullet and was leading for maybe 100m and then hung with Gordo, Clas, John and Rip for a while. They soon left me and I settled in and ran for a good period with the next group to catch me – Petro and Richard. After about 5k they left me and I soldiered on alone soon catching Rip. I finished 7th in 46:04. I would have  been pleased with that on a flat course but on this course I was well chuffed. Slightly concerned how much I would pay for it though as that is by far the fastest running I’ve done in 10 months. I tacked on the 3k to get my bonus !

Lunch and then off on the bike. Must admit it feels like Jo and I are the poor relations here. Every bike seems to have a SRM or powertap on it and there are god knows how many GPS’s there are. Here’s me doing it on feel – no HRM, no powermeter just a sense of what my body can handle based on what it’s telling me.  We had about 60k or so before finishing with a 30k TT.

I was looking forward to this. There was some initial testosterone fueled speed and I stayed with the front group but pleasingly didn’t do a single turn on the front. It was ok effort levels for me but no way would I do that pace on the front. We caught Charlesy who had set off early and he decided to “help us” by going to the front and picking up the pace. This was too much for me (and Scott) and we dropped off and came in with Nick at a more friendly effort level. I’d had twinges of cramp throughout this ride so as we waited for the TT I had gels and water to try and get it under control.

Now for the TT. Over the years I’’ve learnt to LOVE these balls out efforts and I had every intention of going for it. I had Petro, Gordo, Clas, John behind me and had no plans on letting them catch me. I hit the start hard and was over 40km/h almost the whole time. I was only using my top two gears for most of it which felt great though there were sections where I ran out of gears. I need an ’11’. The cramp though was bad it kept coming on in both calves and I had to ease slightly for a pedal stroke and it would ease off. It was touch and go. As I passed Rob Quantrell I couldn’t help myself and yelled “yee-ha”. He told me afterwards it made him jump. I was chuffed to bits when I caught Daniel knowing he’d headed off at least 3 minutes ahead but a few Ks after that both calves cramped completely and I had to stand up and stretch them and just freewheel. This continued till I was only just moving forward and Daniel went by and asked if I was OK. I had to start pedalling again but at least I’d managed to get a gel in and loads of water. There was only 2k to go and I managed to get through without further problem. Gutted that I’d had to ease up for so long but can’t believe it cost me more than 30 seconds.

Back at the hotel I went and got a load of salt sachets and started downing water with them in knowing that I’d never complete the swim without cramping if I didn’t get some salt in. Got back outside to find I’d won the TT in 40:30 with 2nd over a minute behind and 3rd over 2 minutes. Chuffed.

Now I stated downing a salty water like there’s no tomorrow. Off to the pool pretty promptly and I got in a cruised the majority of my required distance in the warm up. 1500m TT. Draft legal with a mass start across 4 lanes. All I wanted to do was win this and wasn’t bothered about times as I reckoned my run performance would mean I had no chance of finishing highly in the overall competition (a Tri based on the 3 TTs). It seems my blog / twitter posts recently had made everyone determine I was the fastest swimmer so John and Petro wanted to draft me. I was happy enough as I would get a clear swim.

It was carnage – at the start Gordo and Scott immediately switched to draft me. It was a bun fight behind with some collisions. Eventually it settled by my calves felt right on edge and I was cursing John for tapping my toes and knocking my calf every turn (I find out later it was Gordo on my feet). All campers at some point started to cramp. Gordo and Petro on my feet did after about 1.1k which gave me the gap. Luckily as Gordo had planned to switch lanes with 2 to go and sprint by.

A length to go and I cramp big time ! Manage to ease it and swim the length with a club foot for the win on the swim TT. 21:14. Not the fastest but it was a pretty easy effort other than the cramp.

It’s caused a lot of laughs over dinner the level of cramping. Think there could be some suffering tomorrow. So much for saving us from ourselves. A simple bike tack on would have been easier. There’s this film crew following us to make a documentary. I reckon they’ve seen enough to day to portray how bonker we are. Run 13km then race flat out 10k. Ride 60k then race 30k flat out. Swim 1.5k the drown trying to race 1.5k flat out.

Just got the points and remarkably I ended up second in the Triathlon behind Gordo and only a matter of seconds ahead of 3rd. Thank god I got going again on the bike TT.  Gonna test out my foot tomorrow by doing a run before breakfast.

What a great day.

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