Monday, March 26, 2012

Black Dirt double double

So I'm not the only one... it's only taken 4yrs or so, but it seems I may have finally suckered Nic into the benefits and training possibilities offered by the weekend double header. As hard as it may be on the body, while work commitments limit the available training time; making best use of available event opportunities is becoming increasingly attractive.

And so it was we found ourselves cramming the car full of bikes and gear for a Friday evening dash to Auckland for leg one of a pretty exciting double header weekend of racing. The main attraction was The Dual. A once a year opportunity to ride and race on the beautiful islands of Motatapu and Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf. Its a pretty unique event and one of the jewels in the a very busy event menu put on throughout the year by Total Sport

With sold out fields in both the 30 and 50km MTB events, and hundreds of runners and walkers pushung participant numbers close to 1700 it is pretty hard to argue with the formula. A return ferry trip across the gulf, excellent logistics, great marshalls, spectacular scenery, and a challenging race course. Challenging races in interesting places, we couldn't ask for much more.

Having not done any races longer than 1hr30 in months, the Dual really challenged us. With around 1400m of climbing spread across 50km of gravel, 4wd, and steep farm tracks on energy sapping grass it was a real test of power and fitness. In the mens event Graeme Norman and Tom Reynolds had too much of both for me. I dropped on the first real climb, but pleasingly was able to TT my way back to the front and then push the pace in the middle sections. But by approx 35km (and the steep grass pinches) my legs had enough. Graeme inched away from Tom, and I drifted off the back. I nursed it home for 3rd, a few minutes back from Graeme.

The womens race proved to be a real battle between Nic and Louise Mark. A very strong multisporter and adventure racer, Louise stretched it early before Nic determindly clawed back to a lead on the tough steep grasslands (quite the opposite of me!). It was a pretty tough battle, and Louise came back strongly. No doubt added by her 29er wheels in the final few very rough km's. A close 2nd place for Nic, but an encouraging result.

Whilst Tom and Nic enjoyed a proper post race chill out (above), the complementary finish line Speights Cider must have gone to my head very quickly, as I found myself lacing on the running shoes and lining up for the 10km trail run event starting just 40min after I'd finished the MTB race. I was just going out at a steady tempo with no intentions of "racing". Unfortunately the early leaders dropped off and at 4km I found myself in the lead. I was running very gingerly on what was a gruelling course (~400m vertical and mostly rough farmland). It proved a bit too much for my fatigued muscles and I "pinged" a calf with 2km to go. I hobbled back to the finish, still recording a win, but a bit angry with myself.

Unfortunately the second part of the planned weekend double (triple?) header required an early departure from the island so we could gap it back to Katikati. Otherwise we would have been able to enjoy another of the great bonuses put on by totalsport... a concert on the island by Don McGlashan. Next year...

A nice relaxing evening in Katikati with Nic's parents saw us relatively refreshed (well as much as was possible after the previous days endevours?!) for another super early start as we headed into Mt Manganui Sprint Triathlon. For me it was mixed emotions. I couldn't run, so lined up to Swim/Bike at least. Difficult to get motivated knowing I was going to dnf... but I tried to stay positive. Swim was decent, and then I tried to push the bike. Despite being non-drafting the attitude of many seemed to be that since there was no draft busters they'd just do it anyway as "everyone else would". So my target soon became to try and hold the gap to the front... since there were four of them together. I only lost a few seconds before rolling into transition and dnf'ing. So reasonable training salvaged.

Nic pleasingly had a solid race. Right behind me in the swim, she battled through the bike leg without the drafting help most of her competitors were enjoying. SHe must have been going ok as she had many she passed drafting her.... A strong run (one of the fastest womens of the day) brought her home in around 7th overall. A good honest days training and capped off a hard weekends work.

Less than 3 weeks to XTERRA so time to rest and recuperate so we can bank some quality training in the next 14 days or so.

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