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Posted: March 11, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Triathlon: Charlotte Paul 3rd IM New Zealand

Charlotte Paul's Race Report - Ironman New Zealand

I’m pretty happy and yet equally frustrated with my first Ironman of the new season. I’m disappointed that I didn’t mix it up with the Kiwis at the front of the race. I expected to be a realistic contender, but on the day I didn’t manage to put it together. I want to do it again! Can we do a replay?

On a positive note, I’ve never been this fit at this time of year before, so it bodes well for the season ahead.

I am super stoked with my swim. I went off quick and instead of settling into my rhythm, I just kept up the pace. I got onto what seemed like a good set of feet, and kept looking ahead to check that we were attached to other swimmers. When a gap opened up, I bridged it and moved to the next set of feet. It felt comfortably- uncomfortable!

I did a 54.42 and exited with much better swimmers than myself. E.g. Lisbeth Kristensen who passes me in the pool in training with her legs tied together!

My plan for the race was to really have the best swim that I possibly could- so that my gap going onto the bike would be minimal.

I was 7 mins behind Gina Ferguson starting the ride in WA, and that was the gap between us at the finish. So if I wanted to challenge Gina I needed to swim hard and set myself up in the best position. I suspected Gina would be the one I would need to beat…

So when I exited the water in such a quick time I was really happy. We had a 400m run to T1 and I had a grin on my face the whole way! I was only 2.30 mins off Gina and Jo Lawn (the six time IM NZ Champion).

The plan from here was to bike hard, and minimize the deficit going into the marathon, so that I would be in striking distance to run them down.

Now I should have put the swim behind me and focused on the bike, but instead I reveled in it☺ I think I got complacent. I was so confident that it was going to be my day; I think I forgot that I still had some work to do! I actually recognized pretty early on that I wasn’t working hard enough, but I just couldn’t find the next gear. I couldn’t find my rhythm, and just didn’t get going. I set myself up perfectly and then let it go. It’s hard to explain what happened, as I’m still trying to fathom it out in my own mind.

I was thinking “I’ve got an A grade, now all I have to do is keep doing A grade work and I get to keep my A!” But I couldn’t, so my grade dropped, and dropped…

I rode a 5:21, and got off the bike in about 7th place, 16 minutes behind Lisbeth, who was leading, and 12 from Gina who was in 3rd. I knew that was too much time for the win. I changed my target to getting on the podium. I also planned to give the run course record a crack! It’s a 3:02 set by Lisa Bentley back in 1999. My goal for a long time has been to run a sub 3. I felt good getting off the bike, and wanted to salvage something positive from the race.

So I started the run focused on the pace that would get me a 3-hour split, 4.15 per km. The last few IMs I’ve done I’ve set off fast, but I wanted to even split this one, so the pace felt relatively easy. I was ticking off the ks, 4.13, 4.13 and 4.11 - right on target. The splits to the girls in front remained static, but I remained patient. I reminded myself how easy it is to run the first 21kms, but it’s the last 21 that really count.

So I kept tapping along, getting plenty of encouragement and positive feedback from the crowd. Kristian, who had disowned me half way through the bike, was happy again. He kept reminding me of my reward- he would cook dinner every night for a month if I ran sub 3. Heaven!!

So in the last 21ks I started making significant ground. I caught Bella Bayliss at about 25ks and lastly Lisbeth at about 38ks. I had reached the podium. My pace had slowed, but not as much as theirs. Gina and Jo were a long way up the road.

The crowd support was fantastic. The entire run course was chockers with spectators. At no time are you alone. Running towards the finish was great. I think they were surprised to see that it was me! My run was a 3:07, the fastest of the day, but off the pace for the record. My overall time was 9:30.

Congratulations to Gina and to Cam Brown, who won his 8th IM New Zealand- Unbelievable consistency! Gina and I will meet again this year in Roth, Hawaii and Western Australia- I won't give up!

I think my biggest take home message is that I can swim! I truly believe my past swim issues have been mostly lack of confidence. Well my confidence is now back! I need to continue to work on my riding, and if my run is to be my true weapon I need to run 3 hours. I think I could risk a little more.

These are all valuable lessons for the season ahead. I’m now a few days post race and I don’t feel like I just raced an Ironman, despite having very little sleep since! I’m already looking at the race calendar and plotting my next attack! My next IM is meant to be not until July- Roth, but I’m thinking that’s an awfully long time away…

Thank you all for your support, especially my sponsors.

An old coach once said to me "you know you're doing well, when you have to pee in a bottle", well, on Saturday I didn't quite reach my goals, but I had to pee in a bottle:)


Kestrel * Scody * ironguides * TP Therapy * Blue Seventy * Tri Travel * 3T * BioCeuticals * Zipp * High5 * Oakley * Nike * Timex * Compex * ART at Performance Health Newport * Alkalife

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