Saturday, February 23, 2008

countdown: Ironman New Zealand 2008

well, it's on now.

Ironman New Zealand is 8 days away. i'm flying out this evening. i'm planning on 2 weeks, with the 1st week being race-oriented, during which time i'm going with Endurance Sports Travel (reference: the 2nd week will be relaxation time hanging out in Auckland.

i've never use Endurance Sports Travel, or any other sports-oriented travel agency, but i figure it would be good this time, so i could travel with other people sharing the same experience i am...that, and EST is providing a bike mechanic, which by itself is worth its weight in gold, and they've done this race bazillions of times before, so i figure they know what they're doing.

this should be an interesting race. my parents have never seen me in any kind of athletic event, and they have never seen an Ironman or even a triathlon. so they'll have quite an experience. none of us have ever seen New Zealand, but i know that they are just as curious as i am about the country, especially since everyone we've known who's ever traveled there has had nothing but good things to say about the place.

incidentally, this trip is kind of important to me on another level...New Zealand was the last trip my grandmother ever made before she died, and she told me it was one of the best trips she'd ever made. she gave me a Maori jade pendant (which i later lost, and had to replace with another one). i'm bringing my pendant with me to remind me of her and everything she did for me--which was a lot more than any human being could ever be expected to do for another, since i think (rather, i know, in all the ways that a human being can really only know about someone they loved) that i'm doing this for her and her legacy. this is what i'll be carrying:
i'm pretty much in race mode, getting myself mentally prepped. i've been reviewing the IMNZ website (reference: on a regular basis. and i've shaved off my hair (all of it--including body don't have to do this, but everyone i know tells me that 1) it helps you mentally focus, and 2) it helps prevent chafing in all the wrong places at all the wrong times on race day)--you can checkout my haircut in the photo at the start of this post.

i've also been reading up on New Zealand. one of the big things i enjoy about travel is learning the history, geography, and culture of each place i visit. New Zealand just seems like an exciting place, and one not often visited by most Americans.

i've also been learning about Maori society. for those of you who don't know, the Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand, and are part of the Polynesian culture that includes Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, and so many other Pacific Ocean populations. the Maoris are famous on a global level for their haka, which is the traditional warrior's greeting (and hence can either be a sign of welcome or sign of aggression). you can see the version used by the New Zealand All Blacks (the country's national rugby team, which seems to be the country's unofficial religion--which verges on what can only be described as fanaticism) in their Addidas commercial:

you can see what this looks like on the field:

awesome stuff. they start off Ironman New Zealand with this. i'd like to learn it. i wish i knew the Hawaiian one (each Polynesian society has their own version of this...the Hawaiian one is called the hua'a), since i'd like to be able to offer a return greeting when they do it.

i'm going to send out an announcement about the race to family and friends once i get to New Zealand. the race is being webcast live, so i'll let everybody know they can watch me suffer.

i'm excited. and anxious. and a little worried.

part of this is to be expected with the sense of adventure--i've never done an international Ironman, and so have never traveled with this much equipment overseas. it's been a little bit of a challenge, since Air New Zealand has new weight restrictions, with no single item to be allowed no more than 70 lbs (you used to be able to pay a penalty fee if you went over, but now they won't allow this, and you either unpack to luggage to get under, or you leave it at the airport). you can see what i've got with me in the following series of photos:
bike box:
but my feelings are also due to some genuine issues.

things were a little more frenetic this past few weeks than i would have liked. i had last-minute dissertation revisions, grading for class, job interviews, postdoc and job applications.

the training taper wasn't quite what i had originally wanted, either. i got sick at the start of the taper (about 2 weeks ago), and whatever bug it was wiped me out for 4 days of no activity. i'm still not sure i feel quite right. i strained my lower back 10 days ago just standing up getting out of bed (talk about a freak incident), and while i managed to get emergency treatment with massage and acupuncture, things still feel a little ginger. i'm also getting some bizarre recurrences of IT band and piriformis problems, which are affecting my knees in so many wrong ways.

needless to say, i haven't gotten all the workouts in i would have liked, or as much rest as i had needed. i'm hoping that when i get to New Zealand i can take this next week and chill out for a little bit before race day.

you're supposed to trust the taper. but i'm starting to get concerned, seeing that the race is March 1 and it's February 23--and i lose a day crossing the international date line. i'm hoping everything magically comes together in time for race day. otherwise this is going to be a very painful experience.

but other than that, i'm looking forward to New Zealand.


Trihardist said...


The losing a day thing is pretty freaky.

ace said...

Wow, those videos are nothing but intense. My take is watch one the morning before your race and you'll be good to go for sure. I want to learn that now too. Might be time for an Ironman in New Zealand for me as well. Good luck and race well.