This weekend I have had the pleasure and the most amazing experience to compete in Iron Man New Zealand.
After almost two years of planning, training and lead up events to get my body to a place where knew I could finish, I was ready for the start line.
3.8k swim, 180k bike ride and a full 42.2k marathon.
For me, and many others arriving in Taupo as “first timers” getting to the start line presented many challenges and hurdles. Come race day they had all been overcome with planning and preparation. The build up in Taupo was amazing. Swimming in the lake with other competitors on the most beautiful still mornings and cruising around town on my bike, taking the atmosphere of Iron town Taupo in. It’s all part of the experience. Spotting the rock stars of the Triathlon world (maybe they were spotting us age groupers as well!) we knew and could feel it was Race time.
Preparation time is always tough. Going over lists, gear, clothing, food, then going over it again until it’s dropped off at transition and you can’t touch any more. Can be a stressful time. We don’t all cope that well, something to work on.
Race day and the forecasted westerly has been at it all night, just much stronger than planned or desired. The lake was angry, and reminded the competitors that to get through the swim, and the day, they would need their A game on.
The lake side dawn welcome by Ngati Tuwharetoa who welcomed us to the lake was very special, and I felt privileged to be part of it, along with just under 1200 others gathers at the start line.
The race started with a cannon blast that could be heard across the lake, and 1180 swimmers in a mass start were off. Wind, chop, swells and arms and legs made this the toughest swim I have completed, and for many others, it was a swim they didn’t complete. Mother Nature had come to play at Taupo IMNZ!
Finished my swim in 1hr:40, about 20 mins down on my expected time, then through transition onto the bike. The Taupo volunteers are so amazing, helping with gear, as you try and get out onto the bike. The bike is 2 laps an out and back to Reporoa, Tail wind out, head wind back. With the bike being my strongest leg, I had to take advantage of that, but also ensure I didn’t use up all my energy, so an even and sustainable pace was called for. I had a great bike leg, loved every bit of it. Moving 370 places up the leader board I came back into the run after 6hr:15 on the bike feeling great.
Having never run more than 30k before, a marathon was going to require a huge effort. The run was made up of 3 x 14km laps, out and back along the lake front and through a residential area before returning the same way to town. The streets are lined-with volunteers all trying to help with food and drink and spectators, all cheering and calling your name. The feeling of being cheered on was incredible and certainly kept me going when I hit the inevitable bad patch. Lap one all good, but starting to feel it. Sore feet after countless training hours, then stomach bloating as I drank too much water in the heat. Everyone told me that some point, the bad part will come, and come it did. The middle lap was hard, from about km 18 to 26. Lots of walking, thinking about my support, my family and friends and all the people who can’t do what I was doing. Seeing Leah out on course was great, just when I needed a pick up. So I pushed on and came through the other side to complete a great last lap.
Coming back into Taupo towards the finish, with huge crowds cheering us on, and hearing the crowd as Iron Mike Reilly called yet another finisher down the red carpet, I knew it was my turn. After nearly two years of training I was going to realise my dream. To finish an Ironman. Going down the shute was amazing. I had visualised it many times when training hard to keep me going, and it didn’t disappoint. Leah was there, as she had been all through this journey, but I couldn’t see her, it was just crazy. Then I heard Iron Mike Reilly call me in. “Grant Boyd, You are an Ironman” The red carpet I had dreamed of lived up to everything I had expected. A 5hr 17min marathon, for total time of 13hr 28min. All goals well and truly achieved.
Recovery tent, weigh in, some ice cream and finally outside.
So how do I say thank you! Thanks to everyone who helped and supported me.
Firstly by doing my best, and leaving it all out there on the streets and roads, and Lake Taupo. I certainly did that. Thanks to my coach Richard Greer and Team CP. Your help and experience has been invaluable. Encouraging and helping me to be the best I can be. My Tuesday night swimming buddies who have helped me swim in the wind and swells, both in CHCH and Picton harbour. That really helped. All my many Coast 2 Coast and Triathlon friends who have encouraged and helped me along the way.
To Leigh and Paul Howells, Marie Hill and Greg Jones. Thanks for sharing the best IM holiday home, and for all your support, pre, during and post race. That was a big help to Leah and I.
My Family. What can I say. We have all made sacrifices to help achieve this goal. My beautiful and loving wife, Leah most of all. Time spent training, time away, resources used to fund this journey. Yes it’s all worth it, but it does take its toll, and for that I am eternally great-full. I am privileged to be able to complete my goals, very privileged indeed.
I have worked hard, but so has a Leah, supporting me through this. Thank you Leah, Best support person ever.❤ So what now. Time for reflection. Yes. Can I, should I, will I do another one. YES. This is too much like fun to give up yet, Roll on IMNZ 2018 and all that will bring.