I started the swim right next to Steve Farrell who I know is a much better swimmer than me, so anytime on his feet is going to drag me along. He dropped me after about 400m as I got tangled up in the melee of the swim pack. The swim was extremely frustrating as it felt like I was never able to get a full efficient stroke going, constantly being kicked, punched, pushed under and climbed over literally for the whole 58mins. I knew that while this was happening I wasn't having to break my own water, so at least I was having a pretty easy swim, its just that I felt SBW had gone 10 rounds with me.
Coming out of the water and running along the path to transition was crowded and I was passing people like crazy.
Getting on the bike I heard the names I wanted to be riding with - Boyd, Howse, Gaskin, Glah and I knew I was in for a good ride. Once on the bike Gaskin and I let the pace go as Glah and Howse were sitting on 45kph on some of the flat sections and I knew this wasn't going to bode well later in the day. Deano and I put some good work in together to the first turn around and caught a few more guys, which kept the pace strong on the way back. 90km in 2:28 was a good start to the day but I was beginning to feel the effects of the strong start. I let Deano and a few others go on the early part of the 2nd lap, until Steve Dean caught me going up private road and he was riding at a good pace, so I tried to keep pace with him - I couldn't but it gave me the boost I needed to get back into a rhythm. Heading along Broadlands the second time I put in some pretty hard work and picked of people one by one. At 135km I had caught back up to Deano and Quentin Fogarty and was happy with this. I took it pretty easy on the final leg back knowing that my run was going to be a toughy. I finished with my best ride time in Taupo (5:10) but not the 5:00 I was wanting to see.
On to the run and the first few km went well, good pace, good rhythm, good legs. As I got to the hillier parts of the course I started to feel my form weaken and I was getting worried. Nick and Jess Lawson were sidleline giving me huge encouragement and I think this kept me in focus. I was moving through the field well, and made sure I looked extra relaxed and happy as I went past the Foot Traffic tent, but by the 2nd lap I was beginning to creep, the hills were becoming a real factor. The Madgwicks were right on my case and giving me the abuse I needed. I ran into 3rd in AG at about 25km passing Jared Newell and I was relieved with this. Lawson reminded me to keep relaxed until 32km then go for it. So 32km came and I went....but then I stopped, it appeared I was already going for it, and any attempt to pick up the pace was quickly thwarted with gripping hammie and calf cramps....not to worry, I'll keep this pace as I have 3rd sewed up. Then bloody Jared passed me again and I was totally broken mentally. I had nothing to fight back no matter how hard I tried, how did he manage to come back at me so well! It was at about this point that I decided its time to retire from Ironman....I'll go out with dignity, take my 4th place and be happy. 12 finishes wasn't a bad innings. I was enjoying watching how my athletes were racing and that they were all killing it out there. One true highlight for me over the whole day was spending most of the run alongside one of my heroes of the sport Ken Glah. I felt like for a while there it was going to repeat of 1990 NZ Ironman (google it). Watching him race year after year at NZ Ironman in Auckland is one of the reasons I took up this crazy sport.
But then I hit the finish chute, and the pain flushed out of me and the buzz of the finish line dragged me right back in the game. And then I saw I had qualified for Kona!! How the hell did that happen when I was having such a horrible race? Well I wasn't going to let this chance go by, so I promptly unretired myself...and I will probably be back next year for IMNZ again knowing me.
Thanks to everyone who was cheering for me out there. Thanks also to Avanti Bikes for the amazing Chrono Evo2, Performance Bike Tuning for the incredible bike servicing, New Balance for the perfect Ironman race shoe, Magellan GPS for keeping me informed and on pace and Blue Seventy wetsuits for keeping me afloat and moving forward in the water.