Day 8: Events day

Today was the final day of Epic — what’s referred to as “events day.” The morning started off with all of us going to the Nayland pool for three events: the 400 IM, the 200 kick and the 50 free. There wasn’t a “swimming challenged” category, so I opted out and instead did timing and recording, though now I kind of wish I’d jumped in.

It’s fun to watch the big guns, though — Heath Thurston is a swimming machine, opening with a 1:10 in the fly during the IM (in a 50m pool), but maybe most impressive of all was his performance in the 200 kick. He went through the 100 in 1:30; I’m not sure I could do that swimming all out. I need to get my butt to the pool more often, obviously.

The midday event was an Olympic distance triathlon that had a 13-mile warmup ride to the beach at Rabbit Island. Once there, we had to swim a very long “1500m” course that involved three times around a set of buoys that were allegedly 250m apart. All I know is that swim times were very long, and the big swells continued the feeling of “Kiwi rollers” that we’ve been having the whole time on the bike. I was swimming with Dave, the lead guy of the support crew, but he peeled off (unbeknownst to me) after 2 laps, so I was on my own in DFL (dead f***ing last) place. My time to the beach was 38:xx, so there was no way this was only 1500m — my normal swim would be 25-26 minutes.

I took my time in transition; the day was hot, the sun was high, and I needed to protect my lilywhite skin from the harsh Kiwi sun, so rather than wear a tri top, I donned a normal bike jersey. Once out, it was 6k out to the main road, then 10k in one direction, which led us into a series of the famous Kiwi rollers. After maybe 3 miles, I started seeing the frontrunners (John Newsom follwed by Chris McDonald) coming the other way, which meant I was about 6 miles out of the lead.

After the turnaround, to my chagrin I found we were heading into a “sea breeze” (i.e., headwind) going back towards Nelson. This was going to be harder than I wanted, and by 10 miles to go, both my bottles were empty and my left Achilles was complaining a little. I backed off the pace then and just cruised in in about 1:20. A couple of guys ahead of me were catchable given my relatively superior running, but given my tight Achilles, I opted to bag the run. No use getting another calf strain that would cost me another month of running.

All in all, a fun way to end the camp. Actually, the more fun way was right after the race, when we headed over to “The Honest Lawyer” pub, which has a beautiful waterside setting. The beer was flowing, the sun was out, and life was great.

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