Positively challenged

15 09 2010

In the last week there has been a lot of discussion as to the changes of next years Challenge Wanaka triathlon; in particular the bike course. I’ve been quite surprised at how many people feel that this will make it a harder ride and that this is a negative to their own ambitions for the race. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about the ‘old’ and ‘new’ are mapped below…

Challenge Wanaka 2010 part Bike Leg

Now before I start the argument that the changes I think will produce faster times (ie easier for most), lets look at the concept of easy and hard as relative perception and the mental game you need to develop if your to have a good race day performance. By nature no race is ‘easy’. Most people enter to find out what they are capable of. For some that’s to complete the distance, while others have time or placing goals. Either way you’ll be generally trying to achieve a new barrier and this will involve over coming difficulty; hopefully leading to great satisfaction, personal reward and the desire to do it again…

Once you’ve understood that it wont be easy but could be amazing the entry gets posted and there is no turning back. You’ve commited yourself to a few months of training, joined a local group and or got yourself a coach. But then the course changes!! Well frankly even if it was tomorrow (I’ve been informed of course changes the night before, the morning of and even during a race) the best thing you can do is remain positive. There will always be naysayers on the start line worried about the cold rain in the middle of Summer, the blowing Southerly that should be Nor/West experienced everyday of training etc; let them,  it’ll be their loss. Instead when you open the curtains, welcome the unforcasted; “Ah ha Rain! I can take you on I’m stronger than that”. And quite simply you will be. You also will be immediately streaks ahead of all of your stressed competitors.

The same goes for a change in course, only this is easier to approach the positive because it’s simply a matter of adjusting tactics and/or training. Now is where I point out affirmative for the opening debate. The effort required to cycle the half (90km) and full (180km) distance of Challenge Wanaka is ideally a measured steady effort. Ultimately a course with little rhythm change would suit the fastest times. Also the regular wind blowing from the North West can play huge bearing on your ride, course direction can also effect this too.

Challenge Wanaka 2011 circling the Hawea loop in the 'Normal' direction

Comparing the two courses above the most obvious change is the direction once leaving Wanaka, effectively now clockwise, here are the benefits.

1. The Wind. The road to Hawea on the HWY 6 has better shelter from the wind by being closer to hill slope to the west. The only sections were the wind really starts to be felt is going past the golf course in Hawea but by then your almost there. Then turn right and catch the tail wind ALL the way to Cromwell. Turning for home again the twist and turn in the road and occasional protection from the close by hills face offers more respite from the wind than the exposed Eastern edge of the lake.

2. The Climbs. Again these obstacles are also easier to tackle as they are steadier ‘rhythm’ gradients. Maugawera upwards is a consistent angle, where as the other side is 2 short and sharps steps. The climb up above Hawea Flat is much steadier and easier than the brute coming from the Red Bridge – now a decent. Many people fear the climb up the Luggate cutting towards the airport, but it’s just a matter of approach. The bottom is the steepest bit and this is where people get it wrong they try to attack it from the bottom. The secret is to ease into it with a low gear and spin at first then as you get to the right hand bend the road also eases and you’ll find you have the legs to pick up the pace up and over the top. You might feel slow at first trying this but I promise you that overall the energy you’ll first save will make for a faster accent of this hill. It’ll also leave you will some reserve to hold your speed into the wind passed the airport. Once there it’s then all downhill into Wanaka.

I think this is going to produce the fastest times we’ve seen yet, especially if it is a little windier. So no panic, in fact for me I’d say all the Challenge Wanaka competitors have just been given a gift (come to think of it all of the roughest ‘dead’ road, will also most likely be downwind; it just keeps getting better!).

The main moral of this rant is that no matter what stay positive and on top of doubt. Champion Boxers don’t walk into a punch, they turn with it, if they’re going to take an unavoidable knock they allow it to pass through them so it hurts a hell of a lot less. Really this can be said for all of life too. When it comes down to situations out of our control, it’s often not what we do but how we do it that makes the difference. If you’re still struggling, break it down to just 2 choices; happy or sad. Not so difficult is it? Happy training – that helps too…




One response

15 09 2010

I rode the new course yesterday. After doing the half last year I would give it a big thumbs up. I think it is easier for me. Think positive and enjoy the change.

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