Coast to Coast Training Days

As the days and weeks have gone by, my once content initial thoughts about training for Coast have shifted in and out from feeling completely incompetent to borderline able. At times I’ve wondered what on earth I’m doing, and thought about deferring to the 2 day just to take a bit of pressure off myself. But my stubbornness to try and complete this race and make the cut-offs has sent me spiraling head-first into the 1 day, leaving it all on the line and out there for whatever result may come.

Training has built up and progressed with multiple run, bike and kayak sessions interspersed with gym work, and going to work, which has perhaps been the hardest part of all.

In early December we headed down to the South Island to do a circular trip from Picton around to the west coast at Greymouth and to train our way through Arthur’s Pass and out the other side to Christchurch on the east coast, all in time for the Rasdex Classic on the Waimakariri river.

Initial weather reports on our arrival were pretty bleak and the rain kept coming. The river level on the Waimak was far too high for us to paddle and, although we had hopes it would lower in time, it was still too high at the end of the week for the guided trip (with Topsport Kayaking) and race. Plan B took place and we ended up with a 35km lower section paddle which allowed us to experience part of a braided river and see what may lie ahead. Although a slightly higher river did make it feel like we were paddling in a vast ocean rather than a river, time in the kayak is a great thing. And having Topsport Kayaking give us some expert advice and guidance, further made the trip worthwhile.

We did, however, manage to get through Deception Valley and up Goat Pass to test out the run course. To say this was a reality check would be an understatement. We were on our feet for a good few hours and with high water levels needed to cross the river with arms linked, the stability of my legs was tested and battered. Guided by our good friend Laura, we meandered our way up the river-bed and rock hopped to Dorreen Creek.

Clambering and climbing up the boulders we reached the hut at Goat Pass and then a short reprieve as we ran across the renowned boardwalk section before climbing again to Dudley Knob and a final few undulations to the last section of rock hopping.

Thoughts on finishing this ranged from: I think I’ll do the 2 day; and, maybe I’ll just defer to next year.

We got a few good solid bike and brick sessions in over that week and made ourselves acquainted with the start, mid and final run/bike sections. I also began to realise that I was supposed to be doing this for fun, and that having the opportunity and ability to train like this didn’t need to be taken so seriously. What a place to train and explore.

On our return the training has continued and increased. Over the past few weeks we’ve headed down the Rangitikei River multiple times to try and replicate those Grade 2 wave trains, bluff corners, sharp eddies and boils of the Waimak Gorge. I’ve gone from being able to paddle my kayak in flat water, to passing my grade 2 cert (thanks to Paul Eames from Awastone Riverside Haven) and with only the occasional swim, mainly due to my eagerness to cut the corners, which is a work in progress.

This weekend sees a big block coming up with an entry on Saturday to the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman, followed on Sunday with the Rangitikei River Race. What did I say so confidently the other month…no more triathlons for me… This will be a BIG weekend my coach says. I wasn’t sure on whether to enter, and my thought process went along the lines of: how much is it, I won’t be able to replicate that environment on a training ride, it’ll just be like a big training session with lots of other people and supporters, when was the last time that I did any swimming…? Entered.

And so the planning continues, bikes getting checked and kit finalised in this last month before the race. Do we even talk about anything other than Coast these days? Training sessions and excitement levels stacking up now. Whatever happens on the Longest Day, this has been such a great journey, more than just ticking boxes and turning Training Peaks green. We’ve explored many new places, developed some new skills, and had the help of so many cool people and new friends made along the way.

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