Cameron Brown, You Are An Ironman

Photo: Allan Lee

Today in Taupo Cameron Brown won NZ Ironman for the 10th time.

He finished this year with a 2hr 52m marathon – pretty slow by his standards if you can believe that.

He has raced in Taupo 13 times, winning 10 times and finishing second on the other three occasions. That’s an amazing record. This is the first time that anybody has won the same race 10 times, anywhere in the world. When he won last year it was the first time that anybody had won nine times.

He would probably have won 10 in a row but for a shortened course due to weather conditions in 2006.

It’s hard to think of another individual kiwi sportsperson who has totally dominated their event over the last decade like he has.

I wonder what are the odds of a swan song win at the World Championships in Kona later in the year – a la Hamish Carter at the end of his career? Here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, congratulations to everybody who completed the event today, in what sounds like pretty atrocious conditions, including some who will still be out on the course as I type this.

You are all Iron-people!

Did I say 6 hours?

Did I say I was hoping to finish in under 6 hours?

I meant under 7 hours, of course!

My time for 180km was 6:45.20.

That doesn’t sounds too good, but there was a brutal wind on the day – the entire up-hill leg from Cromwell up to Lake Hawea (about 65 kms) was into a gusty head wind – so in those conditions I’m actually very happy with that time.

During my training, and also on race day, I used a Garmin Forerunner 405 to track some data about how I was going.

These graphs come from the Garmin Connect website, where you can upload data from the watch and map your rides or runs, plus produce graphs of the other data.



You can see how my speed was slowed when I turned into the wind.



There were some nasty climbs in the last 50kms – just when my legs were more-or-less toast – which seemed much bigger than they look on this graph!

Heart Rate:


Maybe I went a bit hard in the first couple of hours?

Cadence (number of pedals per minute):


You can see here how I coasted a bit more in the last hour, but overall I managed to keep the pedals turning pretty consistently through the whole ride.


One nice feature they have added recently is a player, which gives you an interactive replay of a ride or a run (click the image below to view):


Even if you’re not interested in the content check out the site design.  I think it’s one of the best new sites I’ve seen in a while: simple navigation, very little verbiage and a crisp, clean design which gets right out of the way and lets the content make all the noise.

Our team (Mah na mah na) finished in 63rd place out of 116 teams in 11:43.47.

Challenge Wanaka is a fantastic event, which I recommend to anybody (registration for 2010 is open now).

It’s nice to have ticked it off!

Start != Finish

“Why run a marathon when you can swim one?”

— Anna Marshall (aka Nemo), legend.

How do you set your goals?

Here is a lesson I learnt the hard way in Tauranga this time last year

I completed my second half Ironman (2km swim, 90km cycle, 21km run).

As the photo shows, my time was 6:04.34.


Note: compare and contrast. :-)

That was 20 minutes better than my previous best time over that distance.

I should have been stoked.  But, after I finished, I sat on the grass inside the recovery tent feeling both completely knackered and pretty bummed.

I was aiming to break 6 hours, and had come close but missed.  The second half of the run had been especially tough mentally, as I realised that I wasn’t on pace to go under the time I wanted.

I had done the training, and on the day I went okay.  My swim was maybe a couple of minutes slower than I had expected, but my ride was as quick as I had ever gone.  I got off the bike feeling in good shape.  Unlike my first half Ironman the previous year, when the only thing that got me to the finish line at all was my stubbornness, I was running all the way to the end.  But, I just didn’t have the endurance or speed I needed.

It was a problem of expectations, and specifically how I had articulated my goal.

As I learnt in that tent, it’s pretty difficult to re-state these things after the fact.  So, best you get it right up-front.

A better way?

In this article on overcoming procrastination, Steve Pavlina suggests replacing “finish it” with “start it”.

So, rather than:

finish in under 6 hours

My goal should have been:

get to the start line in good shape and then go as fast as possible

For a start, it’s not a binary thing.  When the clock ticked over from 5 hours 59 minutes I went directly from “achieved” to “failed”, which was pretty harsh.

More importantly, it lines up well with the reason why I do these crazy events in the first place – it’s not so much about the race itself as having a good excuse to train and keep in shape.

Plus, the feeling you have when you get to the finish at these events can be magical – as long as you’re not distracted by the clock – so once you’ve got to the start line, the finish line is the next obvious place to head, and the sooner the better!

I like how this changes the way I approach things.

But, I haven’t necessarily learnt my lesson.

This weekend I’m taking on a 180km ride – the bike leg in Challenge Wanaka as part of a relay team (our team name is “Mah Na Mah Na” if you want to track our progress on the day).

It’s a long way.  For those of you in Wellington, imagine cycling to Levin and back!  But, I’ve done the hard work.  I’m ready.

Now, if I can just go fast enough, maybe I can finish in under 6 hours! :-)

Related posts I’ve written:

Other interesting posts about setting goals:

And, a billboard:

Ironman ... Yeah Right

Bring something special

Good luck to everybody who is heading to Taupo this weekend to cycle some or all of the way around the lake.

I won’t be there this year, but I have been spending quite a bit of time on my bike lately in a desperate effort to be ready for the bike leg in a team relay at Challenge Wanaka in January.

Here’s a simple mantra from Lance Armstrong which might help you keep the pedals turning:

“Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever!”

Possibly something to keep in mind as you approach Hatepe Hill.

And this, from somebody contemplating a seven-hour training ride:

“I’ll bring something special for the first 2:30hrs, but will need to borrow someone else’s special for the last 4:30hrs!”

Indeed.  Hopefully that won’t apply to any of you.

Whatever you do, ride safe and enjoy the day.

Remember it’s all about the story you can tell when you’ve finished.

Related posts:

You can

This video makes me cry every time…

I Can Only Imagine: Dick & Rick Hoyt

Check out how hard he’s running at the finish.

On the other hand, if I ever decide to try my hand at a full Ironman please, one of you, just slap me and remind me of this…

Sian Welch & Wendy Ingraham – The Crawl – 1997

It’s real Ministry of Silly Walks stuff. And, for 4th place. Seriously!

That’s one of the great things about Ironman though – the winners get good applause, but the loudest cheers are always for those that come in later in the evening.

PS I finished my race at Tauranga in 6hr 04min, thanks for asking. It was a long day for sure, but it gets better and better the longer ago it was. :-)

16km of hope, 5km of truth

I’m just a week away from my second half Ironman, this time in Tauranga.

I’ve found the figurative monkey suit at the back of the wardrobe and have been wearing it proudly over the last couple of month (my apologies to all of those people that I’ve struggled to make time for during that time as a consequence – including all of the readers of this blog).

I was sent this great Mark Watson quote. He was the announcer at the finish line in Rotorua when I finished my first half this time last year, about the 21km run that is the third/last leg of the race. It definitely rings true for me:

“The half marathon is 16km of hope followed by 5km of truth.”

Ask me again on the 6th of Jan and I’ll fill you in on my new version of the “truth”.