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by Denis Oakley in

Sitting on the toilet (TMD I know!) worrying about tomorrow as I write this. I arrived in KK on Friday just before midnight to find the hire car places closed. OK. So I rang the first HP I found and 1/2 an later a nice young lady in a yellow T-shirt called pinky or twinky (I'm serious!) arrived with car.

I left her and the airport behind and headed off to find the road to Ranau. Not signposted and without a map at 0100 it was a little intimidating. So I stopped at every petrol station (8) and headed onwards.

The road then went up and kept on going uphill at a sufficient gradient that my hired Waja would only do 50km/h without protesting. Heading in the right direction then. 2 hours later I was still heading uphill but had passed the Park entrance so I was pretty sure I was close.
Finally checked in shortly after 3 and fell deep asleep :). Today I wandered down to register and spent an hour or so chatting with Steven and Shazly. Juliana was apparently a DNS and Kalam Pie was still out there.....Guess he got back as they didn't mention any losses at the briefing at 1800.

That was when I started to get nervous. The race is approximately a half marathon. 8.72km out and a bit more on the way back.It climbs 2000m+ through conifer forest, alpine scrub, dead plants and then bare rock. The cut off time for the men's open is 2 1/2 hours. Tough. All this was pretty reasonable though I have my doubts about the 2 1/2 rule and expect to be DNF'd.
The killer was in the race briefing when Mr Singh, the race director, explained that because the race was tough if you needed help to get to the next checkpoint it would be provided - but you would not be disqualified for receiving aid. GULP.
Have a look at Simon's great tri-twins blog for the relevant rules about assistance in an Ironman. This is either a lot easier . . . . or in a different ball game. So I'm a bit nervous.

The other thing that is worrying me is that I walked back to the car briskly uphill this evening. Fine, not hard, but I was a bit short of breath. Like having a 40 a day habit and not exercising. Whilst my training is a bit dismal, I am still off the sticks. The problem is the altitude. I think that we are about 12-13k feet here and the altitude is starting to have an effect. Watching the video today I was worried when I saw the condition that the leaders were in when they reached summit. Shit is perhaps the kindest word for it. Look at Chrissie at Kona and comfortable or trying are better descriptive words than SHIT. For some of us towards the tail end of the pack in an Ironman SHIT is often quite accurate. But for the leaders.....

So I am going to get hammered tomorrow on the altitude, on the climbing and the distance. I would really truly like to get to the 2.5 hour cuttoff at the peak but I don't think that I'll be able to keep my HR low enough :(

Still I'm really looking forward to it. I've run down worse mountains - the trail did not look so bad - Ras Dashen in Ethiopia and plenty in the Pyrynees so I know I have the mountain skills and the experience in fast descents. I'm also a strong climber - last year I did Gunung Jerai eco-x where I struggled in the paddy fields from the heat, but on the climb I was very strong - and the Hellvellyn Triathlon remains one of my favourite Tris ever.

A lot of the fear I think comes on your relationship with the mountain. Kina is big and beautiful and it seems somewhat presumptuous to come and take without worshiping first. But isn't that what I'll be doing tomorrow. I'll be paying homage in sweat and pain.

I'm going to love it tomorrow. Mountains are a reason to live - far more so than many of the things that we do in our daily lives. Is man perfectible? Probably not. Am I? Certainly not? Can I become more? Yes and I will tomorrow whatever the fates and Kina bring me.


Anonymous said...

You make us sooo proud of you hun - both Maya and I are with you throughout the day. You are a winner! We love you lots! Senay & Maya xxxx

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