Training in Tarawa

The month of T’s. Two weeks ago I was in Timor Leste (East Timor), last week Tonga, this week Tarawa—with brief excursions to Sydney, Fiji and Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in between. Counting down the days until 3 December when I get home to New Zealand (for 10 days before a brief trip to Sydney – but that’s another story). Tarawa has two of the things that detract from training for me: high, humid temperatures and it is flat. Seriously flat. Just check out the photo below taken at the highest point.


On the positive side, the New Zealand High Commissioner kindly stores my road bike and stationary trainer for me so at least I can ride, in my hotel room. Why not outdoors? Two reasons: the kamikaze mini-bus drivers and the poor state of the roads (which my road project will address).

There are two things that triathletes tend to have in common. Firstly, we are really into delayed gratification. Here I am 19 weeks out from my ‘A’ race and I’m already working towards it, and have been for some time. Secondly, we tend to be compulsive obsessive individuals. If it’s in our training plan then we will do it. If we shorten a workout—or even worse miss one—then we feel quite guilty about it. Yes, it’s pathetic. Particularly when your race is 19 weeks away. That happened to me this week since I had to use my bike on a stationary trainer which, even with a library of DVDs with me, is mentally very taxing—much more so than physically. There is my setup below. Note the hydration (and towel) close at hand!


The first night I arrived I had to fit in a 90 minute low/steady ride at a high cadence—it was in my plan. Didn’t matter that I was buggered after the last few days. I hate these low rides as they are seriously boring.Give me two hours of hard interval work any time over low/steady. I decided that this would be Star Wars week, so I started with Star Wars I. However, even with flashing light sabres I bailed after my minimum 90 minutes was over—stepping into a nice puddle under the bike. The hotel maids must wonder what goes on.

Was up at 06:00 the next morning and out the door for a 14.5 km run. Decided to do the Betio causeway and town loop. The causeway was nice and cool—at least for Tarawa—with an ocean breeze. Even though there was no traffic was almost taken out by one of the kamikaze mini-bus drivers (why move over on an empty road!). Was doing 8” intervals at 4:10/km with 3” rest and by the third one I was in serious melt-down mode. Had to take a short recovery break before getting back into it. I’ll blame the heat and 3 nights with 4-6 h sleep due to travel. Was glad to get back to the hotel where I made a big puddle chatting with my colleague Asif who was breakfasting. Thank heavens for air conditioning.


Back on the bike and the trainer—with Star Wars II on the computer—the next day.  I should be careful what I wish for as my training plan had a 2 hour ride with 7 x 5” hard/5” easy intervals.  My asthma was acting up quite badly so I had to take a hit of Ventolin. I try and avoid this if at all possible, as irrational as it sounds. Anyway, managed to get through the workout but the puddle under the bike was getting embarrassing. 

The following day I did an hour of P90X Plyometrics before I headed off to the beach DSC01029 at North Tarawa. I’ve been working on  my shoulder injury so I hoped for a light swim in the lagoon—even though were were a bit close to South Tarawa so it probably wasn’t safe. With 40,000 people in South Tarawa and a preference for using the beach as the local toilet, one does not swim there unless you are well vaccinated and even then have a death wish. Unfortunately we got the tides wrong and so I ended up chilling out in the hammock.

In the evening did the rest of my scheduled training. The puddle under the bike got worse as I did 2.5 h moderate on the bike—with, you can guess, Star Wars III on the computer. Drank 2.5 litres of water and it wasn’t enough … After the ride I had a 30 minute run which was a challenge. It was very, very dark and so I put a light on my back and then with a small LED torch ran the length of the causeway. It was challenging when traffic passed because of the glare and I had to pop off onto the shoulder where I worried about tripping on the uneven sand. That’s all I need. But the roads were often worse with mammoth potholes and edge break all along. Not to worry, the causeway is included in my road project! Made it back alive which ended a big training week.

My coach has given me an ‘unstructured’ plan for next week: do what I feel like. I’ll do a ‘Sufferfest’ DVD on the bike—one hour of seriously hard riding—and another run to Betio before I head to Fiji on Tuesday. Then to Sydney Wednesday and New Zealand Friday. Looking forward to getting home, and also having an easy week. Then again, an easy week now means that we are entering into another hard block. So I should learn to be careful what I wish for!


2 responses to “Training in Tarawa

  1. Chris, I am again amazed how you can push your self sooooo hard. Thinking of you 🙂

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