It wasn’t the day I was hoping for but I have taken huge positives out of this race and will use it for my future racing. In every race I will be learning something until it is my day! The training that I had done for this race will not go to waste, my fitness and conditioning that I am continually building will help me in the future.
The 3.8km swim:
My swim started off great. Obviously the race nerves were there but I tried to stay very focussed and do what I knew was possible. I had a great start to the first buoy leading out in front until about 15m from the first turn, when the pack of swimmers had caught up to me on my left. The pace was really tough especially when you have Marko Albert leading it and after about 2.8km I couldn’t hold on any longer. I stayed calm and had to swim the rest of the 1km on my own which wasn’t easy especially swimming into the current all the way back. I swam in the Huub Archimedes 2 (3.5) and really love how this suit fits me and how quick it is in the open water. I exited the water in 51:10 around 1:30min down on the leaders.
The bike ride:
I exited T1 alone and had a little time to make up, I felt really strong and decided to bridge the gap whilst not going out my comfort zone. I was pushing around 310 watts avg until I caught the chase pack at exactly 20km into the race. At around 22km I moved to the front trying to keep my rhythm, and was maintaining around 300 watts feeling very solid and controlled. At around 40km in, James Cunnama had also caught the group and came past to move in the front, and I pretty much stayed behind until around 50km when I went back to the front as I felt that the pace was dropping a bit pushing around 260 watts so I pulled until 93km. At this point I made the decision to sit up and let some of the other guys do some work on the front, but it wasn’t the fact that I was tired but instead wanted to play more of a race strategy game plan and save some energy. Boris Stein had caught our group at 112km and he moved to the front to try push the pace, it was pretty solid. At around 148km I saw Ben Hoffman making a move all the way from the back taking the lead in the front for around 10km. At around 152km at aid station 3 I lost the group of 3 whilst reaching to get 2 water bottles but knew it would be a smarter move to make. I got back onto the group at 162km but it was quite a push averaging a strong 310 watts. With 10km left to go till T2 I made the decision to drop off again and save my legs for the run spinning a lighter gear and pushing around 260 watts.
When I jumped off my bike to enter T2, it was one of the best I think I’ve ever felt dismounting. My feet were light which is always an amazing feeling to start a marathon after 180km on the bike. Transition went smoothly and I entered the run course in around 6th place. My plan was to really take the first 3km very conservative, paying close attention to my paces on my watch. This is definitely a crucial part in an Ironman because you could really over cook the first 5-10km and then be suffering all day long. I was running well getting a few splits to 1st place which was around 3:30min ahead staying around the 4min per km mark being conservative. I started to feel a little uncomfortable around 19km in my stomach but I thought this would just go away. At 21km I glanced at my watch and it said 1:25hr which wasn’t to bad and I was still in the mix running in 5th. All of a sudden I was getting severe nausea which forced me to stop and try get it out (But I couldn’t)!!! I carried on running slow and at around 25km the nausea went away. I tried my best to carry on with the pace but my quads were in so much pain and it made the remaining kilometres very difficult! It was still very special to finish my 8th Ironman South Africa and to run down the red carpet at my home town race. I never like to just give up unless there are serious medical conditions.
I also wanted to say I special thanks to my awesome coach, Tim Ellerbeck at Velocity Sports Lab which I have been working with since December 2015. I have really adapted super well to the training and can see a big improvement in my performance, its not a great feeling when you can’t unleash it on the day due to other factors and not your training, but I am positive the rest of the year will have some super strong performances.