After months of hard preparation leading up to Ironman South Africa Championships which takes place on the 2nd of April in my home city , I really felt the need to go race a 70.3 and see how I have improved with my speed. I also think it was a great opportunity to race against some of the biggest names in triathlon and also to mention 5x Ironman 70.3 World Champion winners in the mix.
I left South Africa on the Wednesday before the race and arrived late on Thursday evening in the Philippines (Subic Bay) the last time I was in the Philippines was 12 years ago when I was traveling the world surfing. Coming back as a professional athlete was quite an awesome feeling!
I knew going this late, there could possibly be risk in disruption in my sleep pattern due to a 6hr time difference resulting in a bit of jet lag but on the first night I managed to get 11 hours of sleep so I thought there wouldn’t be a problem. On Friday I did a bit of a tune up swim/Bike/Run and my legs felt really good and light. It wasn't until the 2nd night I realized that my sleep was terrible waking up a number of times during the night. On Saturday I felt a bit off but carried on with the day and routine as usual, checking the bike and run bags in as well as during some event organizing obligations. I never got in a good hour nap during the afternoon as usual and spending most of the day on my feet was never going to be enjoyable, but sometimes things don't always plan out like you hoped for and I just stayed calmed and carried on.
The night before the race was absolutely horrible, I felt nauseas all night and I never even had 1 hour of sleep. Has I lay awake switching on and off the TV watching NBA live. While eating breakfast on race morning, I just thought how on earth am I going to race when I felt so dizzy and a feeling of being drunk with exhaustion.
All I could do was put positive thoughts into my head and take it one step at a time, which was first getting to transition and checking through my bike.
Before I knew it I was standing at the start line ready for the gun to go off at 6:20am.
I had a really good swim, the start is always hectic but I settled into a great pace and made my way onto the feet of the main pack. After about 1000m I lost the feet for some reason and had to swim the remaining of the swim by myself. I exited the water around 40-58 seconds down from the front group.
The beginning of the bike I felt great and had some good power in the legs, as I looked behind I saw there was a little group and knew I was going to have a bit of company. At around the 10km mark there was a pretty hard climb for about 2km, I felt great going up and made a little gap on the group behind. After the climb there was a series of downhills leading onto the main highway and 2 guys (Johannes Molden and Tim Van Berkel) had made their way up to me.
We biked super strong averaging around 325 watts as we got to the turn point at 47.5km. I looked at my clock and was about 1:30 min down from the leaders. We caught them at 77km and I just stayed back and out of trouble coming into T2.
I guess I could say that if I decided to not put my socks on in T2 I could of exited transition with the likes of Crowie Alexander, Tim Reed and the rest of the strong field but I did and can't change anything now. I ran strong for the first 5km averaging 3:30 min per km but then the body decided enough was enough and couldn't hold the pace much longer. I know that I was capable of running 3:35-3:40 avg pace for the run and that was the plan, because in training everything was looking good but with the lack of sleep I could feel I was not in an ideal situation and slowed to around 4min a km. It was also extremely hot and very humid out there (around 35 degrees C) and this made things a bit more uncomfortable.
I crossed the line in 9th position, obviously not what I was hoping for but extremely proud of myself that I even started the race after feeling like I did.
I have always known your mind is stronger than your body but I realize now that your body is capable of doing anything if you really want it too!
I have been back home in SA for a week now and my recovery after the race has been fast. I am looking forward to the next few weeks prepping for Ironman Champs in my home city of Port Elizabeth.
Thanks to my whole team supporting me as I push on to new highs.