Ironman South Africa 2017

Photo credit: Garry Raa

Photo credit: Garry Raa

Ironman number 7 completed! – amazing as always and more lessons learned.

Standing on the beach I was excited and nervous but also feeling pretty relaxed; I was in the best shape I could be and the weather conditions were perfect.

The swim is always a bit daunting for me but being surrounded by friends in the start shoot gave me the confidence boost I needed.

The 1.6km down the back straight was going to be long and the choppy water didn’t help, but I broke it down into sections, buoy by buoy. I seem to drift left when I swim and felt I was constantly trying to get back on course.

I always feel myself smile as soon as I can hear the music and the beating of the drums on the beach as I near the final turn buoy. I was delighted not to have cramped in my calves, but my lips and tongue felt raw from the salty water.

I looked at my watch as I exited the water; 1hr 16mins – it could have been worse so I wasn’t too disheartened. Now it was time to race cleverly; ride to my race plan and then run myself onto the podium.

I wore a new sleeved tri suit, which I must say was unbelievably comfortable throughout the race and looked awesome except for my printed logos falling off the front! I tried to zip it up as I ran into T1 but my hands were numb and weren’t working so I figured I’d wait til I got my wetsuit off completely and give them time to come right.

I loved the bike course. My legs felt great. The wind sneakily swirled round and changed direction which I was grateful for on the return leg of the second lap. I was also very grateful that I didn’t have to cycle 180km without a saddle…; I had a slight stress on Friday/Saturday after I managed to break my seat post clamp when building my bike on Friday morning. Obviously I’m too strong…..With a little help, okay a big help, from a friend I managed to get the last Cannondale Slice seat post clamp in the country overnighted from Cape Town. I collected it at 1pm, fitted it, had a quick spin and went to racking. Not the most ideal stress free build up to a big race!

I made sure I kept myself well hydrated and took my anti cramp tablets as the temperature rose. It was a welcome cool sea breeze at the turn around at 45km/135km. The crowd support and cheering at the end of the first lap was immense and although I couldn’t spot faces I could hear familiar voices shouting. The out and back course enables you to see friends, and fellow competitors, and can give you the energy boost you need if you’re waning.

I was happy enough with my bike time, slightly slower than predicted, but better than going too fast! I felt and looked like I was running over hot coals as I ran bare foot off my bike through transitions with my pathetically soft feet.

I decided to use the portaloo to make sure I was going to be as comfortable as possible on the run! And it was also quite nice to sit and chill for 10 seconds and get my running brain in gear!

As I started my run for some reason my quads were burning. I tried to keep focused and ignore the pain but knew it was going to be a long 42km. I kept to my deal that I have with myself that I can only walk at water stations, except for a very brief walk with Sam. For once my feet felt great and I had no cramping anywhere. I had wanted to keep off the coke until at least half way though the run but I craved the sweetness and bubbles so took it from the start.

The support on the run route at IMSA is always fantastic. I tried to smile and wave as much as I could and not be disappointed with myself that I wasn’t able to run faster. I concentrated on my form and used certain people as markers. The run is always the best and worst part of an ironman as everyone is going through pain and digging deep but the camaraderie pulls you through.

I had really thought I’d be able to smash the run this year as I’ve been running the best I have in a long time but sadly my legs just weren’t there on Sunday.

There was a roll down Kona slot I could have taken, and obviously I would have loved to have taken it and deep down a little bit gutted I didn’t, but to be honest a) I can’t afford to go this year! and b) when I go back to Kona I want to give it my very best shot, so need to sort out my swimming and work on a few other areas.

A huge thanks to Dave and Stephan (Wingman coaches), Zoggs, 32Gi, Best Bikes, Nic Harry, Coconut Active, all the wingmen, training buddies and friends for all the support and make each race such an awesome experience.

Swim 3.8km: 01:16:28 (21)
T1: 00:03:08
Bike 180km: 05:43:46 (10)
T2: 00:05:06
Run 42.2km: 03:50:14 (5)
Total: 10:58:42
Position: 5th (age cat 40-44)