It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in the The Boardwalk Hotel and Convention Centre waiting to accept my slot for Kona 2014. A year had gone by and I was back in Port Elizabeth for Ironman South Africa 2015. I was fit and raring to go. All the hard work had been done in the months leading up to the race and now was time to reap the rewards. Like every athlete my goals had been set – obviously wanting to do my very best but without my sight set on Kona this year.
Race day arrived and the sea looked relatively calm. A little choppy but no major swells so i was hopeful for a reasonably decent swim. I quickly found space and managed to stick in a small bunch. I knew to sight for the white crane in the distance so it didnt matter too much that I couldnt see the yellow sighting buoys. As we turned to head back towards T1 I found myself on my own. It seemed to take forever to reach the beach. I was a little disappointed with my swim time but I quickly concentrated on the fact that my body felt great and I was ready for a strong bike and run.
I was in and out of T1 in a flash – less than 3 minutes!! Now was the hardest part of the race; to stick to my race plan and not bike too hard, especially on the first lap.
I passed my friend Duane at about 40km who shouted that his watch wasnt working, 5 minutes later I passed Stephan who shouted that his power meter wasnt working. All seemed to be fine with me….then my watch went blank! What? No ways?! I knew not to panic. I tried turning it on and off a few times. There was nothing I could do other than hope it would somehow come back to life!! So with no power or heart rate to monitor I just had to go by feel. Not always easy! Your head can easily play tricks with you.
By some miracle as I headed along the beachfront to end the first lap my watch came back on. As I passed the transition area I stupidly pressed the lap button on my watch – intentionally wanting to have seperate readings for the 2 laps – forgetting that pressing ‘Lap’ would indicate I had entered T2! The easiset thing to do now was just to stop and reset my watch and swap onto bike mode. Lap 2 was fairly uneventful!!
As I was nearing the end of the 180km cycle my head was already thinking about the run. My legs were feeling great. My watch was still working although it was misted up so I could only read it at an angle.
T2 was another speedy transition. A quick application of sunscreen meant it was just over 3 minutes. I tried my best to hold back on the first couple of kays and my first 14km lap was as planned. The spectators at IMSA are amazing and really make the race special. Without their support the run would be 10 times harder! I always seem to have a mental battle on the second lap of the run. Your body is beginning to fatigue and now is the time you find out if you’ve taken on enough nutrition on the bike.
The third lap I began to find energy again. The finish line was pulling me. Since my watch had stopped working earlier I had no idea what my total race time was but I knew it was going to be a close call to finish under 11 hours (one of my goals). The last 2 kays along the beachfront were almost surreal. I gave it my all. I used every ounce of energy I had left and that feeling as I ran onto the red carpet, still in daylight (another goal!), still gives me goosebumps. I could see the red clock ahead of me reading 10:58 as I high fived Paul Kaye. No podium this year, finishing 4th in a competitive age category (5th non pro), but delighted to finish under 11 hours.
I know I can still improve and already I cant wait for next year’s race! And Kona 2016….?! 😉
A huge thanks to all my sponsors (Gundle, New Balance, 32Gi and Cyclefunatic), training partners and coach, Dave.
AGE CAT POSITION: 4th
OVERALL GENDER POSITION: 21st