It’s been an eventful and exciting year so far, but it certainly hasn’t been without incident. With lots of travel and racing planned, and of course getting married in between, it was always going to be a busy schedule. What wasn’t part of the plan though was a string of unfortunate accidents that have taken some sting out of the season. Starting with a high speed crash while training in the Canaries, which left me a little worse for wear a few weeks out from Ironman South Africa.
Recovering from the race and the injuries it was then on to Franschoek to tie the knot with my beautiful wife Nicole, before heading over to Ironman Brazil. After getting some good Kona World Champs points in the last two races I managed to secure my slot to the big island, which was always the goal for the early part of the year.
This meant I could head over to Europe, not stressing about points and instead focus on getting strong for Kona and hopefully earn enough prize money to support the second half of the year. Training with coach, Brett Sutton and the squad in St. Moritz has many benefits. The altitude, great training partners, facilities and the numerous mountain passes to ride over, just to name a few. The latter though, didn’t exactly work in my favour. During a long and steep alpine descent another mechanical failure sent me flying over the handles, this time however, my upward trajectory was a little more severe and I came down hard, breaking my collar bone clean in two.
After hitching a ride to the hospital, the X-Rays confirmed as much and the doctors set about putting in an internal pin, with the precision and efficiency that the Swiss are well known for. This counted me out of my next three races; Ironman Zurich, Alp d’ Huez triathlon and Embruman. Needless to say, I was a little bleak, Nicole maybe even more so being back at home and unable to help. The thing with St. Moritz is there’s not much to do here except train, and certainly not on a SA Rand budget. So after a couple of days in the hospital it was back onto the indoor bike and back into the pool. Starting with 25m at a time, I managed to get a pretty proficient one armed freestyle action going and was up to 2-3km sets by the end of the week. The main goal during the injury was to try and keep up my strength, being at altitude means that you can maintain a decent level of aerobic fitness just by walking to the shops. This meant plenty of big gear work on the bike, numerous aqua jogging laps in the kids pool, and a few half day hikes up to some of the alpine peaks.
It took a good 4 weeks to be able to swim properly with both arms and probably 5 weeks to start keeping up with the ‘slow’ lane. 6 weeks after the injury it was decided that it would be a good time to test the progress in a race situation.
So off to Budapest I went for a little 70.3 hit out. The fact that it was a non-wetsuit, fresh water swim didn’t really help my already reduced swim speed, so after getting properly dropped by the competitive field within the first 300m, I carried on alone cursing the situation. After my slowest ever 1.9km swim, the fast flat bike leg continued without incident and I came in to T2 in 11th place and still pretty angry. This meant I may have run my quickest 5km split ever but managed to reel in a few guys. Running the last half of the race a little more conservatively, I eventually worked my way up to 3rd place finishing with a 1hr09min run split. All in all not a bad day out, hopefully the swim will progress pretty quickly now, within the space of a few days would be good, ‘cause up next is 70.3 World Champs this weekend.
What I can take away from the situation of being injured, is firstly to try and keep your chin up and embrace the opportunity for a little rest and to try some different methods of training. Secondly, hurry slowly! Although my recovery was quick, it was so because we didn’t rush things and just let nature take its course, having a coach on the pool deck to haul me out before I overdid it certainly helped. Most importantly though, just try and not fall off your bike in the first place!