SA long distance, SA short distance and IRONMAN race report
2017 ended as a year that I did not want to remember. My world champs race in Rotterdam did not go as planned and after that things just got worse. For those of you that don’t know, I went through a divorce at the end of last year, which spilled over into this year. It’s something I wish none of you who is reading this ever have to go through. It drains you emotionally, physically and mentally. There are days that you can’t get out of bed, never mind turning those TrainingPeaks blocks green.
But I threw myself into my training. I decided that no person will ruin my sport as well when he is already putting me through so much pain. I set some very clear goals for myself for the beginning of the year. I wanted to be SA short course and long course champ in my age group and I want to qualify for Kona at the Ironman African champs.
Training got more and more, which was a blessing in disguise. It kept my mind and body occupied and made it “easier” to deal with lawyers and settlement agreements in the background.
At MTD Joburg we had a very close group of people training together. We all had the same goal, to qualify for Ironman World champs, be it 70.3 or Kona.
First race up after Ironman 70.3 East London was Durban Ultra which also incorporated the SA long course champs. As most of you know, the swim was SCARY. It took a lot of headgame to run into those waters, fight the waves to get around a tiny yellow buoy and hope you come out alive on the other side. When the swim gets tough I always tell myself to just keep on pushing through. You have to finish the swim to be able to do what you love most and that is to ride my bike and run! And the only way to become a champion is to finish the race.
I came 4th overall and won my age group. First goal achieved! It was a brutal race, but I learned so much about the power of the mind that it was worth the experience.
Two weeks later it was SA short course champs. Triathlon SA seems to always pick the weirdest locations for these races. The water was dark and muddy. You couldn’t see the people around you in the water as you were swimming. As I came out, my dad shouted that I was in a top ten position. I couldn’t believe it, for me to come out of the water top ten was already an achievement on its own. I made up time on the bike and was laying fourth heading into the run. The nice thing about all ladies starting together (and not the rolling starts as in the Ironman events) is that you can see the ladies you must catch and who are in front of you. The run was 4 laps and I wasn’t exactly sure which provinces were ahead of me. I just kept trying to catch every single female I saw. Coaches Kent and Richard were cheering from the sideline so that also helped a lot. It was my first ribbon catch ever and what a special moment it was. My mom and dad stood there wiping back the tears as I came storming over the finish line. A moment I will remember forever.
And then it was IRONMAN. The big one. The one we put all the effort into and the one for which we put our bodies on the line. You know you are putting in lots of hours when you need to get up so early that Strava names your indoor training ride a “Night ride”.
Finally, the big day was here and it was time to line up on the beach. This is one of the most amazing experiences of Ironman and I’m sure every athlete that has done it will agree.
The swim was good and I was very happy with my time coming out of the water. The bike was harder than anticipated. A huge headwind came up on the 2nd lap and I was so glad to hear afterwards that I wasn’t the only one who missed my numbers. Then it was off to run a marathon. I started out strong and thought I could maintain my pace. But a marathon quickly humbles you and I had to settle for what my body was willing to do. I kept on telling myself how much I wanted to get that Kona slot and I just need to push harder, it will soon be over.
Running over that finish line and finishing my 3rd Ironman was an indescribable feeling. Especially after a tough day where every part of your body starts hurting and it’s just your mind that keeps you going. I had my family and friends there and all the hugs from everyone at the finish line were much appreciated. I just hoped that I had done enough and luckily the next day with slot allocation we had 3 slots in my age group. A long-time dream came true…
My triathlon journey this year has not been a lonely one and there are some people I need to thank for helping me achieve my goals. Firstly my coach. Travis is always there to listen and give guidance. He was there when I couldn’t cope with any training due to emotional stress and he was there to push me harder when my training was back on track. My sports massage therapist, Dave Rae, who had to fix all the damage in between races and just sighs when I tell him that I can’t rest the weekend after SA Champs. I have a 100 x 400meters to do with the boys. Mike Ferreira and Cam for coming to fix my bike the day before SAs. And then lastly the boys I trained with for Ironman. Craig, Brad, Bryan, Quinton, Eben, Dylan and Byron. You were all just a phone call away. You guys sent me so many encouraging messages when I said I am too down to go to a training session. The support was overwhelming. There are some long runs I would not have been able to do if Dylan wasn’t there next to me, telling me to keep on going. You guys are awesome and I am lucky to have my MTD family.