Non-Technical Summary: Recover from being sick again.. pretty much ready to race.. sort of set up new bike and pack kit for early morning start. Realise I have zero nutrition .. Riaan and Brett to the rescue. Get to Grabouw, set up transition, get nutrition, try some out… Caffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeine..
O it's Sunday night, race has ended, I’ve survived my sisters bachelorette in Joburg and am back home in one piece …..whew!
I’m not sure if it was just me but Xterra came around a LOT faster than I was expecting this year, and that normally means I know what’s waiting.. a paining body screaming for want of more training on every leg of the race. “Well”, I thought as I set up in transition, “at least I was being really consistent there”. Between being away and getting sick I didn’t feel optimally prepared for this race to say the least. In fact, I’m yet to get to the start of a race and feel that I’ve trained as hard as I could have and that I am completely prepared (at NO fault of coach Kent let me add) – a question for the good/more experienced athlete, is that even possible? Regardless, I think I’ve almost mastered the art of trying to quiet those demons, get on with it, and realize that “o well.. you’re here anyway.. you may as well enjoy it”, which is exactly what I had to do on the day. Its a bit easier for me to do this at Xterra as it is a race I really do enjoy, and its probably my favorite race - because of the venue, the kiff mountain bike course and the testing run. On a side note - I encourage all triathletes to get off the roads for a day and give it a try – there’s just so much to be happy about out there (almost enough to quiet the demons).
Anyway to the race – having set up in transition rather frantically, I found myself at the start of the swim absolutely buzzing after one sip of caffeinated juice and ready to start my warm up (aka the swim leg). It was a chaotic start with the pros, teams and individuals of all categories going off together and I took it pretty chilled (probably way too chilled). After the swim I was really not in a great position and was cursing myself for leaving so much to do on the bike. My poor position was reiterated when my number one supporter, Kyle, couldn’t give me any race info as he’d lost count of the number of girls in front of me ..40+. Next time I need to try and tie something to Riaan’s foot and hang on.
On the other hand I was about to ride a brand new bike with big shocks, big wheels and all sorts of great things to be excited about. Racing on a 29er is definitely all it’s cracked up to be and I had a super ride – there were a few fuzzy moments where the rocks became rather blurry thanks to more caffeine, but otherwise it was great. I managed to gain quite a bit of ground in the ladies field and played some interesting cat and mouse games with a few grumpy older men who were not keen on being chicked, ending the ride 3rd lady age grouper.
Keen for a good run, I had scoffed a gel just before transition, without realizing it was another caffeine booster and headed out onto the trails with a bang! I was feeling surprisingly good at the start of the run and was ready to grit my teeth and try to make up some more time from my horrid swim. Then, out of nowhere, and as I crossed the water obstacle a few km into the run, I was attacked by blinding cramps in my legs -my body obvs not impressed with all the caffeine scoffing. I had to stop, stretch, hobble and then slowly get running again while trying to humbly let the grumpy cat and mouse men pass. After loads of water and teeth gnashing the cramps subsided and I was able to pick up the pace again. However there was now a lady on my tail and I needed to dig really deep not to let her pass me. We ran as close as is possible on single track for about 2kms and I was convinced she had me – but somehow my legs kept going and I was able to pull slightly away from her in the last part of the race. It was a really close finish, and I was lucky to just pip her to the line and hold onto 3rd ager grouper and 8th lady overall. I was stoked with my result, especially after such a poor swim, and happy to be in the top 10 ladies on the day. However there wasn’t time to dwell on much (or to come down from the caffeine high) as I had to zoom off to the airport to catch a plane to JHB.
The MTD support on the route was great, thanks so much to all the supporters – and there were super performances by all the MTD athletes. Well done everyone and remember.. check your nutrition before you race unless a 2 day caffeine high is actually what you were after in the first place.