Thoughts on a long, tough day at the office at Ironman South Africa 2015


chaos-of-the-swim-start

chaos-of-the-swim-start

THE START LINE WAS CROWDED
It was a very big field, 50-odd male pros… By far the biggest field we’ve ever had here in P.E. The start line was full, normally you stand there with 10 to 15 guys and you can pretty much check everyone out and suss out who’s who and know where to line yourself up, but yesterday the start was chaotic. I had a good run into the water, but after that I was just caught right in the middle of all the chaos.

THE SWIM WAS ROUGH
I got a black eye from someone’s stray hand and was thinking, ‘oh shit, this is chaotic…’ By the time we got to the first buoy I was just in the middle of the mayhem and the front pack, about eight to 10 guys had got away. It all happened pretty quickly and if you miss that boat you’re never really going to make up that time again. That was not a great feeling but it was all about maintaining my position from there.

It was relatively choppy and busy. It definitely wasn’t a very comfortable swim, I wasn’t actually feeling that great.

into-the-head-wind-back

into-the-head-wind-back

THE BIKE WAS ALL ABOUT SURVIVAL
I got out the water in about 15th place and started the bike with a few fast guys who set off at a pretty rapid pace I kind of just hung on really. You head out with the wind and it’s mostly uphill on the way out inland and then on the way back you’re coming back along the coast into the wind and you’re a lot more exposed, so we never really got much rest. It was work all the way round the course.

I’ve never been in such a big pack before and it was very surgey so you had to keep paying attention. I remember thinking I just have to stay in this pack, this is where the race is. Because of the 12 metre rule (IRONMAN bike is non-draft legal, which means riders have to be at least 12 metres apart), it’s almost like mini intervals to stay in touch which isn’t necessarily ideal for an Ironman where it’s better to just go a steady pace. You use a lot more energy doing that sort of stop-start riding.

The road surface was pretty bumpy too, which saps a bit of energy from your legs. I was just trying to stay in the moment and keep thinking about my nutrition and trying to stay in tune with how my body was feeling – it’s quite easy to forget to eat and drink, when you’re just trying to survive.

In the last 60-kays I was just kind of surviving and thinking about getting off the bike and onto the run. At that point wasn’t sure how I was going to manage a full marathon.

survival-mode-on-the-run

survival-mode-on-the-run

THE RUN WAS A WAR OF ATTRITION
I think I started the run in about ninth, some five minutes off third place. If it went well it didn’t feel good. The whole day was just a long sufferfest, I never felt very fast or very fresh, it was a case of grinding it out and staying in my rhythm.

Because it’s a three-loop run course, you get a good view where your competition is and how much time you’ve made up.

Slowly the guys started to slow down a bit. I didn’t really speed up to catch anyone, it was more a case of the other guys fading and I stayed relatively consistent. I went relatively quickly into sixth place and then it took a while to get fifth but that was a good feeling and I kept thinking I just needed to keep chipping away. That was probably for the first 33 kays or so and then in the last 10 I said to myself ‘everyone was hurting, no matter how much training they had done’ so then it wasn’t about fitness and just about hanging tough mentally. That’s what I’m good at so I just pushed on and then in the last three-and-a-half kays I caught fourth position.

the-last-10-is-all-mental-that-s-my-strength

I LEARNT A LOT
Could’ve been a completely different situation if I was in the front pack out of the water, would’ve meant I wouldn’t have worked quite as hard on the bike to catch up all that time. But considering how the day played out I’m happy with the result, getting the chocolate medal wasn’t quite what I was after, but it was a good lesson in tactics and competing in such a big field.

first-south-african-home

first-south-african-home

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