It was December 2016 when one of my best friends (and my personal trainer), Jade Nicole, finally convinced me that doing a triathlon would be a great new sporting challenge for me. I had just come off a fantastic field hockey season and I had made the decision to retire from high level competition, having been competing in hockey at all levels for just over 18 years. I was open to tackle new encounters that would test my body, mind and spirit in a different way. I figured triathlons would be an interesting ‘out of my comfort zone’ challenge to take on.
Having known Jess Dignon from my hockey past, I contacted her and after our interview, I had joined Trifactri in their beginner training programme, with Jess as my coach. We discussed, that given my triathlon experience (0%), work, study and other sporting commitments, a sprint in May at Sun City would be an ideal race for my first triathlon. I was suddenly caught up in the hype of training, trying to hit the daily ‘greens’ on my Training Peaks account. After a further discussion with Jess and Lucie, I signed up for the training camp in Nelspruit, to further improve my fitness and skill base.
In 2015 it was decided that the Full Ironman was going to be on the cards for me again in 2017 with my first and last race being in 2014. To enter and compete, or rather complete the 2014 Ironman was done purely because a friend had taken part the year before and I figured ‘If he can do it I can do it’!
Training for the event was pretty poor and we didn’t really have a plan going into it, I think my mountain biking and Trail running back ground was the only thing that saved me on the day, but I managed to complete the race and said the following year I would train and have a better race. It has taken a little longer than expected to get back to the big race.
So there I was about a year ago. I have done a few of these 70.3 and 5150 thingies and I was getting comfortable with the training regime and the lifestyle. But, there was something missing. I have previously chatted to some 70.3 and 5150 friends, and a few inspired me with their achievements. Mostly, because they were of a slightly “bigger frame” and “carried a teenager around” – much like me. It has always been on my bucket list to do an ultra-type of sports event. Comrades was even contemplated, but there is too much running involved. With all of this is mind, I took the plunge and entered for the full in PE this year. What an achievement??!! Well I thought so, my bank manager not as much.
So after Durban 70.3 I started to train a bit harder- apparently full is a bit tougher than a 70.3. I was with another coach and suddenly got to know what the hype is about Training peaks and Strava. Unfortunately I had insight and got a lot of gossip from the Trifactri camp the whole time (Brother in law and his Kona buddies!!!). I was continuously told about the excellent training and team spirit that I am missing. It had to come to some point, and whilst I was being thrown with ice (instead of it being given to me) at Midlands, I realised that I am missing out – I needed to step up my training.
I was meeting my friend Vanessa for a drink at Huddle Park golf club when I read Helen's post on FB. It was the 28th October last year, I had just vaguely recovered from Kona and like a typical addict I had to find a way to feed this triathlon monkey on my back. I remember thinking that this would be the perfect way to take a break without really taking a break...what a great plan! I could give something back to the sport without having the pressure of competing. So I responded to Helen, and after some back and forth we agreed to meet. Now let me just say I'm not sure what I expected; maybe a sweet, coy, partially sighted lady who has been waiting her whole life for me to guide her to her first Ironman finish...haha...but as Kim would say, "A cup of tea with 2 sugars is sweet...!"
When I got home I said to Kim, "Yoh! This women is feisty!" To which she replied, "Oh, and you're not?" Yes Helen is feisty, and why shouldn't she be? She has fought many a battle in her life and she is a survivor.
I remember it was 3 days before my birthday in November when I finally had the guts to commit to my goals for 2017. I had been putting off getting myself a coach for a while before I decided it was time to finally call up Lucie and talk training.
The past 12 weeks have been some of the best training I have ever done and can’t even begin to tell you how Lucie has transformed me into the triathlete I am right now. There have been early morning wake ups before work to swim, long hours on the road, tough repetitive kilometers on the track, but it’s so worth it. To see the hard work pay off is something so sweet.
This was my third Buffalo City IM70.3 and boy oh boy it never seizes to unleash the conditions on us athletes!
The day I entered this race is the day my journey shifted a little bit. I was reading so many reviews on the race and chatting to everyone that has done it, about this unknown mountain lying ahead. The more people painted their portraits of the race the more excited I became to be able to take part in this Buffalo of a race.
I did what most competitive people would do and checked the times of the previous year’s podium finishers… and there it was – a little bit of a sparkle. A gap in the time where I knew I could possibly hop in.
Immediately contacting Coach Desi that is always readily available with firstly...calming the little excited nervous athlete and then a short powerful message that reads “it’s doable”. Well it’s like getting your training peaks and looking at it with big eyes and thinking – if coach thinks I can do this then I better do this.
Where Trifactri athletes get to tell their side of the Swim, Bike and Run