So it’s been a few weeks since Ironman South Africa 2018. Yes, I am an Ironman. I must say that I have been so de-motivated to get back into the swing of things and back to training that I almost can’t even remember doing the race!
So in an effort to get some mojo back, here’s a little about my race journey:
April 15th 2018 marked my second Full Ironman race. What a fabulous day it was indeed! My race weekend started out like every other event:
We got to PE on the Friday; went straight to registration and strolled through the expo (trying not to buy unnecessary crap). We then checked into our B&B, unpacked our bags and washed the bikes. We do always make an effort to stay a block or so away from the race venue as things get very loud and there’s too much excitement.
I have had 2 months to have my entire Kona experience run through my mind over and over again. Before I continue I want to define 'experience'. Think about going on a night out to a fancy restaurant - the 'experience' would be everything from arrival, greeting, décor, music, waiter attitude & competence, food, drink etc. Lets be honest - you don't go out only because you hungry!
That's what I want to write about here - my Kona EXPERIENCE. I have told most people in conversation that ask what was Kona like, that the experience was awesome but the race wasn't all I had dreamed it would be. Don't get me wrong - it was memorable for so many reasons. So why was the overall experience so great and the race less so?
I am going to make the shock assumption that most hard-working triathletes know how to eat a balanced and supportive diet to reward the hard training that their bodies agree to.
But just in case here is a reminder:
A well thought out nutrient dense diet is imperative if you want to go long and hard for a long time without injury, illness or burn-out 😊 All the various vitamins, minerals, plant and food based antioxidants, amino acids from protein, fatty acids, resistant starches from specific carbohydrate foods, prebiotics and compounds with long names that research keeps identifying in natural foods are important for our health and for the cells, organs, brain, muscles, tendons and ligaments, tissues and even our gut microbiome to function optionally.
Instead of the usual race report and because 2017 was very much a build year I thought I'd just share some learnings. These are in no particular order.
After 7 months off and a few failed starts due to lack of interest and health, I finally committed to putting a 12 week block together for Dublin 70.3. Lucie and I had planned to give serious racing a miss in 2017 but at the same time make sure we qualified for the 2 championships so that we could focus 2018 solely on Kona.
The first 3 weeks were hard but it wasn’t long before the body started to remember the routine. Consistency up to Dublin and then for another 5 weeks up to Italy was great. Averaging just under 15 hours and just over 10 sessions per week. Shortest week 8 hours after 70.3 Dublin, longest week 20 hours the week after that.
Packed and on my way
So the day of departure has arrived – I am not going to say ‘finally’ as it has suddenly come so quickly. 11 months ago I qualified and thought it would be aaaages till I actually go to Kona. As always, in hindsight, it all went too fast.
With all the excitement (and stress) of getting ready for a trip literally to the other side of the globe, comes the dreaded bike packing. This was made more interesting this morning when I struggled for over an hour trying to get my new BMC Time machine into my bike bag. I have never packed it before and owning a ‘SUPERBIKE’ comes with its challenges.
Family & Friends
D-Day is getting close
I cannot believe that just short of 11 months ago I qualified for Iron Man, Kona. I thought that was a big build up and a huge crescendo – it was. The build up to Kona however has been bigger than I could have imagined. Everyone who knows anything about triathlon cannot help themselves from giving advice, stories of experiences, words of encouragement and admiration, and just simply passing on strength and well wishes. It is an amazing thing to have experienced – and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be living this dream.
I have been to World Champs in the Olympic distance and Long distance and raced at Challenge Roth (voted many times over as the best triathlon in the world and probably most supported from a spectator number point of view), but still nothing compares to the attention one gets when telling a fellow triathlete you are training for Kona, Hawaii. It is only now that I am so close to actually doing to race that I realise how big it is and how people view this event.
I have promised myself that I am not going to let the occasion get the better of me – generally races don’t – I just get very excited and love the moment. I am however going to “chase my own best” – words from our own Chad le Clos.
Consistency in training
So I am on the road travelling for work for 2 days again and last night I went to bed feeling terrible that I had eaten too much and not trained. 2 days no training is going to destroy my race. NOT! For those of us that have ‘normal’ lives – actually fitting the triathlon part of the life in there probably makes us abnormal , but we have jobs and families and other responsibilities so having some forced days off is part of preparing for a race – even at 16 days out from the biggest race of my life – Ironman Kona.
Inside or outside
So what do you prefer – swimming in the local gym pool or getting out to a lake, dam or the ocean? Admittedly the local gym pool is more accessible for most of us, unless you live right next to the ocean. Then there are the obvious differences like the water generally being cleaner in a pool and a black line directing you in the pool. I would still have to say, that if you can get over the fear of swimming in open water – it is a far better experience. If you are relatively swimming fit, the open water swim actually becomes therapeutic – I suppose there is something about being close to nature.
Most open water swims will have some form of natural beauty surrounding you and what can be better than to have the sun on your face every time you turn to take a breath. Ever tried swimming when it is raining – that adds a whole different perspective. If its a heavy Highveld thunderstorm, then it can get abit scary as the drops splashing off the water mean you can see only 2-3 metres ahead of you. However if its a light rain, it makes for an awesome experience. Today I swam 3.8km’s at Cradle Moon Game farm (previously Heia Safari), and it ended my weekend and training week perfectly.
Triathlon is about experiences – my goal is to race as many different races as possible as each race brings something different. Whether it’s the water, the bike course or the run course, every race can bring a new challenge or a never to be repeated experience.
Go out and enjoy what nature has to offer!
Not sure what your view is on preparation but I prefer to leave nothing to chance. Triathlon involves three sports and travelling literally to the other side of the globe requires some decent preparation. Not much needed for the swim as it certainly won’t be wetsuit legal, and the run doesn’t require that much either (the new Nike Air Pegasus were purchased at the beginning of the year already), but with the bike we all know it’s not that easy.
Not that Hawaii is a third world country where finding bike spares or buying nutrition or clothes would be difficult, but in my case nothing is ever easy to get as nothing is ‘normal’ – size 14 shoes, XL bike frame etc.
Where Trifactri athletes get to tell their side of the Swim, Bike and Run