The sky was covered with large grey clouds and a wind was blowing from behind and across as we stood on the beach. The conditions would make the swim out to the second red buoy relatively easy, but the return leg, past buoy three and four, much more challenging. Being a weak swimmer I knew I would have work to do today. The swim went according to plan, cold and fast out to the far corner as the wind and current dragged us out to sea. After the turn the current was against us and I struggled to get a decent breath of air without swallowing a mouthful of the East London sea water. I felt slow and uncoordinated on the way back as the swells pushed against my head and urged me back. I eventually made it back to shore in what turned out to be my fastest swim yet. This was going to be a good race! Sometime during the swim it had started raining. I could only feel sorry for the soaking supporters as we ran up to T1.
T1 was good. It was also the first time I left my cleats on the bike, so only had to put my helmet and race number on. A great volunteer who seemed more adamant to get the wetsuit off me than even I was, ripped it from my body and handed me a record T1 too!
I hoped on Spectre, slid my feet into the cleats and was off. For those who don’t know, Spectre is the name of my beautiful 2015 Specilized SHIV TT bike. It was his first triathlon (owing to the fact that my previous three 70.3’s had all been done on a roadie) so he had lots to prove.
The roads were wet and sufficiently soaked while the rain continued to fall as we travelled to the N2 to begin our ascent to Berlin. In the Tri position and while looking over my right shoulder I unknowingly drifted across the yellow line on the road. Spectre slid out from under me and I plopped down on the road sliding behind him. I was forced to bear the awful scratching sounds of carbon against tar while we waited to come to rest. Luckily the fall was an easy one and the lubricated surface of rain on tar allowed me to slide across the surface relatively unharmed. I hoped up, and with some help from a marshal in a following car Spectre and I were back on the road again.
I overtook about 5 or so riders immediately after the turn and felt strong as the wind, for a change, was over my shoulder and hurtling me down towards the coast. The ride back was quiet and lonely as there were no bikes in front or behind me. Lining up another rider to overtake took kilometres to achieve. I loved every second of it. I thought to myself, this is how the pro’s must feel, all alone on the road. I achieved a 2:43:35 on the bike, and had set myself a time of 2:40:00. I was still incredibly happy with the time, owing to the windy conditions up to the turnaround point.
I got back into town, slid my feet out the cleats and pawned Spectre off to the nearest volunteer. T2 had a shaky start as my legs refused to warm up. I trotted to the tent popped off my helmet got the run shoes, cap and glasses on and hit the road to begin the run. A record fast T2!
Dropping into the run course and heading out to the lighthouse I felt I had started the run too quickly. As I rounded the lighthouse I was faced with all the friends and training mates hot on my heels and making their way to the lighthouse. Whether I started too fast or not became irrelevant as there was no slowing down now. The sun had now eaten through the clouds and made the run hot and very humid. I wouldn’t realise just how hot until I finished the race and got wonderfully sunburnt while enjoying my ice cold Castle lite’s. I set myself a target of around 1hr35 for the run. Knowing the run course from the previous year I knew bunkers was coming, but I also knew that this course, unlike Durban’s run, has lots of recovery. The first climb up bunkers was surprisingly harder than I expected. I knew I had to somehow recover or manage myself better otherwise my second lap of the run would come to a grinding halt at the base of this challenging climb.
I crossed the finish line with a run time of 1:40:46. Not quite the time I had hoped for, but still incredibly happy! The race was over and my training over the past couple of months had taken me to an amazing 5:03:21!!! And a 17th position in my age category!!! I had bettered my time by 1:06:34!!! Knowing this would be the only time I would have such a huge drop in times I enjoyed the moment and celebrated with those around me. It seemed as if everyone I know had a great race and were happy with their times. The atmosphere was awesome!!
Now its time for the big one! I will be attempting my first ever Full Ironman in April this year. Looking forward to the race, and obviously terrified, I can hopefully have another success story to share on this blog! Until then thanks to all the support I received, to the amazing people I train with who push me harder and harder each week, and to coach Lucie Zelenkova in helping me attain my goal of racing #DirtyFast!!!