Just over a week after I finished second at Ironman 70.3 South Africa, I can say that finally everything clicked for me. The run up to the race was as much as I could have asked for.
Last year had its fair share of hiccups starting with the airline losing my bike until just prior to bike racking. After that I was fortunate enough to pick up a nice bit of African belly. That lead up to the race was not as I had planned for my third triathlon and first pro race.
What a difference a year makes, lessons learned (don’t eat at dodgy restaurants a few days before the race!), I got to East London fit and healthy with my bike in hand. We decided to stay away from the race hype up on Bunkers hill which is the toughest part of the run course.
Race day came and everything continued to run smoothly, bike was ready, I was ready. The day started overcast but I wasn’t going to kid myself that the weather would continue to be that kind to me! I lined up on the start, the gun went and I did my best to sprint into the sea. Although it was fairly ungraceful I had managed not to lose the main pack, but by 100m into the swim I was about 10m from the toes in front. It took me the next 400m or so to catch them but after that I managed to swim the rest of the way on one of the male pros feet, I think they were Tadashi Iida’s. The race continued to go smoothly through the bike and at 60km I realised that I was cycling at a pace that (if last years times were anything to go by) I would be in contention for the podium.
Into T2 and I realised that although in 6th, the field was tightly packed and I was not far from Lucy Zelenkova in 3rd. At about 16km I could clearly see Lucy, but it took me until about 18k running down Bunkers hill that I managed to overtake and quite soon after this I also overtook Natasha Gorrie in 2nd. I knew from T2 that I would never catch Jodie, she was super strong from the gun, but with 2k to go I could claim 2nd if I could just hold on. I don’t think that I was considered a contender for the podium at the start of the race. This was clear as I ran down the finishing shoot with Paul Kaye asking the spectators who they wanted to win, the Czech girl or the South African girl, it wasn’t until the final 20m that he realised it was actually the British girl!
All in all a very good race result. I’m very happy with my 5 min swim improvement and 14 min bike improvement. I look forward to another year of doing whatever I can to close the gap to first. Wish me luck!