Challenging expectations at Ironman African Champs
April 3, 2015
Most people that know me know South Africa is special to me. I love it and struggle to stay away for extended period of time. With one of my goals for this year to qualify for Kona, Ironman South Africa was the perfect race for me to target with more points and more prize money. I raced Ironman 70.3 South Africa in January but missed Challenge Dubai in February to hammer out some solid Ironman sessions. As only my second full distance Ironman I had some miles to bank.
January to March I worked hard. It’s been a year since I went part-time at work and it’s a decision that I feel is paying off. My preparations for the race were nothing spectacular, but for me the consistency of my preparations probably were spectacular.
As always race week came around quickly as did the nerves as my husband showed me the start list. It seemed like everyone else had had the same idea as me in qualifying for Kona early. With both the girls that had beaten me in my first Ironman (Barcelona) on the list, in addition to probably another 8-10 girls I felt could challenge for a top 10 at Kona I was nicely intimidated!
I was keen to race my own race. A super tough course and lots of talent meant I could easily overdo it. The swim was a beach start, never easy when your heart rate is sky high with nerves, the gun goes off, you sprint into the sea, get tumbled by a wave and then scramble for toes.
At the first buoy I was in the second group and saw Lucy Gossage. Lucy is a good friend and training partner, but she’s an awesome biker and I didn’t want to be swimming with her. There were a lot of strong bike-runners I had to put time into for a good overall result. I needed to push on a bit and managed to break away from the group only to find myself alone and slightly off course. To cut a long story short, I was happy to get out of the swim with a little gap to the group but a huge deficit on Jodie, Camilla and Lucie Reed. Nothing special, but a there was a long day ahead.
I was excited to get on my new bike. I’ve been riding it for the past month, a speedy looking batmobile… The Falco V. It’s the perfect course for my Falco. Port Elizabeth can be very windy with a road surface that looks like someone has glued some ragged stones to the surface, perfect for a bike that is not only super-aero, but also absorbs the bumps like no other. I rode fairly conservatively hoping that I would reap the rewards on the run.
The run was a hot one, but I loved it. I went out fast in 6th not knowing if I could hold it, nothing ventured nothing gained so I kept going. There were some strong runners ahead including Lucy Gossage and Eva Wutti. I felt great and started gaining on most of the girls ahead. I did expect to hit a wall, but although I dropped the pace slightly in the middle of the run, I never met the wall. With 8km to go I could see the girls ahead (Camila Pedersen & Diana Riesler) were fading. It was a long shot, but I still felt strong, I’d give 4th place a go. At 39km I ran my way into 3rd. I held on for the last 3km running into the finishing chute to a few surprised faces including my own.
Four days on I’m still surprised. I had hoped for a good result being a top five, a good few points for Kona and a bit of pocket money. A lot of people say you need to believe in a result in order to achieve it. I honestly never believed I could be on the podium, but am incredibly happy and excited to see what the rest of the season can bring, including my first Kona World Champs...Until next week you'll find me eating biltong and body surfing in my favourite playground!