Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IM 70.3 South Africa - Qualified for World Champs

I went to East London with my wife, kids, and my mother a few days before the race, and as part of the racing weekend, I registered both my mother and wife to do the Irongirl fun run! It was amazing to see my 57 year old mother enjoy every moment of what was her first ever competition, even with it being a fun run!  There were 1300 ladies running, some just for fun and some others really pushing it hard for great times.

My wife made me very proud once again, coming in 5th in her age group and 20th overall for a total of 37mins on the 8.5Km run, running at a pace of about 4:20/km! Not bad at all and very impressive! She was a bit disappointed as she came out 12th overall at last year's Irongirl during Ironman weekend, but I told her we have time to get her to a top 10 finish in April this year at Ironman South Africa.

On Saturday afternoon I racked my bike in transition and deflated the tires just in case, although it looked like it was going to be a wet and rainy afternoon.  On race day I turned up bright and early, right after transition opened at 5am, and inflated my tires, placed my drink behind the saddle, and racked my transition bags.  I was pretty much done in 30 minutes or less.  The waiting game then started and I was high-fiving my team mates and talking to random people about the nerves and excitement of race morning.

As always, I was sure my swim was going to be my weakest result of the day, but I still wanted to beat last year's 47 minutes, so I placed myself towards the left of the holding area out in the beach, and when the gun went of I sprinted like a bat out of hell.  The sea was calm and there were no waves, unlike last year, but it still took a good 50 meter sprint to get fully submerged in the water.

I wanted to make it to the first buoy quickly and then relax a bit afterwards, keeping my strokes constant  and steady breathing.  We must have been about 300 in my wave, but there was not too much punching or kicking around. It was a smooth start of the day.  I made it through half way quite comfortably, and as we turn around to come back I start seeing yellow caps passing me.  These were the fast swimmers on the wave behind me, and this is when it starts getting depressing... they started five minutes later and they already caught me! Anyway, I didn't let it get to me and finished my swim in 41 minutes, shaving 6 minutes from last year! "Good start, good start" I kept telling myself.

I get out of the beach and run up towards transition where the volunteers helped me get my wetsuit out! I grabbed my bike bag, poured everything out on the ground and repacked it with my swimming stuff, handed it out to the volunteers and ran out of transition with my bike! I didn't know it yet, but I had shaved another minute off my transition time, so I was now a total of 7 minutes ahead of last year's time!

As I jumped on the bike I had my shoes clipped on, but unfortunately the velcro on the left shoe got loose and I had a bit of a hard time putting it back on while riding the first Km.  I eventually fixed it and got down on my TT bars.

For those of you who do not know it, IMSA 70.3 is the second toughest 70.3 in the world. We had a total of 1200m gain in 90kms, and although its 45Kms climbing on the way out of town, you still do your share of climbing on the way back to town on some tired legs on those rolling hills.

The first Kms on the bike were a bit slow as I was getting myself together and basically spinning high cadence.  I was behind people who had obviously swam faster than me, but I knew the bike was my strength, so I had to make my move quickly to make the most of the 90Kms available to me!

Before we got on the highway I got off the saddle and started pushing the watts.  In the back of my mind I had the number 205, which was what my coach told me to average on wattage, but with a route going up half of the course and down the other half this was going to be very hard to pinpoint!

I was flying on the bike, passing people from waves 2 and 3, which was great for my ego!  As you can see from the image on the left, I started the bike on overall position 1751 and AG position 244, and finished in overall position 198, and AG position 33.  This means I passed a total of 1553 people, and 211 of those where on my AG.  Not too shabby, and again, great for the ego...although the price to pay wouldn't be cheap as I ended up with an average of 213 watts instead of 205 prescribed.

Transition 2 was smooth with no hick-ups at all.  I handed the bike to the volunteers, sprinted to get my bag, changed and hit the ground running behind a few of my teammates who had left on earlier waves.


I started the run feeling my legs heavy and tired, and I could already tell I was going to pay for the additional wattage I pushed on the bike.  I chased a few of my team mates down and passed them on the first Km, but I was soon caught by my team mate Tim, who was on my wave and I had previously passed on the bike.  We stayed together for a few kms but then I took off  ahead of him.  I gave it my all to try and keep a fast pace, but my legs were just not having it.  As I went through Bukers Hillthe first time, I managed to keep running, allbeit very slowly, and pushed hard on the way down from the top.  I could see another team mate of mine on a distance, Robb Cragg, who is a much faster swimmer than me, but who I had chased down a bit on the bike.  My eye was on him but I was not able to catch him.  Not only that, but Tim passed me on the last 3Kms of the race and we all arrived within 1 min of each other!

When I finished and looked at my watch I realized I had shaved 20 minutes from my previous time in 2013.  I must admit I was a bit chuffed to not have been able to catch my mates, but that just shows me how important a strong and solid swim is at the start!  I should have kept a steady 205 watts all trough the bike, and that would have allowed me a faster run to finish it off.  I supposed that's a lesson learned for the next race!

My race official race time was 5h:19m:01s, a bit more than 20 minutes off my 2013 result and 25th on my AG, down from 45 last year!

Later that day I went to the slot allocation ceremony, and along with two of my mates I got a slot to the World Championships in Mont Tremblanc, Canada.  My slot was a roll down, but I took it anyway as the experience to race a world championship must be one not to miss!

Now I am only 7 weeks away from Ironman South Africa and the training is very intense.  Last week I had 20h of training scheduled (I only managed 15h), and this week I have 24h scheduled, which I will try and do by hook or by crook.  My mornings are starting earlier and earlier, but hopefully It will all be worth it if I am able to manage a sub 10h time in SA or Frankfurt. Apart from training with MyTrainingDay I have also secured a private swim coach to work on my swim technique, as this is still the big elephant in the room, and where I will shave the most time on from here onwards.

Thanks for stopping by the blog and showing your support. Please feel free to leave a comment or question for me. Train safely and stay fit!

  1. Have you ever qualified for a regional, national, or world championship? Where?
  2. Which of the three disciplines is your strongest? Weakest? What are you doing to address the weakest?
  3. What are your A races this year, and what times are you aiming for?