A hot day in South Africa

Promised race report from Ironman South Africa, so for those interested…

Arrived in Port Elisabeth on Wednesday after 32 hours with 4 flights and stops. As a vacation quite crappy, going that far to stay only 6 nights, hope to get back to see some of the country one day.

Finally, the finish line
Going into the race I felt as prepared as I could possibly be, given a full time job and training in snowy conditions for a hot race. Did most of my bike training indoors, sitting 6+ hours on the trainer is a good mental exercise! Also did heat acclimatization in the sauna, 6×30 minutes in +95c is quite hard! Coach Kurt Perham kept me on point with a short but steep build-up and recovery recovery recovery.
Did not sleep well night before, got up at 4 for breakfast. Walked over for last bike check in transition and again got a reminder of training karma. A woman who looked a bit lost asked if I could pump her tyres. I was really getting short of time so got a bit stressed, but said ok and did it. When she unscrewed the vent cap she got the whole valve in her hand, tire totally flat. Screwed it in by hand and pumped it up but advised her to see a mech to get it fastened. Went on to put on wetsuit and warm up.
Self seeded at the back of the 1 hour group. A few minutes before start a man asked if he should zip up my wetsuit. Apparently the zipper had slid back open halfway. Saw it as balance for the tire pumping, beginning the swim with an open suit would have ruined my race!

One loop swim, into the sunrise
Swam conservatively, breathing every four strokes. After 500m one eye cap of the goggle started leaking and filled with salt water. Decided not to let it bother me. Farther out sighting was hard due to the waves, when I tried to look for buoys only saw an uphill wall of water, so had to wait until reaching the wave top. Added some kicking final 400 metres or so to finish strong. Later when I saw my swim time, 1:06, I was disappointed, until I realised that no-one in my age-group top 10 broke 1 hrs, which is usually the case.

Now where is that zipper

Transition to bike, focused and eager to get out on the course. Started pedalling but immediately felt legs weren’t there, tried to push but just had no ‘pop’. Otherwise good and heartrate looked nice and low, so tried to give the legs some time to wake up. Bike was uneventful, held back on uphills, pushing on the way down, smiled to the cameras when I saw them. 1000 elevation metres so not a hilly race, but not flat by any means. After 30 mins felt the sun burning on my butt, so was a hot day. Splashed myself with water every aid station. Asphalt was terrible, happy to get off the bike after 5:14 of continuous elbow massage.

Nice to get a sea breeze

Some wind but not too bad

Thumbs are very aero

Most of the bike route went along the ocean

Fighting spirit going out on the second lap
Beginning the run met a wall of heat. +29c in the shade, but there was no shade. So the run was all about temperature control. Already 10k into the marathon started getting negative self thoughts. ‘I hate this race’. ‘Why can’t it be over already?’ Envisioned being back in the hotel lying on the cool bed. Was hard to get out of the mental slump but struggled on, finding targets 50 m further ahead, trying to just keep it up for that far. Did pass a lot of people, but with a 4 lap course everyone was in a different stage. Had planned to do a final push in the last 3km but that effort only meant my speed didn’t drop. Once I saw the finish chute was so relieved and couldn’t stop smiling! Finished in 3:34, almost same time as in Barcelona last year but these were much harder conditions.

Waaater please

A low point, this was around 13 km

Hoping to shave one second off time by jumping over the line

Yay, a Kona slot!
Total time 10:03 which put me 9th out of 250 in my age group, and was enough to qualify for the World champs in Hawaii in October!


One Response to A hot day in South Africa

  1. Syafei 24 oktober, 2016 at 10:41 #

    Congratulations; you were so awesome. I did the race; hated it, but loving the place so Im coming back next year.