Ironman 70.3 South Africa 2010

January 19th, 2010 by

Woohoo! I won! It was 2 years and 3 attempts coming, but I secured a victory in East London on Sunday finally – and it felt good for sure. It’s not easy to win a race these days, so I am more than happy with how I coped on race day to do just that.

Breaking the tape ….

Sunday was a long time in coming around for me. I didn’t really have that much of a ‘time off’ period after Clearwater. I was unhappy with how I raced there, and certainly didn’t feel that my 20th place was justification for the training I had been putting away. So we re grouped in the Shire and formed a plan; win SA 70.3. It wouldn’t be easy, but I felt I could stay in Stirling till Xmas whilst working on the swim/run combo and then top up the bike miles with a solid 2 week hit out once here in Stellenbosch.

I feel that it went to plan. – Easy to say that now after I have won isn’t it! I have had the best part of 6 weeks really solid, consistent and enjoyable training and so I started to believe that I was able to win. Also, I’m really lucky to have had such lovely support at home in Stirling from Blair, Gordo and Ali in particular, but also from so many of the Stirling Tri Club too … so often I had folk giving me reason to believe. It’s not something I am good at – a Scottish charachteristic perhaps? – but I am endeavouring to make 2010 a year where I become just that – good at believing at in myself. – Mum, dad and my best friends have been doing it years, but I seem to have struggled with the concept at times.

Race morning came, and it was a beautiful day to race. Clear skies, sunshine, loud and excitable crowds and a tough, challenging race course to get stuck into. Perfect. The swim had a decent swell to it – the Indian Ocean wasn’t calm by any stretch, and so I was happy. I am no expert in the surf, but the harder the swim is for me, its always going to harder for the weaker swimmers. I exited the water in 5th place, having missed the ‘wave’ taking us back into shore – just like that I was 25sec down to Anton Storm whom I had just been swimming alongside. I guess he grew up playing in the waves! I didn’t.

Once onto the bike I did my best to execute my race plan. – Ride away from the 3 guys I had grouped with. 10ks, 20ks and 30ks rolled by and still I was out front with the 3 of them strung out behind me. – Never once coming to front to help me push the pace and fend off the guys riding from behind. – Including home favourite James Cunnama, whom I was certianly wary of. However, as we made the turn at 45ks it became apparent why I hadn’t been able to ride the guys off my wheel … there had been a helluva a tailwind. And now there was a even more brutal headwind to negotiate. Myself and Brad Storm set to work and quickly opened up a sizable gap. By T2 we had built minutes on the couple we dropped at the turn, and I was nearly a clean 5 minutes clear of James. I reckoned it was going to be a reasonably safe bet I could control the run from the front from there on in.

Not so. As has been the case in a number of my 70.3 this past year, I just couldn’t get going during the first 6-7ks of the run. Brad, to his credit, and way outside any previous run form that I had witnessed, steadily put 30 seconds into me. By this point I had seen James running in the opposite direction, and I could see he was moving very well. None of this was in the outline I had for the run half an hour before whilst finishing my ride, and so after a well timed talking to myself, a few extra cups of coke and a gel, I started to ease into a good pace.

By 12ks I was leading the race and feeling strong again – Brad having appeared to implode badly. Good news for me at least! However James was serious eating time into me, and by the final turnaournd with 3ks left I was starting to wonder if he could close the gap. It was a daft way to think, as in reality he was still nearly 2 minutes behind me, and there is no way someone is pulling 2mins out me in 3ks when the win is at stake! I had one further talking to myself and started to enjoy the support of the crowd into the final mile. – The South Africans clearly love their sport, and they are without question very knowledgable multisport fans. It all helps to get you across the line I can confess.

A massive well done to my good friend Mari Rabie who stormed to the win with a seriously fleet footed run in her first ever 70.3 race! – And it was just ‘for fun and training’ she tells me? Watch out when she actually focuses on these things thats for sure. And lastly, but not at all least, my roomy out here for the last 2 weeks, Toby Jameson. He pulled out 6h place in a race that he really probably shouldn’t have started, let alone finished … he had been battling ‘tummy’ issues all week leading in, but he hung tough.

It was a great w/e – one I will remember for a long time. Still got the smile on my face now. Thanks so much for all the many many messages, txts and emails over the past few days. It’s been a bit overwhelming!