BY LE-ROY GELDENHUYS
Coach Magda asked me to write something short about my journey...
My story - although I really want to keep it for after Ironman - has been a roller coaster ride of mental and physical pain. After going through a car accident about 6 years ago, I was left with back problems. I especially experienced back spams after the bike, which meant I couldn't do the run. I spent a lot of time and money asking people to help me achieve my dream and get me back to the event which made me my family's hero. It soon became clear that many people just wanted my money and were not truly there to assist me.
You start doubting yourself! If you take a look at my pictures (below) - you'll see that I have experienced the highs of finishing Ironmans and the low of quitting 2 kms (yes 2 kms) from the finish - due to my back. You really lose your confidence because your family are the only ones who support and believe in you.
One Friday afternoon in November I went to Magda. I had tears in my eyes and I was very skeptical. I said: "Please help me feel alive again." At that stage I couldn't even walk upright.
My passion for Ironman doesn't always make me an easy customer but she's been there for me all the way. We grow day by day. There is still a lot of work to come in the next 5 weeks.
This will be my 9th Ironman. I haven't always finished but, being a Dad, my kids are inspired by the fact that I live by the things that I have taught them: "You might not always be successful but if you fail, always stand up and go back and, you know what, ONLY IMPRESS YOURSELF."
My story isn't finish yet, and it definitely has a To be continued in it...
BY MAGDA NIEUWOUDT
Race weekend eventually arrives. It is time to show off and o hell do I love to show off? I am absolutely in love with racing. This is where everything I have worked so hard for needs to come together. All those hours spent during the December holiday season and early morning training sessions suddenly make sense and are worth it.
Rika (my twin sister) and I arrived in East London (EL) late Thursday afternoon and the first thing I normally do when arriving in EL is to go to the transition area. As we arrive at transition, all of a sudden everything gets real. Now the focus is on. You start to feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it and see it…RACE DAY IS HERE!
The night before the race I am never able to sleep... mostly because of a mixture of excitement, anxiety and stress, but when the alarm goes off the first thing in my mind is "this is it, let’s do it in style."
On the beach the sun started to rise over the ocean and everybody was getting ready in their wetsuits. I have a love-hate relationship with this part of the race. I love it because of the total unknown waiting for me. It is literally diving into the ocean and not knowing what’s going to happen. On the other hand I hate it because this is the only part of the race I can't prepare for, so I don't often know how to handle it.
Standing at the start line I know I have done all I can to prepare. Going in to the water is always one of my favourite parts. I love ocean swims and the roughness of being thrown around by the waves. This is where I always just let go and stroke hard every time my hand enters the water. Getting out I saw my swim time being not that great and instead of thinking I went slow, I immediately decided the swim was too long - which was the case in the end. Getting on the bike with the wind in my face and heart rate high, I focused to relax and stay in control.
Being in control of yourself during the race is key - knowing your body and relying on feedback. Heading out was hard but I knew coming back was going to be fast. instead we had some slight head winds every now and then. This was when I realised that the wind is starting to turn and I suddenly hoped Rika and Charl would be okay and will keep on fighting. I knew both of them would chase a time, but with these conditions and the longer swim I was scared that they would overcook themselves on the bike. But they both did great.
Getting on the run I knew I needed to catch the one girl in front of me. Being a strong runner I kept thinking I am in control and I would be able to do it. I didn't realise she is about 6:00 – 6:30 minutes in front of me. Turning at the top of Bunkers I timed her being in the lead by 6min. This is when I realised I need to go faster than her on every single kilometer. So every time I felt like slacking a little bit I said to myself: "Don’t try, make sure". This was a phrase I learned while climbing Kilimanjaro over new year’s.
Turning at the peer which is about 11km into the race she was still leading by around 4min, and I could see she is also running hard, so I just started to run harder. Coming down from Bunkers I was really chasing her and this is when I saw Rika. She was shouting so hard at me to keep going and I could see in her face that she realised I was behind. That gave me another edge to keep on pushing. The last 5km I know I needed to be a lion and chase hard and 'make sure, not just try'. In the end I crossed the finish line. I was standing there not knowing if it was enough, because I knew she started a few seconds before me. While I was waiting, a friend came to me and told me that she beat me by 24seconds. I realised I gave it all on the day. Hats off to Jade having a brilliant race and making me work hard.
This is what racing is all about. Working harder than you thought you would be able to. Achieving a sense of satisfaction inside you that cannot be explained, sharing the experience with other people and best of all, having the best time of your life. Racing my first race as official head coach of Trivium Triathlon I just want to inspire my athletes and teach them one thing by example.
“Your mind while find a way to keep your body moving forward, let it.”
Thanks for all the support to:
Coach (the Lion) Niel, all Trivium athletes, Rika, Jacques & Melanie, My parents and good friends in Pretoria. A special thanks to PVM Nutritional Science for all the support and MiFitLife making sure I am comfortable and looking great during the race.
BY CHARL VAN HEERDEN
I was slightly nervous heading to East London. The course is infamous as one of the more difficult ones on the circuit; the bike route is the 3rd most difficult - based on participant average times - and on the run, there's Bunkers hill, twice.. On the other hand, I had confidence in the training I'd put it; I recently joined Trivium triathlon club and having soon-to-be-pro Magda create a customized program (on a weekly basis) and monitor your progress makes a huge difference.
Iron Man once again impressed with their efficiency at organizing a big event. Registration was a breeze, and the pre-race briefing was informative and fun. There was one small problem, though; my name somehow got mixed up with my street name, hence for this 70.3, I was racing undercover as *Albertyn* van Heerden.
Race morning finally arrived and I couldn't wait to get started. My swimming had improved substantially since I did Iron Man in 2016, and I confidently seeded myself as a 30-40min finisher. As soon as I dove through the first wave, though, I realized something was terribly wrong. I simply couldn't get myself to put my head under water and swim freestyle as I struggled to breathe. I'm still not sure why that happened, but I forced myself to continue swimming, albeit breaststroke, to the first marker, about 300m out. After that I was able to alternate freestyle with breaststroke, but I eventually made it out of the water in a disappointing 45mins.
When at long last I got to my bike in the transition area, ready to make up for lost time with my strongest of the three disciplines, I got my second surprise of the day: a flat back tyre. My target time of sub-6 hours suddenly became a goal for 2018. The volunteers kindly offered to help me change my tyre, only to hand me my third and last surprise of the day by accidentally unscrewing a full gas canister from the CO2 inflator, which hit me solidly in the chest (nothing serious, and I had a second canister to inflate the tyre with).
Once on the bike I started to finally enjoy the day, tremendously. The bike course is stunning, and both sides of the N2 are closed just for us! The hills going out were long, but with easy gradients, and despite the head wind on the way out, I was able to finish the bike leg in 2h59m58s (I was hoping for sub-3 🙂). Magda's killer brick sessions paid off and I was feeling great starting the half marathon. I suddenly realized sub-6 hours was in play again, and timed myself to eventually finish in 5h58m.
Before I knew it, a great weekend was over. The road trip with my good friend Gaffi was awesome (he showed me the route for a race I'm never going to do: the Washie 100miler). It was great meeting up with old friends (Elana, Dewan), and I made new friends (Rika, Magda, Roy, Melissa) who share the passion for trying.
BY RIKA NIEUWOUDT
Immediately on arrival East London made it very clear that we are now in the backyard of one of the most difficult 70.3 races in the world. I got out of the airplane and wind gusts welcomed me. That is when I realized this is going to be tough and I prayed that the wind and conditions will be better coming race day.
Waking up on Sunday it felt like perfect conditions but little did I know I still need to work hard. Swim start is always fun. You can feel the adrenaline of each individual. I started the swim at the >30 minute wave and got to meet a few new people just before the start. That's my motto during the race – enjoy it and meet new people.
Starting the swim with the sea feeling calm I quickly reached the first turn point and then settled into a great rhythm. I found myself smiling while swimming and thinking, "I am one with nature, why would I not enjoy this?" Turning at the third buoy, about 1,4 km in the race, I got a smack on my swimming goggles which made me stop in my tracks. With a few breast strokes I regained composure and worked till the last turn (the only right turn on the course) and now it was stroke for stroke all the way home. Getting in transition, I always appreciate the lovely volunteers. They helped me get on my bike, ready to take on the N2 with full road closure and no cars.
Making my way on the N2 I got stung by a bee. I started to feel anxious because I am allergic to bee stings, but luckily adrenaline helped me to fight the poison and I could safely carry on. On this course I realized why you should never stop to respect this sport called triathlon. Your body quickly has to adapt from swimmer to cyclist and you push through burning legs and your brain just keeps you going.
This was a very tough bike for me because it felt like the wind was constantly following me head-on. Turning off the N2 going back to Orient Beach you are greeted by a final climb. This is where I felt like I don’t want to do this and I saw a guy racing in a full orange suit (he was racing for more than himself) and I knew, if he can do this with those clothes, I have no excuse.
After the bike, we start with the run leg. Again your body needs to adapt - this time from cyclist to runner but now you face a thing called gravity. No wetsuit or wheelset to help you forward but only you and the road. Running was never a specialty I enjoyed, but since joining Trivium Triathlon club I started enjoying running. Coach Magda helped me with structured weekly training programs to feel confident in my running and the track sessions with the team made running fun. Yes I just said running is fun!
Going up Bunkers Hill, not once but twice, is not a joke but that is where the friends you make along the road help you on. All the supporters shouting your name as if they knew you personally or playing some music and making road showers for you to run through make this race worthwhile.
Going over the finish line with a better time this year (with tougher conditions than last year), I have my coach and great Trivium-team to thank. You made it worth it!
East London 70.3, I will never underestimate you again.
This blog is written by the coach and athletes associated with Trivium.