By Maurice Ambrose
On Friday afternoon my wife and I boarded our flight to East London. I have heard that this is one of the most difficult 70.3.’s and therefore I was well prepared (definitely the hardest I have trained for any race before) and everything was planned to a tee. At first all went according to plan, we checked in our luggage and bikes and boarded our flight on time but just as we were to take off, the captain notified us that we have to taxi back to our boarding gate as the weather was too bad for us to fly out. Little did I know that this would just be the start of a very interesting weekend.
When we landed in East London we were met with wet and windy weather. . When I received my bike bag, I could sense that something was not right, but as it was already late and the cold and rainy weather was getting the better of me, my first priority was to get to the guest house. After checking into the guest house I immediately started to assemble my bike. As I opened the bike bag, my whole body went cold – the bike was off the skewers and standing on the frame. At least I could see that the frame was not cracked, but it was clear that something was wrong with the gears. My first response was to call coach Magda as I knew I would not be able to sleep if I don’t know what was wrong with my bike.
Despite my wife’s advised that it was way to late in the night to bother her, I pushed through and was relieved when she took my call. Coach Magda really put me at ease and suggested that we meet early the next morning to have a look at the bike but also told me that the most important thing is to get a good night’s rest.
The following morning I met coach Magda, and after she did a quick assessment of my bike she advised that the damage was not that bad and that the bike mechanics will be able to fix it. I was relieved that the damage was fixable and 2 hours after checking my bike in at the bike mechanics I received it back, went for a quick ride and I could feel that the bike was as good as new. On Saturday afternoon all the Trivium athletes were together for a last team talk. Coach Magda gave some last pointers and assured us that we have already put in the hard work and that we are ready to do this, we must just relax and enjoy it. Although the weekend was off to a rocky start it finally felt like it can still turn out to be a good race weekend.
The next morning when I woke up I was soooooo excited because it was RACE DAY!
This feeling did not last too long because when I arrived at the transition area to double check that everything is in order , there was an announcement that due to the rough conditions at sea the swim will be reduced to +/-1200 m. At first I was very disappointed because although swimming is definitely my worst leg of the three disciplines, I have trained so hard in preparation for this race and my swimming improved so much since I started to train with Trivium that I really wanted to swim the full distance and compare my swimming time to the last 70.3 I participated in. However I decided then that I am going to make the best of the circumstances that was dealt to me. At that point God also showed me that I must be so grateful that I have the physical ability to be able to participate in such a race and that I must participate with such a grateful heart and not allow small things to steal my joy. After that conviction I knew that I am going to give this race my absolute best and that I am going to enjoy it more than any other race I have participated in before.
The swim – As soon as I hit the water I realized that the water was very choppy and cold, but I remember that we were trained to not let the adrenaline and excitement get the better of us and to just stick to our rhythm and the race pace we used to practice during our training sessions. Before I knew it I passed the first red buoy, then second, third and fourth then making my way back to the shore. Finishing the swim in 23 min (my best split in a race ever, just under 2 min/100 m). Chuffed with myself I headed into T1 and onto my bike.
The bike – As I exited the transition area I was greeted by loud cheers and big smiles from our Trivium supporters and that gave me some extra motivation to tackle this infamously tough bike course. I remember a bit of our team talk the night before where coach Magda advised that we must break the course into smaller goals. I did exactly that and then started to eat the proverbial elephant. After 1h36min I reached the half way mark, turned around on the bridge and headed back into a very strong head on wind. This part of the race lived up to the hype about this tough bike course because the head on wind is so strong that you have to work hard all the way back – despite the downhill. Piece by piece I approached the way back and before long I was back on Esplanade Street heading back to the transition area finishing the bike in 3h04min.
The run – Again being met with the cheers and support of the Trivium supporters I gave it my all. The first lap went well and I felt good. The second lap, Bunkers Hill was as tough as a woodpeckers lips. I got some Isotonic and coke on the aid station on Bunkers, walked for about 200 m and told myself that the next time I will be walking will be at the back end of the red carpet. I ran all the way to the red carpet through the Ironman arch finishing my run in 1h49min. My total race time was 5h25min29sec, which was my personal best and about 15 minutes faster than my previous personal best.
This weekend after all turned out to be a top weekend that I would not easily forget. A BIG thanks to all the Trivium supporters that cheered us throughout the whole race – it really spurred us on. However, the biggest THANK YOU goes to coach Magda for all her help, assistance, support, patience and hard work that goes way beyond what is expected from her as a coach. Without all her motivation and hard work this results would not have been possible. My commitment to train and how much I enjoys participating in this races have definitely improve a lot since I have joined Trivium. The Trivium members are like a little family always looking out for each other. They have motivated me so much and the only regret I have is that I have not joined Trivium earlier!!!
In gesprek met Elzabé van den Heever
1. Was hierdie nog altyd 'n droom vir jou om World Champs toe te gaan?
Vandat ek begin driekamp doen het in 2017 is dit vir my `n uitdaging om kompeterend in my ouderdomsgroep te wees. Ek wou baie graag in 2018 vir Worlds gekwalifiseer het aangesien dit in Suid Afrika was maar het dit toe met een plek gemis. Ek het wel die Worlds gaan kyk in PE om ons coach Magda Nieuwoudt en Trivium spanmaats Bruwer Smit en Marlise Robbertze te gaan ondersteun. Natuurlik het die droom om Worlds dan in Frankryk te kan gaan doen daar in my kop vasgesteek. Dit is `n wonderlike geleentheid en ek is baie dankbaar en opgewonde daaroor.
2. Wat was vir jou die grootste uitdaging op die dag van racing?
Ek wou graag top 10 in my ouderdom eindig en het dit darem toe reg gekry. Die wind en die rowwer see het die dag se race nogal moeilik gemaak. Ek is bly ek kon steeds paces en doelwitte wat ek graag wou bereik op die dag steeds behaal.
3. Hoekom kies jy triathlon as 'n sport?
Die afwisseling met die oefening is vir my baie lekker. Dis nie net bv. altyd hardloop hardloop en nog hardloop nie. As jou bene bv. harde bike of run week het dan is dit so lekker om `n goeie swemsessie te hê. Triathlon vat baie tyd, ja, maar dit word `n leefstyl en dit is vir my heerlik.
4. Wat motiveer jou? Om altyd net op te daag en aan te hou?
My coach Magda en Trivium oefenmaats wat ek weet ook sal opdaag en die werk gedoen kry motiveer my baie. Dis lekker om deel van `n klub te wees en nie die werk altyd op jou eie hoef te doen nie. Opkomende races en die feit dat ek graag goed wil doen en verbeter tydens die races motiveer my ook. Ek vermoed wel ek is dalk effens verslaaf aan oefen, Dit laat my goed voel. Daar is niks beter as die gevoel na `n harde sessie nie.
5. Watter gedeelte van triathlon is vir jou die lekkerste?
Openwater swimming en `n goeie run is my gunsteling!
6. Het jy al klaar enige planne vir worlds?
Ek sal definitief net op al my paces wil verbeter. Ek moet hard werk aan my power op die bike. Ek is bly ek het nou dadelik so lekker uitdaging en mikpunt om my oefeing vir die jaar op te fokus. Ek en my coach sal nog mooi al die planne beraam.
7. Wie is Elzabe as sy nie triathlon doen nie?
Wel kinders, kinders en kinders hou my besig....
My eie drie liewe kids (Juhné Gr 3, Ernst Gr 1 en jongste Anri nou amper 3 jaar oud) hou my as mamma besig genoeg. Dan ook nog `n klomp Graad 6 kinders wat my elke dag in die klas as Wiskunde onderwyser by Laerskool Hennopspark besig hou. Ek en my man Juran van den Heever hou daarvan om lekker goed saam te doen soos om te gaan kamp of `n lekker uiteet op sy tyd in te werk. Ons hou ook van rustige family time en net ontspan, swem en lekker kosmaak of braai by die huis.
8. Wat is jou gunstelling gels / produkte om te gebruik?
Ek gebruik graag PVM se Octane en Reignite.
9. Met watter tekkies hardloop jy?
10. Watter horlosie het jy?
Garmin Fenix 5S
11. Watter fiets en wiele het jy?
Ek het `n redelik basiese Merida road bike. Ek het die Oos London race met `n vriend se Trek Speed Concept gedoen met heerlike Zipp wheels. Ek beoog om iewers ook vir my `n nuwe TT bike te koop maar vir nou ry ek eers met die Trek.
This blog is written by the coach and athletes associated with Trivium.