Written by Magda Nieuwoudt
There is something about the feeling of triathlon that keeps me hooked.I love what I do and love to challenge my body every day and realise that I haven’t even started to show a bit of what I can do, but despite all of this, there is a feeling in triathlon that keeps me hooked. The feeling I am talking about is that constant uncomfortable feeling, the unknown and the smell of satisfaction.
Saturday morning, in Edinburgh, I stood looking up to a mountain called Arthur's Table - this is where we will be doing the run leg and I don’t have a clue what awaits me. Races in the UK mostly have split transition areas - they are not 2km apart but more like two counties apart 😀. So the swim start will be about 15km from T2 and finish area (in Staffordshire we actually had a different T1, T2 and finish areas). This makes the logistical planning particularly demanding. I had to rack my blue bag and bike and run bag in different transition areas and couldn't access my bags the next morning, only my bike.
So the Saturday morning goes like most pre-race mornings. I get up, do my training run, and run until the feeling is absolutely perfect. This is the only time I feel in total control. Then I eat a good breakfast, pack my bags for racking, check them once then walk around and check the bags one more time ☺. Before leaving the house, I check the bags again. I am always so afraid to forget something because I tend to forget easily. Everything is, however, always there. After racking my bike I start having thoughts of: “Should I maybe just change that inner tube, because a few days a go it felt a bit flat, maybe there is a slow puncture, or should I just make sure the lube on the chain is good…”
WOW!! Stop. Stand still. Take a deep breath in... and pray. Pray about all my worries - even the smallest little worry and leave it just there. After this I get the most amazing peace in my heart. I can’t describe it.
Phill 4: 6 – In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Now all that needs to be done is to eat and eat and attend race briefing! At the end of the day I am so tired of all the thinking that I normally pass out by 21:00. I only sleep until midnight, after which I am awake every 15 minutes. I don’t know why... because It's not that I am scared, maybe I'm just too excited. I am perfectly prepared and have done my bit in training and trust God to give me peace. So I can never understand why I lay awake. By 3 am I just get up and start doing ballistic ball work and stretches and get the body moving.
I normally get to T1 really early. Why not? I am awake after all. In T1 I check everything and get nutrition on the bike. This is my favourite part, getting to T1. The atmosphere is magnificent, I love the noise of the pumps inflating the wheels, and the 'pop' noise it makes as you take it off the valve. The sound of wheels spinning and checking brakes with some gears jumping up and down. And then off course the long cue to the porta-loos (this I actually dislike).
Here comes the uncomfortable feeling. I am about to jump into an ocean not knowing what to expect. They announced the water temperature was about 14 degrees and I thought: “O my, I hate cold water”. Then again, I am not here to have a hot comfy swim, am I? So get it done.
The swim felt great and I found my rhythm really early. I found myself swimming alone the whole way. There where two ahead of me and the rest of the pack behind me. Luckily I didn’t even notice the cold water. During warm up my cheeks felt like they were falling off, but nothing like this during the race. It is amazing how adrenaline just takes over. The better fit Xterra wetsuit made a huge difference (I will write another blog about that soon).
Out of the swim and onto the bike. I had instructions to stick to a certain heart rate plan. This was difficult sometimes but I stuck to it because I trust coach Niel with everything. There was a section on the course where the road surface felt so sticky and actually made it sound like both my tyres where flat. It must have had something to do with the hot summer Scotland is experiencing. They had recorded temperature of 33 degrees, which is apparently the hottest day Edinburgh ever experienced. I don’t know if the surface was melting, but it slowed us down for sure. The route was up and down, with steep declines and sharp turns which made lying down in the tribars difficult. On the bike I felt good all the way and was focusing so much on taking in enough nutrition. I used 3 PVM Octane gels and ate 1 PVM Energy bar with 750ml Octane and actually grabbed a bottle of isotonic drink on course as well. I could feel that I was ‘under-biking’... but that was the plan. Last climb up Arthur’s Table and down into T2. I felt great and still fresh for the run.
In T2 I pulled on my lovely Saucony shoes and off I went. The first lap was just to get rhythm and 'feel the run'. On this run I, yet again, realised how important it is to be in-touch with how your body feels and what the effort feels like, instead of looking at pace and heart rate. Since the course went 3km up and then back down I had to run on feeling. I kept running on feeling for the full 21km, which felt great! I was able to get paces and rhythm back quickly after the uphill and got my legs turning fast again.
All in all I am very happy and had a consistent swim, bike and run. Now to let the guns out for my next race – Ironman 70.3 World Champs SA!
As I was standing there Saturday morning praying for my worries, I also thanked God. I thanked Him for giving me the talent to do what I do; for the people He uses to create a ripple effect in my life; for giving coach Niel the knowledge and the will to never give up on me and always researching and planning my sessions on the dot and to perfection.
Also thanks for my great support team, my family, who no matter what, always get excited and whenever I need anything they are there for me. Thanks to my amazing Trivium team who keeps me on my toes and stand behind me like an army. To my close friends who is seen as part of the team - thanks.
This is our (coach and I) journey to creating the best me and being the best I can be. To be continued…
#Journeystarting #projourney #success
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.
Trivium's head coach Magda Nieuwoudt was recently featured in SA's leading triathlon magazine - Swim.Bike.Run
The article is titled 'The making of Magda'
Well done Magda! Keep it up!
The magazine also features Olympic bronze medalist, Henri Schoeman. You can get your copy at leading news agencies.
This blog is written by the coach and athletes associated with Trivium.