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
DEUR LIONEL PIENAAR
Ek het nog altyd n droom gehad om die ysterman te doen. Ek het in 2015 met 'n 5150 in Germiston gedurende die swem gepanic en kon dit nie klaarmaak nie. Van daardie dag af het ek selfvertroue verloor en die swem het 'n baie groot ding geraak vir my.
Verlede jaar het ek weer in Bela-Bela probeer. As dit nie was vir die feit dat ek in die dam kon staan nie sou ek dit weer nie klaargemaak het nie.
My droom van die ysterman het ek gevoel was nie meer moontlik nie want swem is altyd deel daarvan.
In Februarie 2017 het ek aangesluit by Trivium, nadat ek gevoel het ek gaan dit nog 'n laaste kans gee. 'n Vriend het my verwys na Magda toe. Ek het dadelik deel gevoel van die span en die program wat sy vir my gegee het saam met die guidance het veroorsaak dat ek in 'n kwessie van 2 maande nie meer bekommerd was of ek dit sal kan doen nie. Dit het eerder verander na hoe vining kan ek dit doen.
Ek het siek geword en het vir omtrent 4 weke aan en af geoefen. Die week voor die SunCity Ultra het ek weer siek geword. Ek is nie seker of ek siek was van die stres of gestres het van die siekte nie. Tot op die Saterdag voor die race het ek gevoel ek gaan dit eerder nie doen nie want ek voel siek en nie reg nie. Ek het saam met my coach Magda besluit dat al doen ek net die swem, dit goeie voorbereiding sal wees vir Ysterman in Junie.
Ek het die oggend van die race by die dam gestaan en gesien hoe almal wegspring wat die korter afstande doen. Die vrees het my weer begin pak en het op 'n stadium begin twyfel. Ek en Lloyd het by die boom gaan staan en bid. Voor ek kon sien was ek in die water. Ek het heel agter begin en rustig geswem aangesien dit my eerste swem sou wees. Ek het heeltyd gevoel ek swem stadig. Maar ek was ok daarmee want ek wou net klaarmaak.
Toe ek uitklim het ek goed gevoel en op my gemak my fietsry klere begin aantrek. Ek het die eerste 45km op die fiets goed gevoel maar die tweede rondte het my rug en voet my erg begin pla. Ek het geweet my fiets was nie reg opgestel nie so dink dit was seker die groot rede vir dit. Ek het dit in net meer as drie ure klaargemaak, waarmee ek tevrede was.
Ek het teen 'n goeie pace begin hardloop en het die eerste 5km goed gevoel. Die op en af van die roete wat ons gedoen het het my klaargemaak. Die eerste rondte was ok maar dit was nie die lekkerste gevoel om die rekkie te kry en te weet presies wat voor jou lê nie. Ek het geweet dat al loop ek die laaste 10km sal ek nogsteeds betyds klaarmaak dus het ek maar baie geloop en moes by een waterpunt die toiletgeriewe ook gebruik. Ek het nie 'n idee gehad wat die tyd was nie en was net tevrede om klaar te maak. Toe ek by die einde kom en sien ek het die 6ure met minder as 2 minute gemis was ek baie teleurgesteld, maar het besef dit was my eerste Ultra en het nog 'n dag voor die race nog getwyfel of ek dit enigsins sal kan doen.
Ek is so dankbaar vir 'n awesome coach want sonder haar sou ek dit nie kon doen nie, en ek weet dat die Here my die krag gegee het om dit klaar te maak. Ek is van bang na opgewonde in een dag oor Durban wat voorlê. Dit is great om deel te wees van 'n groep met dieselfde passie as ek.
BY LLOYD CULLEN
I joined up with Magda about 3 months ago. I followed a couple of the training sessions set out but I probably missed more than what I followed. Due to the amount of training I felt pretty confident as I had not trained like this ever before. Knowing I was only doing the sprint I was worked up and ready to go.
The atmosphere at an event like this is awesome, and it really got me excited to be partaking in a triathlon. It is well planned and it just has a feel about it that is addictive.
On race day I was excited about the race ahead. I woke up with a headache which is not great but it was not too bad. I got to the start line and was good to go. I had set a few goals that I hoped to achieve but more on that to follow.
I got in a good position for the swim start and went off. The swim was nice although the start was a bit hectic. I now know for future events to start a bit slower and manage my own pace. I got out the water within the time frame I had set. So I was happy with the swim. My race was off to a good start.
Transition 1 went as planned, I got out of my wet-suit well and got changed the way I had planned. Looking at the time frame of this transition I definitely need to pay attention to saving some time here.
The bike ride was also pleasant - I set myself a goal of trying to achieve an average speed of 30km per hour. I did not achieve this but managed an acceptable 25km per hour. So I was pretty happy at this point.
In transition 2 I could feel the effects of not training the way I should have. I spent a lot of time in this transition which also needs a lot of work.
The run is the event I like least, I do not train a lot on running. The route was tough and I struggled to find a rhythm. As you can imagine this was a horrible run for me. I failed completely in my goal for this event. Hard work needs to be done in the future to get my running up to standard.
In general I wanted to complete the event around the 1 hour 30 mark. I further said I have to break 2 hours. I finished the race in 1 Hour 58 min. So I achieved the set out goal. I am somebody who believes that as long as you finish the event entered you have achieved something. So I am happy for finishing this event.
My swim was on target, my bike was not on target but it was much better than previous rides. The run was poor. The reason I mention this is I fully understand that due to not committing and following the set out program left me feeling a bit unsatisfied with the race. I fully understand that I need to commit to be able to better my personal feeling when completing a race.
I partake in the events because I enjoy doing a triathlon. it is fun and I want it to stay fun. The better I perform the more fun it will be. At my current state of fitness I do not fully appreciate the nature of the event. This is a pity as you get to see some awesome places, but I concentrate so much on finishing that I do not enjoy the experience.
What I've learnt and my future goals.
I need to commit and follow the set out program and my race will be much better because of it. I will change my approach in trying to do it as fast as possible but instead focus on enjoying the event. With the right training and enjoying the event, my times will improve. I am not there to race, I do this for self satisfaction. I will enjoy the "Red Carpet" when finishing the event as this moment has gone by to fast and unnoticed in the past.
Durban is my next event, I have started training harder and am enjoying it. I am working hard at having full satisfaction when I cross the finish line on the 18th June. Happy training till then.
BY CHARL VAN HEERDEN
I wasn't nearly as nervous going into IMSA'17 as I was for IMSA'16. I knew what to expect, my preparation with coach Magda Nieuwoudt from Trivium was solid, I had a very specific heart-rate based race-plan which I trusted to get me to the end, and I had no injuries. The weather prediction looked great (very little wind and a warm day, which suits me perfectly). Murphy had other plans though, as always.
Race morning, and I couldn't wait to start. I was so excited, that I forgot to take my goggles and race cap from my brother who held on to them while I was getting into my wetsuit; thankfully he somehow found me among the 2000+ participants. Disaster narrowly avoided.
The swim (3.8km). Race plan: 1h15m.
It started well. I was relaxed, well prepared and determined to improve on my rather average 2016 swim time of ~1h24m. At warm water weekend, two weeks earlier, I averaged 1m53s / 100m, which was right on track with Magda's training plan. Surely I could do the same (or better) in PE?
The sea was rough (big swells which made sighting difficult), but nothing too bad. Apart from an annoying old man touching my feet about 200 times, I thought I was doing OK. When I checked my watch at the second buoy (halfway) though, I was devastated to see that I was going even slower than in 2016! I tried to speed up, but eventually got out of the water in a disappointing 1h29m, averaging 2m18s / 100m.
The bike (180km): Race plan: cadence 80-90, heart rate 155-158.
I was determined to make up for "lost" time on the bike. Murphy decided to say hi, as soon as I activated the bike leg on my watch, as there was suddenly no HR reading! Carefully tailored HR-based race plan out the window, I tried to focus only on cadence and to never push too hard, and it seemed to work well. Apart from the seriously deteriorating road surface (my aero water bottle literally broke off from the constant vibration), the bike leg went really well, and I got into transition just as Ben Hoffman finished his marathon, winning in an incredible course record time of 7h58m40s! Bike time: 5h41m (5h44m in 2016).
The run (42.2km): Race plan: 3h52m, heart rate 160-165.
Getting out of transition, my legs felt incredible. Magda's double brick sessions really paid off, as the first couple of k's after the bike is usually quite difficult while one adjusts from the bike to the run. In fact, I felt so good that I ran right up to a motorcycle that passed transition just I was getting out. When I looked behind me, I saw a mountain bike with "1st lady" written on a card. And when I looked to the side, I was running next to Daniella Ryff! For people who don't follow triathlon, this is like running on a track and suddenly finding yourself next to Usain Bolt. Or doing Comrades and suddenly finding yourself running next to Caroline Wostmann. We were cruising along at just over 4min/km. After ~1km of running with the reigning world champion (Daniella was on her final lap), some sense finally kicked in and I slacked down to a more sensible 5+min/km.
The run turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I saw my new friend Arnold a couple of times on the route (it's always nice to see someone you know that you can talk to, and who shares in the pain), and the support in PE was incredible, as always. After 04h05m (4h24m in 2016), I finally ended another incredible ironman experience in 11h29m.
The weekend and build-up to ironman was really special. The people who sent messages of support probably have no idea how much it really means (to all of you, thank you!). To the supporters who went with to PE (Sandy, Nicolette, and PW and Lee-Ane who drove all the way from Pretoria to come support me), thank you SO much. Magda, for the interesting and well-designed training plans, thanks a lot! And last but not least, to everyone who trained with me (all my new swimming friends and cycle buddies): while race-day is the so-called cherry on the cake, the training and the corresponding camaraderie really is what makes the ironman experience so special.
DEUR MARLISE ROBBERTZE
Hier is ek nou weer in Port Elizabeth, en ek moet myself heeltyd gerus stel dat ek nou niks meer aan my lot kan doen in verband met wat Sondag 2 April vir my voorlê nie.
My voorbereiding wat ek sodanig beplan het vir HIERDIE Ironman het nie so glad verloop soos ék beplan het nie…die ITB-besering waarmee ek geworstel het vanaf laasjaar Junie het my aanvanklik bietjie mismoedig laat word ten opsigte van my oefening, sodanig dat ek maar vir myself getroos het: “Hierdie Ironman gaan ek net doen vir oefening, en tien teen een die hele run moet stap aangesien ek mos nie kan hardloop nie!”
Maar, nou is die dag hier en ek is opgewonde – tog senuagtig – oor hoe ek gaan voel op hierdie tawwe dag!
Met jou eerste Ironman gaan jy die resies in met die idee: “ek gaan net kyk of ek kan klaarmaak”; noudat mens weet jy HET dit al gedoen, is daardie onsekerheid darem nie daar nie, maar nogtans het ek geweet elke race het sy eie uitdagings.
Ek staan LANK in ‘n ry en wag vir ‘n toilet, die beamptes skreeu dat ons nog net 3 minute het voordat transition sluit en ek trek inderhaas my wetsuit vinnig aan in die benoudheid dat ek dalk te laat hier gaan uitkom.
Op pad na die start kry ek my man, Nico en vriendin Adéle, ek gee vir hom my fietspomp en my streetwear-sak. Ek gee hom ‘n soen en ‘n stywe druk… en daar kom die trane in ons albei se oë. Hierdie is ook sy droom en hierdie keer moet ek dit alleen doen want hy herstel van ‘n besering!
Ek kry ‘n paar mense wat ek ken terwyl ons staan en wag en die gesels laat my tog ontspan. Dis my beurt om weg te spring en meteens is ek in die water en daar gaan ons…
Tot by die 1ste rooi boei swem ek lekker gemaklik…totdat ek moet draai…ek voel soos ‘n klein bootjie wat dobber op die groot oop see, en omdat ek gewoonlik regs asemhaal, sluk ek met amper elke asemteug ‘n hengse sluk seewater.
Die op-en-af deinings in die water en die BAIE water wat ek sluk veroorsaak dat ek amper seesiek wil word. Al wat ek vir myself heeltyd sê is: “jy sal NIE nou siek word nie, want dan is jou hele race ‘n naar storie”
Nadat ek by die 3de rooi boei gedraai het op pad huis toe, gaan dit beter en kan ek lekker asemhaal en my ritme kry. Ek swem ‘n 1:19:09.
By transition 1 trek ek rustig my fiets gereedskap aan, hardloop tot waar ons kan opklim en daar gaan ek, en SO dankbaar dat ek nie naar is na die swem nie!!!
Die 1ste 45Km verbaas ek myself op die fiets en dat ek so goed voel, en ek bid gedurig. Ek sê dankie aan my Skepper dat ek hierdie dinge kan doen!
Op pad terug met 1ste loop stop ek eers by ‘n toilet en strek so bietjie uit… die rit terug is wel bietjie swaarder en ek begin die uitdaging op die fiets nou voel met ‘n lae rugpyn wat knaend is maar ek kan nie bekostig om op te hou fokus nie, want ek wil nie onnodige tyd mors nie.
Die 2 km voordat ek draai vir die 2de “loop” sien ek my man Nico, my kinders, ouers en vriendin en dadelik verdwyn al daardie klein skete (vir ‘n rukkie). Ek glimlag van oor-tot-oor soos my kindertjies op die sypaadjie langs my hardloop. Nico bemoedig my so dat ek op pad uit met die 2 de loop sommer trane in my oë het.
Die 2de loop uit Port Elizabeth verloop weereens verbasend goed en ek praat heeltyd met myself om aan te hou hard werk sodat my average spoed kan verbeter. Die gedagte dat ek myself nie TE hard op die fiets moet druk sodat ek darem nog iets in my bene oor het vir die run, bly heeltyd by my opkom… maar tog ry ek so lekker dat ek nie eintlik meer weet hoeveel is TE hard of wat is NET genoeg nie.
Alles gaan goed en op pad terug kry ek ‘n vrou wat langs die pad vra of iemand nie dalk ‘n ekstra bomb (compressed air) vir haar het nie. Ek stop toe en gee vir haar ‘n bomb en besef dat ék dit baie sou waardeer as iemand my in ‘n krisis sou help.
Ek besluit om my laaste toilet-stop te maak aangesien ek nie weet hoe besig dit by transition gaan wees nie, voor ek verder ry strek ek eers weer!
Die laaste 20 km voor transition ry soos ‘n droom! Ek trap teen ‘n lekker hoë cadence soos my afrigter my aanbeveel het.
By transition bêre ek my fiets, draf stadig na my run bag en ek kan byna nie glo dat my bene so verbasend goed voel na die 180km fietsrit nie! Ek eindig op 6:26:38.
My 1ste km op die run kyk ek na my horlosie en wonder of die ding nie dalk stukkend is nie, want hy wys my pas is 4:45 min p/km. Maar as ek rondom my kyk, voel dit of my pas 6:00min p/km is. Ek besef HIERDIE pas sal ek nie kan handhaaf nie want my rug voel skielik of hy wil afbreek en ek besluit dat ek sal MOET stop en strek anders gaan hierdie ‘n baie lang en moeilike run wees.
Die 1ste en 2de rondtes van die run was vir my verskriklik swaar en die gedagte om te stop en loop kom heeltyd by my op. Elke water-stasie loop ek en drink Coke of water of High 5 en dit voel of my dors net nie gelês word nie.
Nico draf langs my as ek by hulle verby kom en gee my info van my coach van hoe ek myself moet pace en ek hou dit heeltyd in my gedagtes.
In die helfte van die 2de rondte besluit ek: “Nou gaan ek sommer loop” en toe besef ek hoe spyt ek gaan voel aan die einde as ek as gevolg van loop nie die tyd gaan maak waarvoor ek gehoop het nie.
Ek onthou die sin wat my coach die vorige aand vir my gesê het: “Jy moet nie aan die einde van die wedloop voel dat jy nog kon gee nie… Jy moet weet en voel dat jy ALLES wat jy kon, gegee het!”
My voete begin skielik voel of hulle wil kramp, en ek konsentreer daarop om my voete so neer te sit dat hulle nie kramp nie.
Gelukkig gaan die laaste 20km beter.
Ek gee werklik my ALLES in die laaste 3 km op pad na die einde en ek voel soos ‘n celebrity toe ek by die finish se rooi tapyte inhardloop! Hulle kondig aan: “Here comes Marlise Robbertze with a big smile on her face” en weet dat ek dit bereik het wat ek gehoop het!
My tyd is meer as 1 uur 30 minute vinniger as verlede jaar - 11:53:29.
Ek glimlag en kry trane in my oë van dankbaarheid en besef:
“HIERDIE WAS DIT ALLES DIE MOEITE WERD!!!!!”
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.