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.
This blog is written by the coach and athletes associated with Trivium.