Why I’m Left Feeling Bitterly Disappointed By Half Iron Man.

Three years ago I took part in, and completed my first ever Half Iron Man in East London. Upon crossing the finish line I burst into tears. I was elated, so proud and felt like I had achieved the impossible. (Turns out, it’s the 2nd hardest course in the world, so my feelings were justified I suppose). Fast-forward to 19 June 2016 when I crossed the finish line in Durban, and all I felt was a heavy heart and bitter disappointment.

It’s been a few days since finishing the race, and I’ve been trying to understand why I feel so ‘let down’ about the entire experience.

The weeks and month leading up to the race were not kind, and as mentioned here, the odds just seemed to be against me. When I did the race for the first time three years ago, I had a lot more time to train, people to train with and it was I Summer, which meant Winter with its debilitating cold, dark and sickness wasn’t an issue. Back to back bronchitis, chronic anemia, no sleep, shin splints, planning a first birthday party, a resignation from work and massive stress in my life left me feeling seriously fragile for most of my training.

We arrived in Durban on Thursday – to give us enough time to register, chill with the friends whose house we were staying at, and acclimatise for the race. The big rule before any event like this is easy; REST UP. Unfortunately, the Monday before, Carter had started with some severe gastro that was so bad we did what we have never done before and actually panicked enough to take him to the hospital. There, they declared a viral gastro infection and asked us to ‘wait it out’. On the Saturday before the race (having waited it out for 7 days) he was only getting worse; there was blood in his stools, he wasn’t sleeping, had a raging fever, was as miserable as sin and we were exhausted. We took him to the hospital in Durban and within twenty minutes he was admitted for dehydration and on a drip. Emotional doesn’t even begin to cut it, I was devastated for two reasons – one for my poor sick baby in hospital, with a now bacterial dysentery (the guilt!) and two, for the race in less than 15 hours time – which Barry and I had both trained so long and hard for, sacrificed family time for and had been planning for, for the better part of half a year. Barry insisted I still race – knowing that after this 70.3 I was probably going to give up triathlon for a bit and focus on finding some balance in my life. With a heavy heart I left the hospital to go and pack my transition bags and rack my bike. If it wasn’t for my friend Eryn who we were staying with – who had just completed the Full Iron Man – I probably would have given up there and then. Thankfully she got my mind right(ish), helped me pack my bags, nutrition and bike and helped me get to the race to set up. She also took me down to the race the next morning at 5 am and stood on the cooking hot pavements, with her hubby and son, and supported me the entire day.

On the same Saturday that Carter was admitted – before we took him to the hospital – we had the pre-race training swim. Normally the pre-swim is a free for all where athletes get to play in the water, get a feel for the waves, the current and the ocean. This year the ocean was not playing ball, and the race organisers seemed uneasy. They made it a swim where you had to queue up and head off 10 at a time, with the organisers checking people in and out using our timing chips. Alarm bells were ringing in my head, and as the queue got longer and longer and more and more swimmers were coming you the water looking less than happy, I was in full blown panic mode. After about an hour and a half of waiting to go in, they abruptly cancelled the pre-swim. The water was just too dangerous. My heart sunk a bit further into my chest. The swim was my Achilles heel and mentally I had been preparing myself for this single discipline the entire time. Distracted by a very unwell baby though, we left and took him to the hospital, as above.

After a last visit to see my baby and Barry in the paed ward, I went home to Eryn and Greg and slept surprisingly well (could be the red wine or Xanax..or both). Up to this pint I had also picked up a tiny bit of Carter’s gastro, which meant an upset tummy and zero appetite – also not great before a race).

Race morning arrived and I was up at 4 am. For those who take part or spectate in triathlons, you understand its not as simple as arriving and running in to the water. It’s a mammoth task of logistics, planning and time. Even though your bike and two transition bags are packed and racked the day before, you still have to get down to transition the morning of the race to pump tyres, stock nutrition and triple check you have everything you need in the relevant bag. I did this all and left the transition area to find Eryn. It was dark and fresh and a beautiful morning. My tummy was feeling better, Carter seemed to be on the mend, and I suddenly had a bit more optimism about the race. Then the race organisers made the announcement: The swim had just been cancelled.

3000 athletes went in to panic mode. This was the first time in 20 years that the swim had been cancelled – which meant that the ocean really wasn’t in a good mood. Many people were angry and quick to judge. I was gutted. The biggest challenge for me, and one that I finally felt ready for had been pulled form under me. Which meant we technically weren’t doing a triathlon – we were doing a duathlon. I, along with 2999 other athletes felt cheated.

The race, instead of a well oiled slick machine now turned into disorganised chaos. The pro athletes (only about 16 in total) still had to do the swim, and the rest of us plebs would start on the bike once they were done. We walked down to the swim, my mind now completely unraveled and watched them start. ‘The waves aren’t that high’ I thought to myself as I looked down. Then the gun went and the pros went off and the only thing I can liken it to was confetti being tossed into a gale force wind. Swimmers were everywhere. Some immediately got pushed several hundred meters to the left, others got pushed to shore and some just could not get past the surf. Two ladies had to be rescued and many of them (remember, all pro athletes) said they thought they were going to die. To give more context – take a look here.

It was while watching the pro swim that I realised the organisers had definitely made the right call. I can guarantee that several people would have lost their life that day should the swim not have been cancelled. However, that still didn’t stop the thoughts banging in my head. People just aren’t going to respect us now. People will say it wasn’t a real race.

Now, this is where I think I started feeling like a loser, and why the race has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The bike start – instead of happening as people came out of the water – ie a staggered approach – but still relatively in line with your age groupers happened with all 3000 athletes at the same time, but actually not at the same time at all. Which meant a 2 hour queue as they let people off, five at a time every 15 seconds. I happened to be one of the very last in the queue, which meant that by the time I eventually started my bike, other athletes had already been out there for almost 2 hours. That does a lot for ones psyche, and even though your time only officially started once you had got on your bike and started cycling, mentally it felt like you were already behind. As an example, if athlete A started at the front of the queue and cycled a 4 hour race, and athlete B started at the back of the queue and cycled a 3 hour race, athlete A would still finish the bike first and start the run while athlete B was still riding. This is what happened to me, and even though I feel I had an OK’ish bike time (for me anyways!) I came off the bike and started the run when pretty much everyone had already started. Because of my late start, and the mentality of the organisers and volunteer staff being that of a normal race (ie cutoff times after swim and bike), by the time I turned around at the 40 km mark, people had already started packing up cones and aid stations and cars were flying past me on the freeways. Not cool. That, coupled with a really bad stitch in my shoulders made me a glum chap.

I got off my bike in transition and looked around in dismay – it seemed as if 90% of the bikes had been racked – which made perfect sense when you thought about it logically, but totally threw me, because even though I was well within my cutoff time, it felt like I was coming stone last. I started the run when most people were on their second lap, and so by the time I started my second lap, I had marshals rushing me along – again forgetting that I was making decent time and that time on the clock wasn’t an indicator of athlete performance. “I started 2 hours after everyone else!” I wanted to scream.

The run was shitty, and I will never again underestimate a ‘quick 21km’ again. Because it was completely flat I assumed it would be the best and easiest part of the day. It wasn’t. Flat means no hard uphill, but it also means no lovely downhill to relieve your legs. It was also 1 pm by the time I started, and 36 degrees.

I just felt the spectators at that point were disinterested, and I felt lonely for most of the run. Even my parents, who had come all the way to see me race, looked bored. I think it had been a long day of waiting, and due to the slow start, there wasn’t much excitement in terms of masses of athletes all competing at the same time. I could see them thinking ‘really, is this it?’

About 8 kms in I started running with a girl Siobhan who I met along the route and who mentally helped me a lot. I left her after a few kms as I was feeling a bit stronger, and she needed to walk a bit more. (I hope she somehow stumbles across this blog and makes contact – I never caught her last name, but we did commit to having lunch in Joburg together to celebrate not dying). The last 10 kms were much better than the first, and I kept a very slow but steady pace (race day goal was a 6:45 and I was managing between 7:30 and 8. I was hurting and the tummy cramps of the previous few days had flared up.).

On those last 10 kms, again due to the lateness of the day and mentality of how it’s usually done, a lot of the aid stations had closed up, sponges and water had run out and the promenade had been opened properly to the public. I ran into 2 people, was hit by a wayward soccer ball and had to dodge more than one child running in and out the crowds. By then I was close to despair and started going in to a very dark place.

Eventually, I finished, in my slowest 21 km time ever of 2:44. I crossed the finish line happy, grabbed my medal and T-shirt and made my way back to the supporters area. It was completely empty. That kind of (un)welcome does a lot for this already battered ego, and I felt so sad and despondent.

The positive to the race was that my baby boy was discharged that afternoon so he and hubby at-least got to see me on the route, which was a beautiful sight when you are empty and broken inside.

Sadly, I don’t feel as if the organisers handled the delayed start well, and I’m bitterly disappointed by how I was made to feel like a B grade athlete out there – at no fault of my own. I think the organisers had been prepped for a 7:30 am start and a cutoff by 15:30 – so when the plans changed and the time got pushed out, they weren’t aware that it was OK and athletes competing were not a bunch of losers. I also definitely know that having had the swim portion cut out – which actually made the race harder for some reason, has made me feel like a 2/3 Iron Man.

Does that mean I have unfinished business, and will be coming back next year to see it through? Probably not. I’m feeling a massive sense of relief that this race is over, and that I can focus on some other aspects of my life right now. Nothing that looks or sounds like a swim, bike or run… although, that’s what I said straight after my very first Half Iron man in 2013…

CJ was less than thrilled as well
CJ was less than thrilled as well

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I took this photo when the pros went out on their swim. You can see the lifeguards rushing in to assist a swimmer

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Carter in hospital with bacterial dysentry
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Race registration with Eryn
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Finishing in a time of 6:26
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On the Friday we did a team swim. The water was harsh but not unmanageable.
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Half Iron Man 70.3 (and the uneven, pothole infested road that’s got me there).

*Disclaimer. You’re about to get knee deep into the biggest pity-party this side of 2016. Sorry.

In 13 days’ time I will be standing at the start line of 70.3 Durban, and hopefully finishing less than 8.5 hours later, with a second Half Iron Man medal under my belt.

I’m dreading it. I feel like the odds have been stacked against me from the very start of this race.

Firstly, the race is on 19 June, slap bang in the middle of Winter. Which means training has been happening leading up to, and in Winter – dark mornings, dark nights, freezing weather and less than ideal circumstances. Have you ever been swimming at 5:30 am on a Monday in -2 cold degree, in the dark? It’s super kuk.

When I last did the race I was kid and fancy free. I could train twice a day, and train with my now-husband and some friends. Now that we have a son we have to split our time – so one of us will do the morning run while the other trains, and visa versa in the evening. That means apart from a very lonely 5 months of exercising alone, I also never see my husband, and get to tuck my child in bed 50% of the time. We are like 3 ships in the night.

I’ve also had the worst year, health wise. I was recently diagnosed with severe anemia, which is a relief, because I genuinely thought I had caught a bad case of the stupid. I’ve given and received bronchitis several times and had more throat infections than Zumas has wives. I’ve pretty much trained through antibiotics, iron drips and the plague.

And then the broken sleep, and sick baby, and teething baby and baby in general. Holy hell. My one-year-old gives zero shits that mommy needs to be up at 5 for a spinning class, and then a full day of work afterwards. And it’s fine, because I have dragged this kid through the trenches with me. We wake him up at godforsaken hours on the weekend, bundle him in layers of clothing and trek him from race to race. He has been a champ, and I think when he gets fed up of having to attend one more training session or Club V class he decides to grow 18 molars in the space of a day. Just for payback.

So I’m really tired, and exhausted, and so looking forward to this day being done. I’m also really scared that I don’t finish in time because despite it all I’ve given it 100% and tried my absolute best from day 1. I’m so worried of what people will think or say if I fail – how silly am I?

Also, have I told you that despite training 7 days a week for the past 4 months I HAVENT EVEN LOST ONE KILOGRAM? Anyway.

My husband slash coach asked me yesterday what my next goal is after the race is done. My answer? Chill the fuck out. (Until the next family gathering when after one too many glasses of wine I agree to another race, like Comrades or something equally stupid).

Freezing morning rides
Freezing morning rides
Solo Wattbike classes
Solo Wattbike classes

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Early dark morning at Germiston Tri
Early dark morning at Germiston Tri

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Finishing Germiston Tri
Finishing Germiston Tri
Supporting mom at her race
Supporting mom at her race
Does an iron drip qualify me as an Iron Man?
Does an iron drip qualify me as an Iron Man?
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One, Two, Tri-Rock

After finishing the Half Iron Man in January last year, swore I would never do another triathlon, let alone a Half Iron Man distance.

“2014 will be about making babies and buying homes” I’d exclaimed.

Well, the jokes on me, because I’ve agreed to do another one in October this year. OCTOBER people. I’m the fattest and most unfit I’ve ever been (swear, I nearly lost my breath walking up the office stairs this morning) so this is going to be a challenge. Thank goodness I’ve roped in my friend Shannon who is up for anything, so I will have a training partner. There are also a few friends who are doing it as well, so its going to be vibey and enjoyable (I hope).

Tri Rock takes place in Durban on 10 October. 

Is anyone else taking part? 

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The Top 13 of 2013

Last year on 12/12/12 I wrote this. Unfortunately there is no such date as 13/13/13 so 19/12/13 shall have to suffice for me to recap on the 13 biggest (baddest, bestest and saddest) things to happen in 2013.

1. We got married! Yay!

2. I left a job where I was being bullied and harassed by management and started a new job where I’m treated with kindness and respect by my superiors (let me tell ya what a difference that has made to my self esteem)

3. I took part in and finished my very first Half Iron Man!

4. I traveled to Malaysia with my hubby for the words best Honeymoon. You can read about that here and here

5. My mom in law suffered a stroke and pulled through like an absolute champ.

6. I had my heart broken by a friend and learnt how to pick myself up and carry on (sort of)

7. I came 2nd in a night-trail race and beat my PB by 3 minutes.

8. I learnt how to forgive and forget past hurts

9. I changed my surname. Rankin Rankin Rankin (Apparently the more I say it the quicker I will get used to hearing it)

10. Our beloved ‘Tata’ Mandela passed away and caused the entire world to become proudly South African. 

11. My brother got married and I gained a new sister and her fabulous family.

12. I landed a huge voice over and TV deal

13. I gained some new friends who I cant ever imagine my life without. 

To everyone who has made this year the rollercoaster ride that it was – thank you.

What are your Top 13 of 2013?

XXX

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The countdown to 70.3 – an inspirational letter

This week has been a horrible one – I’m battling to keep up with a lot of work and get the right amount of training in for Half Iron Man in January. It’s tough trying to balance friends, work, family, wedding planning and training in a 24 hour day. To be honest, Ive been feeling a little despondent about it all – particularly the fact that the race is in just over a months time and I dont quite think my training has been enough. Then, my fiance sent me and my training buddies (we are all IM virgins) a story he has written on his Iron Man experience in the past.

I took a few minutes to read this, and had tears rolling down my face. It’s beautiful, and inspirational and is making me (finally) just a little bit excited for my first 70.3. 

If you are a first time participant, or a fully qualified Iron Man, take the time to read this too – I can guarantee it will touch you in some way or the other.

Ironman 70.3 and what to expect:

 This is going to be one of those days, it is going to be the longest quickest day of your life.

You are going to be waking up, then crossing the finish line and then drinking tequila – well that is what it is going to feel like when you wake up the following morning.
What it will feel like on the day is completely different, it will feel like time is playing a joke on you and standing still or even going backwards, it will feel like you are going nowhere and yet the truth of the matter is that time is always ticking and it actually ticks pretty fast when you are racing.

The Build Up

The build up to the race is fun and nerve wracking, you will arrive in East London on the Friday morning to a city that has come to a stand still for 1 race – this is for you.
You will check into the hotel and all you will want to do is get out there and register, run, swim and check your bike because that is what everyone else is doing – or at least it looks that way, you will want to hit the beach and be busy with some activity – NO NO NO – DON’T DO ANY OF THIS!!!

What you should really do is take a 20min lie down and a little freshen up. Get into relax mode as quick as possible. Lie on the bed and do nothing – read a magazine or your book but just try to relax as quickly as possible.

Grab your wetsuit and your swim kit and head down to the swim venue, put on your wetsuit and go for a short swim, the water will be cold, walk in and out until you are confident to just run in and lose your breath, once in just play in the water and get used to the feeling of the sea, swim to the 1st Buoy and back and that is it. Play in the waves and have fun – splash water at your friend and act like a kid.
Get out and have a good look at what you just did, high 5 everyone and then head back to the hotel and have a shower, relax and do nothing. Find something to keep your mind busy with your legs up, a lap top with a series is perfect.

Around lunch time go to the expo, register and have a quick look around then go for lunch, again feet up and weight on the bum. Enjoy lunch and chill out – out of the sun. Watch everyone around you. Some of them will be 120kg’s and others will be 72kg ripped with every little muscle showing – WHO CARES! Do not panic that someone is in better shape, round is also a shape and it can roll down a hill faster than Mr. Ripped.
Head back to the room and once again relax. Do nothing but keep your mind busy, watch series on a lap top again (actually make sure you have a lot to watch)

Later that day go for a short run of 10 – 15minutes and go to bunkers hill if you want to see what this hill is all about. It will feel horrible but it will be good for you, you are getting blood back into the legs after the long drive. Don’t let it affect your head at all – Sunday will feel better!
Have a shower, get ready in comfortable clothes and go find an early dinner – East Londo is no fashion show at all!
Make sure you eat healthy and what you want and get to bed early – sleep for as long as possible.

On the Saturday morning wake up, have a coffee and something to eat (what you will eat for breakfast the day of the race) grab that wetsuit (haha ‘wet’ suit coz it will still be wet)  and head out for another swim, same again – practice walking into the sea and getting going, then practice swimming out and do it again. Float in the sea and remember you are floating and this is easy – POSITIVE thoughts only!!!

Head back to the room and take your bike for a 10min spin just to check the gears and that everything is working then head back, shower and yes you guessed it – relax.
Today you do nothing but stay off those feet for as long as possible.
Pack your race packs (while sitting) and then relax, maybe even have a 20min snooze.
An early lunch is always good, eat what you want and enjoy it – I usually do pizza.
The time will come where you have to rack your bike and your bags. Go do this and remember this is no time to panic, they will tell you where to put your bike and where to put your bags, all you have to do is put them where they have told you and have a quick walk around transition, from where you run in from the sea to where you run out with your bike, then do the walk from when you run in with your bike to when you run out for the run. It is quick and easy and very smooth sailing. You do this at a BSG so do it again- make sure you know where you bags and bike are.

Head back to the room and relax, read a book, watch a series and get ready for an early dinner. Again eat what you want but try keeping it to what works for you but also healthy and balanced then back to the room and feet up for the rest of the night. Everything is done, don’t sit on your phone to much as people will make you nervous. You do not need nerves right now!
Get comfy and chill.
 If you can’t sleep rather turn a light on and read or watch TV. Your good night for sleeping was last night – tonight is just there coz it has to be – don’t panic if you can’t sleep – another 3000 people are also awake.

RACE DAY!
Wake up and think positive – if the wind is blowing tell yourself it is blowing at your back, if it is raining say at least  I will not over heat and if it is the perfect day just smile and know it is a perfect day. No matter what the conditions are – everyone else is out there with you in the same conditions.

Have breakfast straight away and then get dressed, grab what you need and head to the start, fill your lunch box with your food and put your bottles on the bike. Make sure your bags are still 100% and untie the knots in them or take the tape off of them. Head out and get the wetsuit on, relax and just enjoy the vibe.
3000 other people are also racing with you some faster and some slower, everyone is nervous and everyone is excited.
Kiss your loved ones good bye and tell them you will see them when you are a 70.3 IRONMAN finisher.

Find your start pen, stand at the back with a friend and talk about positive rides and runs, remember that day we ran a PB, or the day we had so much fun on the bike or trhe day we kept swimming we felt like Forest Gump for Water and when the gun goes off  for your race, high 5 and walk into the sea just like you did the day before.

The SWIM

You have done the distance; it will not be an issue. Start at the back and walk in, get going slowly and stay calm. No one is there to drown you and no one is there to injure you. Everyone has the same goal – get out of the water in 1 piece. Have your goals set as buoy to buoy and remember there are only 4 of them and then you will be done.
Put your head down and swim. If you want to do breaststroke then do it but what you need to do in the water is make sure you are always going forwards, every stroke you take is a stroke closer to the finish of the swim. Don’t tell yourself that you still have to bike and run, that is a problem for later – FOCUS on swimming and staying calm! Pretend you are Nemo and just keep swimming, just keep swimming (see what I did there?)

When you hit the last buoy know that you are almost done, swim for shore and get excited coz there are  40 000 spectators waiting for you.
Stand up when you can and take your goggles off, keep your swim cap on and smile for the cameras and the spectators.
Walk out of the sea, find your legs and clap if you want – you have now completed the swim – remember to start taking your wetsuit off but also remain CALM.

 T1

Get your bag and head through to the tent, take out your shoes and your helmet and anything else you will need, someone will help you with your wetsuit and put sun block on you, pack all your stuff in the bag and relax. Do not rush transition, make sure you have everything but also keep in mind how long you have been there, everything can be done in 5 minutes or 15minutes, one way you get out quicker and the other you waste 10minutes. Walk out the tent, hand your bag in and get your bike, same rule applies – walk with your bike to the mount line, get on and smile (cameras) and the spectators. In fact smile all the time, those cameras are ninjas and they just pop out and take pictures.

BIKE

DO NOT RIDE IN THE GUTTER – RIDE OUTSIDE OF THE YELLOW LINE!!!

Nothing is a rush here, the bike route is tough but you will be fine, 94.7 was further. Start slowly and get going, don’t get out of breath just yet. Drink water and eat a potato straight away enjoy the beach road – it is flat and there are spectators.
The highway is boring, try see who you are riding with and make up names for them all (big bum, nice bum and skid mark bum) , keep your head busy all the way out, you will see the road climbing in front of you and on the other side of the road you will see guys on their way back in, don’t let it bug you, when you are riding in you will still see guys riding out.
You have ridden further, you have ridden steeper hills and you have ridden in worse wind (if there is any) #youhaveriddenitallbefore – just keep going forwards and stick to your nutrition plan, eat and drink and stay calm.
My advice is when you are on the bike and you don’t know what to do – eat and drink!
If you get off the bike empty your run is going to be like running up Mt Everest pulling a whale behind you – even on the downhill!
There are water points, throw your old bottle away and get a new cold one.
At the turn around think what you have just done and remember that home is quicker. The route coming in is nice and fast, do not kill yourself as there is 1 big hill coming into the city, it is not long and it is not that steep but after 80km + of riding it feels big.
NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO – KEEP GOING FORWARDS.
Enjoy the beach road again and increase you cadence, even if you slow down a bit that is fine, get ready for the spectators and the cameras – you will also see guys already running – WHO CARES, you are almost on the run.
Get off your bike, straighten up, give it to a marshal in the transition area – they will rack it for you and head to T2.

T2

Take your cycling shoes off straight away and walk in barefoot, walk to your bag, grab it and hit the tent – as soon as you go in look for someone / ask someone to help you – they will be more than willing.
Sit down on a chair and change your shoes (new socks will feel amazing if you are going to use socks) and try not to sit for too long though, someone will put sun block on your back and neck for you. Make sure you have everything and then drop your bag off and head out for the run.

 RUN

NOW you have nothing or everything to lose – start too quickly and you will die, YES YOU WILL, take the 1st few KM’s easy, relax and realise you are in the crowds so do not think you need to show off. As you run away from the finish the crowds will get less and less, that is fine, it will be a good time to have a reality check. Ask yourself “am I tired’ the truth is yes you are but you are not shattered – tell yourself you are fine – on this run, all 21km of it you may and must lie to yourself, you are not tired and you are not sore, the person next to you is sore but you are NOT!!!  
Soon enough you will hit bunkers hill, this is still your 1st lap, run and walk it do not let it beat you this time, there are crowds again so feed off of their energy, get to the top and be happy coz now you can run down it. Run back along that lonely stretch and make a friend with another athlete – everyone is doing the same thing and everyone is feeling the same. Just keep going forwards, you must try having a good 1st lap which does not mean a PB for 10km but an enjoyable 10km.
Run back into the crowds listen out for your name and love it. Get ready to turn around and do the last lap of your 1st 70.3 race ever. Run away from the crowds, the key word being run. When you get to that lonely spot look around for your friend, if they are still with you awesome, if not then make a new one!
Now bunkers hill – if it wants to beat you this time – let it, try running and walking but if you can’t just keep walking, when you get to the top you can run down it and have the last laugh – you beat it!!!
Look for a new friend and run through the lonely bit, at the last water point grab water wash your face, try freshen up and get ready for the crowds.

2km to go

You know you have done it and this is where the pain will set in, for some reason your head will tell your body it is done, that you are now finished but you are not. Keep going forwards and remember every step forwards is a step closer and by now you will hear the finish, you will hear the spectators and you will know you only have 12 minutes of your race left.

FINISH

If possible try to let the gap between you and the person in front of you 100m big, you want to be on the carpet alone and you want amazing pictures – start smiling (crying is also allowed but not ugly crying only happy crying), clap and wave and just be happy. If you want to walk the carpet then do so, it will last longer and you can enjoy it more.  That carpet is yours and all yours, the announcer will now tell you that “YOU ARE A 70.3 IRONMAN” cross the line, look back down the carpet and just smile.
You did it.
You are part of a new family – the IRONMAN 70.3 family. (bragging rights achieved)

After Party

You will feel shattered and you will feel tired – DO NOT GIVE IN!
Have a drink and have a tequila then have more and enjoy the time with everyone there, swop war stories and have another tequila, this is your new family – tomorrow it is all over so make sure you have fun.

You only do your 1st once – ENJOY IT AND CELEBRATE IT!

My Iron Man

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The Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge

‘Bloody Cyclists!’

‘Stupid Road Closures’

Argh – I HATE 94.7 for doing this to me!’

I’m pretty certain I’m not the only person around Joburg who, yearly, moans about the road closures for the 94.7 Cycle Challenge, curses the inconvenience of being trapped at home or moans about the irritation of having to plan your day around tens of thousands of shaved-legged-tight-jersey-wearing athletes taking over our roads. Right?

Well, as they saying goes – if you cant beat ’em, join ’em. So I did, and let me tell you that I have a new found respect for anyone who has ever taken part in this race.

First off, it’s crowded. This year 27000+ riders took on the challenge. Secondly, it’s bloody hot. With temperatures reaching over 30 degrees the 11km infamous Krugersdorp highway feels more like a crossfit session on the face of the sun. It’s also windy, long, exhausting, and hot. Have I mentioned hot?

I was hoping for a time of 4 hours – to fit in with my Half Iron Man training and preparation, but as luck would have it I got my first ever puncture on said Highway. Twice. That wasted us (and by us I mean Barry – I watched him fix them, while eating the potato stand out of all it’s stock) a good 45 minutes, so by the time we finished the race we clocked in at just under 5 hours. Considering the break, we still managed a ride time of 4:15 which isn’t too far off my initial goal.

So, having broken my 94.7 virginity – here’s what Ive learnt :

– You will hit a wall. Anticipate it and push through it. Mine happened around 70 kms. Just as this photo was taken. Gents – this is what ‘faking it’ looks like.

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– Eat! A lot – I burned over 3000 calories – which will have an impact if you dont refuel. I favour potatoes and bars over sweet gels – but do what works for you

– Keep hydrated. At times it feels like you’re being slow roasted – and if you dont get enough liquids you will suffer.

– Wear sunblock – otherwise you will look like this :

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– Take a moment just before Krugersdorp highway to look back and congratulate yourself on where you’ve come from. That Joburg horizon seems very far away from where you are. It’s an achievement – be proud.

– Feed off the energy of the supporters – the vibe is amazing!

– Dont (as I did) drink the day before. Or do – but keep the self induced complaints to yourself 🙂

– There are some people who ride it twice. I call them bloody lunatics. If you see them – buy them a beer or donate to their charity – they deserve it.

– Lastly, enjoy it! Make friends with riders, chat, joke and laugh. I promise it eases the pain slightly.

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PS – Thanks for the gear Biogen – Rupert approves!

 

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What would you do , if you weren’t afraid?

What would you be capable of doing, if you didn’t have fear? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for several months now, and the answer is ‘much more’. I’m not sure if this fear I am feeling has something to do with growing up, nearing my thirties and generally becoming more aware about the futility of life? When last did you see a young child not jump in the water, for fear of the cold or harm? Not often I’m sure. Post swim, said child will be all blue lip smiles and chattering teeth. Why then, as adults are we so terrified to do what brought us so much joy only a few years earlier?

Lately I have been even more bothered by this question, as I’ve experienced something so utterly terrifying, I’m actually embarrassed. As you may know I started training for the Half Iron Man event in January next year – an intense race broken up into a 1.9km sea swim, 90k cycle and a 21 km run. Who would have thought that I’m considering quitting the training and selling my entry because of the swim?

I jokingly recounted my first open water swim a few weeks back, and even mentioned how I was going to do another swim (part of a triathlon) the next weekend to ‘get over my fear’. I may as well have stated I was just going to ‘hike to the moon’. That swim proved to be one of the toughest and draining experiences of my life. To find yourself suspended in 13 degree dam water, surrounded by hundreds of swimmers, 200 m from land, whilst having an panic/asthma attack, sobbing and needing to throw up was a horrendous experience I wish never to repeat. Even after the lifeguards had come to take me to shore, I still refused. Some (still sane part of me) refused to quit. ‘Harden up Kearney’ I told myself, more than once, as I repeated the above process for 3/4 of a kilometer until I managed to get to dry land. (I can honestly thank my very patient boyfriend for not leaving my side the entire time, for me not completely losing it). Once I got to shore I handed in my timing device, quit the rest of the race, and spent the rest of the day in a very dark and sad place. Not my proudest moment.

So what now? Now I learn how to face my fear, and not feed it. I grew up swimming in pools and swimming for my school. Pop me in the clear blue waters of a Virgin Active and Im positively dolphin like. So why the fear of open water? Too dark? Too cold? Too open? Who knows, all I know is that my fear of that, along with every other paranoid feeling and thought I have needs to be eradicated now. So there you go fear-demon – from now on you shall be starved and left to die.

Off to give it a 3rd attempt on Saturday. Hoping it will be a ‘dam’ good experience!

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What would YOU do, if you weren’t afraid? 

 

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Sleek Geek and Half Iron Man

To make up for doing absolutely nothing that was even remotely interesting in the last few weeks, I have decided to repent with a bang and challenge myself to probably my biggest event yet. Somehow between a bottle of wine last weekend and a bit of heckling from 15 post Comrades runners I committed to doing the Half Iron Man race next year. After a small vom (nerve, not wine induced) I pulled up my big girl panties and decided life’s too short to say no to a challenge and decided to give this my best shot. I also reckon the biggest reward at the end will be looking slim and sexy in spandex, not an easy feat.

The Half Iron Man race consists of a 1.9km swim, 90 km cycle and 21 km race. I am so lucky to know a few awesome people, doing this race and have 2 fabulous training partners for most of it, Barry and Eryn.

The training seemed to start almost immodestly, so I was literally thrown into the deep end on day one (hello swimming pool mid winter). I am lucky enough to have a boyfriend with several Iron Men under his belt – gosh that sounds rude – and his trainer who is so specialized he makes chuck Norris look like a janitor. Their input into my workout plan has been invaluable.

My training at the beginning consists of the following :

Monday : 1 km swim
Tuesday : 1 hour spinning class
Wednesday : 1 km swim
Thursday : 3 km run and an hour Bootcamp class
Friday : Off day. This means the heaviest lifting I will have to do is pouring my wine into my glass.
Saturday : 2 hour spinning class
Sunday : 8 km run

So far week one has gone pretty well, but I am nervous for the weekend part. Acknowledging that my morning lie-ins are now a thing of the past has cut me deep. I also know I better suck it up because this training is apparently very basic, and it will only get worse going forward.

I’m also hoping this exercise will pay off with regards to the Sleek Geek change I’m currently taking part in. The diet has been going well and I’m surprised I haven’t yet tripped and fallen into a family sized pizza considering this shite weather. Wait, when I say well I mean I haven’t gained any weight. I still however weigh exactly the same as I did 3 weeks ago. FML.

The below pics are of me full of joy upon acceptance of my quest. And also my heart rate – how not to do it – monitor, after lasts nights Bootcamp.

Happy Weekend!

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