Monday, February 22, 2010

The Day in Numbers and Pictures

Yesterday was a perfect day in more than one way. It was my Mother and my Sister's birthday and I had an awesome Half Ironman. My mother turned 67 and my sister had the big 30 number to celebrate.

The day started very early at 2h30am when the alarm clock went off. The venue is a 2 hour drive from our home and it was an early 7am race start. I still had to register so we left at 3h30 to be there just before six, giving me enough time to register and getting everything ready for the race.

The swim venue is just one I don't like as it is in the Vaal River and people in South Africa will know, the Vaal river is not the cleanest river in SA. Last year I had a DNF at this race as I couldn't cope with the mass start in a dirty river and almost drown.( )
This year wasn't much better but I survived the swim. The river had a very strong current of all the rain we had during the past two weeks. I've realized yesterday why I don't swim that well in the Vaal river. There is basically half a meter visibility and you can't see under water making it impossible to not swim over, against or across someone. Just as I had some rhythm going I would bump into someone or swim right into someones swinging arm.

My swim time was a disappointed 38:36, much slower than my usual 34 odd minutes. With the mass start and congested swim someone also bumped into my watch on my arm, stopping my watch timer. This confused me as I only started it again when I got out of the water but could only work on bike and run time.

The race was suppose to start at 7am but they started late so I couldn't work on time of the day as I didn't know what time we started exactly.

The bike was good up to the turn around point with no wind and at times a tail wind. At the turn around my average speed was just under 40km/h. Coming back was a different story with the wind picking up a bit. My out lap was 1h10 and inn lap a 1h16. As I said in the past the only good thing about being a slow swimmer is you get to chase down a lot of people. At the turnaround I was laying 45th and at the end of the bike I was in position 32 overall.

The run was good, it was three loops of 7km and each 7km loop was an out and back affair. The nice thing about this is you run past the finish line three times and it does not get as boring as a one loop course. The bad thing is you can only track your position on the first lap and then you don't know who's on there first, second or third loop.

I was determined to stick to the 10 minute/ 30 seconds run/walk strategy although I was tempted to keep on running after 10 minutes as I was really going well. I stuck to the strategy and finished in 1h28, a new PB for me on a 21.1km run.

As we approached the finish I saw a guy running next to me but he only had one wristband on his arm, which we received at the turnaround. When I came to the finish shoot I though he will go right to do another lap and I will go left towards the finish. He turned left and was also finishing, I tried catching him but I was just too slow.

After the finish I saw he had one wristband of cloth, which they gave out and a rubber wristband which was also given to athletes. I didn't see the rubber wristband as it was under the cloth armband. I was so upset when I found out he was in my age group and I finished 2 seconds behind him in Third place.

I was even more pissed off when at prize giving they only gave prize money to the first two athletes in the 40+ category. Missing R600 by 2 seconds!!!!

This is what 2 seconds look like, on my way to finish line and just can't catch the guy in front of me (the one between the Asics flags)
The event also doubled as the National Long Distance Triathlon Championships and the athlete that came first was not registered with Triathlon SA, so that moved me up into 2nd place in the National Championships.

If I don't qualify at IMSA for Kona I now have a back door open, representing South Africa to go to the Long Distance World Championships which is on August 1 in Germany.
Think it is probably the most important lesson I've ever learned since doing Triathlons, always take a toilet paper roll with you to a race. With all the dirty river water and nutrition during the race I had to go to the toilet before we started our two hour journey back home. And yes, there was no toilet paper left in the restrooms after the race. I was a very popular guy in the restrooms with my toilet paper roll.

After prize giving we headed back to Witbank and I had a quick shower and we were ready to go celebrate my Mother and Sister's birthday but first we gave them there presents.

We had a good laugh when we gave my mothers present to her. For the past year or two she's been telling us that she wants to buy herself a laptop but it's just to expensive for her.

We decided to buy her a laptop for her birthday but we wrapped the Internet connection package and a security cable separately and gave her that first with the laptop out of sight. When we gave her the first "present" I told her it was a hands free cell phone kit for her car and it works through the radio that's why it has the Sim card. I also told her that the security cable was a new security device with which she can lock her car's steering wheel and the gear lever.

She really looked confused and said I must just install it for her as it is something new to her and she never heard of it before. That's when Kim could not keep a straight face and started laughing. I then went to fetch the laptop and she was without words.

We then went to the restaurant and it was so nice not having to rush to do something else. We arrived at the restaurant just after 5pm and only left just before nine. We had such a great time and laughed a lot.
With my sister being 10 years younger than me I told her that when she was born I used to stop at the Hospital after school with my bicycle and would first visit her and my mother on my way home. She could not believe it but my mother confirmed it, we have a special bond with my little sister being almost like a daughter to me.

When we came back I helped my mother setting up her laptop but could not finish as I was just to tired and said I will finish it tonight.
DJ enjoying a pancake for desert.

I will post a proper race report this week and also more about my run/walk strategy that seems to be working very well.
Prestige Half Ironman
Swim: 38:36
Bike: 2h26:23
Run: 1h28:04
Total: 4h33:03


  1. Awesome race report and result. I can't believe you did the run / walk and did a 1:28:04, that's incredible. That took courage to do it in a race. You've really got me thinking I should do it in China.

    Funny about the toilet paper. In Clearwater, I had the same thing, after the race, I had to go number 2 big time. I think there may be a coralation between having the race of your life and having to take a big Sh*t afterwards. haha.

  2. Awesome race Johan! Love the fact that you stuck to your 10 and 1 and get that result as well! Love the birthday gift presentation as well! Keep them on their toes! Congratulations!

  3. awesome race.... and super fast time :) congrats. are you on the MAO elite team? I've just started using Luis Vargas. Looks like it's working out well for you!

  4. B
    Yip did the run/walk thing, was not sure in beginning but think it's the way to go.
    If you look at time you may think I ran so fast to get to toilet but only "gotta feeling" after race

  5. John
    Yes I love birthdays which are full of surprises

  6. Heidi
    thanks. no I am not on their elite team. Bought the top from them in Hawaii last year.
    Don't think they have non US athletes on their elite team, and they have so many great athletes not sure I will make team anyway.

    You won't regret using MAO, I have really seen a big difference in the last year with them. just stick to the heart rates in plan even if you are tempted to go higher. At first it will feel if there is no progres and then suddenly BOOM everything starts falling in place

    Best of luck with training