Monday, March 8, 2010

Midlands Ultra Race Report

Well here's my race report or actually my training weekend report which included the Midlands Ultra Triathlon. It was such a great weekend getting away with the family before I head for Argentina for six days. (Sorry in advance for the long post, will try and keep it short as always in the future)

We left Saturday morning early on our 5 and a half hours journey but was in no rush and for a change I did take it easy driving the car and Kim didn't even complain once about my driving style. We stopped halfway and had some breakfast at a "Ultra City"( those places next to the highway where you can refill your car and your Tummy)

Just before Midmar (the venue) we stopped at some German shop next to the road and bought some snacks and goodies for the weekend. We've seen the shop on our way down to the coast but never stopped there and we were really surprised.

After arriving at Midmar and unpacking I went to register and received my goodies bag. I'm so glad I registered Saturday afternoon as the queue on Sunday morning was very long and some people had to rush to get everything done before the race started.

Then my Saturday training began, heading out for my bike ride first and I did the bike course. The race organizer told me at registration it is a fast bike course with one uphill. Well I guess the guys down here have much more hills than we have as it was everything but fast and only one hill to me. There was a lot of hills which break your rhythm when you are in the aero position and I had to work hard maintaining my rhythm.

After the bike I did the run course or most of it and knew that I was in for a hard run come Sunday morning. The 15km run course was made up of 5km tar, 5 km off road gravel and 5km trial running. It was the first time ever I was about to do a run race on non tar roads apart from a mini off road triathlon years back.

When I got back to the bungalow we all headed down to the dam and I did about a 500 meter swim.

That night we had a lovely BBQ and another first, me having BBQ as my pre race meal.

The Sunday morning I had some breakfast at 5am and headed down to transition at 6am and racked my bike before the race start at 7:30am. Back at the Bungalow I chilled and waited for Kim and DJ to get ready. The nice thing was the bungalow was on the run route and only about 300 meters for the race start so everything was close by with no mad race morning rush.

A real shock was when they announced that the water temperature was 23c and no wetsuits will be allowed, but a bigger shock was when they said no speed suit allowed. With swim being my handicap I need any possible aid to assist me during the swim leg. With the course also being a swimmers course (1.8km swim with a short 60km bike and 15km run) I knew I was in for a slow start to the day.
The swim leg went as I though, struggling to just get it done, finishing in 38:21 and 99th overall and 22 in my age group (40+).

Luckily the transition was a short one and I could mange to be on my bike in 45 seconds.

The bike training the day before had me struggling at the beginning of the bike leg and I just had this heavy feeling in my legs and just could not turn those pedals at a high cadence. Only after the second lap of the 3 x 20km lap bike course could I feel some strength coming back into my legs. Up to the 40km mark I could only average 245 watts but on the last 20km I could really push again and ended with an average of 270 watts for the bike leg
My bike time was 1h41:25 for the 60km, being 10th fastest overall and 2nd fastest in the 40+ category.

The run was where I thought things were going to go all downhill but it wasn't that bad for my first off road long run. The run course started with I would say about a 1km tar stretch and then it was trial running. I wasn't even 50 meters into the trial run and just as I was passing the lady who eventually came second in the women division that I took a tumble.

The surface was covert with grass and as I step down there was nothing underneath the grass and down I went. Kim says I looked at the lady and not where I was running, but I can honestly say I was to tired to look at a lady's behind and WAS looking at the run course.

After I got up and dusted all the dirt and mud off me I started running again and with some new determination, just to pass the lady again without any incident. I stuck to the run/walk technique again I was happy with the outcome again.

Now that I've done the run/walk style of running during a few races I've seen that by just getting through the first 10 minutes is the hardest and the you just follow the 10 min/ 30 seconds intervals. I've also seen that I can push a little bit harder during the last minute of the 10 minute interval knowing that I can take it easy soon and have a 30 seconds walk.

When I start to run again after the 30 seconds I can pick up the pace immediately and it is only between one and two minutes after I started running that my heart rate peaks again at 152bpm. I am now confident that this will be the way to go during IM. The only downside is with the TV camera on you like this weekend the people will think you had enough and don't know that the walking is part of the strategy.

The other plus is I passed more people on the run in the later part and I only had one guy passing me during the whole run leg. I finished the 15k run in 1h04:20, being 9th fastest overall on the run leg and 2nd fastest in the 40+ category. O' transition 2 was 51 seconds.

Overall I was 14th being chicked by the lady winner by only 32 seconds. In the 40+ category I was 4th, 18 minutes behind the winner who is a pro but only 3 minutes behind second place and 1 minute behind 3rd place.

race results at

I am really happy with my performance this weekend considering that there was no tapering towards the race and losing 10 minutes on the swim is always hard to catch up if the swim leg is half ironman distances (almost) but the bike and run leg is way shorter than HIM distance.

Prize giving was at 1pm and as it is now nothing new to me, prize money was awarded to the first three and I was fourth. At least they had prize money for the first 3 and not like two weeks back only for the first two.

We left at 1:30pm and was planning to be home by 7pm only to arrive home at 8pm. Another lesson learned yesterday, don't take a shortcut if you don't know the area. Me and Kim thought we will cut out some corner and take a shortcut towards our hometown only to drive a hour detour. DJ was not happy with us spending another hour in the car but we had a good laugh about it and saw it as a sightseeing trip exploring some roads we've never driven on before.

Now it is just hard training and clocking up the miles with no more races before IMSA on 25 April.

Lastly thank you for all the well wishes fro my sister with her operation. She has a lot of pain, which is understandable but she is out of the hospital and recovering home. My mother went down to Polokwane to help her until she is back up and mobile.

I am leaving for Argentina Wednesday morning on an early 9am flight, somewhat unusual flying during the day time. If I can just get through this then training can be back on track for the last 6 weeks.


  1. good race Johan! a little adversity and you still pulled a strong swim! Have a great time in Argentina! Cheers

  2. Great post Johan, you did great! All these challenges only make you better the next time. :-)

    Cheers, Adena

  3. Great report Johan - thanks for sharing. Good luck in Argentina - sounds like it'll be pretty hectic for you over the next few weeks. Hang in there. I'm in the UK at the moment and, as it's fresh in my mind, will blog for you my tips for flying athletes. Power.

  4. John
    Thanks will enjoy Argentina

  5. Adena
    Thanks, appreciate it. Hope everything can come together at IM in April

  6. Rob
    Thanks, yes it is going to be tight, hope I can fit some training in as it is really a busy schedule.
    Looking forward to your post

  7. J, congrats on the race. You've got me thinking so hard about the run/walk, it seems to be working great for you.

    Glad to hear your sisters doing better.