Friday, February 22, 2013

Prestige Ultra race report

 Three weeks of hard training and it was time for the Prestige Half Ironman*. Took the decision not to taper for this race and rather build mileage for Ironman in April.

Time 4h28:57
Swim: 42min
Bike: 2h15*
Run: 1h29*
Finished 7th in age group 40-49 (not the usual 40-44 group) and 28th overall

* Don't know why but race was not full half Ironman distance and bike leg was 83 km and run 20 km. 8 km short in total
The whole race was a two lapper, two swim laps, two bike laps and two run laps. Not bad.

 Swim was again a non wet-suit swim. Was actually hoping for a wet-suit swim just to prepare for Ironman and see if i could sort out my breathing. Took my old wet-suit, that is one size bigger than my current one, but obviously couldn't try it out. Swim was super slow but nothing new. One thing I can say is that although swimming is not my favorite leg of a triathlon, I just don't like swimming in the Vaal river. Super dirty compared to Buffelspoort dam or the ocean.

Onto the Bike and was keen to see if I could manage a good pace on tired legs. One thing about being a slow swimmer, you get that extra motivation overtaking loads of athletes on the bike. My legs were screaming from the start to finish but I was happy with the power output and could almost manage the watts I aimed for.

The run was also hard but luckily it was not a hilly route and I could manage a decent pace. Just before the start of the second lap I had to do a pit stop and lucky for me the whole run route was through a neighborhood but just before the turn around there were some bushes. Lost about a minutes there, but hey, had to stop. Runners know that feeling when you have to go and actually struggle to run. From then on-wards the second lap was actually faster than the first, haha. One thing about doing a Half Ironman on tired legs is that it takes a lot out of you. Felt so tired afterwards that Kim had to drive the odd 250 km home as I just wasn't up to it, doesn't happen that often.

Happy with my race and now it's another hard week of training before Xterra South Africa in Grabouw this weekend. Haven't mention it but I'm with a new coach. Made the switch just after Iroman 70.3 SA. Happened by accident (if you can call it that) but more about that later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Xterra Buffelspoort race report

Well it was only a week after Ironman 70.3 South Africa and it was time for Xterra Buffelspoort. I knew that it would be a difficult race, first of all I'm no off-road expert and obviously because it was only a week after a 70.3. Luckily, or so I thought, the distance was only 1.5 km/27 km/12 km but to my surprise it was very hard and a very warm day.

This was my first Xterra race and I must say I was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere compared to Ironman racing. I've done some Mountain bike races and some Trail runs before but never an Xterra.

Time: 3h22
Swim: 35 min
Bike: 1h28
Run: 1h16

Finished 8th in my age group and 48th overall.

The swim was a non wet-suit swim and do I need to say more. Luckily I didn't get a panic attack again or ran out of air but decided to just get through the swim even if it was slow.

Onto the mountain bike and I must say I enjoyed it. Not too hard with some amazing singe track and most importantly I didn't fall. Overtook a lot of riders on the bike which gave me some extra motivation. One thing when you don't have the technical skills and have been involved in a big accident is that I overtook a lot of people going uphill but then all of them overtook me again going downhill, and there were some serious downhills. One thing I realized again is that I will never be a downhill racer, don't have the courage for that. 

Then things became ugly on the run. Not nice running on tired legs after the previous week's race and also if the run route is going up a mountain twice.

First I had to negotiate running down next to the Dam wall over the low water bridge and then up again at the other side of the dam wall. OK, not running, actually walking when the gradient is 22% for 150 meters with the gradient as some point 45%

From there on it went OK until we hit the mountain. Only 2.3 km at 8.5%, with the last 1 km at 12.5% gradient but on tired legs that is brutal. Down the other side and before I could recover it was another uphill. This time it was just short of 1 km but at 13%.

Luckily that was the end of uphills but then the dreaded downhills on tired legs. At the end I finished and was feeling great finishing my first Xterra and more importantly not injuring myself.

Now it's three weeks of hard training before another Half Ironman, the Prestige Ultra

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ironman 70.3 South Africa report

Ironman70.3 South Africa didn't turn out the way I wanted but I know I gave it my all. My time was some 14 minutes slower than last year and I finished in 14th position in my age group and 105th overall from about 3000 athletes, compared to last year's 5th in my age group.

Time 5h12:26
Swim: 39:50
Bike: 2h48
Run: 1h38

 My preparation up to end of December was perfect and I was really looking forward to the race as I was hitting the numbers in training and was feeling good. The new Cervelo P5 also added to this and all I can say is that this is an awesome bike. Will do a review on it some time later.
Just more than a week before the race I started having a stuffy nose and scratchy throat but thought it was the usual taper effect after all the hard training. After a few days I realized it was more than that and went to the doctor. It turned out to be flu and he put me on a very strong antibiotic for five days, but advised me not to race as it was too close to race day.

 Closer to race day I felt better but wasn't 100% but decided to race, not the right decision but tell that to an athlete. As this setback wasn't enough, I decided to test the wet suit out the Thursday before the race as the last time I swam in it was at Ironman 2012 and soon discovered that the extra pressure from the wet suit was very uncomfortable to my shoulder/collarbone with all the plates and screws in it.
 I was thinking of swimming without a wet suit or get a sleeveless one but at the end of the day decided to go with what I got and not try something new. The swim start was not good and apart from the constant pain in my shoulder my chest tightened up again after about 400 meters (just like last year at Ironman). I had to take it easy for a while before starting to swim slowly again. Don't know what it is with this, if it is the wet suit or some problem with my breathing.
 Luckily I survived the swim and was onto the bike. I felt good on the bike and was passing a lot of athletes. Starting in wave 4, some 45 minutes behind the first wave also gave me extra motivation passing people from previous waves. At the end my bike time wasn't the greatest and it was actually very slow by my standards. I was riding according to my power meter and was a little bit down but didn't think it would have such a great impact on the time. After the race I had a look at my file and after discussing it with my coach, we realized where I went wrong.

The run was the best part of the race, little bit slower than last year but I felt good and after the swim and bike disappointment I was happy to post a decent run split.
Last year when I finished 5th I was lucky enough to get a slot for Ironman70.3 Worlds in Vegas but after my bike accident couldn't go. After the race I decided to go to the slot allocation but wasn't very optimistic to get a slot. Luckily for me there weren't a lot of athletes taking their slots and 14th place was good enough to get one.

Didn't feel right finishing that low down the order and take a slot but I see it as unfinished business and doing something I was suppose to do last year.

Now that the first race of 2013 is under the belt there are a lot of races and training to come before Ironman on April 14