04:15 Wake Up Call
Race morning started a very quiet 4:15am wake up call from the phone, as well as a loud and ever so bright and friendly phone call from the receptionist down stairs, just to make sure I didn't miss the start of my race. Made it down to breakfast at 4:40am, keeping it simple with a cup of black coffee and easy to digest food. Back to the room for some last minute checks, and by 5.15am I'd made it to transition with plenty of time to spare.
Last Minute Checks
Checked through the bike and made sure everything was good to go, gears, breaks, tyres, bottles and elastics on the bike shoes. Normally I’m pretty good at procrastinating over everything on race morning, but I made it out in good time and headed down to the beach to chill.
With about 40 minutes to start I warmed up with stretch cords as we weren’t aloud to practice swim, and slowly put the new Zone 3 Vanquish on. This was my first time using the new Vanquish suit in the open water apart from having a swim in the pool earlier on in the week. Honestly it fitted like a glove and couldn’t believe how comfortable it was to get into it. I also used the clear Vapour goggles which were perfect for an early start to site the buoys.
06:45 Gun Goes Off
I entered the water in a good spot and found some fast feet to sit on to the first buoy. I made it around to the right hand side of the group as I always breath to left, so I can always see what’s going on. The pace was strong for what seemed to be the whole swim, and I exited with six other guys right where I wanted to be. We averaged 1:16 per 100m for the duration of the swim, which was respectable in my thoughts with quite a bit of chop and tough conditions for the 2nd half of the swim.
Don't Burn Your Matches
I got on the bike pretty swiftly and moved myself up to 4th place in the first 2km of the bike ride. The pace was pretty rapid at the front and we were setting out some pretty decent wattage in my opinion. I glanced back to see if anyone had made it on our group, but lucky it was just the 4 of us except for the very fast Henri Schoeman up the road with about a 2 minute lead!
I went to the front around the 15km mark and felt comfortable setting the pace for about 10km but at the same time, keeping mindful that I didn’t want to hurt the legs and burn matches for the run. I glanced back and saw I had about a 100m gap but thought its better to stay in the group and ride together saving the legs.
I sat in 2nd and 3rd spot till the turnaround at 45km, averaging a solid 34.5km/h in a strong gusting headwind and 750m of elevation gain.
As we approached the turn we saw Henri still had around a 2-3 minute lead, so that was quite a confidence booster for the group of us to keep pushing the pace.
We caught Henri with around 5km to go, and could see the tough and challenging course had took a toll on him, riding 85km solo.
I got into transition in 2nd and got onto the run in 3rd spot.
Honestly I didn’t feel I had the run legs from the start and was a real struggle to get the pins moving fast.
I ran fine for the first 10km, averaging around the 3:40 per km on a brutal course, but could feel it just wasn’t my day on the run. I maintained my 4th place without losing any time, but with 3km to go the wheels really came off, being overtaken by Bart Aernouts and pushed back to 5th.
The last 2km into a pretty strong headwind felt like forever, but I made it to the finish line to secure that 5th spot.
Eyes On The African Champs
I wasn’t upset with my result, because going into the race I knew I wasn’t going to have any high expectations especially with only 7 weeks of training behind me. I used this race as a nice stepping stone/hard training day out, plus its a home town race and wanted to see where things are at in my preparations for the big show on the 29th of March, the IM African Champs which is the race I have my eyes firmly set on.