#AVonVoyage to Abu Dhabi – A Maxi Triathlon weekend

Last weekend, I participated in my first ITU World Triathlon Series race in the awesome city of Abu Dhabi. I’m unable to race Ironman South Africa this year, so I thought a Maxi triathlon in the region would suffice. In case you don’t know, a Maxi consists of:

– 1500 meter swim
– 80 kilometre cycle
– 20-kilometer run

This and 70.3 is a great distance for me. I’m able to find my groove, and I know how to pace myself accordingly. When it comes to Olympic distances, I tend to push hard on the swim and the first bit of the cycle. So I get a lot slower towards the end of the race. That’s going to change, though, as I build up to the New York City Triathlon in July (WOOOOHOOOO). Back to Abu Dhabi though.

I arrived in the UAE on Thursday evening. I had a bit of drama with the Etihad Airways ground staff in Doha. They wouldn’t let me take my bike bag and a checked piece of luggage on, even though the agent who works for the airline and who booked my package assured me that everything had been arranged especially for us triathletes. Alas after a bit of annoyance and a broken piece of hand luggage later, I got through. When I arrived in Abu Dhabi, I caught one of the cabs waiting outside the airport… A nice little (not so little) Mercedes-Benz took me to the Centro Al Manhal By Rotana.

Sidebar, nice comfortable accommodation on Yas Island if you’re looking for somewhere to stay. It’s close to the Marina, the racetrack, the mall, Ferrari World. It’s perfect!

On Friday, after a bit of breakfast with a friend who came through from Dubai (45minutes or so), I headed off to registration. It was smooth, a breeze. The one weird thing is that the race briefing was held on the grandstands… Standard really, but there was no shade, and for athletes who are supposed to be keeping hydrated and resting, this seemed a bit off. It was about 28 degrees, so it was hot. First world problems, blah blah, but that was one observation. The one thing that saved the briefing was the ever entertaining and awesome announce, Paul Kaye. It’s weird; I almost feel at home when he’s on the circuit giving us our briefings and throwing in some quips and funnies along the way.

True to the pre-race routine, I checked the old bike, packed the bags, got the bottles ready and hit up a restaurant in the mall for some chicken protein boet. I always say I’ll have an early night, but inevitably land up having a late one, and then I don’t sleep properly for fear of missing the alarm, etc. So by 3 am, I was up and at it. I gave up coffee and chocolate for Lent, so a cuppa tea was on hand to wake me up, lol. My other race must-have is my FUTURELIFE High Protein, trusty and now old faithful ☺

Once everything was sorted in bike-check and transition, I headed off to the swim start. It’s quite a walk from where the bikes were, so if you’re doing the race next year, give yourself enough time to get there. The race was supposed to kick off at 7 am, but due to some delays on the cycle route, they delayed it until 7:30. One gent, who was clearly very anxious, was getting rather frustrated, tried to get me involved in his frustration meets anxious tendency, and I was like BYE! I’m one of those characters who gets really quiet. I’m singing songs in my head and analysing the water conditions. I guess you can say I ‘Zen’ myself, haha.

We finally got going, and so did my swimming muscles it would appear. I haven’t been able to swim properly because believe it or not; it has been pretty cold in Doha. It wasn’t ideal because I love my swimming and I usually do pretty well here, so I was a little worried about that. It turns out muscle memory is a winner – I climbed out the 1500m swim, some 22 minutes later. I believe I was fourth out the water too, so I was pleased, to say the least. That success didn’t last long though because of the cycle, once again, was weak for me. I don’t know why but I just can’t get it right. I think it has a lot to do with bike positioning and the fact that I don’t have tribars. I need some cycling assistance, so if anyone is keen to help a brother out with some tips and guidance, holler!

The cycle route was interesting. We got to ride around the Yas Marina Island Circuit, which is quite technical and isn’t short on turns. We cycled around the outskirts of the circuit and through Yas Island too. So at least there was some reprieve too. The Maxi athletes had to do four loops, while the Olympic racers did two. We were all on the track at the same time at one point, which could’ve gone horribly wrong, but luckily for most, it seemed okay. My suggestion to organisers would be to relook the cycle. It’s just a little too boring for the Maxi I feel. I managed to do the distance in 2:31, which isn’t bad, but still, I need to put a lot more work into it to make the cycle count. The run was grand, and thank goodness for good weather conditions. If the sun was baking down on us, I think I would’ve battled a lot more. The run was a double loop of ten kilometres each. At about 11 km in, I stopped to grab some coke and an orange. I walked a bit, then ran and then walked again. A fellow racer, probably in his early sixties came running past me and said there is no way I am to walk. It’s funny, because this always seems to happen to me, and it’s always the ‘wiser’ gents. So I carried on, and he was hot on my heels, so I just carried on knowing he would curse me if I walked again haha. I managed to finish the race in 4:34, which I think is good? I haven’t done the distance before, but I’m pretty happy with that performance.

I enjoyed the race. I thought it was fun, tough but good. I love pushing myself too. So perhaps that why I felt so shattered afterwards? There’s always a lot of room for improvement, and I’m ready to keep moving forward. I wish I were doing Ironman South Africa on the 2nd of April, but alas this year it isn’t meant to be ☹

Gallery: #AVonVoyage to Abu Dhabi

We didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city too much, but post race, and a delicious burger later, myself and a few tri club friends decided to head off to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque… It’s one of THE most raved about Mosques in the region, so we had to check it out. What a marvellous piece of architecture, culture and a beautiful, calming place. It was busy, full of people from all over the world. It’s a place you need to visit if you’re in Abu Dhabi. As I said, time was limited, but next time I’m keen to hit up the theme parks, and also see more of the city, the souqs and eat more local food. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned for #AVonVoyage to Oman, and more races, coming soon. Who knows where to next after that? Well besides Dubai this weekend 😉

Witness the fitness and get your Discovery points again

Good news exercisers, you can now earn the Discovery Vitality points you deserve… again. The company will once again make changes to its points system, following what I believe to be a massive outcry from the public. I wrote a post on Facebook shortly after Ironman because I felt like I got the raw end of the stick when it came to the points. Some got 300 points for doing the race because they owned a Garmin device (I own a Suunto), but others like me got nothing, zilch, zero… 12:39 hours out there, doing one of the most challenging races on the circuit and I got no points.  Not ideal, I’ve had my moan and I offered some constructive feedback, proposed some solutions, which I’m glad I did. I may not be invited to attend their events anymore, but that’s okay because things seemed to have changed. See the email details received below:

Dear Jason

Helping you reach your personal health goals is hugely important to us and we value that you’ve chosen to partner with Vitality on your wellness journey.

From Saturday, 20 August 2016 we will be adding more ways to earn Vitality fitness points. These enhancements are based on our analysis of the member experience as well as member feedback we have received over the past few months. Our upcoming updates aim to positively challenge and motivate you to further engage in Vitality Active Rewards. We saw that certain changes we made earlier this year frustrated some members, and we are truly sorry for this.

What you can expect from Saturday, 20 August 2016:

  • You’ll be able to earn points by taking part in any timed and verified race event locally or internationally in the disciplines of cycling, walking/running, swimming and major multisport events in line with our fitness points table.
  • For members who are just starting out, we’re re-introducing the popular 50 points category for tracking 5 000 steps a day.
  • There will be a new heart rate points category for workouts between 60 and 69% and between 70 and 79% of age-related maximum heart rate.
  • We’ve got a new Endurance and High Performance category to enable points earning for longer duration workouts.
  • The weekly maximum goal will be lowered to 900 points (from 1 200) for all Vitality Active Rewards members (excluding those in the new Endurance and High Performance category). The weekly maximum goal will remain 600 points for at-risk members with certain chronic conditions, health concerns during pregnancy, or members aged 65+ with risk factors.

These changes will mean a more personalised fitness experience for you while staying true to the evolving science that guides our programme and highlights our commitment to encouraging safe ways to exercise.

To inspire you towards your own fitness personal bests, we’re proud to announce that Discovery Vitality is the Official Wellness Partner of the SA Olympic Team. Don’t forget to tune in for the 2016 Rio Olympics from Friday, 5 August to support our Vitality ambassador, Chad le Closand the rest of the team as they GO for GOLD.

Enjoy this month’s newsletter!

Dr Shrey Viranna
CEO Discovery Vitality

Well done to the Discovery Vitality team. This is a prime example of listening to your base, your clients and making the necessary changes to align with the public’s demands – all while ensuring your business interests are being met too. Now go get active, get moving, be healthy and earn them points. When you reach your goal or the next level, you can treat yourself to a trip locally or internationally 😉

The 2015 Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup tomorrow

SANSUI Summer Cup

Tomorrow Joburg’s most prestigious and oldest horseracing event takes place at the Turffontein Racecourse. I’m talking about the Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup and tomorrow I break my GSSC virginity 😉 I’ll be wearing an awesome #MoreJozi suit by designer extraordinaire, Diaan Daniels, which I’m super excited about. The who’s who will be there too, which is equally as exciting and it’s the perfect way to wrap up 2015 – there are other events on the go, but this is the last big one. To be honest, I’m relieved because I’m WELL tired, but a little bit of fun in the sun and at the races never hurt anybody.

As far as entertainment goes, there’s a helluva lot on the cards for tomorrow. For one the musical lineup is insanely good:

  • Goodluck
  • Goldfish
  • Muzart
  • Mi Casa
  • Cassper Nyovest
  • Vin Deysel (947)

My friend Dineo Moeketsi is once again the ambassador for this prestigious event. I’ve seen her slay at the media launch of the event. She then slayed at the Barrier Draw, so tomorrow is going to be a big day for the star. Can’t wait to see her – and the other fashionistas (not that I get fashion but you know what I mean).

There’s this charity dash with some of SA’s biggest celebs including my friend and wonderful co-host on Cliffcentral.com, Jennifer Su. Others on the lineup include Top Billing’s Jon Boynton-Lee, his lover Jay Anstey, TV personalities Kgomotso Christopher, Danilo Acquisto, Hayley Watters, Stacey Holland, Nicole Flint, Tamerine Jardine, Stevie French, Theo Jantjies, rugby stars Robbie Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan too. They’ll all be running in the Racing. It’s A Rush Celebrity Charity Dash in aid of the SOS Children’s Villages of South Africa – a whopping R800 000 will be donated to them after the race. Incredible!

There’s also a mo-kini sprint in the evening, where some 40 dudes will be running in pink mankini costumes – it’s siff, but apparently a draw card for many 😉 A couple of beverages throughout the day are bound to get those daring souls onto the race track!

It’s going to be a great day out and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re coming, let’s meet up… otherwise I’ll see you on the socials #SANSUISummerCup vibes.

Summer season in full swing – #ItsYourSport with adidas

On Saturday, I watched the Springboks take on the All Blacks at Twickenham… Well, I was supporting from my couch, but you know what I mean. The All Blacks were first up to sing their national anthem, and it was very obvious that sports brand adidas was their number one choice for their iconic jerseys.

I’m a big supporter of the Springboks and unlike many others, I’ll support them through thick and thin, through the ups and the downs. Unfortunately, we lost out of a spot in the final, but hey, I’m so proud of the boys. And while I will continue to support them throughout, I have to side with the All Blacks when it comes to their choice in training kit. I’ve been using the adidas Climachill for quite some time now. I love the technology used in the gear. For starters, it’s light, which is important when you’re training. The shirts also contain these aluminium spheres in the back of the shirt that take the heat and moisture out of the shirt, which helps keep me cool and dries the shirt faster. Sounds like a bit of a weird concept, and you do get a bit of a shock when you first put it on, but it’s actually a really cool and unique addition to the brand’s training shirts.

Besides the All Blacks and the awesomeness that is me (kidding) the brand recently launched its new campaign, It’s Your Sport range, in which they’ve called on some of SA’s most raved about stars to test out the gear via functional training. They enlisted the help of Springbok/Stormers rugby player Siya Kolisi, TV presenter Lunga Shabalala, fitness models Trevor Lagerway and Nicolene Mostert as well as South African swimming star, Jessica Ashleigh Cooper. You can see their videos here.

With this being an incredibly busy period for me, in terms of training, racing and triathlon season in full swing, it’s good to put the gear to the test. In the last few days I’ve done:

 

Wednesday: 1-hour run and a 3km swim

Thursday: 1-hour spin, 4km run and 30 minutes strength training

Friday: 2.5km swim

Saturday: 2:30 cycle out in the Cradle of Humankind, 20-minute run

Sunday: 1hr30 run

 

As you can see, it’s pretty full on and there’s a lot of cardio going on. So I’m using the Climachill gear a lot and it’s perfect for the cardio and strength training. Gosh, if I had to do some training with the shirt on in the pool, to kind of simulate the feeling of the wetsuit ahead of next weekend’s triathlon, it would probably hold its own. Let’s see, maybe I’ll try it this week 😉 You can follow my program by checking out the hashtags, #ItsYourSport #adidasTraining.

 

What gear do you use? Let me know what works best for you. I have some goodies to give away in the coming week, so stay tuned.

#AVonVoyage to Durban for Tsogo Sun Amashova race

A few years ago if you’d asked me to do 106 kilometres on a bicycle, I would’ve laughed in your face and thrown the duvet over my head in defiance. Things change, however, and now I do triathlons, run half marathons (still only half yes), I swim long distances, I ride both road and mountain bikes… and I do long distances at that. Is it hard? For sure. Do I love it? Couldn’t be happier. Health is wealth and I’ve been afforded so many incredible opportunities (Futurelife, Ride4Smiles, traveling to Brazil with Nike, joBerg2C and #NissanMagic) as a result of such a lifestyle change. It’s a blessing to travel, see the country (world) and keep healthy while doing it.

So at the weekend, I set myself another challenge… the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic cycle, in which I would attempt 106 kilometres, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Tick! It was a challenge, to say the least, but I absolutely loved it. I’ll definitely do it again and hopefully improve even more on my time, which, by the way, came as a shock. Sea level is the business! I had a great weekend with friends, but old and new and Durban is just what the soul needed. #TsogoShova 2016? It’s on!

Countdown to #TsogoShova

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It’s early on a Monday morning, a beautiful day in Johannesburg really. I’ve been at the office for almost an hour and it’s actually nice having a quiet start to the day, sifting through mails and planning the week ahead. In planning the week, I took note of the dates, standard practice really. It just actually made me realize that I’m just 12 days away from completing my longest cycling race yet. The Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic takes place on the 18th of October in KZN. I, along with many others, will be leaving the Pietermaritzburg City Hall in the early hours of Sunday the 18th and making my way down to Durban. The total distance? 106 kilometres – the longest I’ve ever done. Some aren’t as crazy as us 106-ers, so they’ve opted for the 65 and 35km respectively.

Tsogo Sun has once again come on board as the headline sponsor, and clearly it’s resonating well with participants and families alike, as over 10 000 entries have already been received. “The Amashova has been going for 29 years – but the headline sponsorship by Tsogo Sun has given it a new lease on life, adding activities and appeal to the event and attracting the attention of riders from elsewhere in the country and even from Europe,” says Noëleen Bruton, Director of Marketing Group of Tsogo Sun. “We are  proud to be associated with this  fantastic KwaZulu-Natal tradition – and we anticipate pulling out all the stops to ensure that all our Amashova guests experience a brilliant weekend away.”

If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet or you’re still contemplating entering, it isn’t too late. Check out these package deals below;

Tsogo Sun Amashova_hotel package special offers

If you’re not based in KZN, or you live inland, it’s a good excuse to have a weekend away and these prices are perfect for that. My heart skips a little beat when I think about this. I think it’s going to be a big challenge for me, physically and mentally, but I’m game. Anyone else doing it?

More info on the race visit: www.shova.co.za

For further information on Tsogo Sun accommodation etc, visit tsogosun.com.

Twitter: @TsogoSun

Facebook/TsogoSun

Watch SuperSport’s “Our Hearts Are In It” promo

The countdown to the Rugby World Cup is on and judging by some of the pre-WC games, we’re in for a treat. You may know me as an entertainment and lifestyle blogger, who has now become a triathlete, a keen fan of the outdoors and nutrition, but what you might now know is that I was a rugby player too. I played A-team, B-team, C-team and 6ths – that’s how well it went as I got older, haha, but I did love it. Saturdays at King Edwards was always a fun time.

So now as we make our way towards this year’s World Cup in England, loads of activations, experiences and of course marketing campaigns have popped up. This one has to be my favourite so far. It’s a promo by the world-class SuperSport and their promo is entitled “Our Hearts Are In It”. There is very little dialogue, but the use of visuals of former greats like Francois Pienaar, Breyton Pulse and Chester Williams, together with the likes of PJ Powers, Trevor Noah and Minister Fikile Mbalula make for a very powerful message. Check it out:

#goosies

Durban is #readytoinspire for the Commonwealth Games 2022

#readytoinspire

In September this year, we’ll find out if our (Durban’s) bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games was successful. The draw will be held in Auckland, New Zealand and to be honest, I really think we stand a good chance. The city is perfect. The climate is incredible, the facilities are world class and there’s a lot for tourists to do outside of the games, if that is what they’re also after. Let’s see how it goes, but I think we’ve got it.

I received a few interesting facts from the PR team assisting with the bidding process, which I thought were quite interesting and cool to share with you all. Have a look:

  1. The first Commonwealth Games took over thirty years of discussion and planning That sounds like most meetings these days. There’s a lot of back and forth and meeting to meet about what was discussed last time. Nothing’s changed? Haha. The first games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada. The 11 participating countries sent 400 athletes to take part in the grand total of 6 sports, 59 events.
  1. The Games were officially referred to as the Commonwealth Games in 1978. They were also known as the ‘Friendly Games’. They take place every four years, but weren’t around in 1942 or 1946, due to a little something called World War II. From 1930 to 1950 the Games were known as the British Empire Games, but were changed in 1978.
  1. Team sports were only introduced to The Games during the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998. So this meant nations could partake in sports such as cricket, hockey, netball and rugby 7’s.
  1. In 2000, the Commonwealth Games Federation added the Commonwealth Youth Games to its offering. This means athletes as young as 14 could enter, giving them the much needed first-hand experience as to how the Games rolled out.
  1. Did you know? Scottish lawn bowler, Willie Wood, who was the first competitor to have competed in seven Commonwealth Games, from 1974 to 2002.
  1. Of the 20 games hosted, South Africa has only taken part in 12. As you know, under Apartheid our country was righftully subjected to many international boycotts. This was in an effort to force the Nationalist government under pressure, to change its policies. It eventually worked and now we’re in a very good position as far as a successful bid is concerned. If you’re keen to have your say and show your support, tweet your messages to @Durban2022 with the hashtag #readytoinspire.

 

Kaya FM’s Mosibodi Whitehead is ready for #OMTOM

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There are just a few days to go until thousands of runners hit the road for the annual Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. This time last year I was making my way down to the fairest Cape for what is dubbed the world’s most beautiful race (couldn’t agree more). Unfortunately I missed the boat this year, so I’ll be watching and smashing Easter eggs in my face from the comforts of my couch in Joburg, but somebody who will be running the race is Kaya FM’s Mosibodi Whitehead. He’ll be tackling the Ultra Marathon. Brave man!
You’re running the Ultra OMTOM this weekend. How are you feeling?
I’m feeling a bit scared. I had a tough run at the Old Mutual Om die Dam 50km race Two weeks ago which has left me less confident about the time I should be aiming for at OMTOM.
 
Tell us about your preparations… How much distance have you covered? How many pre-races have you done etc?
The year started well for me. I ran two half marathons (Johnson Crane and Gift of The Givers Township Marathon) at 1h30. I had a tough but solid run at the Sunrise Monster 32km finishing in 2H42. But a bout of flu after the Monster seriously affected my training, which culminated in a 5H37 slog at Om Die Dam. I think I have enough distance in my legs to complete OMTOM comfortably.
This week you’re supposed to slow down. How do you do that without losing the momentum?
I usually run an 8km time trial and one longish easy run of about an hour in the week before a big ultra.
Organisers have changed the route slightly. Are you worried about that?
I’ve never run the 56km Ou Kaapse Weg route. I hear that it may be slightly easier than going over Chapman’s Peak drive. Also, because this cuts out the dreaded Constantia Nek, I think this new route will make the race slightly easier.
Okay so it’s the day before the race… What do you eat? Drink? What time do you go to bed?
Sleep early, around 8pm. Otherwise just eat normally. If I’m at home in Joburg then I usually ask my wife Neiloe to cook pap, spinach and chicken. But when I’m running an out of town ultra, I’ll usually have a pasta of some sort from the hotel restaurant. Lots of water. No dairy. No alcohol.
 
You’re running this for more than yourself. You’re doing it for the Thulani Sibisi’s More Balls Than Most initiative. Tell us about this initiative.
I’m so glad to have been included in this initiative. Having been diagnosed with cancer himself Sibisi approached me to help him raise awareness for the testicular and prostate cancer using the race. And because exercise is one of the best ways to avoid getting testicular and prostate cancer I was happy to run the race in his honour. All the money we raise will go to More Balls Than Most which is the sister charity of Pink Drive. They will use the funds to support mobile testing clinics that go out to the rural areas and townships to help men get tested. We have already been approached by Boksburg Prison to take the mobile testing unit there.
 
How much have you raised thus far?
It took a while to get MBTM registered on the www.morethanyourself.co.za platform. So we have only been able to raise R1000 thus far. I’m sure we will have raise plenty more by race day.
 
How can people donate? 
All they have to do is go to www.morethanyourself.co.za search for Mosibodi Whitehead and donate.
Thulani won the race in 1986… No pressure hey?
Hahaha! No pressure. Not this year anyway, but one can dream. Maybe next year.

Any other advice for Ultra and Half Marathon runners this year? 

If the weather is good then this truly the most beautiful race in the world. Take the time to look out on the ocean. Enjoy the run.

My first 70.3 Half Iron Man – Buffalo City

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At the weekend I participated in what was the most grueling but rewarding sporting event and challenge I’ve ever entered. East London played host to this, the eighth Standard Bank 70.3 Half Iron Man, in which some 3000 athletes participated. I was one of them, and I got the medal to prove it. The distances are anything but easy:

1,9km swim in the sea
90km cycle
21km run

So off my mom I went on Thursday down to “Slummies”. After a long drive, I decided I needed to stretch the legs so I headed to the Virgin Active for a short 5km run. What’s nice about this gym is that your run on the treadmill looks on to the sea. What’s not so nice and is that sea was choppy, rough and what I deemed unfit to swim in. I remember saying to my mom that there was actually no way we would be able to swim in that. It was way to rough and the race organizers said as much in the race briefing the next day. Luckily for us, the wind changed direction and so the conditions weren’t as bad on Friday. I’d say my strongest discipline is definitely swimming, but sea swimming is completely different to swimming in a pool or in a dam. The closest I’ve come to Sunday’s conditions was in 2013, when I participated in Midmar Mile and still it didn’t match up.

On Friday, everything became very real. I had to register early in the morning and then headed off for a practice swim. The process of getting registered is really quick. The volunteers know exactly what is going on and they’re very friendly too, which is great for someone who is an “Iron Virgin” and somewhat nervous *raises hand. As the day progressed and the city filled up with athletes, I got quieter and quieter. The race briefing that night was fantastic. I must say Paul Kaye, the MC at most of these events is on point. He’s funny, informative and entertaining. He also doesn’t beat around the bush. He made sure to tell everyone that this is one of two of the most difficult 70.3s in the world… Boy would I learn the hard way 😉 they showed us a highlights reel from last year’s event and I couldn’t help but feel quite emotional. The fact that I got to this point was big for me. Knowing that in less than 48 hours, I would become one of those athletes to have successfully completed the race was huge.

The next morning I did a longer swim and I really started to feel more comfortable with the water and what my game plan would be. We then killed some time before heading to transition, where it really really got really real. Goodness, the nerves! Bikes, bags, nutrition, making sure everything was in check… I did what I had to and then I moved on. Ain’t nobody got time for hanging around there 😉 As you can imagine, dinner and bed happened quite early, as the next day would be an early start and a long ass day. 1:30 and my dear body clock woke me up, thinking, panicky… The works. Luckily I dosed off for a bit, before my alarm went off at 4:15. I made my Futurelife High Protein smoothie, packed my bottled and headed off to the start. I felt a sense of calm knowing the weather looked good and that the initially worries of us not swimming had now faded, so one last bike check and final prep done, I headed down to the beach. I was clam and ready to go… Seven months of hard work had come down to this.

My swim was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever felt stronger in an open water swim like that. I made up a lot of time there, thank goodness because come the bike leg of the race I would definitely need it. To say the bike route was difficult is an understatement. It was brutal, horrible and for someone who isn’t fond of cycling at the best of times, I can honestly say I hated it. I won’t even try and sugarcoat this for you. It was kak. The wind wasn’t helping and I have never felt more uncomfortable than I did for those long, hilly 90kms. I also finished my two bottles by 45 kms, and I polished off another three bottles of water along the road. Thank goodness for those volunteers and thank goodness for the supporters too. When the going gets tough… Well you put you mental strength forward and you fucking put foot and go. That’s what I did. At 72kms I had no sense of humor and by 86 I was officially over that ride, but I persisted and once I got into transition, I regrouped, took a minute (9 more like it) and got ready for the run.

The run is usually pretty good for me, but I dropped twenty minutes on my usual time, which I guess is to be expected. I walked a fair amount, but when I ran, I ran hard. The last five kilometers were my best, in terms of timing partly because an elderly gentleman was pushing me to get it done with him. And we did just that. I was not comfortable and I was fucktardely exhausted but we did it and I thank him for that. It’s moments like this why I do this stuff… The camaraderie and motivation you get from people along the route is incredible and superb.

I finished the race in 6:33, which isn’t too bad for a first attempt. I lay down on the grass, with all my fellow ‘wounded’ soldiers… It honestly looked like a war zone, but the sense of achievement was just the best. I was extremely happy, but the reality of what I’d just done hadn’t and still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It’ll get there I’m sure.

It’s not like I won the race, but I’m still extremely grateful to so many people for all their love, support and encouragement in the last seven or so months. The amount of training I out in was a lot, but that was matched with an equal amount of patience and understanding from friends and family too. So thank you. You know who you are 😉 To my mom, my biggest supporter and number one fan, I can’t thank you enough. You drove the long drive with me, both to East London and to the point of me getting my medal and I love and thank you so much for that. It really means the world to me!

Things I learned during this experience:
– Be disciplined. If you’re entering, make sure you really want to do this and make sure you put in the hours in the water, on the road cycling and running. Don’t think it’s just an easy thing you can do with no training.
– Follow a training programme or get a coach. I trained mostly by myself, which isn’t great. You need the support of your fellow athletes and coach and this is something I would highly recommend. I’ll be doing this, as I embark on my next 70.3 chapter
– Do as many open water swims as you can, and try squeeze in some sea swimming too. It will put your mind at ease.
– if you’re doing the Buffalo City triathlon, get on your bikes and do a whole lot of hill training. It’ll help you… A lot! Bricks sessions too. I’m a strong runner, but clearly I didn’t do enough of those sessions because I was flat after the cycle.
– This may sound odd, but check your socks. Make sure they’re able to withstand the long cycle and run. If not, pack another pair into your run bag and change them when you’re putting your running shoes on. I had the biggest blister on my left foot and to say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement.
– I battled with my hydration on the course. Mostly because it was hot, but this is something I’m going to do some research on because I believe I wasn’t the only one who struggled with this. I’ll get back those interested in this aspect of racing.
– Closely linked to this, make sure you do your homework with regards to nutrition. You need to figure out what works for you in advance, so that come race day you’re ready to happy with what you need. My Nutritionist advised me to have provitas with bovril in my bike, run transition. I realized on Saturday evening that I’d left them at home, so salty cracks it was. Pity I only had two because these helped immensely and that’s because my body was craving salt.
– I would also suggest that you get your transitions right. I’m useless in this regard because I faff. If you’re reading this and you’re the opposite to me, please share your tips… Suggestions very welcome.
– Lastly, smile!!! It’s a tough day out, but when the supporters along the route cheer you on, smile and engage with them… They want you to get this incredible journey done, just as much as you do. You’ve done the hard work, you’ve earned the right to smile even when your legs are burning and you’ve lost your sense of humor. You’re awesome… Own it!