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Ironman 70.3 Durban 2024

Updated: Jun 18

Ironman 70.3 Durban 2024

June 2nd, 2024

Durban, South Africa

Half Ironman

Pre-Race Rockstar Status

The day didn't just start at the beach – it began with an epic win way before the race even began.  Guess who I bumped into chilling in the hotel lobby?  Prime Circle!  That's right, I got to hang with South African music royalty before I conquered the course. Talk about a way to prime the pump for an epic race morning!

Durban Spring: Not Quite Paradise

Spring in Durban? More like "slightly-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-windy-headwinds-on-the-way-back." Don't get me wrong, the ocean was a cool (literally, at 19 degrees!) 19 degrees Celsius, and the air started a tad brisk at 10 degrees. But hey, at least it warmed up later on in the bike and run... unless you forgot sunscreen and got a surprise sunburn!

So, with only 6 weeks to prep after 70.3 Ironman Nelson Mandela Bay! Yeah, let's just say a "proper" training plan was about as likely as seeing a penguin sunbathe on Vic Falls.  Work travel threw a wrench in the whole thing, and then there was that impulsive Zambia trip (because, hey, Vic Falls doesn't conquer itself, right?).  Training became a game of Tetris, squeezing sessions in wherever possible.  Oh, and did I mention I finally caved and got a coach? Welcome to the madness, Mike – buckle up for the Empower 5 Challenge and my glorious lack of planning!

Last year's Half Ironman swim? Wetsuit-free champion, smooth transition king.  This year, Rwanda-bound and feeling cocky, I snagged myself a fancy new skinsuit.  (Spoiler alert: overconfidence bites.) The ocean? Not exactly a bathtub.  More like a toddler's temper tantrum in a kiddie pool.  There were waves, there was wind, and there was me, doing a surprisingly long pre-swim jog thanks to the low tide.

But hey, silver linings! I managed to snag a swim buddy who basically dragged me along for the first half like a grateful remora.  After that, it was fins-to-fins companionship all the way to the finish.  Props to her for absolutely nailing the swim exit and basically leading me by the hand (or should I say fin?) into transition.  Teammate goals, for sure!

The swim was a win... mostly. My trusty skinsuit felt like a second skin (literally, thanks to the whole "couldn't get it off" situation later), and those glorious free shoulders were a dream. Plus, I nailed the distance – no extra ocean exploring for this guy!  However, the universe had a different plan for my timing chip. It decided a little deep-sea adventure was in order, forcing a mid-swim wardrobe malfunction (chip down the suit, people!).  Then, the victory lap up the beach turned into a zipper rodeo. Looks like next time, I'm adding a "rip cord" to that bad boy!

Swim time: 33min17sec

Transition 1: The Great Bike Jumble

Turns out, the race organizers were playing their own version of "The Amazing Race" in transition 1. Top athletes and the AWA crew got a head start... by running with their bikes! All the way across that never-ending transition zone. Talk about confusing!

After a skinsuit peel-off assist (because apparently, those things are designed to be escape-proof), I threw on my gear in record time. Feeling like a triathlon rockstar, I was about to head out... except for one tiny detail. My precious race fuel, the gels? MIA. Brain = full meltdown. But then, a stroke of genius! The race organizers provided the same gels at the water stations on the bike course. Crisis averted!  Just another reminder: sometimes, the best-laid plans get a hilarious detour.

Transition 1 time: 3min48sec

Transition Envy and a Bike Bonanza

Transition? More like Bike Envy Central.  Everyone's rocking these fancy new rides, and here I am with my trusty steed. But hey, don't judge a book by its cover (or a bike by its, well, frame). . Plus my new ride, was been finished up by Brett and the crew at Northcliff Cycles this week.  My timing for that was off too, next race maybe/ (This old girl was tuned and ready to give those shiny newbies a run for their money!

My target pace? 33km/hr or bust.  The course? My old stomping ground – I even squeezed in a couple sneaky practice rides between work deadlines (because who needs sleep when you have a triathlon to conquer?).  Feeling like a cycling champion, I bolted out of the gate (maybe a tad too fast, but hey, first impressions, right?).  First order of business: the water station at the turnaround.  Let's just say my "never practiced this" fueling strategy wasn't exactly textbook, but it got the job done!  Gels loaded, drinks secured, it was time to play catch-up (and maybe inflict a little friendly suffering) on some fellow competitors.  Those hills? My happy place.  I channeled my inner mountain goat and left some legs burning in my wake.

Transition arrived, and with it, the usual pre-run jitters.  Will my legs hold up?  Will I trip over my own shoelaces?  Only time would tell.

Bike Time: 2hr 44min

Speaking of transitions, T2 was a smashing success (unlike the organizers' attempt to relocate the bags – chaos averted!).  I even managed to snag a few extra positions while everyone else was fumbling around.  Looks like a little bike envy can fuel some serious competitive fire!

Transition 2 time: 2min54sec

Run Away Runaway (Except When I Walked to Eat)

Today's run was a brand new course, a remix of last year's route flipped on its head. Feeling like a boss, I took off like a rocket, devouring the first 3 kilometers at a scorching 4:20 pace. (Yes, you read that right. Boom!) Of course, even rockets need to slow down eventually, and I gradually settled into a more sustainable groove.

But here's the thing: my inner energy gremlin started grumbling early on. (Note to self: definitely need to up the bike fuel next time, and maybe add some extra electrolytes to that drink mix.) So, at the 12km mark, I did what any strategic runner would do – I waltzed through the water station like a king, grabbed a magical electrolyte potion, shoved some extra gels down the hatch, and blasted off again, feeling stronger than ever. (Because apparently, mid-race buffets are a thing!)

Run time: 1hr45min

Overall time: 5hr09min

Sub-5 on the Horizon (Even with a Pit Stop Feast!)

The clock ticked over at 5:09 – a smidge slower than last year, which stung a bit. But hey, silver linings! I snagged a sweet 9th place in my age group, and that's something to celebrate.

Today's revelation?  Apparently, you can ride a bike and actually race at the same time (who knew?).  Gone are the days of staring at the same speed the entire time.  Compared to PE, this race was a breeze – way less drama!  Rwanda and Morocco, here I come!  My transitions are on fire, and overall, we're getting closer and closer to that sub-5 dream (Rwanda's crazy hills might have other plans, but hey, a dreamer can dream!).  The biggest takeaway?  Nutrition needs a little TLC – gotta stay fueled on and off the bike.  And the run after the bike?  Room for improvement.  But that's what training is for, right?  Onwards and upwards!

Sunday Funday: A Race, Sponsors, and Sub-5 Dreams!

Sunday was an epic day!  Rocking my kit with my awesome sponsors felt incredible – gotta get those logos in every race pic, right?  And the best part? Empower 5 is officially off and running, helping more teachers achieve their dreams. So to our first company on my kit, the 1.618 Group (who have sponsored over 250 teachers) making them our first gold Sponsor, Thank you and welcome to the race! #1618 #1618STS #1618financialservices

Sure, a 9th place finish is pretty sweet, but let's be honest, that 5:09 time left a little sting. No worries though, that just fuels the fire!  New training shoes are already on deck, and I'm back on the bike, powering through workouts.  Rwanda's only 8 weeks away, and you better believe I'm coming in hot!

Speaking of hot, let's talk about the Empower 5 Challenge, a challenge is not always just a challenge! The Empower 5 Challenge is an ambitious and inspiring initiative aimed at raising awareness about the challenges faced by teachers in South Africa who are in need of professional development. And we do this by onboarding teachers to our online professional development platform offering, accredited courses, webinars and CPTD points.

And on that note, I challenge YOU to join the movement!  Get behind Empower 5 and help us empower even more teachers. How do you do that? You simply sponsor 5 teachers onto the platform, come on SA let's do this and together, we can make a difference for our country!  #Empower5 #Sub5Dreams

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