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Archive for December, 2009

And then a plane crashed on the bike course…

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Yesterday, the final race of the year in South Africa took place in Germiston, which forms part of the Greater Johannesburg. The reputation of Germiston is, well, at best a little dodgy! The race takes place in a reasonable (we never ask too many questions in these parts!) lake that owes it’s existance to the gold rush era and plays host to many canoeing events and sailing regattas here in Jo’burg.

Germiston Lake has often been good to me when it has come to racing, probably because I am from the ‘rough east’ myself, so I feel quite at home here. Last year I won this race, and it felt good. This year turned out to be even more memorable, with the most bizarre race experience that I have ever had!

The start of the race was delayed significantly due to a horrific traffic accident that took place nearby on the bike course. Eventually, the swim got under way, with the women going off first which was great, and Lucie Z quickly taking command of that one! I was also quite surprised at how quick some of the younger girls had become! After fighting arm tangling weeds, I made it out the murky waters. As soon as we could stand, the race marshalls began shouting to us to get our run shoes on – there would be no cycle and we would have to proceed straight onto the run! HHHHUUUUHHHHH?????

Turns out, there is a small airport just on the other side of the lake, and well, a learner pilot had made a “small” error of judgement, crashing his plane, slap bang on the bike course! Nobody was seriously injured, but what was freaky is that if the race had actually started on time, the pilot would have crashed his plane into athletes!

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On realising the severity of the events, we could hardly thank the organisers from Troisport and referees enough for their rapid decision making!

The unusual events then resulted in all of us being thrown a bit off kilter, and having to proceed onto a fast 10k with the blood still sitting well between our arms and not the legs! Some of the girls went out really hard, but for me, having just come off my near fatal Ironman in Cozumel two weeks before, this was near impossible! I just tried to get my legs in motion as best I could, and thought I would make my assault in the last 5k by just forcing my legs. Starting off in 6th place, I made up some ground, making it up to 2nd place behind Lucie Z, and taking along with me the promising Lauren Dance, who simply would not get shaken off! It was really fun racing like that, so much more than what can be the lonely haul of an Ironman marathon. Eventually, when I thought both my heart and legs were going to explode, Lauren and I headed for the finish shutte, we hit a right turn with a barrier straight down the middle. Given my notoriously great eyesight, and well, the fact that it was not clearly obvious which side one was meant to run on, I headed to the right of it. Wrong move! Arrgghhh! Lauren, being slightly behind whipped around to back track, I thought of going over or through but was forced to also turn back, at which point Lauren had got the edge on me! I finished 3rd, and had great fun, even if I did not get the sprint finish with Lauren we certainly hurt each other out there!

One could never say that racing in Africa is not exciting!
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Death walk in Cozumel

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

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There is no shame in walking. I swore that I would never walk, I mean how hard can it be not to even just shuffle along? Well, on Sunday, even walking became hard, there were times I even had to sit on the side walk, so sick, but I never thought how hard it could be just to finish – especially when things are going horribly, horribly wrong! The truth is, failure is only failure if you believe it to be so.

As you can gather, IM Cozumel did not go exceptionally well for me! While some in the Pro ranks would turn their noses up at finishing last Pro (6 chose not to go all the way), 12th place, and in a whopping time of 12h20, I swallowed my pride and did just that!

The day started off well enough, I just simply loved the swim – no wetsuits, beautiful warm clear waters that gave you the impression of swimming in a tropical fish tank! I felt good and was swimming comfortably in a small group of three which included Bella, which was a good thing for me, given my poor eyesight, I could count on her to swim straight, and I think we pushed each other well to a good swim time.

Onto the bike, and it was going to be tough! The wind was blowing very, very strongly, all the time and in every direction it seemed to me? I felt very thristy and sucked up two bottles within the first hour, a little surprising considering that it wasn’t really that hot at all? At the 30k mark I stood up briefly to stretch my legs a little, and wham! Both hamstrings cramped up! I have no idea why, but it was so painful that I was unable to push on the pedals with any kind of effort. This went on for the next 20k, all I could do was ease up and try to get the cramping to subside. By now, already, this early, I knew it was not going to be an easy day at all! I continued to lose positions while I tried to get my legs to operate sufficiently while not cramping, and also trying to get my thirst under control with endless amounts of Gatorade! 

At the end of the bike, I knew that I had lost a considerable amount of time, but I thought that I may just come to life again on the run, which is usually my favourite! I started off not feeling good at all, but somehow running at a fairly good clip. I then tried everything in terms of food and drink to try and make myself feel better, but to no avail, I just felt worse and worse, feeling  dizzy and nauseaous. Just after the first loop of three, I suddenly came to a dead stop in my tracks – the worst stomach pain I had ever had! It literally felt as though something inside of me was completely malfunctioning! I tried to walk a bit, convinced it would ease up, but eventually had to sit hunched over on the side walk to ease the pain..

I had many discussions going on in my head, but somehow, I kept thinking, that if I could keep moving forward, it may just get better? In the end, I was never able to run, although, until the very last kilometer, I always thought that there may be a chance! On Sunday, I walked 28kilometres, ended up with very blistered feet, urinating blood for a day, feeling disappointed for my Sister who had come to watch me for the first time ever, only to look at a guy, way back behind me, with one leg who took the same opportunity as I just to compete…