It is really great feeling to cross finish line as a first one (ok as a first woman). And it was even better for me this Sunday as it happened for the first time in Ironman race. And actually even more enjoyable because it was in my almost “ home” race. I am based in Johannesburg and at this moment consider South Africa as my home.
I was unusually nervous already few days before the start. After winning 70,3 SA in January lot of people expected me to do something similar in Ironman as well. I knew I put in really good training but still, it is an Ironman and field was pretty strong.
Who have ever raced or visited Port Elizabeth know that biggest challenge can be a weather, especially wind. This year it changed a bit and biggest challenge for almost everyone was a heat. It was one of the warmest day of the year with temperature about 35 degrees.
We started exactly at 7:00, pro athletes about 20metres before the rest of the field. And because ocean was nicely flat, my goal was to improve swimming record from last year. I had really good start and comfortably established myself in the first pack. After first lap, first group split into the two and I was swimming together with Marino and Stephen. So I knew I am having good swim. I came out of the water 6th overall and first woman with quite good lead.
Once on the bike I start pushing and trying to open even bigger gap to other girls. Bike was quite lonely for me, there wasn’t many guys who passed me. At the end of the first lap it was group with James, Petr Vabrousek and Michael Gohner but they were too fast. I stayed with my pace and again alone. I didn’t have any information about other girls so I just tried to stay focused and go During the third lap my stomach stop cooperated with me and wasn’t able to put anything in for next 40km. But luckily it wasn’t any major problem, I just had to controlled my pace little bit.
Only on the run I found out that I have nice gap to the others, 9minut to 2nd Joyce Rachel and 16minuts to Bella. Ok, I was almost in same situation as last year, leading after bike but then run down by Bella and Edith on 35th km of the run. This year I was determined to do everything not to repeat last year story. And I also knew that I had really good training in Subic. I also remembered doc saying us, pace yourself, race start after 30km of the run and girls from my group are strongest. So I listened (and I am not as good in listening). I started bit slower, controlling myself and made sure that I stayed hydrated as it was getting more and more hot. But also all the spectators around the road were amazing, they pushed me a lot, they kept me going. I have to say BIG thank you to all the people who cheered for me. When I run through the crowd in each lap, I was having goose bump, atmosphere was more then great. My run was quite good and I really got stronger towards the end and felt best in last 12km.
But best experience for me was finish line. Actually not only finish line but last 2km! I was greeted by all the people and was really so happy. And also relieved. I was smiling and crying together! My first win. Great feeling!
I have to say thank you to everyone who helped me to reach this, to Alex and Brett for opportunity and great guidance. To Kurt being there with me and support me. To Blueseventy for my speedy wetsuit. To Cervelo for my awesome bike. To ISM for saddle which is really comfortable for whole 180km. To Oval for my handlebars and airbars. To Avia for fast shoes which didn’t give any blister! To Scody for great clothes. And all my friends and athletes who made the whole weekend really special for me!