I went into Ironman South Africa feeling very good about my winter training. The East Coast had a very cold winter so to prepare for my Ironman I went to Claremont Florida for 3 weeks and then to Tucson Arizona for a training camp 3 weeks prior. With a week to race day I made the trip to South Africa. The race is held in the small town of Port Elizabeth. This is actually where I was born and I love coming back here. The whole week before race day I felt very fatigued. The 40 hours it had taken me and the lack of sleep, the humidity and the heat was finally catching up to me and I found my Suunto watch giving me high heart rate readings in my workouts all week.
Race morning I put that all aside and was confident and felt prepared for whatever the day was to bring! The swim was a mass start age groupers and pros's together. With a 10 meter gap it did not take long to have guys swimming right over me. The first 400 meters is always a panic until things start to spread out. I felt good about my swim and was happy to see my halfway split around 28 minutes when I ran up onto the beach.
I knew the second lap would be a little slower as the swimmers had thinned and the run back out through the waves was slow! I swam hard though looking for people to draft off of. I was thrilled to see a sub 1 hour swim. 59.15 to be exact for the 2.4 miles. The swim is always hard work for me so to finally see a sub 1 hour in an ocean swim that is notoriously slow was great.
3 years ago I swam this course in 1.07 so I was extremely pumped up running into T1.
I headed onto the bike feeling great! I was hoping I was higher up in the positioning and was a little disappointed at the turnaround to see that I was in seventh place. I was still very positive as I saw girls pretty close to me. My plan for the bike was to try ride steady and controlled. The bike pod is a sure way to guarantee that you don't push to hard. I have been feeling strong on the bike so by holding back I would have more energy for the run. I stuck to the plan! They had been predicting a heat wave all week and by the second lap on the bike I could feel it! Temperatures were rising and were already in the 90's. I started using half my drinking water for dumping over my head. By the third lap my head was baking in my helmet. I felt OK though and very strong! I knew my bike was going to be pretty solid at that point and was happy to see a 5.08.for the 112 miles
T2 went perfectly and I ran out with heavy legs but feeling pretty happy with my race. I was now in 5th place and knew I had work to do! It took me a mile to get my running legs but then all of a sudden I felt unbelievable. The crowds were great and the announcer was shouting how smooth I looked and how I was running so well. I seemed so light and was really enjoying the race. The miles went by easily and I could tell I was getting closer to the girls in front of me. I was getting a lot of media coverage and this was exciting but it may have made me push too hard. I started to feel a little dizzy and for the first time the heat and dehydration was setting in. I had to slow my pace and focus on my breathing. My legs started to get heavy and I started chugging big mouthfuls of coke at each aid station. I tried to push the last ten km but I did not have much in the tank. I definitely pushed though and was thrilled to get to the finish line in 4th place I was the first American athlete. I finished in 9hrs 46min with a new PR for me. Overall a successful day for me in very HOT conditions!