13th MPRO, 9:01
Port Elizabeth has to be among the most friendly Ironman races I've done – another cracking race put on by Triangle (who also run another of my favourites, Ironman Austria). Only there for a weekend, the warmth and generosity of the people there was as reliable as the weather was changeable.
But it wasn't just the locals that made this weekend a fun start to the season. As ever, the individuals participating in the race and some of the characters I met this weekend will make this a memorable event. Great times had – thanks to Dave, Kyle, Dominique, Clifford, Andi and to some older faces - Rachel, Ed and Sarah et al. Great to spend some time with you all in PE.
Race day the weather was a relative blessing compared to what it could have been. Despite a relatively calm swim, I struggled to hold form and pace in the water and exited the water minutes back on where I'd been hoping. That feeling of ticking over continued onto the bike, and then onto the run, where the heat and lack of top end was taking its toll physically and mentally. I'd counted near 40 bikes ahead at the first turnaround, and knew there was a lot of work to do, but had very little to give. I did start picking people off, but by lap two it was more and more difficult to keep tabs on position.
The run was flat and well supported. It annoyed me that I seemed to be wasting such good conditions ona mediocre day. I settled in though, pleased at least to be running, even if it was survival pacing, and focussed on finishing and picking up some Kona Points at the least, and not getting lapped by the Raynard and Andi who were cracking out course records there in PE.
Crossing the finish line I found out that I'd been too hard on myself, finally finding out that I'd placed 13th MPRO (note that one woman beat me, but that woman was Chrissie Wellington!). The British women had been having a stellar day with Chrissie and Rachel going 1,2; and a solid performance from Yvette who toughed out a rough day too.
In hindsight, I'm OK with the result. Yes, I wanted to go faster, but some days are just like that, ticking over the miles from one point to the next. As a benchmark, its the fastest early season race I've ever done (in fact the only early season race that has had a successful finish!), and it shows that the fitness is there, but perhaps the speed needs some work. A lot of new kit got tested out there in front of the roaring crowds of the Eastern Cape, and it all came through for me: the On's were light and fast, and their forgiving construction meant that even when midfoot landing wasn't working out (for most of the run thanks to some really tight legs), survival pace and some heel-toeing still got me to the line unscathed; the new Orbea Ordu performed to expectations, and she's a beauty; the new Sugoi race kit and the Orca 3.8 wettie are super-comfortable and sharp as; combined with the SBR Sports TriSlide the only chaffing I have is on my wrist from the Ironman wrist tag! Also notable was zero gut issues, even with the relative heat – I'm going to thank Neovite colostrum for that!
All in all, a solid early season race. A great starting point for great things later in the year. Now time for some recovery and a bike/swim block before a 100km run in China in 3 weeks. Bring it on!