This time last year, I had been in Phuket for less than a month. Fresh faced from finishing university, I knew almost no one in Phuket, but I had made the life-changing decision to throw myself into triathlon full time. I wasn’t deemed fit/acclimatised enough to do the Challenge Thailand race that happened at the end of November 2015, admittedly a more challenging course than yesterday’s inaugural Ironman 70.3 Thailand.
Well what a year it has been. I have certainly had my ups and downs. But I honestly did not expect to get to the level where I could race like I did yesterday. It was just one of those days where (almost) everything came together for me. It also marks my last race as an age-grouper as I make the jump to race on the professional triathlon circuit next year.
I actually started the swim feeling a bit flat, and came out of the water feeling like I’d done a ridiculously slow time. Turns out it was a pb in a time of 25 mins 34 seconds. Out of a semi-smooth T1 and onto the bike, I was greeted by “I’m right behind you Imo” as I realised I’d come out with a couple of Z-Coaching team mates.
The bike course was mostly fast and relatively flat compared to all the other races I’ve done this year. Having said that, my heart rate was flying high as we raced up and down the highway along the spine of the island.
But keeping focused I rode with some of the guys keeping 12 m – later told by marshalls that we were the “ideal” athletes in terms of respecting the rules. That being said, it turned into quite a surge-y ride as several times gaps broke out and it ended up being me who closed them. But back over the highway bridge and we were soon back on T2 on the beach in Laguna.
To my surprise in T2, I was told that I was only a couple of minutes behind 2nd and 3rd pro woman. Having started 9 minutes behind them, this technically put me in front in terms of time.
So this is where, I have discovered, that my race is either made or broken. Pacing the first 12km of the run correctly.
For once I did it correctly. I held back in the first couple of km. You know, when your legs feel super light as though you can fly? And I didn’t break. I held my own and kept strong, walking through aid stations, which for me is crucial in the heat and humidity on this tropical island…and not just because I felt like having a little tea-party.
I finished with the second fastest female time of the day with a new PB of 4.22.08 – smashing my previous best by 16 minutes (admittedly set at Rapperswil on a course with 1200m ascent).
Starting with the age-groupers rather than in the Pro wave puts you in a different race. Sometimes for the better as you find you have people to ride with, sometimes for the worse – such as in Mooloolaba where the winds had picked up by the time we went off in the final wave, 2 hours after the pros.
But either way, I’m finishing the 2016 season on a high. I’m excited about 2017 and what it’s going to bring. A whole new set of challenges as I learn and adapt to race in a different sort of way.
Jurgen – my thanks goes to you and all those at Z-Coaching who push me on a daily basis. Most of whom were also on the course, whether racing or supporting. I’ve never experienced a home crowd quite like it. I’m surprised some of you can still speak today!
Thank you to Jiakina Customised and Revv Energy for clothing and fuelling me through racing and training.
And last but not least the parents and family for supporting me through this ridiculous dream – and sometimes living it with me as the father also raced on Sunday, jet fresh and non-acclimatised.
Over and out.