Tuesday, 26 August 2014

It's my birthday and I can TRI if I want to‏...

Exactly what I had in mind...
So on Sunday I did my 2nd ever triathlon. You will remember that last year Steph van Niekerk taught me the breathing technique of swimming for the event. This year my aim was to swim without stopping, ie no resting, no head above the water, doggy pedal or breast stroke.
I swam three times in preparation for the XTERRA not because I planned it that way, but I got a stupid virus a month ago and haven’t been able to train so also downgraded from entering the Championship originally to do the Sprint again this year due to my health & fitness.


Killing time before the swim
Photo: Julie Meyer
Dropping my stuff off & getting ready for transition was so much different from last year, last year I was still putting my wetsuit on at the race briefing, this year it felt like I forgot something as I had time to spare to take photos with Jules & muck about with other athletes. 

I came 2nd last out of the water, but I didn’t stop once and that is all that mattered to me.

Onto the bike, now this was going to be fun. Zane put word out on Saturday that the bike course was a lot more technical than last year and it made me slightly nervous, but more excited.

Pokkeltjie pulling me through on the bike leg
Photo: Zane Smith
Somehow I didn’t have jelly legs once I started out on the bike, it is probably down to the fact that I hardly kick when I swim, my 2 legs are just a heavy weight dragging along with me.

The bike course had so many twists, turns, bunny holes which I almost discovered the hard way as I tried to overtake someone on the single track. I quickly started picking up a few people. I think years of riding awesome trails in the Surrey Hills & the ultimate Sellaronda Hero training ground in the Dolomites this year helped a lot. It felt like every switchback turn was towards the left. My left hand side is my dumb side… got to improve! My brain started getting tired towards the end and I knew it was time to finish the bike before I crash doing something silly.

The bike was so much fun and I started experiencing FOMO having to still run whilst all the others had been able to support me, I also wanted to be able to hang out, but I still had 5km to run.

I didn’t escape jelly legs, they were there as soon as I started the run leg. I knew that the ditch jump was waiting for me and unlike me, I didn’t want to get my new shoes dirty. I also have a bit of vertigo and although it isn’t that far down into the ditch, I didn’t look forward to it. The course is great, but the fact that your legs are tired makes it a lot harder. I felt like walking, but said to myself I’m not allowed to because I know I’ll be beating myself up about walking. I did walk a bit just because I could and didn’t want to run. After the water point and back over the field I thought we would’ve covered 4km already, but I then saw a 3km marker, I prepared myself to still go back into the woods where we were last year and thought I still had 2.5km to go so saved some energy for that. I got to the tree trunk crossing and thought yay I have an excuse to walk again, but no-no the ‘bossy’ photographer from Lighttrapper (who I now know as Rob who is a friend of friend) encouraged me to climb over and carry on running. J Before I knew it, I was out of the woods and onto the finishing straight. I was a little bit confused and felt like I cheated as I then felt that I still had loads of energy left.

Sprinting to the Finish line
Photo: Zane Smith
As I approached the finish line my friends started singing Happy Birthday to me, all of them & Carl & Terry from Squirtlube gave me high 5’s as if I was a celebrity in town. It was a special one & I will savour the memories for a long time to come. Thank you I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the day in any other way.


Hanging out with Carl @ Squirtlube and
The Winning Specialized Machine!
Photo: Zane Smith
We also had the opportunity to see Conrad Stoltz, XTERRA legend, 7 time World Champion race in this race. I’ve known Conrad from back home when I was still in university. Two of the things I can remember about him is that he was always riding his bike in Jonkershoek and washing it, I thought he was a little bit crazy. Little did I know that I would join this crazy hype of mountain biking & XTERRA a few years later.

I was so excited when I heard that he was coming to race in the UK as I’ve been following his career via his blog & other social media postings. Conrad & Liezl stayed with Carl from Squirtlube who we got to know through XTERRA England 2013 actually. Squirtlube has been sponsoring Tango Cycling since last year’s race. Carl also took Conrad out on our local trails and it is so nice to hear that someone who has ridden all over the world think that our local trails are fantastic.

Conrad smashed the bike course and like we would say in Afrikaans, he rode the rest of the guys kas toe! He won with a lead of 5 minutes over his next competitor and also won 50thXTERRA title in his 22 year long career.

Caveman winning his 50th XTERRA title!
Photo: Zane Smith

Liezl, Simon, Jason, Willem, Paula, Lee-Anne & Myburgh
Photo: Tharina Cronjé
Jason, Lee-Anne, Liezl, Myburgh, Paula & Willem represented Tango Cycling in the Championship Distance. It was so great to be able to support all of them the same way they supported me. I have to say the Tango Cycling Support Crew made such a noise whenever we were not all together we just had to listen to the noise to know if one of our members went past.

Paula receiving her spot for Hawaii
Photo: Zane Smith
As preparation for Half Ironman World Championships Paula entered the XTERRA as a mountain bike newbie. Underplaying her mountain biking skills she was a complete wild card. She completely smashed it and proceeded to not only just complete her first off-road triathlon, but to win her age group category and qualify for XTERRA World Championships in Hawaii in October.
Congratulations Paula, we are so impressed and very proud of you. You are one of ‘us’ now!
1.     Ear plugs – for the swim. Myburgh told me about this, it was actually the first time I swam with them but it worked because it doesn’t sound like you are going to drown all the time.
2.     Turn up on time & set up your transition at your own pace and well in time before the start of the race
3.     Don’t carry heavy stuff around the day before the race or over commit yourself

Thanks :
1.     All my lovely friends for supporting me.
2.     The man who said ‘you don’t have far to go’ from his canoe when I started to battle towards the end of the swim – you got me there!
3.     Sam & Richard for an awesome bike course, thank you for taking the ‘hornet sting’ out of it as well (Sam I hear you took one for the team J).
4.     Richard Campbell for his memory of an elephant & being so complimentary towards me & the rest of the gang over the announcers microphone.
5.     XTERRA for putting on this event amidst all of the uncertainty, I will continue to come back for as long as I live on the mud island.




The face of Tango Cycling, Zane Smith took a back seat this year and moved in behind his camera lens to take some awesome on the day event photos for us.
Click here to view the photos.

Tango Family (minus Simon & Milli), Conrad, Liezl, Yolandi, Carl & Terry!
Photo taken: Carel du Plessis with either Paula or Zane's camera