I am really lucky to live in the city where Ironman South Africa is held. Well, I probably would not even know that such an event even existed if it were not for the fact that it were held here, so luck probably does not have much to do with it – but still. If I were lucky I would have won the lottery last night!
Anyway, living in Port Elizabeth most definitely has a lot of advantages. We get to practice and train on the route and swim in the sea. It helps a lot. You get more confidence and get to experience it in all different conditions.
Take this weekend for example; on Friday evening after work I went down to the beach for a swim, as we usually do most Friday’s. There was a strong Westerly blowing, but the sea was flat (usually is when there is a west) and really beautiful (not to clear, so I did not have to shut my eyes) and there were a lot of swimmers in the water (I like my odds then). I think I had my best swim of the season. We start at Hobie Beach, which is where the actual race starts and although we don’t swim as far out as we would in the race but we do swim in the general area. I feel very sorry for competitors from other parts of the country or world where they are not able to get this experience.
Then on Saturday we cycled the route. In Ironman South Africa the cycle leg is a loop that you do 3 times, each one is 60 km. Once again there was a strong Westerly blowing and a bit of rain early on, but we decided to go anyway. I am really glad we did. We did the loop twice, and our speed was pretty much the same on each loop. I am sure if we had done a 3rd loop our speed would not have dropped much more either. In fact it might have picked up as the wind dropped. I am really happy with the improvements in my cycling (although I am still unsure about how much of the improvement is me, and how much is my bike). This was the first time that I have done the route since my last IM, and my average speed was 4km/hour faster than it has ever been on the route before! If it carries on like this I am hoping to drop an hour of my cycle time!
I am sure that most of the improvement has to do with the bike, but I do know that some of it must be me. On my ride this morning my bike computer passed the 1000km mark. That means that since I received my bike in December I have done 1000 km. Woo hoo – 1000km, well 1006 to be precise. If you add this to the kilometers I did on my old bike since I started training again you get nearly double the distance I did in training for the last IM. DOUBLE!! And I still have 8 ½ weeks left till race day. I think I will probably add another 800 – 1000 km on the clock.
I suppose the strangest thing to me about all of this is how much I am enjoying cycling. Before I just would not get on a bike! If I did ride I was a total stress bubble by the time I got off. I would look for any excuse not to ride. A slight breeze – it was too windy! Dark clouds – it looked like it might rain! A Saturday morning – might be too much traffic (yes at 5 o clock), rather ride on Sunday. If anybody asked me what was my weakest disciple I would instantly say cycling. Now I don’t really know? I mean, it is not that I am good or fast in any of them, it is just that I am not really much worse at one that any of the others. I like it this way.