Hell and Hills

So one week has passed since I dared to dig my toes into the sand of Orient Beach, East London to start Ironman 70.3 South Africa. And I sit here, in awe, of what has passed. Post-race I have had millions of questions regarding my 04h45h33s display from people that know all about the sport, event and suffering and those that know, well, absolutely jack-ol. I can honestly say that I could write more than you could read about dancing over the entire spectrum of emotions on that particular Sunday, from dealing with toilets (which many friends, family and fellow athletes know I am famous for) to dropping a CO2 cartridge on tar going at 70km/h. However, statistics show that one in four adults don’t read a single book per year. So I also don’t intend on chasing away three quarters of my readers or to waste your reading time trying to make you envious. Or make the jack-ollers unenvious. Before I start though, I must say this. Sure, there would be a truck load of athletes that did much, much more than me. Their stats would be different. So what. It is not my aim to compare – it is all about relativity. We are all individuals. I would just like to take a few lines to shed some light in the form of short, bulleted facts of how I crawled and cried to an overall 21st (I got chicked. Twice. So make with it what you want.) on that blurry Sunday and in the process give some answers to your questions on pre-race day. Let me try and encapsulate the sacrifice.

In the six months leading up to race day:

  • I have lost 10kg to be at a body fat percentage of 7.8%, and regained 7kg to race on 13%. In hindsight, my one mistake.
  • I have had a total of six off days. “Off” here meaning days of no training. This figure includes rest days (sometimes rest days for other local, smaller events), sick days, Christmas and New Years.
  • Base weeks consisted of 14 to 18 hours of training per week. This is on top of my working week and normal donkey hours. On average these hours were made up of three swims, three bikes, four runs and an odd glutes, quads, hammies and core gym session every here and there.
  • Build-up weeks were at least 16-19 hours, if I was lucky, consisting of more or less the same as above, but with higher intensities and East London terrain and course specific intervals. I won’t go into distance details. Once again, we are all individuals. And mine is embarrassingly low.
  • I summited Outeniqua Pass in George four times. I mention this, because it was done in only two sessions. In my leave period. In the festive season. When people braai and sleep and chill. In VO2 max and functional threshold intervals. Twelve and a half kays long, 800m absl, average gradient 1:22 and max 1:10. Something like Franschoek Pass, but just much darker. Darker as in soul darker.
  • I had no processed sugar. As far as possible. I am not perfect. And no, this doesn’t include gels and shakes. Read my next fact. I am talking good stuff here. Chocolate, Steri-stumpies, Coke, cheese cake, milkshake, alcohol and all those types of “cheap” sugars.
  • I ate two thirds more than I’d usually do, compared on a monetary basis. Most days six times a day (24 hours). And yes, on numerous instances my stomach would cramp, asking for something at 02:30am. Guesstimated, and note that I intentionally tried to keep it to a maximum low as far as possible, I roughly had 120 gels, 220 bananas, 50 recovery shakes (pea is prince), 90 liters of sports carb containing drinks and I stopped counting the amount of water (because I always forcefully swallowed half the pool I did my swim training in).
  • Body maintenance. In terms of managing my body, I actually was naughty and neglecting. I saw my physiotherapist twice in six months. On average I had one and a half rub-downs a month. And please, a rub-down is not equivalent to goosebumps. No. You get broken. I also had two sessions of needle therapy. I was lucky to be injury free.

And lastly, you might want to know what now? Well, I don’t really know. We will have to see what Kent Horner digs up. But what I can say is, for now, I’m cheating (okay Coach, this is where you stop reading). I don’t have one, single green block for this past week (jack-ollers, that means I’ve been bonking my sessions. Hard.). And while I am confessing, as I am sitting here and writing this, I am having pizza and beer (left the use of “a” in that sentence out on purpose). This week is cheat week. I have been recovering, from all know diseases known to man. And I can say that I’ve slowly but surely started to learn how to walk again. And it made me realize, you know what, we aren’t machines. We are human beings. No matter the sacrifice, we need to be reasonable. We need to be balanced. That is why I just ordered chocolate milkshake. Without the use of “a”.

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