Coming off the back of a pretty dismal performance at EL. 70.3, Durban Ultra was going to be a nothing more than a training day leading up to the big show in P.E. I recently had a number of scares on the bike which led to my coach and I changing the way I train for the bike. As per usual the two weeks leading up to the ultra where fairly substantial and combined with some serious work commitments left me in no doubt that i was pretty tired.
Coach Claire graced me with a nice enough race week schedule and gave me one simple goal for The Durban Ultra and that was my bike number, the rest was up to me.
Race day arrived and in normal B-Active fashion registration and race briefing went off without a hitch. We had been given complete road closure and due to it being the S.A Long course champs KZN TSA was very involved and kept everything to book. Bike racked, bags hung, the call for non-wetsuit swim was announced. I was super happy with this as at 6:30 it was already 29degC, with a water temperature of 26degC, and so the scene was set.
Hooter sounds at 7:30 and the men are off. I started way left of the field to avoid the early boxing match and I’m always quiet happy to swim on my own.
I set a descent tempo and ended up in T1 29minutes later, no stress time to ride my bike. Exited T1, pushed start on by bike computer and no power, just a lovely flat line where my numbers should be. The one goal I had to do all day was now no longer possible, and due to the changers in my bike training I now was completely blind. “Stuff it!! What now, ok I’ll stick to my HR, let’s do this old school.”
Head down, nutrition going in, I set my tempo for the day.
Around 15kms in, the big boys in my AG caught me (like normal) and left me in their wake. Fighting the temptation to go with them I forced myself to sit at what I had decided was my safety zone, not too fast but honest. Leading up to the event I had sent my coach a cheeky Whats’ app, "Coach I want a podium on Sunday". The reply was a simple one - "I would give it a go". So back to the bike, at the turn around I noticed the lead the big boys had put in wasn't that big and on the way back into town I managed to close it down even more. I had sat on my heart rate and nailed the nutrition.
Into T2, shoes laced and off we go, my 1st thought “FLIP IT’S HOT!! Water please!” I ran towards the 1st turn around and I couldn't believe the big boys where right there, one right in front of me and the other 5min up the road, but in site. Start slow Grobler, start slow. I forced myself to keep on slowing down, took on the water, nailed the gels and focused on form.
Nutrition, pace and form. “Ok, where are we now? 2nd turn around shit I've got the 1st one, no ways, ok time to up the pace a bit”. Big boy number two looked shattered as I made eye contact, flip I hope I don't look like that!! 1km later he was in the rear view mirror. Well well Grobler, time to consolidate and finish strong. At this point I thought I was in 2nd place in my AG cat as the uber performer was racing with the pro’s when i last saw him. I settled into a comfy pace and just enjoyed the race for what it was, a flipping solid training day. The finish line was in People’s park, right under the iconic eye of Moses Mabida stadium. I crossed the line and shook the organiser’s hand. What a day bud!!
It was only later I got told I had won my AG category and that the favourite for the day had bailed on the run. That was the icing!! All in, it was an amazing day, one that will stay with me for a while to come. oh yea and that run was also my fastest 21k ever! I was pretty stoked! John Grobler