I’ve had an interview on the day before the race, a one that was different than others. The questions were only single words, the response was the meaning I gave to that specific word.
Challenge, Love, Changes, and Fear…
That last word I could clearly reflect on the race. I don’t have many fears but I can be afraid to disappoint myself. I love this sport because of the diversity and for me there’s no better way to challenge myself. Challenge.. that other word which is an important one in my life, a reason why I started with triathlon 5 years ago. With this comes the fact that I can expect a lot from myself, unnecessary pressure. But for this race I was quite relaxed, just curious how I would perform compared with last race in Dubai. The field of pro’s was stunning but as always: How others perform is not in my hands, what is in my hands in my own race and that has to go as close to 100% perfection.
The race nerves arrived when I woke up in the morning at 5 o’clock. I was looking forward to race and knew I would feel good. After getting my stuff ready in transition I made my way to the beach for a good warm up in the water. Even my lovely supporters arrived in the early morning, being there for whatever I needed!
At 8:00 the gun went off for the pro men, followed by us 3 minutes later. Thank God to my last minute beach start practice I had a good start, but as expected the first group flew away like dolfins. I tried to stick on some feets in the second group but I couldn’t hold the pace, which in my mind caused that I started to think I was swimming bad. My shoulders felt heavy but by the time I felt better, swimming with two others.
After a 300m uphill run towards transition it was a bitter pill to see nearly all bikes were already gone. It made me feel even worse about my swim, but actually I did quite well. The swim level was just high, I’m not there YET.
Blown away by the amount of people that was cheering me on, I grabbed my bike and went off for a tough 90km. As always I need some time to get in a good rhythm on the bike and now even more as I felt like I totally lost the connection with the pack. We had to take the hilly bike loop four times which means that you knew exactly what was happening. I was happy to catch 3 girls and noticed that the distance with the rest remained the same. The turning point close to transition was epic, a not 100% COVID-proof spot of amazing supporters that must have given wings to everyone!
It was just in the last 15 minutes when I started to get cramps in my stomach. I was taking my nitrition well and actually very pleased with the products of Amacx which I’m testing since the last couple of months. In doubt what to do I took an extra gel before I headed into transition.
I jumped in my speedy Hoka Carbon X2, grabbed my gels and started the 21km criss-cross run course: 4,5 loops, 3 u-turns per loop, narrow along the strip, somewhat off road or bad surface, little up- and downhills, crowded, and might forget some more details. The legs felt good, running comfortable in the right pace, but it felt like someone was sticking a knife in my belly. I could hold it for a few km’s untill I couldn’t breathe properly anymore. In km 7 I decided to walk, this has to go otherwise I would not be able to continue. I was out of the race, the will to fight was gone. The day of My Own Ironman flashed through my mind, I couldn’t give up, so I started running again. The heavy cramps were gone and I kept fueling the body with gel and water. I finally came in a rhythm, not fast enough to recover what I had lost, not slow enough to loose position. I tried to enjoy the athmosphere created by all the supporters and my best ones deserved a smile. Without them it would have been a long long day.
I was happy to see the finishline, happy to made it till the end, but that was the only happiness at that moment. My belly was fine and my legs as well, 4:23/km doesn’t give the same fatigue as running at the planned 4:05 pace. So I shuffled away from the finish area and guess where my dear supporters were waiting for me… icecream kiosk! Although I’m not proud of my performance, I’m happy they are proud of me and they really enjoyed watching me.
Fear… for what I was afraid of happened, I disappointed myself and I needed some pep talks to change my mind and not think negative.
1. I lost the second the group in the swim, so I did bad.
2. I didn’t came closer to the main pack on the bike, while this is my strength, so I did bad.
3. I made a stupid mistake to not drink enough water beside my own bottles, which caused stomach problems, so I did bad.
1. You swam in 1:25/100m which is faster as expected. The level of the second group was too high, it’s not real to think you should be able to follow them.
2. You controlled the bike very well to be abe to run fast, but we need to work on a better aerodynamic position.
3. Maybe you didn’t drink enough but you’re in a test fase with your nutrition, see it as a lesson. The good thing is, you were able to solve the problem and continue in a good pace and feeling comfortable.
I’m not really convinced yet but the motivation to keep working on necessairy improvement is here. As we all wish, we only might fail in training, not in racing, I know the race is always the best test we can have. The good results will come on the important races. I’m feeling better now, upwards and onwards!😊