So tomorrow it all begins. Elite race briefing is at 18h00 in Cape Town. Then Friday it’s bike course familiarization at 09h00 and swim familiarization at 10h00. And Saturday at 15h00 it’s go time!
The time has passed waaaay too quickly. I have done the best that I could in the time between finding out that I got a start slot and now. Two weeks hard training and one week taper.
The past few days I have been waking up in the middle of the night having mini panic attacks about the race. It’s the swim that scares me. Diving in alongside 50 other girls and all fighting for position to get around the first turn buoy.
Last Friday I had a small taste of what it’s going to be like. I was fortunate enough to get an invite to a very elite open water swim session where “D-squad”, Joel Filliol’s squad and Javier Gomez’ posse gathered on a wine farm in Stellenbosch. I stood in awe amongst all my heroes of the sport.
Darren Smith conducted the session. It started off with two laps warm up around the dam – about 1000m. This was easy. Then we did two “lengths” of the dam building to race pace. The main set was 6 x 300m, where we started from one corner of the dam and swam to a buoy. We then had to sight for where Darren was in a little rowing boat. He could be anywhere. Go around him and back to the starting point. The first one started and I was immediately kicked in the face and my goggles filled to the brim with water. This is quite a problem for me as I wear contact lenses and so I had to pause and empty my goggles. I then rejoined the fight and fought valiantly to the first buoy and back to shore finishing in the last quarter of the swimmers. I was feeling pretty tired after a hard swim that I had done that morning, but no excuses, I think everyone was a bit tired.
So I was kicked in the face by Jodie Stimpson, whacked across the head by Sarah Groff and pulled back by Lisa Norden. These girls aren’t shy.
I left the session feeling quite shaken up and quite stressed about what the race would bring. On the other hand, I was also a little surprised that I wasn’t further off the pack given that I do not train like these girls. AT ALL. I usually swim 3 times (maximum 4 times) per week. These girls swim around 6 times per week all year around.
My next encounter with the pros was when I joined Kirsten Sweetland (a Canadian) for a swim. I decided to bite the bullet and try and do her swim session with her. The main set was:
3 x 200m on 1:25 pace per hundred leaving time (ie leaving on 2:50)
2 x 200m on 1:20 pace leaving time
1 x 100m on 1:15 pace leaving time
We then repeated this for 150m and 100m. Needless to say that it was a super hard session and about 5sec faster per hundred than I would have done a session like that. But good to see where I rank.
Next up Vicky van der Merwe and I took Kirsten for coffee in Stellenbosch as Kirsten was super excited about how cheap things are when buying in Canadian dollars.
That afternoon I took Kirsten cycling. Coincidentally, we had the exact same bike session to do – 30min at 210w. The only difference being that she weighs a LOT less than I do!
And now it’s taper time. I find this super frustrating as I have all this extra time on my hands and I feel as though I should be getting in more hard training. Luckily my coach is quite a clever guy and is able to keep me under control. The week before a big race it it better to do too little than too much. Very little extra fitness can be gained, so all that is left is to rest up properly to allow yourself to perform at your best on race day.
I am literally ranked last. Number 51 of 51. I am way out of my depth against the top 50 professional female triathletes in the world. So if I can just finish higher than my ranking I will be totally stoked!
Now to try and keep my nerves under control and my food down.