This past weekend I travelled down to PE to compete in the second race of the Xterra South Africa series. This being a new race on the calendar would be inaugural race at this venue and route.
At first I was not too sure about the venue and route layout but as soon as I had ridden the bike route and seen the layout of the run route I was excited to get out and race on a route that is nothing like any other off-road triathlon route that I have race on before.
The swim was a two lap ocean swim with roughly a 400m beach run in between the swim laps. The water was just below 20 degrees so wetsuits were allowed. This made me a little nervous a I haven’t swum in a wetsuit in ages (I haven’t actually swum that much recently) and I know that your arms have to work a bit harder when wearing wetsuit due to its resistance around your shoulders but then again the buoyancy factor means you swim faster so it balances out in the end. Again I surprised myself with my swim, considering the lack of swimming I have done, and I got out the water in 6th position just behind Nico Sterk, about 1min 40sec behind the leaders. This being a slight improvement on Buffelspoort the week before.
The bike loop took place in the Baakens Valley conservancy and was I single urban-trail loop of 23km. Going onto the ride I had a lot more confidence than the previous week I knew that due to the nature of the course it would be difficult to make up a lot of time ass there wasn’t very much open road to push a really high pace. This meant that I would have to get all lines through the technical sections right so as to not lose time to the chasers behind or the leaders. In Buffelspoort I really struggled on the bike but in PE I had more confidence after getting a few good bike sessions in leading up the race and I definitely felt the difference in my riding.
The run went from King’s Beach along the coast to Happy Valley where we ran two laps and then headed back to the venue along the promenade. The first 1km or so was the beach and this was really tough and I struggled to find a good rhythm. Once we hit the solid surface of the promenade I knew that I was in a bit of trouble and my lack of training and fitness caught up with me! I knew that my best option was to back-off a bit and find the fastest pace possible that I could hold until the finish. The run was definitely the worst leg of the race for me and I faded badly.
I crossed the finish line in 7th. I was happy! Although the field was smaller and less competitive than the week before in Buffelspoort, I felt like I had a much better race and had glimpses of previous form.
I now have a few weeks before Xterra SA Champs in Grabouw (20th February) to get some solid training in and hopefully improve on my result from last year.