The trip to Fuzhou- China, via Hong Kong went as well as long haul travel can go. No miss haps and even managed to get on a complimentary bus to the host hotel. China is a very ‘different’ country, well I guess, if you are ‘Westernised’ that is! There are large cultural differences such as smoking in restaurants, elevators, in your face and of course spitting everywhere. The food is also tricky and the only things one can recognise are rice and noodles, however, these are generally lathered in oil so getting ‘healthy’ food is next to impossible. It is always good to know how the other end of the world lives and carries on about their lives, and makes one grateful for things one often takes for granted- like drinking water out the tap!
The race itself started at 9am and it was a borderline wetsuit swim. The water was 20.6 degrees so no wetsuits were allowed. It did make the time between warm up and race start unpleasant and some athletes opted to not warm up in the water! The race started well, however at the 1200m mark I seemed to lose focus and watched the front swimmers move further away. I didn’t panic and thought that there will be enough people around to catch them on the bike. Boy was I wrong. I was literally 8 seconds off the pace and that ended the race. A group of 4 of us got together on the bike and tried to chase the group of 10 up front. Fruitless! We lost more and more time and eventually by the 35km mark, another group of 8 athletes joined us and we all rode into T2. The run was fair but due to doing a fair whack of work on the bike I couldn’t run as quick as the others and ended up 24th. Bitter disappointment clouded me for the next 48hours.
The trip from China to the Philippines was marred by flight delays and missed flights resulting in landing in Manila at 1am and then catching the bus to Subic Bay, arriving there at 4am. Fortunately this was Tuesday morning and race day was Saturday, so there was plenty of recovery time. Philippines was hot and humid! Wow! 34 degrees and roughly 80% humidity met us on race day which meant the race organisers started the race at 6:30am, which made some difference. This race time around, I was mentally prepped and knew that this was my last possible chance to earn ITU points. No other races had been confirmed so this was it!
The swim start went well and watched the guys around me in the water all the time, mainly trying to be strategic about it. A couple guys got away on the swim, but I came out with the bulk of the group, and where I should have been in China! We caught the front guys after about 5km and then a front group of 8 of us moved along the course. The overall size of field was smaller; however the quality was higher due to some top U23 Aussie coming across for the race. We were chased by a few smaller groups however no ground was made on us. We hit T2 after losing some Aussies to mechanicals and that temperature I was talking about was intense by this stage. The run was 4 laps of 2.5km however; it felt like 15km given how ‘smashed’ I felt! The first 4km I was at race pace and keeping track of Mehdi from Morocco and Kane Simpson from Australia who were not far in front. However, at 5-6km mark I hit a big wall and almost walked I w felt so delirious. At this point Kane pulled out and had to keep a watch on Mehdi. I knew I was in trouble of losing out on points due to time to the first place so had to find something deep down and just hang on for the finish. I managed to do so, and get the points. It was by no means a pretty race and not my best work, but had to find solace that achieved the objective!
I am now at a stage where no other races are confirmed for May and am waiting to see if the planets will really align and I will qualify for my second Olympic Games. This officially gets finalised at the end of May, so will be sure to keep you updated!
Thanks once again to the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Triathlon Association, BSG and my fiancé, Nikki, for making this Asian trip possible!
In : 2012 Racing