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Race Result

Racer: Steve Smith
Race: Ironman South Africa
Date: Sunday, April 13, 2008
Location: Port Elizabeth, --
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 10:29:06
Overall Place: 131 / 1300
Age Group Place: 37 / 400
Comment: 55:53/5:19:52/4:03:07 Slowest IM yet, but felt the best

Race Report:

For those of you that don't know, I made a last-minute (well, December 31) decision to jump into Ironman South Africa with a group of folks from Lander. All in all, about what I expected, 10:29:06. Slower, but within a few minutes of my two Ironman races in 2004. As I had a far greater base of training in 2004 than I do currently, I think it's safe to say that I executed better in South Africa. Certainly I felt much better during and after the race.

We had fairly calm waters, for the Indian Ocean. The weather was partly cloudy for much of the day, temps never got much higher than 75, but it certainly felt warmer during parts of the run when the sun was beating down us. In short, it was NOT Africa hot, and it was about the best possible weather we could hope for (the chief fear being brutal winds, not uncommon down here).

The swim was one of the rougher swim starts I've had. I got elbowed in the face twice and had to really fight for position... but things chilled out after the first turn and I swam alone until a pack caught me in the last 300m of the second loop. Given that I deliberately chose minimal swim training (2x 3000m/week, and quite a few missed sessions), I'm really happy with my swim time. It's nice to know all the hard work I did in 2004 and 2005 has left me with a solid base. Swim: 55:53

I took my time in transition, but still forgot to get suntan lotion on the small of my back. I now have a 1/2" high bright-red patch of skin where I thought my cycling jersey would be. (That's probably the worst and will likely be the longest-lasting "scar" from the race.)

The bike course is spectacular. The "back-nine" of the 3-loop bike course follows the coast back into town. It's a fairly fast course, with a long, low-grade climb in the first few miles (you only really notice it the third time through : ). I finished the first loop in a time that, if maintained, would have given me a 5h00m bike, not sustainable on the training I'd done. I eased back a bit (and the winds picked up a bit) and the next two loops were uneventful. I actually spent large sections of the bike alone. Bike: 5:19:52

The run fell apart a few about five 7:20 miles (ooops) ... I walked a spell, regrouped and crammed a lot of calories at the next aid station. After that I started a slightly faster version of the Ironman Shuffle that carried me thru the race. I walked the aid stations after that and walked a for awhile around mile 20, once I was sure I was gonna break 10:30. Even though my slowest marathon in three attempts (not by much), I'm pretty sure I ran far more of this race than in previous races, and I certainly felt better about the race physically and mentally. The neuroma in my toes started to get numb, but never reached the burning pain that it can, thankfully. Dunno if running harder would trigger that or not. Run: 4:03:07

All in all, not a bad day ... I'm off to lounge in some cushy hotels along the Garden Route and then go look at some tigers and elephants.