The Rookie Report | Ironman South Africa

Theme Song: I bless the rain down in Africa/ Gonna take some time to do the things we never had!

Disclaimer: I haven’t updated my blog very diligently lately. I have had a story that the internet is already crowded enough and who cares about these updates if they are longer than an IG post? We also have been sharing content from #TeamCorker over here and it felt more important to crowd the internet with more meaningful words, than my silly sweat tales.

This recent trip to South Africa has changed that for me, for many reasons. Being on the other side of the world, meeting new people from all over the world – some who spoke english and many who did not – reminded me that there is indeed a great big globe of colourful, beautiful people. And we’ve all got a story to share. I will (unapologetically) share mine with you and I hope you do too! Subscribe here for updates from The Corker Co or here for the upcoming Stephy Reports. 

Now — IRONMAN SOUTH AFRICA! 

The seed for this race was planted by my good buddy Rachel McBride during the final 1000m of a January 10km swim set. She was committing to big-point races en route to the Big Island and I was easily convinced being such a naive, rookie pro. Everything sounds like a great idea …in January! 

But here is what actually happened leading into this start line:

+ a rained-out LA training camp// a mentally-tough Kona training camp (chasing sunshine!)// more hours than i’d like to admit riding and running inside – which didn’t leave me feeling overly confident about hour6 onward on race day// a solid bout of “i’m not good enough for this; i’m too fat; i think i’d rather stay in bed” #reallife// a change of plans for Rachel which meant she wouldn’t be racing.

GAH! Do I still go? Is it worth it? Surely I don’t have the fitness but more importantly: do I even have the mental guts to finish an IM? A month out, I had 3 days completely off and was under Coaches orders to nail a few key workouts or we were pulling the pin. Because: there is always another day he tells me, another start line…some day….

And that killed me. I’m deathly allergic to “somedays”.  I could get injured, life circumstances could change and I wasn’t prepared to wait for another day or another year.

So with a proper taper week in Cape Town before hand (I don’t do too well in the IM buzz pre-race, so prefer to stay outta dodge), we headed over to Port Elizabeth on Thursday. Coach Jazzy sent me a text that simply read: “at peace?” My response: “Yep!” And with that, it was time to jump into the buzz head first.  My first pro meeting was definitely legit — a room of some seriously stacked talent (that I only know from the internet, let’s be honest!) with more Euro rules than us North Americans are used to.

Speaking of talent – the one thing everyone in the room did have in common was a group of sponsors that stood behind them. Many with logos across their chests, I’d be so remiss to not start this post with gratitude:

+ for Kebby, Hailey and the girls at Coeur Sports. You will see their beautiful product on heaps of athletes — yet what you might not know is that this is a female led, US-made, huge-hearted crew! These gals have brought over 140 ladies together for TeamCoeur2017 and I’m so grateful to be flying the Coeur flag this season. (The other kicker is that their product is seriously comfortable and fit for dare I say…a queen!)

+ for SMITH, who sponsor only the best — the top of the podiums, the winners. I’ve been so fortunate to be apart of SMITH for several years and sporting their newest aero helmets and every pair of sunglasses I can possibly find. I’m so grateful they took a chance on me, even if I don’t fit the #winner criteria. Their newest chromapop everything actually will have you seeing the world thru rose-tinted glasses.

+ for my local favorites – the Canadian-founded velofix. You may see trucks on road and I get to see these guys in the community, on their bikes, super committed to partnering with brands who will make it easier for more people in this world to ride bikes. Undeniably, as a female, I’m reallyreally stoked when the big red truck pulls up to take care of…everything, where ever I am racing. #sametimeridemore

+ speaking of Canadian, for the rad athlete team behind Cervelo. Like SMITH, who took a flying freakin’ chance on me so early on. Their local YVR crew is awesome and I’m super honoured to be on my 3rd cervelo stead!

+ for endless canisters of Nuun. I had nuun on the airplane, nuun for breakfast, nuun at the pool, nuun on race morning. And like every other brand, the people of the product make the nuun experience really special. #hydrateordie!

+ and lastly and never ever least, for B78 Coaching and my main man Jasper Blake. Of course, you can hire a coach to write you a program or you can work with a coach to change your relationship with winning/ losing/ suffering/ celebrating. Most of all, I’m grateful for Jazzy‘s impeccable commitment to creating simple and highly effective programs for life – mind, body, spirit — and somehow, we keep crossing the line faster;)

So the question is: should you purchase/ use these brands/ products/ services? Yes! Not only because they are the best, yet because in a world with so many options, they are committed to bring their best and supporting us all in the human race to finish lines!

Speaking of finish lines, here is how my race went down:

SWIM | We walked onto the beach to an African Drum circle which might have been the coolest! I lined up right at the front, determined to get on someone’s feet. The gun went off and we ran into the water — I think I lost the run into the water, but did find a group…only to be quickly dropped and swimming solo. Such a #rookiemistake! I ended up swimming the entire permitter of the ocean, with kayaks pushing me back on course. When I ran into transition there were 2 bikes left racked; so I wasn’t last but barely.

*Spoiler: my greatest fear of taking my pro card was finishing last. Would that be just awful? An embarrassment? Who wants to support a loser?*

BIKE | I jump on my bike and immediately realize that this pro field means  pretty quiet roads. No one was around! I settled into my numbers and thought I’d take the first loop conservatively and see what was happening on the second loop. That I did. We had a stellar head wind coming back into town and the loop meant I could see where the rest of the girls were at. I also knew that going too hard for me on the bike was not setting myself up to run. When I started the second loop, I broke it into 10km chucks — I was going to fuel every 10km and stay really focused 10km at a time. It worked — like 9x10km efforts on the trainer! Mikey and I have done these — I can do this. Overall, I think I rode very conservatively and that was what was needed for my mental game. 

RUN | This might be the most unique way to run 42.2km — 4×10.5km figure eight style loops — meaning 2.5km out/ 2.5km back in/ 2.5km out the other direction — up a hill/ down a hill – 2.5km back in….FOUR TIMES! As the day went on the loops got progressively more congested. It was awesome to be a witness to the men’s race and of course, watch the women running around me in circles as well. If my confidence was going to be tested, it was going to be on the back half of the marathon and despite it being an early season race, I’m proud of holding myself together as best as I could for that last 15km. (Kudos to Jenny Fletcher who just wouldn’t let me catch up!)

On Sunday, I was the last pro to finish. Unfortunately, there was a significant group of gals who dropped out for various reasons – so I guess you can say I was the last pro who didn’t drop out! (I’ve got nothing but respect – I know these ladies wanna get to Kona!) Regardless, IM South Africa was a new pb (10:04) for me and the marathon that tells me there is still room to improve — I crossed the line absolutely elated!

Here is what I know to be true:

+ I’d rather be the last pro than the first amateur. (And I’m so glad I didn’t wait for someday to experience this!)

+ I’m SO passionate about women showing up to the races! Only 20% of the amateur race was female and less than 20 female pros finished. The spread may be large, yet the only way to bridge the gaps is: by showing up! #hightides #riseallships

+ I may never be the fastest, skinniest, fiercest woman on the course — and I may be last — yet I will never ever give up. If this isn’t a lesson for IM and for some other chapter in my life, I’m so grateful for it all.  It will never be lost on me that failed goals keep me hungry and big goals keep me motivated; I’m grateful that I’ve become unattached to results in a way that I can be proud of really showing up with my biggest heart + sponsors who are really awesome human beings, first and foremost. (Because after all: isn’t this simply a human experience wrapped in spandex?!)

The Road to (Challenge) Roth is on the other side of recovery…

[Next post: the tourist report of Cape Town/ Port Elizabeth because IM South Africa just might be a bucket list kinda race — a trip of a lifetime for you to consider in 2018!]

One Comment on “The Rookie Report | Ironman South Africa

  1. You rock! Love that you did this – congrats on the PR and going pro. xo

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