Raynard Tissink Triathlon Coach
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Great Disappointment at IM South Africa

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After just 500m in the swim, I could already feel something was off. I struggled to hold onto the lead bunch for about 1200m, and after being dropped the rest of the day became a long slow battle to stay motivated to keep going hard. It felt like the whole race was being done stuck in 2nd gear. I exited the water about 2.5mins behind the lead bunch, on my own in no-mans-land.

Onto the bike, and exactly the same feeling, going at decent pace but no where near what I needed to be doing. I caught up to Steven Bayliss at about 30km, and as much as I tried to get away from him, I couldn’t. I fell back as much as I could to force him to do the work, but when the pace became too slow I had to go back to force the pace a bit. He stayed with me until 90km when he eventually gave in, and once again I was on my own, 5mins to Marceau ahead, and about 4mins to the group of usual suspects working together behind. By this stage Vanhoenacker was long gone and out of mind, but a second place (as much as I didn’t want to finish 2nd again) was still in grasp, and that is all I needed for a slot to Hawaii.

The start of the run felt ok, my pace was exactly where I wanted it to be for the first 5km, but as soon as I hit the slight climb up to the university, my lungs started constricting my breathing, my pace started dropping dramatically, and at 7km my chest was sore enough to warrant serious concern to the fact that something was wrong. At the following aid station I pulled off the road and went to lie under a tree to escape the blistering heat. Immediately, the cameras were there to film the "drama”, and I can seriously say that for the first time in my athletic career I had to do everything I could from totally losing it. I already felt as if my world had just come down around me, and now these people want to stick their noses in and dig a little more. It was a really tough moment for me, having to stop a race that meant so much to me, and the worst was I didn’t know why.

By Monday evening I had been to 3 doctors, been for chest X-rays, and had made an appointment for a lung function test the following day. It was with mixed emotion that I finally found the answers to my problem, disappointed in the fact that the results show that I am now a certified full-blown asthmatic, but also relieved to know that I wasn’t just imagining it. In fact the tests show I use only between 48% and 61% of a normal person’s lung function let alone a professional athlete’s. Now you ask, well how come you didn’t notice it before? Does someone know they need glasses before they see an optometrist? You just think its normal; it’s supposed to be like that. On Friday morning I asked my friend and training partner, Lawrence, if his chest was also tight when he trained the day after our rest day, and he said yes, it’s from the carbo-depletion the previous day, so I just assumed it was normal. Coupled with the extreme heat and signs of early throat infection probably picked up from my children who are both ill at the moment, everything falls into place and makes perfect sense as to why I was forced to withdraw. Not because I didn’t feel like finishing 2nd again and storming around like a little child with a temper-tantrum like some newspapers suggested, and not because I didn’t feel like racing that day or couldn’t handle the pressure. I do Ironman because I love the sport, I love the atmosphere around the event (yes, the local supporters do make it uncomfortable at times for me, because I’m a very introverted person and find it difficult to communicate with people I don’t know, but without their support the event would be dull and boring), and most of all, I love racing, pushing my body to the limits and sometimes beyond.

The next step is to go through all the proper protocols with regard to racing with the medications involved, and discussions with doctors as to when I’ll be able to compete again. Well keep everyone updated.

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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