Lessons from 2016

It’s 7:30 am, and I’m swimming my blurry way in the Main-Donau-Kanal. Why? because creature of habit that I am, just before getting in the water for the start of Challenge Roth, I dunked my goggles in the canal and wiped a bit of saliva on their inside. I’ve done this  to avoid fogging up since I first started snorkelling as a kid. This time, for the first time, it’s not working, all I see is a blur, with just one small clear spot in a weird place. Bummer, I sigh, unintentionally swallow a bit of green canal water and come to terms with the idea of having to swim 3800 m like this. Maybe I should have got some new goggles rather than use my 4 year old favourite pair… It’s just before the halfway point that I suddenly realise what I’ve done: just before zipping up my wetsuit, I spread some vaseline on the back of my neck to avoid chaffing and then used my fingers – the same fingers – to wipe the inside of my goggles. Fuming, I promise myself to never do this again, ever…



You learn from your mistakes and yes, I learnt a lot last year! So why not give those mistakes pride of place and write them down? It will help me remember their valuable teachings and maybe, just maybe, help others avoid them.

Always give it your all!

I’d signed up to two races early in the season that were separated by one week. The second race was a championship and my A race. The first was a warm up, it was literally on our doorstep, with a tough 30 km bike course and I’d decided to take it easy on the bike. A lady in my age group overtook me about quarter of the way through the 5km run. Nothing special, I often get overtaken on the run so I didn’t think much of it… Turned out I was second in our age group and she came first. I never made it to the second championship race as, just before we were due to drive to the race, our car decided it would go on strike and no longer shift gears. Now I’ll never know what place I might have come if I hadn’t held back in the first race and I’m not keen on “what ifs”… So always give it your all!

Be flexible
This one falls in the same category as “always give your all” never assume things are going to be as you expect them to be and be prepared to alter your plans and to embrace the change, even if you don’t like it, there’s nothing you can do about it:

– In January last year I was building up to good fitness for the St David’s trail half-marathon at the end of February. Early January I hurt my knee during the High Moon night march. I finished the march but couldn’t train for weeks and had a really hard time in St David. I learnt to let go.

– I didn’t recover as I thought I’d recover from Challenge Roth, which was unexpected and frustrated. We missed out on going to Wiesbaden for the 70.3 European championships and finally I had a serious health scare at the end of August, which meant I didn’t race at all in the second half of the season and didn’t defend my age group title at the Gower triathlon. I learnt to let go.

– We changed our plans from racing the Slateman triathlon to taking part in the Nuffield Sprint Triathlon as I’d won two entries and some Vita Coco goodies through Sport Sister. We had a blast at this friendly and well organised event. Flexibility is good.


Be flexible and dare to be bold 

Just over four months before Challenge Roth, Team Zoot Tri Europe gave us the opportunity to enter a competition and win a slot to that iconic race. I’d always thought that if there was just one iron distance to do, this was the one so I decided to enter the competition. Even though winning would mean revisiting all my plans and training for my first iron distance triathlon on a very tight schedule. It turned out I was given the spot, which was scary and exciting. The whole expedition turned into a real roller coaster but I trained, I went, I completed the event. Sure I could have done it better and faster but what a great opportunity and what a privilege to race Challenge Roth as a first iron event!

Another two lessons from Challenge Roth (it’s starting to look like I made all possible mistakes in that race!):

Never ever put cut bananas in the back pocket of white trisuits or you’ll end up with a brownish stain that you won’t be able to remove, ever. I should have known better really: I’m born and bred in the tropics, I’ve cut so many bunches of banana and their sap has irreversibly stained a fair share of t-shirts but no, here I was on the bike course merrily tucking bananas in my back pocket for later use. Bad move…


And finally, don’t expect the extra strong waterproof sunscreen to be hold the swim and the bike. Apply between the swim and the bike! Unless you want to lobsterise the next few days. Can’t wait to wear my sleeved trisuit in 2017!

Roth Lobster.jpg

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