Racing in January is always a bit of a gamble – few people are in peak form and with Christmas in the middle and the dreaded winter illnesses flying around, you never really know how you’re going to perform.
Last year I raced Ironman South Africa 70.3 in January and was far from being in good shape. I got round, but I wasn’t breaking any PBs! This year was different though – everything seemed to be clicking together in my training so I flew out to Dubai feeling positive.
Apart from a series of really poor nights of sleep leading up to the race, everything else seemed to be going well – even the choppy sea and winds died down ready for race day.
Despite feeling a bit zombie-like on race morning (which resulted in me forgetting to take my bike Garmin into transition), I felt ok and before I knew it I was lining up on the beach at the swim start (my Garmin wrapped in a plastic bag and stuck inside my trisuit pocket underneath my wetsuit – this could go horribly wrong!).
The swim was uneventful but the course seemed long, something later verified by the pro times which were a few minutes slower than usual. I exited in 33 minutes, nothing special there, and was soon out enjoying the flat bike course.
It was a slight incline and headwind on the way out which felt like a bit of a slog, but at the turnaround point, the course came into its own! Slight decline plus tailwind lent itself to an extremely fast bike course and I came into T2 after a big PB bike split of 2:27.
I dropped a couple of gels running out of T2 but it turned out I didn’t need them anyway – some stomach cramps on the run were prohibiting me from taking on too much other than water and I was hanging on for most of the run, finishing it in 1:45 which on the whole I was pretty happy with given the circumstances and time of year.
I was so pleased to see that finish line and even more delighted to have achieved a goal I had been chasing for a few years – to finish a half Ironman in sub-5 hours. I had just posted a huge 14 minute PB on my half Ironman time and finished the race in 4:54.
I found out later that I had come 4th in my age group and was 13th non-professional female overall, so I’ll definitely take that for January!
I think how hard I have worked to go from a 7:28 (yes, really) half ironman time back in 2012, to get a 4:54 in 2017. I am not gifted with natural talent whatsoever – it’s all been down to hard work. What’s more, it was just the start of the season so it bodes well for the year ahead! Bring it on!
Amy Kilpin – Triathlete
Love life, my family and my bike. I'm blessed because my hobbies and passion for sports (in particular triathlon & cycling) is also my business. We provide clubs, teams and companies with the ultimate custom triathlon, run and cycling clothing.